Join The Club

  • Shilpy Arora
  • India
  • Dec 14, 2012

 

 

When Sheetal first moved to the City, she had felt lonely, even in such a populated city. “Other than pubs and nightclubs, there were no places where I could meet new people. But now I can connect easily with like-minded people, thanks to various ‘social clubs’ that have sprung up in the City,” smiles Sheetal. She is a member of three such clubs.

 “Most of the people in the City have relocated from different cities and countries. Joining a social club/group helps them connect with people, make friends, and live a healthy social life,” says Sehba Imam, Founder, Lets Walk Gurgaon (LWG). The social clubs bring people from different walks of life together. Most of the groups have members from a diverse background. There is also a healthy mix of foreigners. A member of two social groups, Nirmal Bajaj says, “The best thing about these groups is that you can be a part of them
for free.” 

It is not just the housewives; even working professionals, who often find themselves stressed-out after a hectic week, are eagerly lapping up options – such as dancing, cycling, music, books, and theatre. 


Let’s Walk Gurgaon (LWG)

A walk is all about exploration, believes Sehba, the Founder. The members discover some spectacular sites of the City while on walks. “Just a five kilometres walk takes you to the beautiful Aravali Hills. Covering a long distance of 10 kms becomes easy when you walk together, share stories, and make friends,” says Sehba. He talks of a 10-year-old girl, who gets up at 4 am on Saturdays, to join for a morning walk. Many adults give up Friday night parties to get up early the next day.

The group guides people about the fitness levels required for walking long distances. “For those who have back or joint pain, we tie them up with those taking a short walk. We want to make walking enjoyable, not just a workout activity,” says Sehba.

Apart from exploring the City, the members often go for movies and trips together. “Initially we were apprehensive of meeting strangers, but LWG has now become a big family,” says a member.


Gurgaon Drum Circle (GDC)

Every fortnight the Biodiversity Park comes alive with the sound of drums, djembes, tambourines, congos, angclungs, and guitars. As the rhythm grows, a corner of the Park turns into an open-air opera house, reverberating with the most exotic sounds drawn from different parts of the world. “You can hear the perfect tuning of the West African hand-drum with the India dhol,” says Kapil Syal, Founder of Gurgaon Drum Circle (GDC). GDC is a group of music lovers who come together to play a wide assortment of musical instruments every second Sunday, for two hours.

“The best thing about GDC is that it encourages people not only to participate and play with musical instruments, but also create sounds with everyday articles, like a water bottle. The idea is to play together. Many just  clap, dance and enjoy themselves. “It’s something for which the entire family can come together, and bond with other people too,” says a 58-year-old member, who not only plays, but also teaches musical instruments to children in the Group. The youngest performer is an eight year-old girl, Ridhi, who plays the tabla. As Sukhad leads with the daf, Ridhi responds to every beat on her tabla.  

Besides the artists, music producers also attend the sessions. Many times they have selected some participants for
recording sessions
.

Talking about the concept, Kapil Syal says that “Drum Circles is an international phenomenon – so I thought of having one in Gurgaon.”


Get Alive

This Group is popular among travel buffs.  It organises various leisure activities, such as heritage walks, art walks, wine tasting, rock climbing, photography courses, ballroom bootcamps, golf introductory lessons, and charity initiatives.

The Founder of the group, Namita Anand, who is also a writer, says, “Five years ago, there was little interest in a travel group. The City needed a forum where the adventure buffs could meet and chalk out plans.  I took the initiative and formed this Group,”
she says.

Get Alive also provides a platform for charity. Speaking about the recent Shoebox project, along with some NGOs, Namita says, “It was a huge success. We collected over 1,300 shoeboxes. This shows people in the City are keen to contribute for social causes, but they don’t know where to go. We provide them an avenue to have fun and also help society, by participating in various
charity events.”


Gurgaon Theatre Group

One day a City-based theatre enthusiast, Ashutosh Shelat, along with a few like-minded people, invited theatre lovers to his Facebook group. “As we run an NGO for the promotion of theatre, we have infrastructure in place for training amateur artists. We have an amphitheatre with a seating capacity of 300 people, at Palam Vihar. It is ideal for training, rehearsals, and performances. So we decided to offer the platform to people who are busy with their jobs, but also want to try their hand at acting,” says Ashutosh.

Started in 2011, “Gurgaon Theatre Group”, has over 117 members today. The Group believes that amateur artists should be given training and exposure in all the genres of acting. That is why, after every three or four months, an acclaimed director is invited to not only provide training to the members, but also to help them put up a show together. Famous artists such as Mrinal Dhar and Arjun Raina have been taking sessions. While the Group offers free membership, there is a fee for attending the workshops, which are held every Saturday and Sunday, for two hours. The Group is going to stage its first play— “Darling Sharling Hai Toba”—on December 21, at the amphitheatre. The same show will also be staged at Alliance Francaise, New Delhi. “It is a matter of pride that within just one year we have trained members to put up a ticketed show at a reputed platform like Alliance Francaise,” says Nancy, who is playing one of the lead roles in the play.


Bonding over books

Many times we come across books that we want to recommend to people; and books that we want to talk about. If you feel the same, “Everything and a Book Club too” is the place to be. Puja Sethi, a member of the Gurgaon Book Club, started this initiative after she realised that the Gurgaon Book Club had been inactive for a long period of time. “At ‘Everything and a Book Club too’ we don’t just read and discuss, but we also socialise and catch up with people over a cup of coffee. It helps in relieving the daily stress, and also in building the personality of a person,” says Pooja.

For Kirti Prasad, a resident of Sector 57, meeting at the Book Club is better than visiting a library. “The timings are flexible, and the venue can be anything from a garden to a coffee shop in your neighbourhood. We meet, discuss, and have a great time. It is something I look forward to, after working hard over the week.” Keshav, founder of another book club, “The Gurgaon Friends Meetup”, seconds the view. “A book club is one place where people can be themselves.” Both the clubs have an incredibly diverse members’ profile – comprising doctors, artists, teachers, graduates, psychologists, retired professionals, writers, social workers, media professionals, lawyers, homemakers, bankers, and bureaucrats. “At a glance the members seem to have very little in common; but if you bring them into a room with cups of coffee and a book, you would hardly see the difference,” smiles Keshav.

 

 

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