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Dating in Harare – “apa hauna cash”

Pinterest is your friend. It is the ultimate treasure trove of an infinite number of awesome ideas chief among them, dates. I mean admit it, at the rate at which the cost of living in Zimbabwe has gone up especially food, dating may just be the last cost one would want to add onto the increasing load of necessities. So what you basically need is a financially fool proof plan to also be able to date, solutions that won’t break the bank.

Who says you can’t get to know a person or generally have a good time, just because times are tough? Should cupid call upon a state of the (heart) nation address to lie out emotional sanctions inflicting unsuspecting individuals as a result of the not-so-friendly economic environment? I mean, being in a relationship is not a necessity; if anything, it’s an expense/investment of sort not only in dollar value, but more importantly, in emotional and time currencies. So, in the event that there’s a limitation in the dollar value, more focus can be on the emotional and sentimental side of things, which can still work out provided the intentions of both parties are pure. At this point, creativity not only saves money, but it is also a lot more thoughtful than splashing money on an unsentimental expensive gift. So as the self-proclaimed Ambassador of Pinterest, I have compiled a couple of ideas that are not only fun and thrifty (+/- $20 Bond, Ecocash, Swipe) but are available in Harare.

As a disclaimer, it must be noted that although these date ideas are fool proof – I have dabbled in a number of activities below, individually, in a date setting and collectively as a group, however I cannot guarantee that your prospective person or personal person will be receptive to these ideas, let alone partake in them. And guys, let’s not be too frugal…there’s a thin line between thrifty and creative and cheap and tacky. However, if a girl really wants you, too, she will allow you into her space regardless of how much you spend. Now that that is out of the way, here we go!

1. Get good food for a good price

I cannot stress enough just how much food makes up a key component of any sort of date. A girl’s gotta eat! And to make it easier, half the time we do want to eat. We more often than not are unsure of what to have, never mind knowing where to go. This ultimately makes it pretty easy to then decide on where to go for a chow down. Obviously, your conventional sit down restaurants (excluding fast food restaurants) will charge an arm, leg and a kidney for sometimes lacklustre food and occasionally questionable service, so they may not be the most ideal for a budget date.

A sit down meal at a fast food restaurant wouldn’t be the best location for a first date as it could come across as tacky, BUT it could just work as a pit stop to collect food for the date to continue at another location. When it comes to food, you don’t necessarily have to think outside the box, but know your places – twuma corner. For example, traditional meals that went to private school that are served in pretty serene locations are probably not the first option for some, but are pretty cool.

A couple of Afro-centric places like Kapoto and Afro-Cuisine in Belgravia not only have decent and extensive menus, but the environments are pretty serene and private, allowing for people to know each other and talk with minimal interruption. Or forget lunch or supper completely and have a breakfast date! Breakfast menus are almost always cheaper as compared to the other meals during the day and depending on the place, time and day, these oftentimes have fewer patrons thereby affording you privacy and undivided attention from servers. Most restaurants do have a breakfast menu, but then again you also have to know where you can get good value. Pariah State has very decent and reasonably priced breakfasts (and a cinnamon turmeric and ginger latte that’s to die for!) So does Food Lover’s Market at Sam Levy’s Village.

2. Try something different


Ok, so food is probably the safe choice; then, of course, you have the same old boring dates like a movie. I have issues with a movie date as a first date though. Yes, it’s entertainment and it would probably be a big plus if you happen to share the same taste in movies. Then again, there isn’t much time to chit-chat and unless it’s the third or fourth date, it is neither conducive nor ideal.

However, if you’re still a fan of movies and feel that the 2 or so hours sort of help ease off the pressure, maybe an unconventional movie setting would do. OpenAir cinema is becoming more popular as the weather gets warmer. Much cheaper than a conventional movie, it also allows you to bring your own packed picnic and chill on the lawn. We all know how pricey movie house snacks are (I swear it’s almost like a parallel universe!) It’s normally hosted at sports clubs i.e. Chapman’s Golf Club, from way before the sun sets and the movie begins, therefore bringing the best of best worlds: actually talking and watching a flick together.

Mukuvisi also occasionally has almost the same set up. Recently, they had a movie night with a wildlife documentary type of movie with the same trimmings, again at a small entry fee. Stargazing is also another pretty unconventional, yet pretty cool date idea. Again, the last one I saw advertised was at Mukuvisi, which also showed a documentary on astrology afterwards – date and education all rolled into one. Such fun! Seasonally, the EU embassies have a film festival that offers movies from their various countries. These showcases are often free and although a number of movies have subtitles, their plots are very interesting and deep and over-ride blockbuster movies in terms of entertainment value. Outside of the festivals, individual embassies host their own movie nights, i.e. The Dante Alighieri Society (Italian Cultural Society in Zimbabwe) has movies every so often.

 3. Get physical!

By now you should know that this doesn’t refer to some hanky panky and kafoofling but more towards exercise and general wellness. There are a number of exercise activities that take place almost on a weekly basis that include fun runs, Zumba or park walks. All of which cost close to nothing (if anything at all) and are predominately for a good cause. A run/walk up the kopje or fitness in the park could be a pretty fun activity.

A challenging climb up the Domboshava rocks would make for some incredibly fulfilling exercise whilst enjoying each other’s company. For the adrenalin junkies and motorheads, go karting at Motor Sports Club can also be a fun and carefree activity that’s also easy on the pocket. For the more docile and not so hectic sports people out there, there’s putt putt (yes, there is actually a place in Harare that offers this service – Universals Putt Putt and Ice-Cream Parlour or at the Prices Avenue Golfing Range). You don’t have to be a golf player or an avid fan of the sport but the fresh air and activity makes it a pretty cool outing.

If you’re both not up for physical exercise activities, maybe settling for watching live sport is a good enough alternative. Occasionally, but not as often, there are cricket matches or top-notch club rugby at Harare Sports Club or OGs; there are also local and international soccer matches at the National Sports Stadium or even school winter sports, Hockey and Rugby, which can be tracked using SSN. The options are endless.

4. Enjoy creativity and culture together

Music is awesome and I don’t mean the typical weekend shindig with half of Harare there. No…soft mellow vibes, with a hint of poetry as well. Remember, unconventional but equally soft on the wallet. A number of poetry sessions and musical evenings take place at Tamasha’s, Theatre in the Park or The National Art Gallery (which often has amazing entertainment every first Friday of the month hosted by Enthuse).

For a little more interactive fun, karaoke nights are also a really great way to unwind with a date. Granted, your voice doesn’t have to be superstar-ish, but it’s all about fun, fun and more fun! If you didn’t already know, the following places have quite banging karaoke evenings: Ora in Helensvale on Thursday evenings and Picobello, The Flame and The Pointe on Fridays.

Intellectual dates are pretty interesting but fun. Organising a group of friends and taking part in a quiz night may also be a way of getting to know a person without having to prod or pry through uncomfortable conversation to get information. Besides, the notion of safety in numbers again eases the pressure of nerves. Pariah Borrowdale has a quiz every Monday hosted by With Love Foundation, every other Tuesday, is a quiz night at Mustard Seed and Amanzi hosts one every Wednesday evening.

Networking at educational events and seminars might not seem like much of a date but it’s never too late to learn. Besides, building each other up in an eventual relationship starts from dating right? Events to look out for are those hosted by Thrive VBF and GBI Events and a host of other networking societies such as JCI and Rotaract.

So there you go, just because you’re low on the pocket doesn’t mean that the window of dating has been shut. Yes, the gap may be slightly smaller, but there are still limitless and surprisingly more creative and out of the box options waiting to be explored. It’s just a matter of looking positively at thriftiness, taking a risk, exploring the less travelled road and keeping an eye on the goal.

(And don’t forget to check out the Harare Magazine Calendar for events in the city)

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