90 minutes at “The Hindu” office

When I reached Hyderabad in 2006, I was a young chap with raging adrenalin. Although the adrenalin was focused on only one thing – ‘Making money and supporting my family’. When I got through to a financial services company in Hyderabad, I was in Chennai. I clearly remember calling my father and telling him “Nanagaru (dad in telugu), I got through!” .  He was so proud!

I can still vividly remember that out of 200 odd students who applied for the the company only 4 got through. I was one among them. We became superstars instantly. That’s what the company hiring logo said, “We hire Superstars!”.  Some of the students (especially girls) who hardly spoke to me in 3 years suddenly were interested in whether I am taking the job or no? I would just nod and smile.

In May 2006, when I reached my office in Hyderabad (G. Pulla Reddy building, Begumpet), I couldn’t help but notice “The Hindu” office located right next to my current office. Flashes of me waking up early in the morning  in Tambaram, Chennai, to gather newspapers around 5 am and eventually deliver them as a make-shift newspaper boy flashed right in front of my eyes. I delivered newspapers between 2002 and 2003 so that my family could come out of a bad financial patch, even my father did. The day when I saw that my office was right next to The Hindu office, I made up my mind that some day I would visit this office for a unique reason.

Fast forward 12 years >>

August-2018 : I receive an email from the features reporter who is interested in covering my article as a Dating Coach. I see 4 questions and I answered them through email so that when I meet the features reporter in person, it would save time for both of us.

I was asked to reach The Hindu office in Hyderabad at 5 pm on a Friday. I reached the office at sharp 5 pm, wrote down my details at the security register. Once I entered, I got to know that my reporter was held up in a meeting and that I need to wait for 15 minutes at the reception.

I sat at the reception reading a weekend edition that educated me about volcanoes in the Antarctic! I was amazed that there are volcanoes even in Antarctic. After 15 minutes, I got the call from the reporter and she asked me to come up to the 2nd floor. I went and met her. She started off saying “I do not belong to your generation, so tell me everything in detail. What you do as a dating coach, how it all started?”

We were supposed to wrap it up in 15 minutes, however we spoke for 90 minutes! During the conversation I mentioned how my Paternal grandfather always wanted to see his grandchildren’s photo in The Hindu newspaper, for merit reasons obviously (say if I were to top the Tenth grade at state level).

When it was time for me to leave, the reporter asked where does my grandfather stay. I told her he passed away 2 years ago. To which she responded, I think you would still make him proud!

5 days later my article was out in the metroplus along with my photo.

This one is for you Tatagaru (Grandfather in Telugu)!

–Varun Gowtham Mannava



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Love in a UBER Pool

               We met in a Uber Pool

                I instantly lost my cool

I live in Somajiguda
You live in Panjagutta
We both had to reach Kothaguda
You scolded the cab driver
For picking you up late
He put the blame in turn on me
For a second you hesitated
Then you showered angry looks at me
Although I looked calm on the outside
My heart was racing like a horse
For my eyes hadn’t seen a woman
So beautiful even while angry
We met in a Uber Pool
I instantly lost my cool
Midway you got a call
You argued with your friend for being late
Scolding me again for the delay
Even though the ride was for 40 mins
It felt like a lifetime
God, how I wished
There were more traffic jams
Along our way just so that
I could sit beside you for more time
Our paths were different
Our origins were different
But Destiny brought you to me in this cab
Because at this moment
No one can take you away from me
Except the destination
And finally the destination did come
You realized you didn’t have cash
You had to kill your ego
And asked me for help
I obliged instantly but
Denied taking money back from you
But you wouldn’t take any favor from strangers
Then came the question I had been waiting for a lifetime
“Can I have your number?”
I gave you my number
You gave me a missed call
And asked me to store your number
You said you would return the money over the weekend
And I said maybe we could meet in a coffee shop?
You were still angry with me
But you gave away a smile at the corner of your lips
You didn’t answer my question
But I know it was a yes !!
We met in a Uber Pool
I instantly lost my cool
— Varun Mannava
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How NOT to be in a Relationship!

Alright, we have heard all the gyan (knowledge) from internet on how to be in a relationship. But what they don’t tell you is how not to be in a relationship.

Relationship is a domain that is fast changing. Everyone would have gained their basic knowledge about relationship from their parents or friends or movies. However, what we fail to admit is that we are no longer part of our parent’s relationship era or that we are not as lucky as our friends or that its never as cliche as it happens in movies. So what makes it so difficult or easy to be in a relationship in 2018’s?

Today, most of us are not aware of what we truly want. Let’s agree on this. We want to be in a relationship just because our friends or acquaintances or colleagues keep pestering us from time to time saying “How come you are single?” Even if we tell them a convincing answer they refuse to accept it. So let’s all accept it. No one wants to be single these days. Especially in this “Tinder Era”. As a matter of fact, relationship in 90s had a completely different definition compared to the definition in 2017s or 2018s.

We have single people, we have “divorcees”, we have “widows/ widowers”, we have “single but just broken up from a relationship yet unable to forget their ex”, we have “married, father/ mother of two but unhappy with the marriage”, we have “married yet want to explore/ swap”, we have “it’s complicated” kind of reasons. Everyone in the above category including the “genuinely single” person is looking for a partner, mind you! Maybe not a faithful partner, not a loyal lifetime partner, just a partner. Add to this a few alcoholic drinks and you have everyone in the pub hitting on every hot girl, whether the girl is single or no!

What is the kind of precedence we are setting for our future generation? We are 10x confused with what we want. Our future generation would be 100x confused. Their future generation would be 1000x more confused and so on. We may not live long enough to laugh at the relationship standards 30 years down the line. Just like our grand-moms and grand-dads!

What is the solution to all this? Does this need a solution?

If we do need a solution, then the most logical solution (according to me) is to have a clear mindset and understand not to run behind every open window of opportunity we get, no matter how lucrative that opportunity is. Although it might give us pleasure for the initial few weeks/ months, it is bound to turn ugly. When I say ugly it’s just a mild interpretation. Ugly can get really, really ugly. For instance, I recently read a news article, where a senior manager of a reputed wall street bank had an affair with his own team mate and did not allow her to get married and at the same time he could not get married too! What is this world we live in?

Is it really so difficult to find the partner of our dreams? Is the partner of dreams so overrated?

In such an era, how does one find a loyal, accommadative partner?

Know Thyself!

Only if you are 100% sure of what you want, you would not be so unsure and casual about what you get during your exploration. Let’s say you are looking for Gold all your life, and when you dig the earth you find copper. Just because Gold is hard to get and Copper also glitters and that you know “All that glitters is not Gold”, why would you still settle for Copper. Keep digging for your Gold, until you get it.

In order to dig for Gold, you first need to be very clear as to why you need only Gold and not anything else. If you are clear then nothing or no one can stop you from discovering your ideal partner (Gold)! Not even The Universe!

Go for Gold folks!

–Varun Gowtham Mannava

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Socializing through Bachata

Everyone who knew me back in 2010s knew me as a reserve, shy, “stick to work” conversation kind of a person. In 2013 I moved to Gurgaon and it transformed me. I had developed a knack for approaching strangers and engaging in a successful conversation with them. Most of them are my friends now. However this transformation was not just a few weeks affair. It took a lot of repeat visits to party places in Gurgaon, making friends with bar tenders & pub managers initially. Then forming my own wolf pack to feel more confident in approaching strangers (with the right mindset of course). This took 2 to 3 years. That is when one of my mentor cum good friend suggested I write a book on how to befriend strangers (opposite gender that is) in a social setup like pubs. I grabbed on to the idea. My aim was to help singles. I took up the challenge and self-published my first book in 2016. It did help a few singles in my immediate circle and some random readers too. I was happy.

In 2017 I moved to Hyderabad and the parties were not so happening anymore in hyderabadi pubs. I thought my days of making friends and helping fellow singles was over. But still I wanted to keep at it and do something for singles especially from a ‘dating coach’ point of view. I woke up one day thinking I can host speed dating events like the one that happens in the movie “Hitch”! All I had to do was to share this idea with my good friend and team mate (Denis). That’s it. He knew some of his contacts who were already conducting such events in Delhi/Bengaluru. I called them up and they readily agreed to let me host their speed dating events in Hyderabad. In July we started our first speed dating event in Hyderabad! I self-published my 2nd book that dealt more with the ideal mindset needed to approach a stranger. After hosting 8 events in 7 months, I felt I did my bit to make singles meet their ideal partner. It was promising but not as effective as I had envisioned.

The reason why I am telling you all this is that one need not go through the hardships I had gone through to find an ideal partner or make eligible singles find their ideal partner.

Bachata is all you need. No speed dating! No pub hopping!

If conversation starters are the key to breaking the ice, Bachata classes offer you loads of such conversation starters. Its not just that, there are loads of lighter moments that makes the entire class laugh. There are moments when you admire a fellow dancer but you need not just stop at admiring your fellow dancer, you can go and ask them to dance with you too! At this point however you need to follow the protocol of not making physical or unwanted advances. You are getting a lot of time to interact is what I am trying to convey. If not through your good dressing sense or dancing skills, through your casual interactions during the Bachata sessions if you are able to make an impression, voila, your first date is ON over the weekend! But you also need to remember, not everyone in the class might be single!

I regret I had not known about this earlier. I regret not learning an intimate dance form earlier too because although I am a good dancer on my own, I tend to freak out when it comes to dancing in pairs. But not anymore! Better late than never.

Cheers to Bachata.


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Striking similarity between Dark Knight & Federer

“But he didn’t do anything wrong!… ”

“Because he is the hero that Gotham Deserves, but not the one it needs right now, so we will hunt him, because he can take it, because he is not our hero…

He is the silent guardian, a watchful protector, A DARK KNIGHT!”

Now replace Gotham with Tennis and Bruce Wayne with Federer. Both super rich, both brat turned gentlemen, both faithful to their parents, both one woman men, both compassionate towards charity, both fighting against ‘Time’ over and over again.

Consider the time when Federer was in exile from Mid 2012 to 2016. He had not won a single grand slam. The critics would chase him. Write down articles on why he should stop playing. Because he was not the hero that Tennis needed back then. Murray and Djokovic graduated to their prime form. They were taking the tennis legacy to newer heights with occasional help from Nadal. They even hunted Federer down whenever they would come face to face with him. He endured it.

However Federer will script his comeback because he is the hero that tennis deserves, for when the prime players in the Big 4 were bed ridden/ injury struck, he took it as his duty to bounce back in 2017 like the dark knight in his bat mobile after 7 years of exile when Bane’s men take over the stock exchange.

Because the current generation of tennis players could not match the level at which the Big 4 were playing, which would in turn put off the expectations of tennis fans world wide, the Dark Knight of Tennis rose to the occasion and took it upon himself to save it from losing popularity. He is still giving the likes of Dimitrov, Zverev, Thiem, Kyrgios  more ‘Time’ to catch up to the Big 4 league and carry forward the beautiful yet physically daunting legacy of Tennis. Because he is the guardian, watchful protector of  tennis legacy.

He can gift the next generation more ‘Time’ because he has conquered it by becoming the oldest #1 in ATP ranking history! He is no less than a superhero in flesh and blood.

–Varun Mannava




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Maha Kavi Bharatiyar once sang “Jaadhigal illayadi paapa”. This meant that “There are no castes, listen oh little child”. He tried to make the next generation free of discrimination based on caste. His intention behind addressing it to a little child also meant that even a child can understand there is no discrimination, why cant we Indians understand this. He awakened a lot of people through his contemporary and path breaking ideas. However we still have this devil amongst us.

What is the solution, I ask. Oh Spirit of Bharati, tell me what the remedy is?

The Spirit of Bharati whispered in my ears

“Caste is very much present! Caste there in the pulse and nerves of all Indians. Caste gives them pride. Caste system is necessary. Caste System cannot be killed.”

I was surprised to hear this.

The Spirit of Bharati goes on and says,

“Listen to what I am saying carefully. Caste exists. All castes exist. They all exist in me. I am a Sudra, I am a Vysya, I am a Brahmin, I am a Kshatriya. All castes are me. I am all castes.”

I was slightly confused.

The Spirit of Bharati further explains,

“When I serve my fellow Indians, I am a Sudra! 

When I make money for my family, I am a Vysya!

When I spread knowledge or chant the God’s name, I am a Brahmin!

When I defend the powerless I am a Kshatriya.”

And so said the Spirit of Bharati,

“I am all Indians, All Indians are me! I am all Castes, All castes are me!”

–Varun Mannava




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LIVIN’ – Tamil Web series

To tell you the truth, I had no idea what this series was about. I also had my doubts if I would sustain till the final episode of season 1 of LIVIN’.

The series has a feel-good vibe throughout all its 13 episodes. It starts on a very funny, casual yet ambitious and jolly note and slowly turns towards realistic and hard reality kind of ending.

The city of Chennai and its culture is a silent character in this series. Chennai is constant witness to its citizens who are beginning to live in together, who are living as freeloaders, who have fallen in love with AI based app, who have grown old yet refuse to mature with time, who prefer walking home rather than a ride after dinner, who smoke-up bong in their balconies, who do fake poses for their pre-wedding photo-shoot, who want to explore true freedom but are bound by traditions and societal pressure.

Chennai accepts all of them with open heart.

Credit goes to the director-writer-creator – Prabhuram Vyas for choosing such a lovely premise and cast. There is a healthy mix of pride and satire on almost all topics. Take caste and racist feelings for instance. High IQ gyan on movies, books keeps flowing every now and then too!

Kanna Ravi initially seems like a boy next door with wooden looks but his acting skills get highlighted when things get realistic towards final episodes. Talented yet confused kinda look.

Amrutha Srinivasan is pretty comfortable doing her role. When she looks straight at the camera, you cant help but notice her mild squint eyes, cute! Beauty with brains kinda look.

Naveen George Thomas provides comic relief effortlessly. He evokes thoughtful laughter more like ‘Big bang theory’ and not like ‘Lollu sabha’. He is super comfortable in any scenario, be it funny scenes or emotional. I don’t give a f*** about anything kinda look!

Most of the series’ (including the NETFLIX ones), have unnecessary fillers which occupy a considerable amount of time in an episode  but wind up doing nothing in the end. This series has those too, however those fillers gel with the plot so well that the audience cannot name them a filler. Again the credit goes to the writer. The locations chosen for the series are all classy too.

This series is so subtle yet complicated that it invokes a sense of restlessness in the viewer. You would want to wake up and start pursuing something you like. Could be a person who you want to move in with, could be your passion, could be new love after break-up!

Watch all 13 episodes on YouTube in one go. While the first 12 episodes last for around 10 mins each, the final episode lasts for 23 mins. Its less than 3 hour watch.

–Varun Mannava


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Is the “Mani Ratnam Romance” still alive?


What is “Mani Ratnam Romance” ?

The latest movie directed by Mani Ratnam was “Kaatru Veliyidai”. Although this movie released in 2017, this was based in late 1990s. So technically his last movie on modern relationships was “OK Kanmani” back in 2015. It is a known thing that Mani Ratnam brings out the best on-screen romance in Indian Movies. Gautam Vasudev Menon comes next.

So what is “Mani Ratnam Romance” exactly?

Although every movie looks different, his bottom-line remains the same. The woman is quite strong, calm, patient, educated, introvert, ambitious. The woman has also gone through deep emotional trauma during her childhood or early adulthood. The Man is sweetly childish, chirpy, extrovert, pampered and at times moody and emotionally vulnerable. When such personalities meet there is a lot of energy transferred between these two. It is covered extensively in his movies.

Right from the first meeting, which is usually a silly blunder or an act of charity from the Man, to which the Woman reacts in a strong way (mostly because she misunderstands him). This sort of reaction from the Woman makes quite an impression on the Man and he becomes even more chirpy and mischievous in his quest for the Woman. What follows this pursuit is a string of intensely romantic situations covered extensively through duets and everyday life scenes. One specialty of Mani Ratnam is that he does not base his songs in some honeymoon locations. He keeps it as real as possible. This has a resonating effect in our daily life.

Whenever we (men) end up waiting for a special someone we are reminded of the Man in Mani Ratnam movies. Whenever we (men) see a special someone being mentally strong and looking naturally beautiful we are reminded of the Woman in Mani Ratnam movies. Whenever we (men) have to meet the parents of someone special we are reminded of the epic scenes from Mani Ratnam movies. Even when we are laying aimlessly in front of our special someone during a casual meeting we thank Mani Ratnam (in our minds) for teaching us how to be a natural romantic!

Is the “Mani Ratnam Romance” still alive?


Well, there are many reasons.

#1 reason – WhatsApp / Social media.

Half the romance is transferred on to the 5 inch screen on the top of our palm. On social media there is no silly blunder because it would be considered stalking if you bump into someone unknowingly. On social media there is no real gauge of mental strength because we all project our best face forward through hashtags and proverbs as taglines for our selfies. Expression of intense romance gets diminished to kiss smileys and heart Gifs.

#2 reason – Nobody has time

In this mad rat race for money and fame, we end up doing many things that we actually don’t want or don’t like. So there is no quality time left with anyone these days. Even if one does have time it gets lost in traffic!

#3 reason – Ample choices

We live in a fast food world now. There are ample choices for us. Right from the smartphones to hospitals to movie theaters to friends to girlfriend/boyfriends, we have a lot of options and a lot of supply. We live in an era where we are never spoilt for choices. In such a generation its very difficult to expect loyalty. Even a casual fight may result in deep separation. Having too much choice is a bane sometimes. Of course its a boon when we get dumped for a stronger/ deeper reason.

Food for thought maybe? Dump the social media chats, meet your special someone directly, take them out on a date. Feel like a Mani Ratnam Movie Man (or) Woman in 2017 again!

–Varun Mannava






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My chats with “Pavithra”

By Varun Mannava (Pub Reviewer & the Author of the *Bestseller book “Polite Pickup Lines in Indian Pubs” buy now on Amazon — CLICK HERE )

Who is Pavithra?

Why document my chats with her?

Why is it so important for the millennials to know?

Simple! Pavithra is every woman who has an honest opinion about the tectonic plates that are changing in the sphere of “Relationship”!

Why does it matter? It does at least to me! If I am in this sphere of pickup lines, dating and relationships, I need to be updated with what’s the latest in the scene.

I am going to throw a lot of jargons at you. You gotta tell me how many do you know already.

#1 Ghosting :

During the good old days of dating and relationships, according to Pavithra, “Men at least had the balls to call off a relationship. They would call you out for a special dinner, make you feel comfortable and then break it to you that it’s not working anymore.”

Pavithra is completely fine with this, at least she gets a decent closure. Then technology became quite advanced. Pavithra says “Whatsapp became the dumping ground for a lot of men! They would say, hey look, I don’t think we go along this way.” Still better!

Fast forward to 2016 – 17, Pavithra finds herself in unknown territory called “Ghosting”! This means men are no longer informing their girlfriends about their current status. They make believe women that that they are so deep in love with them and that they cannot live without them. 3 or 4 months into the relationship, they just disappear without any prior warnings or dumping dates! “How can they chicken out like that?” quizzes Pavithra!

Pavithra throws more jargons for Ghosting! “Gas Lighing, Love Bombing! They are all the same.” She seems to like the good old days of dating that eventually converted to engagement and then MARRIAGE.

You might be wondering why I mentioned the word MARRIAGE in all upper case?

Apparently Pavithra has more gyan on engagement and marriage too.

#2 Open Marriage:

“These days engagement is a joke. They put a ring on it! And then all hell breaks loose. Men start panicking and call off the engagement. So many of my friends have told me stories of engagements being called off” says Pavithra.

And talking about marriage, she asks me, “Have you heard about Open Marriages?” I am like nope. She then explains “Open marriage is something where the husband and wife really like each other and they live together, yet they can go see other men or women. Its an open relationship.”

Then I asked her ” Oh is it like the ‘House of Cards’ couple?”

“Exactly!!!!” she exclaims.

Then I get one level deeper to find out why men think how they think now. I say “We have been brought up in a culture where just B.A. or B.Sc. is not enough. Everyone wants to be in the top college. After they get into the best colleges, they want the best pay grades and not just any salary. Its the same thinking that has invaded the relationship space.”

Pavithra agrees “Yes, maybe you are right. Men are not just content with one girl. They think they have achieved one target. Hangout with that girl for a month and then move on to achieve a newer higher target just like they did in their career.”

So what’s the solution to this? Pavithra is clueless for now. Maybe she will come up with a solution the next time she chats up with me. Maybe she won’t.

We need to wait and watch. Till then ciao!


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Conversation Starters for online dating apps

By Varun Mannava (Pub Reviewer & the Author of the *Bestseller book “Polite Pickup Lines in Indian Pubs” buy now on Amazon — CLICK HERE )

Let’s be honest. We are in India. I wrote a book named “Polite Pickup Lines in Indian Pubs” and I got judged every time I informed that to a curious listener (except say 1% of them). So I am not going to spoil the scope and reach of this article by calling it pickup lines for online dating apps.

Just google “Conversation starters for Tinder” and you will see a million blogs on this topic. So how am I adding value to the already existing Gyan (knowledge) about how to impress the opposite sex?

I am going to give you just 2 basic tips on how to say whatever you truly feel like saying and still evoke a response. Yes! Oh, the bonus is, this works offline too!

Invoke the Universe! And how ?

When I mean universe, I assume you all know about the law of attraction! “Good thoughts attract good actions and results. Bad thoughts attract bad actions and results”. This is what the “Secret” says. However Buddha said the same thing 2500 years ago. But, the “Secret” is a lot cooler so the millennials follow that. Whatever your source may be, just follow the Universe and understand how it works.

Here’s how it works : You see a person on the online dating app and you really feel this person is the right one for you. After you have done some required research of course. I don’t care and I am not interested in how you are going to verify if everything written about the profile and the picture is 100% genuine or not. That’s your problem. Let’s proceed right on to my area of expertise. Invoking the Universe.

So once you have figured out that the person in the profile is the right match for you, take a few seconds to invoke some positive thoughts about your actions and consequences. One simple approach would be to say whatever you are going to say without any expectation of response in return. Even if it may or may not work in evoking a response, what it does for sure is not build anxiety in your “Mind” (Buddhists consider mind as the combination of Brain and Heart)! Why is it so necessary to keep your mind away from anxiety? Because you will be building castles of future and the more you build these castles, the more you are likely to be disappointed when there is a negative or no response from the person.

Wait patiently and the response will come. Ping!

Go the Cleopatra route

If you are not a believer in the Universe, which is 100% fine, I would suggest you take the Cleopatra route. Show off in a genuine way. That means don’t use someone else’s car / bike to pose for your profile pic. Show off with what you have. And combine this with a not too submissive approach while chatting. I am not asking you to hurt or ignore the person you are chatting with completely. But I am saying don’t give too much attention either! You don’t have to rush off chatting the same day. You will get more days to chat.

Obviously don’t compliment on the obvious features. The person would have heard it a thousand times. “Oh, you are so beautiful!” ; “Oh you have a great body” ; ya ya ya!! Rather construct a sentence around the compliment that engages a reply.  For example :

“Hey, you look great, but looks are not the only thing I am looking for!” sort of sentences…….

Read the profile and engage in the hobby talk if you like the person’s hobby but then again, don’t praise too much or let the person know you are head over heels with them too soon. Online chats (just like relationships) flourish when there is a constant feed of challenge. When challenge dies, the chat is no longer engaging.

Always keep a hook on to your conversations. Don’t overdo it but keep a healthy hook. That means you don’t ask questions where the only answer could be a “Yes” or a “No”!

Let me know how these 2 scenarios worked for you. Mail me at workaholicvarun@gmail.com!


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