Nidhi Tiwary was invited to her neighbour’s house for a tea and games session. She was a little apprehensive to attend a party with a whole bunch of strangers. But she was new in town and she was intrigued by the idea. Also, she really wanted to be part of the social gathering, so she went. And she was not disappointed. The 22-year-old fashion designer has been hooked to this concept of attending or hosting house parties for like minded strangers ever since.
Tiwary, who has been a regular user of the app MyScoot since her first experience, says, “Meeting new people can be delightful. You can have conversations about various topics with different people and you get to see their viewpoints about the same thing and it gives you a completely new perspective.”
She vouches for the safety and security aspect at these parties and has never faced any issue at any gathering if she doesn’t find the conversation interesting she just moves on. “I have not had a bad experience at these parties, I have been lucky to have found someone or the other with whom I connected and ended up enjoying the experience.”
While these days all the buzz is about apps that let you network online, there are an increasing number of apps that help people connect offline as well. Apps like Beatmap, Sofar sounds, Couch Surfing and InterNation help connect users over a cup of coffee, food or games and get to know each other.
The founders of MyScoot came up with the idea after realising it is difficult to meet new people while hanging out at a bar or a restaurant and not to mention the expenses one has to bear. So with this platform, one can attend or host tea parties, movie nights, meet and greet sessions, and a whole list of other fun activities with total strangers.
The host gets to pick the people they want to attend. There is an amount which the attendee has to pay while confirming their invite. According to one of the co-founders Somvir Yadav, the host can even make enough money from organising one party to cover their monthly internet, Netflix and phone bills.
Papri Das, 26, a journalist, found that hanging out with strangers could actually be a fun experience. Originally from West Bengal, Das moved to Mumbai for work after completing her studies in Chennai. Since it was a new city, she didn’t have much of a social circle. So, she decided to try some of these social media platforms to find new friends.
Das is not registered on any such app, she mostly uses WhatsApp and word of mouth invites or creates Facebook event pages to organise a house party. Das says she was nervous the first time she organised a house party. But since she loves meeting new people, she went ahead with it and had an amazing experience.
“I didn’t know anybody in town apart from people at work, so it seemed like a good idea as I got to meet new people and to build a social group, either to party or form a book club or just hang out. Since travelling from one point to another in Mumbai is a long drawn affair, party hopping was not an option,” explains Das on why a house party seemed a like good idea.
“As hosts, we set a few house rules and then it is just about us people meeting and sharing our experiences. Though some people get the idea that they can hook up at these parties, I make it clear that it’s not that kind of party,” underlines Das.
Das usually invites a mix of friends, colleagues and strangers as guests. She acknowledges that she had a few nervy moments. Once in Delhi, as many as 10 guys showed up together. “They looked like they could create trouble, it was very scary for me. After a while, those guys got bored and just left on their own. I was relieved.”
Harishankar P S, the founder of Beatmap, points outs that he came up with this concept of organising gigs at homes so that strangers could come together to enjoy the music and share their stories in the comfort of their homes. “I wanted to meet new people instead of hanging out with the same old set of friends,” he says, adding how Beatmap wants to “change the way people perceived social networks”.
And then there are apps like Couch Surfing which connects travellers to locals who let strangers into their homes and help them explore a city as well. InterNation is a community for expats who can connect with other expats in town. Sofar sounds, like Beatmap, connects strangers who love music and if you are lucky with the invite you may end up watching live performances and gigs in some stranger’s living rooms.
Harishankar sums up: “It doesn’t necessarily have to be an online platform, it could totally be an offline experience!”
Dr Rakhi Anand, clinical psychologist and senior consultant at Delhi’s Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, attributes the trend to the fast-paced life of this generation. “If a stranger is hosting a party in which you just have to participate and enjoy, while there is no responsibility of planning anything or worrying about the execution, the general mindset would be that nothing can be better than this.”
She says such parties act as a platform to explore and develop bonding through music, live gigs, love for food or board games. “Since this generation is fast moving, they experience a lot of stress which they tend to release though socialising or parties. This generation prefers to stay connected or maintain that bond through social networking sites or apps. Therefore, such apps become a trend among the millennials,” she reasons. However, Dr Anand cautions that youngsters should check and read about such apps before sharing their personal information on it and also the authenticity and genuineness of the users.