Not its drinks prices – steep – nor its décor, posh.
It was, instead, the venue of a breakdown in responsibility.
The facts as we know them: Kishore Nimmala, 32, an IT specialist, had met Fakhara Sultana (age and profession unknown, though judging by her picture she is younger than Nimmala) online. After a chat of indeterminate length, the two decided to go out for drinks. They met at Ruby Blue, which bills itself as “Leicester Square’s most stylish night out” and possesses a drinks menu ten pages long. Nimmala and Sultana drank two rounds, totting up a bill of £54 (US equivalent: $75). We do not know what was in those magic glasses.
We do know, however, that when Nimmala suggested that Sultana pay for the next round, she told him she had not come out with money, as she assumed he would be paying for this date.
At that, Nimmala became angry. Sultana grabbed her purse and left, as any sane woman would do when faced with an angry male whom she has known for only a couple of hours. After paying the bill, Nimmala followed her out to the tube (subway) station at Charing Cross, where he proceeded to berate her and grabbed her BlackBerry phone – the report does not specify if he grabbed it from her hand or her purse – in what he said was an effort to gain her attention but could just as equally be interpreted as an effort to pressure her to stump up a few pounds, or to steal the phone and hope to re-sell it later.
At that, Sultana screamed, Nimmala – still holding the phone – ran, and police soon caught up with him. He was arrested and booked on a charge of theft, hired an attorney, and was eventually acquitted.
Numerous readers’ comments on the ethics of paying for a date take his side or hers, and place their confidence in “what should be the rule”.
But who invited whom?
To my mind, that’s the basic question. My guess is, when Nimmala (photo here) met Sultana (photo here) online, he liked her picture and – especially because he is 32 and probably under increasing South Asian parental pressure to marry – suggested they meet for drinks.
That, to my mind, constitutes an invitation.
Having made the invite, he transformed himself into the host. Which means he pays unless she objects and pitches in. The host, whatever their sex, assumes responsibility for the evening unless an alternate is agreed upon beforehand. Something on the order of, “I’d like us to share the bar tab, you okay with that?” does the trick. The other person can then either agree – “Fine with me” – or refuse.
If it were me, and a man who asked me out said he’d like to share the tab, I’d be likely to jettison the whole rendezvous, because I drink very little, so paying for someone else’s OTT imbibing is inherently unfair. I might suggest an inexpensive alternative to a bar. Starbucks or a walk in a park, perhaps. Much easier to hear the other person in those venues, anyway.
In any case, running after a woman who had walked out, grabbing her phone? Horrible, immature behavior. If the phone was in Sultana’s hand when he grabbed it, Nimmala is lucky he wasn’t charged with assault.
Sultana was fortunate that Nimmala only grabbed her phone, since he behaved like an angry drunk. She dodged a bullet there, and he would be better off at an AA meeting than online trawling for a date.
When is an invitation not an invitation? When the person doing the inviting doesn’t follow hosting rules.