When the news spread that a new singles forum called Covalence had opened up in the city, the organisers were shocked to receive close to 300 registrations in the first three weeks. All they did was create a Facebook page, which describes them as a group characterised by the sharing of electrons in a chemical compound; i.e. the sharing of wavelengths, interesting conversation, randomness or just a drink to forge new friendships, partnerships or even just casual acquaintances; and the response was tremendous. Neha Majithia, one of the group’s co-founders, reveals that they felt there was a huge void when it came to meeting new people and making new friends. “After a certain age, our social interactions are limited to office colleagues; making new friends becomes difficult. There was a common need but no common platform. That’s why we decided to start Covalence,” reasons the 28-year-old.
No dating, please
The forum is open to people between 25 to 35 years and they plan to hold regular events to facilitate meetings, the only condition being no plus one is allowed. “We also want to be clear that we are not a dating website. People should come in to meet new people. So, even those who are married can join, but they need to come alone,” says Majithia, who returned to Mumbai last year after living in the US for over five years. Once she was back, she realised that it was way more difficult to make friends here. “In America, you can just walk up to the next person in a bar and start talking. But here, you can’t do that and it’s really difficult to make new friends, especially if you are new in the city,” she stresses.
Riday Thakur, who partnered with Majithia to start Covalence, feels that being single at 28 can be difficult. “Many of my friends are married and I did feel a certain pressure to find someone as the group dynamics changes when people get married. But, I know I am not yet ready for marriage, so forums like these are where I can meet new people, which is great. And, many people have felt a need for this,” he says. Covalence is going to hold its first event in the third week of December and though the first few events will be casual meetings at restaurants or pubs, later they plan to organise interest-specific events as well.
From Bengaluru to Mumbai
Floh, which is a platform for single people to meet and interact, started in Bengaluru last year. They held their first event in Mumbai on November 25 — a sailing event at Gateway of India, followed by cocktails at Indigo. Started with the same agenda of getting like-minded people together and helping them make new friends, Floh also allows the specified age group of 25 to 35 years, but they do not allow married people to register. “We host events like sailing, treks, cook-outs, dance or mixology sessions ensuring highly interactive experiences,” says 38-year-old Siddharth Mangharam, who started Floh. They now hosts events across Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai.
“This is the only such national platform and we have about 500 members,” shares Mangharam, who is married with a two-year-old daughter. He met his wife at a small gathering and they bonded over a common love for blue cheese. “My wife, who is also the co-founder of Floh, and I felt there is a need for a forum where singles can meet, not just for dating or finding a partner but also to find like-minded singles and have a good time over shared experiences and in a safe way. Safety is a key requirement, and at Floh, every person is screened by a founder before gaining access to the network. No exceptions,” he says. Both Floh and Covalence cater to urban, independent, working professionals and have a screening process to ensure that.
Take 32-year-old Angie’s case. She joined Floh in March this year, and has attended ten events. She’s made several friends thanks to these sessions. “It’s been great to meet a diverse group. It’s an organic environment, where you meet new people, and if you meet someone interesting, then it’s great. If not, you still have a lovely time,” she says.
It’s not just with groups like these but even sessions like board game nights, film screenings or poetry sessions make for a great platform for people to interact. “We see a lot of first-timers and many who come on their own for the Mocha board game nights. It’s a great way to meet new people from different walks of life. And over a round of board games which acts as an ice-breaker, it becomes easier to chat and form friendships,” says Shobita Kadan, VP, Marketing, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality Pvt Ltd. Mocha Trip, which was started last year, and hosts heritage walks, comic book workshops, book readings, open mic nights, photography workshops, bicycle rides; it also acts as a forum for people to meet and interact.
Area no bar
While most of these events may take place in popular suburbs like Andheri, Bandra or in SoBo, at Colaba, people living in far-off areas can attend Maxmeet Social sessions that take place once a month in Thane. Started by 26-year-old Anish Vyavahare a year ago, they conduct regular poetry reading sessions, sometimes music sessions and on this Sunday they are going to host a film screening. “I have made great friends during these poetry sessions. While many attend due to an interest in poetry some come to make friends and meet new people,” he reveals.
Those who run forums such as this, where members join to make new friends, agree that these days, most youngsters, especially the urban educated would rather sign up here than log on to dating sites. “It’s a changing mindset,” agrees Thakur. “Though there is pressure to find a partner, people aren’t giving in to the pressure unlike before. People would rather meet interesting people over shared interests and chill,” he reminds us.