Partying in Hyderabad vs. Partying in Gurgaon!

By Varun Mannava (The Author of the *Bestseller book “Polite Pickup Lines in Indian Pubs” buy now on Amazon — http://www.amazon.in/Polite-Pickup-lines-Indian-Pubs/dp/9386073137 )

Let me be quite frank. Gurgaon is the party capital of India. That’s the truth!

In my earlier blog post, I walked you all through on where and how to party in Gurgaon. I wrote this blog in early 2016 but its still valid. Not much has changed except that there is SOCIAL in Cyberhub now.  (https://varunsword.com/2016/01/03/gurgaons-coolest-hangouts-monday-to-sunday/)

I moved to the city of Hyderabad in January, 2017. In the last 6 months I have been to enough places to have gathered enough experience to write about Hyderabadi pubs!

And it doesn’t look that great in comparison to Gurgaon!! Sorry to disappoint you folks. Let me elaborate.

Stag Entry : This is a big headache in Hyderabad. On a Friday or a Saturday night, the best pubs in Hyderabad follow a strict stag entry rule. Only exception is HyLife where stags are allowed after charging entry and cover charge.  Whereas in Gurgaon, most of the pubs allow stags with a cover charge, else if you know a manager in the pub. I will leave it to your opinion, but if you ask me I hate it. It’s not like men are going to get in and create a rampage. Do some basic profiling before letting stags in. Whatever it is, this has to change.

Band Culture : Hyderabad is currently catching up with Bengaluru and running high on Band performances. Its super cool. However I would like a balance of Band and DJ. In Gurgaon, most of the pubs start the band performances at 6.30 pm and by 10.30 pm the band hands over the baton to the DJ no matter how great the band is. If we are talking about very popular bands then they take over the whole night but on a normal weekend handing over to the DJ at 10.30 is the norm. Hyderabad needs to learn to balance the two.

Socializing : No matter how funny you are you are unlikely to make new friends in a pub unless you are either a performer in a band / actor in a movie. Ha. Trust me when I say this even though I am a conversation starter specialist myself. In the last 6 months I have just made one or two new friends in pubs. This is the major difference between Gurgaon and other cities. If you are funny and start a decent conversation, the women in Gurgaon will engage with you in a conversation. In Hyderabad, people go in groups and they stick to their groups. No new friends please! If this is what you wanted, why go to a pub? House party should do no?

Quick reviews of happening pubs in Hyderabad.

#1 Prost – This is high on ambiance but the brewed beer is not that great.

#2 Hylife – This has various levels of partying and I like their brewed beer the most in Hyderabad

#3 The Other Side – I have heard good things about this pub and its definitely in my list to visit.

#4 The Moonshine Project – This place has some creative gigs. It was the launch pad for a new band called Capricio apart from helping kick-start a regional concept band called Varnam  (https://varunsword.com/2017/02/12/varnam-an-attempt-to-evoke-thought-using-music-and-language/)

#5 FUBAR – This is an open mic bar. Cute.

 

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Karman Kaur, India’s rising Tennis star, has no plans to rest until she gets an Olympic Gold!

Hello world! Meet Karman Kaur Thandi (18 years old) who is training right now in Nice, France at Mouratoglou Tennis  Academy!

Karman’s highest ranking in ITF juniors (International Tennis Federation) was 32. She won the “WTA Future Stars” in 2014 which was held in Singapore.

She was kind enough to squeeze some time to answer my questions below.

(image courtesy – Facebook)

Karman Kaur tell us something about yourself, your schooling and college.

“I started playing tennis when I was 8 years old. My parents put me in this sport during the school vacations just as a hobby and for fitness. “

“I went to Ryan International School Vasant Kunj . Currently I am pursuing my degree first year at Jesus and Mary college ( Delhi University).”

As a child what did you dream of becoming?

“As a child I always used to dream of becoming a tennis player and be the best in that, which is to be number 1 in the world. “

Why Tennis?

“I chose tennis. When I was young I played many games. But I chose tennis because I really liked the game and enjoyed playing it. And my parents encouraged me to go further in the sport.”

What was the first tournament you won and how did you progress from there on?

“Two months after I had started playing tennis I took part in an ‘Under-10’ tournament in Delhi and won it. That was my first tournament victory. After that I stared played National level tournaments. I was number 1 in the country under-14, under-16, under-18. I gradually started playing international tournaments and now am playing in the international women’s circuit.”

You are currently ranked number 2 in AITA (All India Tennis Association) women’s rankings, tell us more about it.

“Yes right now I am no.2 in AITA women’s ranking. I didn’t play a lot of tournaments the last year however this year I plan to play more tournaments and improve my ranking.”

What is your next target, how do you plan to achieve it?

“My next target is to get my WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) ranking under top 300 by the end of the year. I am gonna work hard and give my best to achieve it.”

Tell us something about your interaction with international players or any other interesting personalities.

“When I won the 2014 WTA Future stars, I received the winner trophy from Li Na. I met all the top players there and the atmosphere was fascinating.

By interacting with top players like Li Na, Sania Mirza, Maria Sharapova I gathered a lot of motivation.”

What is your dream and your vision for Indian Tennis?

“My dream as an Indian tennis player is to reach Top 10 in the world and win a few Grand Slams.

And my vision for Indian Tennis is to win the Fed Cup and bring a gold home in Olympics! “

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(image courtesy – Facebook)

On behalf of fellow tennis enthusiasts in India, I wish you very well in all your future pursuits! Hope your dreams come true soon!

–Varun Mannava (Tennis enthusiast, Self-published author)

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VARNAM – An attempt to evoke thought using music and language

A calm Wednesday evening when the cyber bees in Hyderabad are not too frustrated nor looking forward to the weekend. They have ordered their drinks and are casually lost in conversation.

At the same time, Krishnan, the pianist cum vocalist is lost in discussion on-stage with Niteesh, the guitarist cum vocalist. They are discussing what is the pitch for their next song. This rough practise might surprise a few guests initially but when they hear the fair copy of the song, the trial seems worth its time.

Krishnan goes “This song starts with a certain pitch and scale”, while Niteesh is immediately trying to replicate that on his guitar, Krishnan corrects him and gives him a better note instead. They shake their heads in agreement and get ready to play the fair version. Out of nowhere they are singing an organic cover to the song “Humma humma”. This is nothing new. We have seen all types of creative covers for all the songs on you-tube by various artists and professionals these days.

So what makes VARNAM so special?

VARNAM is the brain child of Hemender and Jaidev who own the pub “The Moon Shine Project” in filmnagar, Hyderabad. They spring up with childish enthusiasm whenever they are explaining the concept to someone. So why this excitement, what is this concept?

Let’s consider the same Humma song. It goes like this “Andha Arabic kadal oram, oor azhagai kandene…..” Krishnan completes the pallavi in TAMIL. This is when Niteesh jumps in and sings the charanam in TELUGU! And Krishnan comes in un-announced to sing a few more lines and at one point they both are singing and harmonizing together.

Yes, this is the mother of all fusions that you would have witnessed in Hyderabad till now. It does two things.

a.       Transports you to the era of growing up with these songs.

b.       Forces you to remember the lyrics in your mother tongue whenever the house is singing in the alternate language.

This keeps your mind and heart engaged for the 3 hours that VARNAM is live.

In between, the singers take a quick break but they are also kind enough to take ‘on the fly’ requests from enthusiastic guests. This gets even better. A new / unprepared song in their list may take more discussion time between Krishnan and Niteesh but once they are ready they take off as if it’s no one else’s business.

The scene gets more meat with Shiv Menon (who along with Krishnan initiated Varnam, took a few wednesdays off and is back now). Shiv is an amazing vocalist and guitarist at the same time. He has the potential to steer the evenings to another gear and when that happens Krishnan and Niteesh are more than happy to match his creativity.

The microphone is also open to genuine singers/ guitarists upon request.

Overall, VARNAM is a heartful of nostalgia and a mindful of memories, that too on a Wednesday night!

Long live Illayaraja and AR Rahman for pioneering the effort of bonding the two cultures through music! VARNAM is an ode to their impact on Tamil and Telugu listeners alike!

–Varun Gowtham Mannava (Also the author of the book ‘Polite Pickup Lines In Indian Pubs’)

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MeetNumber: The need to organize your personal or business schedule

If you are a working professional and have worked on a windows desktop, you would have come across Outlook Calendar. The easy-to-use interface and reminder pop-ups have made the outlook calendar an integral part of office requirements just like a desk, chair, lighting.

Now imagine the need to set up meetings for your personal needs (leisure) or business needs (entrepreneur) and you either cannot afford MS outlook calendar or you don’t want to further contribute to the riches of the already rich Bill Gates. What other options you got?

Facebook. There is a section in Facebook called Events where the users can set up a private/ public event and choose a location. This also enables choosing co hosts. So what is the problem in using Facebook to organize your events? Usually Facebook is used for setting up mass events like engagement announcements/ wedding announcements/ DJ tour etc. Plus the data in Facebook may end up getting sold to vendors resulting in no privacy even for a private event.

If you want something more low-key yet reliable and personal just like your little black diary where you used to jot down your everyday schedule/ weekend meetings and contacts MeetNumber is just the app you need.

MeetNumber is available on PlayStore for free. It is a light weight application and runs pretty fast even on low cost smartphones. You go through a user demo once the installation is complete. The app has 1 major Meeting view and 3 sub-views (Schedule list view, Contacts view, Messages view) apart from the settings view.

‘Create Event’ function has a start date, time and end date, time. It also records the information whether the meeting is a recurring one or standalone one. Location (using gps), people (using contacts), reminder alert and notes can also be recorded. Whats a meeting without the purpose, ‘Title’ captures the purpose.

The schedule list sub-view is pretty straight forward, easy to view and shows up some of the past meetings in addition to current and future meetings.

The Contacts sub-view imports all the contacts from your phone and displays it similar to the contacts display on your phone. The only difference being that you can swipe and set a meeting with each contact. This enables you to send and invite separately to a particular contact.

Messages sub-view, as the name suggests, displays the messages you received through the MeetNumber app.

Settings sub-view is pretty simple and easy to use. The preferences section enables users to update ‘Week start day’, ‘Default event length’ and ‘Default reminder’. Whats a networking app without a ‘Status’ field. Go ahead, speak your mind via the ‘Status’.

Highly successful people keep a strict schedule to get the most out of everyday. Everyday counts. MeetNumber helps you be successful everyday!

Click here to install the app on your Android/ i phone.

http://www.meetnumber.com/dl

–Varun Gowtham Mannava

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Federer : The new synonym for Hope

Hope is a beautiful thing.

Hope makes everyday worries seem little. Hope makes years of waiting run by in a jiffy. Hope makes hearts melt. Hope makes some journeys unending yet interesting. Hope is what convinced Red to meet his friend Andy in the end (Shawshank Redemption).

When Federer tweaked his knee, we are unsure what was running in his mind. Was he feeling sad? Did he surrender to the pain? Was he considering retirement? What would fans think? Was he too careless? Did he commit a mistake which was a point of no return?

We get some clues here and there from his 6 month break. He goes trekking on the Alps. Great news, at least he is walking freely and fit to climb. He posts a picture of sprinting in gym. Terrific news, at least he can serve and volley. He posts a live feed of his practice session in Dubai. Lucas Pouille gets a taste of practicing with a child like Federer. He books the court in advance for practice before Hopman Cup, crowds turn up in thousands to watch him practise. He loses Hopman cup but at least looks fit to take on top 10 tennis players.

Destiny plays its own game. “Sir” Andy Murray, who is in tremendous form since 2016, is placed in the same draw as Federer. It would have been a blockbuster Quarter Final had Murray remained in the tournament. But he had to crash early. Federer played Berdych as if he wanted to catch a subway train. Berdych’s coach Ivanisevic says Federer gave Berdych a free tennis lesson in the third round!

Federer reaches fourth round where a samurai precision Nishikori almost cuts him into two halves in the first set. He recoups and eventually tires the Japanese out in 5 sets. Not so easy peasy japaneezy. Again he plays Mischa Zverev as if he wants to reach a pub before last order. Mischa is lucky he got tennis tips from the legend.

Wawrinka, who won the most recent grand slam, is a different animal when it comes to 5 setters. The grand Djokovic himself handed over the final after winning first two sets in 2016 US OPEN! Our man wins first two sets against Wawrinka in the semifinal here. Then out of nowhere he loses the next 2 sets. Federer’s backhand in the match never caught up. But somehow he held on to his placements and won the match.

Destiny plays its final game by bringing up your worst nightmare. Both Federer and his fans know that beating Rafa on a hard court is as difficult as all the matches put together till now. He surprisingly starts well, takes 2-1 sets lead, then tanks in the 4th set, then digs his own grave in the first game of the 5th set. After that what he did to break Nadal in the 6th game and how he served out the match is what HOPE is made of.

HOPE was present in all the hearts of the audiences present in the Rod Laver stadium. HOPE was present in all the hearts of the viewers who were watching it all over the world. HOPE was present in every shot that Federer took against Nadal from that 6th game on. HOPE was present in every HawkEye review challenge that was posed against Federer.

HOPE made him surpass all the hurdles from the first round till the final and made his 18th grand slam title an amazingly blissful and joyous sight!

Hope is a beautiful thing.

–Varun Gowtham Mannava

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Life lessons from Breaking Bad

Lets get this straight. Its been many years since Breaking Bad released, however I watched it only recently. Although it was initially scary and depressing to watch the Protagonist “Walter White” going through cancer, once we come over the fear of hospitals and death along with the character so amazingly portrayed by Bryan Cranston, we realize there is a lot of thought put into the scenarios and counter scenarios. Given there are many reviews and awards for this series already I am not going to get into the reviewing zone but would rather prefer to just stick to the lessons this unique series presents. Trust me, after every twist and turn, I keep realizing the hidden lessons this series offers.
Here are a few that caught my attention.
1. Don’t panic even if Cancer hits you. Use it to your advantage:
Sometimes we are all so blinded by our daily routine that we often forget where we lost our natural talent. It takes a disaster, it takes a gun on your forehead, it takes a countdown to your grave, it takes a threat of termination to make you stand up and take notice of what you lost in life’s unrelenting and unforgiving demands. Quite a few people get into depression and lose the energy to pursue anything in life when such a disaster strikes them. They get into the loop of thinking “why me?”. It need not be a life ending disaster, a few of us think like this even if we lose a girlfriend or a job. Breaking Bad teaches us to take up the disaster,  however small or big it may be, and make something productive out of it. What unfolds in the first season is that the protagonist realizes his natural potential of creating something so pure that he makes the whole nation crave for his product. Wow! Talk about taking Karma head on!
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2. No matter how successful you become keep a low profile and stay down to earth:
Its human nature to feel happy with the wealth earned. And if one has sufficient wealth for 3 to 4 generations then one develops an itch to show off. They tend to forget the humble roots they came from. Replace wealth with Power / popularity, people react in the same way. The antagonist in Breaking Bad (atleast for 2 seasons) teaches us how he runs the biggest drug distribution empire and yet he smiles and takes orders from customers. He never forgot that it was this chain of restaurants that gave him his bread and butter initially. His humility & concern for the society (although fake in the series) keep him clear of any trouble. I am not saying create a cover identity, instead trying to establish that Gustavo Fring, as a businessman attracted less noise because he kept it calm and humble always. His restaurants were down to earth and so was his drug distribution business. Replace it with any legal business and it would still attract similar success is what I am trying to establish. Example – Superstar Rajinikanth.
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3. Always wait patiently for your turn to hit back:
This is an era of instant Biryanis. Imagine, if Biryanis can be cooked instantly, why should one wait for retaliation/ revenge. We often witness petty fights and arguments because people are in a hurry to hit back on the insult or betrayal meted out to them. Sometimes we feel so powerless if the injustice meted out to us comes from a powerful/ wealthy individual. We are forced to wait and depend on someone else to deliver justice to us. However during the wait, we are really unsure whether justice will ever be delivered. Breaking Bad delivers a strong message in such scenarios. Even when you can’t utter a word or move a limb like Hector Salamanca, you will still have revenge served to you on a silver plate. Just trust the Universe and keep calm. What goes around comes around. We just have to identify the opportunity when it comes around instead of being blinded with the worry of delayed justice and damaged ego.
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4. We are all like Lord Hanuman and need some ardent followers/ friends who can help us remember our core strengths:
Like Jesse Pinkman who reminds Walter white about his chemistry expertise and makes him build a battery out of nothing in the middle of a desert, we all need a set of believers who keep reminding us of our core strengths. Trust me, I sometimes don’t remember how my last weekend went. Life changes from weekend to weekend. In such a busy schedule we sometimes tend to forget our core strengths. We may have utilized some skills in our day to day lives but when we are hit with a temporary difficulty we forget what we know so well especially when it matters the most. It used to be very common with Lord Hanuman who always had to be reminded that he can lift mountains, that he can fly across oceans, that he can grow like a Hulk or minimize like an Antman.
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5. Always hold on to your family, because family is all we got:
Like Jane’s father says “Family is all we got!” Need i say more on what that means? Nevertheless, it means we protect our family no matter what the difference of opinions. We should always strive to show the right path to our family members who are consciously or unconsciously straying away into darker territories.
–Varun Gowtham Mannava
(Also the author of “Polite Pickup Lines in Indian Pubs”)
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The STORY behind ‘After-Parties’ in Gurgaon!

I am sure we all know what an ‘After-Party’ is. For those who are not aware of this term, the following scenarios will help you understand and relate to it better.

Scenario 1 : You have had a bad work week and want to vent out your frustration on a Saturday night but you realize that the pubs shut down at 12.30 sharp. However, you don’t want to go home.

Scenario 2 : Your group of friends met after quite a while and you are being asked to go home at midnight, however you want the nostalgia to continue.

Scenario 3 : You bump into a stranger and you make friends with him/ her instantly but you find out the lights come up and the bouncers are starring at you and wondering why you are not leaving yet.

Scenario 4 : You just discovered your appetite for drinking has just gone up by 10% but the bar is closed for that one last drink !

Scenario 5 : The DJ never played your song despite begging him/ her around.

Hope I have covered most of the common reasons on why Gurgaon deserves an After-Party. STORY has rightly identified this need on a Saturday Night. Westin, one of the star hotels in Gurgaon has managed to shed its luxury tag and make way for late night party seekers. There is no entry / cover charge on Saturday nights.  Le Meridian (previously Pullman Hotel) used to attract quite a crowd earlier in 2015 with its pool side ‘I-Kandy’. However for reasons unknown, I-Kandy slowly faded away from the late night party scene.

STORY has high end ambience and is well maintained. One can view the entire floor from anywhere inside. They have an easily accessible bar. The smoking zone is restricted to the far corner and is good for conversations. It has a terrace which is often restricted for private parties.

Staff at the entry may be little extra cautious and strict in filtering out stags. They have a valet parking and a thorough security check for everyone’s benefit.

Staff at the bar and the bouncers are friendly. Drinks here are expensive, however you would get a Beer and a small Black Label for almost the same cost, so I would let you decide.

The DJs here (Majorly DJ Raney and his wolf pack) prefer to mix popular English tracks with Bollywood tracks and they make a great job of it too. And yes they do take requests and let you take selfies with them. Some of the Soi7 crowd that was loyal to DJ Raney follows him to his new workplace and that includes me too.

The women here dress fine as well as casual and don’t mind making new friends. There is a designated dance floor near the DJ console and the crowd enjoys dancing till late in the night.

Place starts shutting down by 4.30 am and by the time you hit the roads you get a feeling that you just witnessed a wild night thanks to STORY

— Varun Gowtham Mannava

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