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Single but not solo
How many times have you found yourself, the fun-loving, ever-ready for adventure, 30-something singleton just itching to get away from stories of diabolical in-laws and diapers that tickle only married people?
And, even if your school buds are too cool for baby talk, they and their better halves just can't keep their hands off each other whenever you go out. Even the customary dress-up and drink-up sorties yield little result because clubs don't see single men as wanted clientele. By accident or intention, most single people find their social circle shrinking and their social life stilted to club nights and maybe, movies on the weekend. Anuj Chandwani, a 30-year-old TV production assistant, did the next best thing.
He joined Singled Out, a group meant only for singles to meet and have fun. "I love my friends, I really do but since most of them are married or in committed relationships, being around them gets to be a drag, " says Chandwani, who has done more dinner-movie sessions than he cares to remember with his married friends.
Singled Out, set up by two friends Jotica Sehgal and Mayank Tewari, serves to make hanging out easier for singles in Delhi, without the pressure of meeting Mr/ Miss Right. Borne out of a drunk rant against their exes and all happily married people in general, Singled Out is an attempt to give unattached people a new lease of fun.
"There comes a time when you are just not meeting new people and all your friends are either married or not available. At Singled Out you could meet people from different backgrounds with a similar outlook on life and have some well-natured fun along the way, " says Tiwari, who works at a venture equity firm.
Just a few months old, Singled Out is a closed group on Facebook and has 75 members. They've organised three get-togethers till date and are thinking of organising more daytime events. "You need to be a friend or be referred by a member, " chips in Jotica, 32 and who runs her own production company. The first mixer, at a friend's bungalow with a sprawling lawn, saw nearly 40 people attend and had 27-year-olds share a drink and laugh with 45-year-olds.
Finding that special someone is big business, irrespective of whether you're in New Delhi or New York and new singles clubs and dating sites pop up everyday. But increasingly, a large number of single people just want to mingle, without thoughts about matrimony.
Chandwani was excited about meeting new people and went in with no expectations. "I really liked the idea. At my first Singled Out party, I met a farmer, a foreigner who teaches yoga in Rishikesh and a guy who runs a restaurant in Manali. But I still haven't exchanged numbers with anyone, " he says with a laugh.
Older, more active, and perhaps a tad more sophisticated, is Floh in Bangalore. Find Life Over Here is a few months old forum started by the Mangharam couple, Siddharth and Simran, along with Akshay Rawat and Sid Misra. Floh vets its potential clients - a long and detailed telephone conversation is often the order - and holds events as varied - from wine tasting sessions and salsa workshops to early morning heritage walks and music appreciation. "If you're 30-something years old and single, a lot of your friends are likely married or looking to get married in the foreseeable future, " says Mangharam, who met his wife through a friend who's is now a Floh member. "A single person isn't inclined to attend birthday parties of two-year-old kids, but that's the life of many of their married friends. The opportunities to socialise are there but finding the right company is challenging. "
Less than a year old, Floh has hundreds of active members and a few willing thousands on the waiting list. Open only to friends and people referred by members, Floh charges a monthly subscription of Rs 1100 and charges for its events separately. Talk of expanding operations to Delhi and Mumbai is in the air.
Their first event - open to just their own single friends - was a merengue dance workshop conducted by Lourd Vijay, an active Floh member. "After the workshop we headed to Opus, a Goan-themed restaurant for drinks and a fantastic Sunday brunch. Folks simply loved it and we've had an event every single week since then, " says Mangharam, a well travelled Bangalorean.
One reason why groups like Singled Out and FLOH are fast becoming popular is that they are forums where urban, educated and independent singles can meet likeminded folks. Matrimonial sites do not appeal to this group and at times, so doesn't the idea of being in a relationship or marriage. The Mumbai-based group, Footloose, also brings single people together but the underlying objective there is to find a partner whereas at both FLOH and Singled Out, that's not the mandate.
Roheny Bhat is 28 and under no pressure from her parents to get married but she chose to join Floh because the idea of such a forum appealed to her. "This wasn't a desperate measure. This is yet another way to meet people and hopefully make new friends, " she says.
Rajnish, a tech entrepreneur who just turned 40, knew he had to mix things up when he realised that his entire social circle was made up of software techies who couldn't tell the difference between Mozart and Mandy Moore. A friend of the Mangharams, Rajnish attended the very first event and is a veteran of nearly 30 events. And the best thing about Floh, according to Rajnish, is the social curation that Siddharth and Simran do.
"The social curation really is the reason why Floh works. Here you have a group of like-minded people in a certain setting participating in a fun activity, " he explains. "Each event is really interesting and so well thought out. In the past few months, I've met a NYT bestselling writer and someone who involved in water harvesting. There's really a lot of fun to be had, " he replies.
Singledom never felt better.
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