A World Alike, a few-months-old invitation-only lifestyle network in Delhi only takes in “well-educated, articulate” individuals with “social, emotional and intellectual capital.” Multi-city singles’ network Floh marks out its clientele as “urban professionals who have graduated from top universities in India and across the world.” Aisle, a closed online community of “urban, like-minded Indians,” makes clear that “if what comes to your mind when you hear “Guns N’ Roses” is guns or roses, then you might not be a good fit.” Footloose No More (FNM), a private match-making network in Mumbai also specifies who it’s not for.“We don’t want those people joining this group who don’t naturally belong here because we have our events at high-end clubs and venues…In urban India’s new cultural hierarchy, the top rung is reserved for the global Indian: The foreign-educated, career-oriented, well-read, well-paid, well-travelled and socially savvy men and women who are held up by an increasingly aspirational society as the embodiment of success.The deeper the idea of money not being able to buy everything sets in urban psyche, the bigger the rise in the social stock of people who had the foresight to cultivate “class.” They are the taste-makers and trendsetters, pursued by gourmet restaurants, adventure travel companies and peddlers of holistic living.
The way the networks describe their target client more or less makes up the definition of ‘class’ in contemporary India.
Also like Japan, most of the sex shops here are off limits to foreigners.
One easy way around that has long been to simply visit “the Hill” in Itaewon, the main “foreigner area” in this homogenous country.
The Agnihotri siblings are now married to people they met at their own mixers, Abhishek with “a convent-educated MBA graduate working in a large organisation,” and Varsha with a man who quit his corporate job to become a music composer. We have seen 52 marriages in five years,” Agnihotri said.
The mixers thrown by these networks, whether a cook-out or a painting workshop, need the members to perform, from putting on their best clothes to turning a conversation into an opportunity, and the pressure is often more on men than on women.There were some obvious things in common—the way we dress, how we conduct ourselves, the food we eat.” This, of course, is just the first step in a multi-level screening process employed by FNM and similar networks that are more stringent about keeping out those who don’t belong than taking in ones who do.