Tired of the same old, same old? It’s time to outsource your weekend
For a fee, there are people who will organise a private film screening, invite strangers to your house party, help you meet new people while you paint.mumbai Updated: Jun 27, 2017 16:50 IST
The older you get, the smaller your group of friends, right? Some will move away (or you will), others will marry, have kids and ease into a different life. Many will simply drift apart because their hours, location or interests no longer match yours. Making new friends from scratch is hard. But taking the sting out of it is now a thriving enterprise.
“Being social only on virtual media won’t help,” says Siddharth Mangharam, CEO and founder of Floh, which organises meet-ups. “At the end of the day, you need human connections to survive.”
Gaia Meera, 20-year-old musician, has been outsourcing her weekend planning to BeatMap, which organises parties in people’s homes. “I’ve attended three so far and realised that there is so much to talk and discover with strangers,” she says. BeatMap founder Hari Shankar says it’s been successful only because people like the idea of meeting strangers.
Of course, friend-finding comes at a price – anywhere from Rs 150 to Rs 3,000 a month. But if you’re lucky, you’ll find friends you never would otherwise.
Paint with a pal
If you think you can’t draw or paint, Bombay Drawing Room (BDR) is for you. Snehal Patil, 29, architect and founder of BDR curates ‘painting parties’ – they provide the materials, rope in an artist to guide. You enjoy the music and food, follow the instructions, share some laughs and create friendships and an artwork.
- What: Painting pop-up events
- How: Facebook.com/bombaydrawingroom
- Cost: Rs 1,650 to Rs 2,000 per person
“The idea is to get people to emote through the power of colour,” says Patil. “It is also to let people know that painting needs no skill, that they don’t have to be scared to pick up the brush and think of it as an elite activity.”
At BDR, age does not matter. You can walk in with your grandmother, partner or even alone.
They now host five events a week and Patil says no two events are similar. They’ve re-created Van Gogh’s Starry Nights, Monet’s Water Lilies, done knife paintings, drawn mandalas, doodled and worked with watercolour. “There’s so much joy in seeing everyone walk out with their paintings. It’s like they are little kids,” adds Patil.
Personal brand coach Aarti Gupta, 45, says BDR helped her explore her creative side. “An adult is expected to know how to draw and paint, that’s not the case here and that’s what worked for me,” she says.
Call strangers to your house party
BeatMap, an initiative by the performing arts collective Kommune, hosts parties at homes in Mumbai to help strangers meet.
- What: House parties to help you meet new people
- Where: Beatmap.in or Facebook.com/BeatmapIN
- Cost: Rs 300 to Rs 500 per party. Food and drinks on you
The service kicked off in January and is founded by Hari Shankar and Kommune’s Roshan Abbas, Ankur Tewary and Gaurav Kapur. Anyone can host a party and a gig allows up to 40 people – just bring your own drinks, and order food from a local restaurant.
There are ice-breaker sessions, live music, stand-up acts and magic shows. “It’s not just booze and dancing, there’s also exchange of ideas and making new friends,” says Shankar. Each party is officially lasts 90-120 minutes but of the 20 they’ve done so far, all have extended into the following morning.
Casting director Tanu Malhotra, 25, and her flatmate, had 25 people over in April. “We are in love with the idea of becoming friends with strangers,” says Malhotra.
Beatmap planned storytelling sessions, a magic show and a ukulele performance. They called for pizza and served their own drinks. “It was our way of thanking our guests,” she says. “We made a lot of great friends, we now have WhatsApp groups that help us catch up whenever we are free,” she adds.
Pay, form a team, play
If you’re done playing a virtual opponent and need real teammates, check out KickForAll. Rent out any of their three turfs in Powai, Chandivli or Breach Candy and enjoy a game of football, cricket, basketball or tennis.
- What: Find-your-team service
- How: Facebook.com/KickForAll
- Cost: Rs 200 per person, per game
Don’t have a team? Don’t worry. If you’re interested in any of these sports, leave a message on their Facebook page, they’ll put you in touch with others looking to build a team.
“The idea was to help sports enthusiasts who found themselves without any facility to play or connect with those interested,” says Aniketh Nair, co-founder and COO, A Team Sports that launched Kick in 2013.
Banker Abhishek Dhir Dep, 29, is a football lover but often had to run around building his team. “My friends got busy in their own lives and I stopped playing,” he says. But since 2015, when he got to know about Kick, he hasn’t stopped playing and plays at least one game with a new team each week.
“It’s fun to play with a different set because each one has a unique style and there are surprises waiting, one strategy may not necessarily work with all teams, so it’s a happy feeling both winning and losing,” he says.
Go out with like-minded folks
Floh is not a dating service, says founder and CEO, Siddharth Mangharam. It is a platform to help you make friends. Whether you take it to the next level is up to you.
- What: A portal that connects you with friends
- How: floh.in
- Cost: Rs 3,000 for a month, Rs 7,500 for three months, Rs 15,000 for a year.
“The idea of Floh was born out of conversations with our single friends,” says Mangharam. “They didn’t know where and how to meet like-minded people.”
Born in 2011, Floh encourages members to interact online and offline. Every individual is screened through a phone call before being invited to join. They record your interests, create a profile and work to connect you with like-minded folks at events they organise across Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
These range from sailing experiences, cookouts and car rallies to heritage and photography walks, dance sessions, grape stomping and single-malt appreciation evenings. “The idea is to not let the virtual experience it overpower human connections,” says Mangharam.
Mumbai businesswoman Mira Saraf, 36, travels frequently to Delhi and wasn’t sure about what to do after work hours in a new city. She joined Floh in 2014 and has been happier since. “Unlike dating apps, here there’s no pressure about meeting someone thinking you have to end up dating him, you can just be friends,” she says.
Saraf has attended gaming meet-ups and dinners in Delhi and has a group to hang out with whenever she’s in the city. “If I feel lonely in Mumbai, I don’t have to worry either. I can join a Floh meet-up,” she adds.
A movie screening, for you, by you
PVR Vkaao’s theatre-on-demand service launched this January and lets you screen a movie you like in a theatre, with options for friends or other paying strangers to join.
- What: Private screenings
- How: Vkaao.com
- Cost: Rs 150 per head
They need a minimum of 20 paid seats for a screening. Any fewer and the entire ticket fee is refunded and the screening is cancelled. They have done more than 100 shows across 20 cities so far.
Ali Asgar Shakeer, 28, who runs his own business, screened a short film to propose to his girlfriend in front of his family and friends.
“I wanted it to be special, not at someone’s house or on the projector on which we screen matches,” he says. “We started with a Bollywood movie and 15 minutes in, I stepped out, suited up and as my short film played, I pulled out the ring.”
Popping the question cost him Rs 7,000. “It worked out cheaper than parachutes and flash mobs,” he says. For everyone else, the screening is a great way to meet someone into the same genre, offbeat theme or director as you.