EQUALIST. NOT ELITIST.
The AWA Social App is now live in the iOS and the Play Store.
It’s occurred to me numerous times that the older I’ve become, and wiser too, it’s not that easy to make friends anymore.
Why? Well for starters, by the time we hit our 30s, we have our own social circles from school, and we find it hard opening up to new people & experiences. Couple that with ‘adult responsibilities’ – paying the bills, keeping our bosses happy, figuring out if we are winning in the rat-race and most of all, what others would have to say. Fast-forward a few years, and I find myself in New Delhi. A place I’ve had absolutely no connection with in the past (besides the international flights which I had to take from this city to get to & fro from my hometown).
And I found that this city is mostly made of three groups of people – one, who have gone to school here and have their own circle of friends. They don’t take in new entries, unless of course you’re a rock star (which I’m not). They seem to know people from different social circles too, but rarely ever ‘hang-out’ with them. Then there is this ‘professional crowd’, mostly domiciled in Gurgaon. They are folks who have graduated from some of the premier business schools and engineering colleges in India and abroad, are working in fancy companies and are doing quite well by the time they hit their 30’s. Finally, there seems to be a new crowd emerging in Delhi – folks who have lived for decades outside, and find Delhi a great entrepreneurial hub and have decided to move here for good.
As a single guy, in my mid 30’s, most of my school friends seem to be married off. I tend to cut them off my ‘frequent hangout list’. Not because they are boring or anything like that – just that they are quite content hanging out with their significant others and select friends.
Enter A World Alike – a cross-mingling of the three groups of people above, and for ‘mostly’ singles! Although, we do host after-work mixers and couples soirees quite frequently, but singles, are still the most active among our member base. I guess singles, globally, have a very unique need – to find companionship. While nothing in the world can really guarantee that, but a platform like AWA can help you open up and perhaps attract the ‘right kind’. Besides, we singles are not too bothered by family commitments as much, have plenty of time to meet new people and don’t mind partying as much. Great. Next step – Curation!
India is a very complex and fragmented country. Unlike in the west where individuals are sized up on the basis of the ‘interesting/cool factor’, in a place like India, the secondary aspects seem to take prominence in some places. So we curate based on one aspect alone – after all shared experiences enrich us all. Came upon a recent article on CNN which pretty much sums up our generation – “When you’re in front of a computer or an iPad, you’re not interacting with a human face. All of the millennia of evolution that helped us learn how to read all of the nuances to do that choreography of conversation aren’t there.” So apparently Facebook and Tinder and all the big social networking daddies out there haven’t really done a great job with fostering new friendships (or relationships). And it really seems to me that everybody else on my Facebook page is leading a really cool life, well, except me.
Since our launch in Mid-November of 2014, we have hosted almost 150 events in New Delhi, Mumbai & Bangalore, and have had over 2000 amazing people attend our events, few of whom I’ve been lucky to become friends with. One of the most innovative get-togethers that we pulled off was the ‘Cocktails & Canvas’ (never mind the ‘Rupa’ underwear brand umbrella the local tent guy provided us with). We had called in a senior artist to curate the session for us, had flowing sangrias and music in the background, and we paired off a girl and guy to paint their masterpiece. It occurred to me during that event that people let their guard down when doing something that they enjoyed. Granted, most of us really sucked at it as neither of us really painted in our lives (except in school for the extra credit). But we really came together as a group at that event.
At the masquerade ball that we had hosted, Quartz had written about us. I found her article quite interesting, and while the article was quite specific about finding the holy grail – love, she said, and I quote, “In urban India’s new cultural hierarchy, the top rung is reserved for the global Indian: The foreign- educated, career-oriented, well- read, well-paid, well-travelled and socially savvy men and women who are held up by an increasingly aspirational society as the embodiment of success. They have too much work, too little time, saturated social circles, few outlets to meet new people like themselves, cultural baggage, and too many expectations.”
So what she is generally describing is ‘Class’. But after reading the article a few days later, I wasn’t sure if this is what A World Alike really stood for. When screening the applicants for A World Alike, we are careful not to be elitist in any way. We are so focused towards finding those genuine folks – who’ve come up the hard way, and have made a life for themselves through their education, family and social influences and can really contribute to the member-base of A World Alike. And when we do get a bunch of them together, then I’d say we’ve been quite successful.
Besides, after being covered by numerous media houses including BBC, India Today, Vogue, Economic Times, Open Magazine, Hindustan Times – they really all had one theme in common – A World Alike for singles to meet and find their life partner. Umm absolutely not! And those lucky few folks who actually have, it’s really been about being at the right time and at the right place. One of the events we hosted was ‘A Date with a Mystic’ where we had called in Neera Sareen – a very famous astrologer to predict the future for our guests. I sat down with her towards the end of the dinner and she says to me – “Most of the people I meet these days, and especially if they are single, talk about the perfect love and the perfect marriage. Unfortunately none of them really know the meaning of commitment and marriage. They are all looking for that imaginary person, a perfect person, which doesn’t exist”. I find myself in the same boat – a stringent checklist for anybody who enters my life – be it a friend, a girlfriend or a spouse. I guess those are the questions which plague us all and maybe just by opening ourselves up to newer experiences can we at least get to a better understanding of our own self.
And it’s really hard to explain to the media what we are about. They write articles which sells, and it seems like marriage really sells in this country…
After doing this for about 2 years, we never played the tech game… until now. We’re introducing folks over shared worlds – singles & social. And we think we have a pretty good idea now of who to introduce you to! The AWA Social App is now live in the iOS and the Play Store. We look forward to having you over. Do get in touch with the in-app concierge if you have any questions.
Founder, A World Alike