You won’t believe what happened on a lesbian Tinder date in Pakistan
How would you react if you found out that your Tinder date’s dad was kidnapped by the Taliban? Well, Natasha Noman has a show telling just that tale…
With all the perils and pitfalls of dating life many people turn to Grindr and Tinder with the hope that there’s Plenty of Fish in the sea – and Natasha Noman is no exception. She speaks to PinkNews about what came next.
A journalist by trade, Natasha makes her Edinburgh debut with her first ever one-woman show, “Noman’s land” – the story of a Tinder date in Pakistan that takes a surprising turn.
In an interview with PinkNews, the actor explained her lack of dating prospects in the country. She said: “I ultimately got quite desperate, so resorted to Tinder after attempting various other unsuccessful channels of finding myself a date.
“The competition wasn’t too high in Pakistan given that there were about three women on Tinder who were interested in women, and I’m pretty sure two of them were men.”
However, when she found a genuine woman willing to meet, things didn’t go to plan.
She explained: “I went on a date with her… and found out swiftly that her father had recently been kidnapped by the Taliban.”
This twist allowed Noman to tell us the reason by many situations like this that are common occurrences in Pakistan.
She added: “He was an industrialist and he had almost the monopoly…his competitor didn’t like it, so he tipped off the Taliban that her father was a great target for ransom.
“He was wealthy and the Taliban love kidnapping rich people because it’s a really easy way to get money.
“Often it’s not for political reasons, it’s just that the economic/socio-economic issues are so pervasive and it’s so like systemically f**cked, that these are just quick fixes to serious issues of poverty and economic disparity.” she told us. With a little kidnap you can get a couple of hundred, even thousand dollars.
Going back to the story, “So they kidnap this guy, his competitor managed to do rather well on the market afterwards.”
She adds with a cheeky giggle: “That’s also how I deal with my competition…I plan on tipping off all the other one-woman shows to the Taliban.”
Currently homosexuality is illegal in Pakistan, more precisely, sodomy is illegal. If you’re a gay woman, then apparently they take the “Queen Victoria” approach acting as if it’s not a “real thing”.
Natasha explained: “You can get away with a lot! You know if you’re holding a woman’s hand – if I saw that when I was walking with Veda down the street in Edinburgh we’d be like “Oh what a cute couple!” but if you see that in Pakistan you’d be like “Ah, best friends or sisters”.”
Veda Kumajiguda is Noman’s partner in crime taking the role of director (on this project, not tipping off the Taliban about other one-woman shows. Noman does that alone).
As director she has played many roles in various shows world wide and is “passionate about bringing unique voices and stories to the stage”, a feat achieved by this dynamic duo.
Trying to live in this culture of fear is difficult for many, and this Natasha knows that if she performed this show in the country it’s set in, it wouldn’t be easy.
She said: “I had somebody in Pakistan actually offer to finance it – to produce it. I wouldn’t say out right no, the reason I’m not inclined to is because I think it would be reserved very much for the elite.”
“I don’t think it’s something that most of the country could participate in – both for security reasons,” the writer continued, “and because I think perhaps that there are themes in there, that maybe don’t really speak to the majority of Pakistanis.
“I don’t like the idea of perpetuating social disparities and I think it would be entertaining very much for the upper echelon of society, for a very small minority and elite class.”
If Noman did do a similar show in the country, she would wanted to be “more egalitarian”, whilst noting that with Noman’s land: “It’s quite a crass show!”
The world is changing when it comes to the LGBT community. America had a same-sex marriage referendum and in Ireland the people voted to bring in same-sex marriage however Noman noted: I don’t think that there’s a tremendous amount of impact, at least instantaneously.”
Instead she focuses on: “a trickle down effect” and how “the more wide spread acceptance of gay rights is, and the more normalised it becomes, the more it just takes over world.”
More and more people, across multiple careers, are speaking out about their sexuality with comedians being no exceptions. With celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Joe Lycett and Wanda Sykes being bathed in rainbow spotlights it’s important that people are using their art as a platform to speak out on LGBT rights.
“Being a lesbian is a huge part of my identity, it’s not all that I identify as but it’s an inextricable part of me.
“I love the idea of giving a quirky, alternative voice to the LGBT community that isn’t necessarily there.”
“I think there’s a little bit of a vacuum or a void when it comes to LGBT voices, themes, rights especially when it comes to the Arab or Muslim world. So I like the idea of just opening that door.”
Not only does Noman play herself in the show but also a whole host of characters, from a hot-headed News Editor to the mysterious date herself.
Due to her upbringing, Natasha has: “ended up being rather ‘chameleonic’ and ended up being pretty capable of adjusting and adapting to the different environments.
“I definitely had to tone that down when I was in Pakistan because generally you want to draw less attention to yourself especially if you’re a foreigner” the performer explains when referring directly to how she acts abroad.
This show might be a comedy, but many of the topics discussed are based on real events and political situations – a factor that is part of the beauty and struggle of comedy.
The struggle comes from “trying to find the right balance between humour and substance and it was very important for us that there was some substance.
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“We have the potential to address some really major issues, one of them of course being LGBT rights around the world and how they manifest themselves differently.”
Expressing her views on performing, Noman concluded: “However different the individual may be from you when they’re watching you perform, if you’re making them laugh there’s an instantaneous connection there in a human level. In a very basic and pure, unadulterated level that I don’t think can really be replicated in many other scenarios or dynamics.
“It’s so universal and it’s a lovely connection you have with another human being. The more you have of that with people who are different from you or people you don’t understand – the more it creates and builds bridges. For that reason I think it’s a wonderful tool.”
Noman’s Land is running at Edinburgh Fringe from 5th-15th August, at the Gilded Balloon balcony. For more details check out the website or watch an excerpt from the show below.