Eat, listen to music, read books, meet in others’ homes

Eat, listen to music, read books, meet in others’ homes

The pandemic has created a need for uncrowded, private spaces. Some platforms are filling the gap

A couple booked the rooftop of an independent house in Sarjapura for dining via Thinnai recently.

Now you can rent pretty balconies and terraces in homes in Bengaluru to hang out, dine, read a book or work. You can bring your own food and drinks over here or simply order in.

A startup from Coimbatore has chosen the city to launch what it calls the Airbnb of dining for an hourly rent of Rs 200 to Rs 1,800 for four hours for a group of six. Eight homes and one artefact store have signed up as hosts and nine bookings have materialised in two weeks since they launched, they say.

Thinnai is the latest entrant into the scene of platforms offering people’s homes and uncommon spaces for an array of activities — dining, attending music concerts, listening to poetry and stories, for a gathering of two to 50 people.

Given the private nature of these spaces, they are branded as ‘secret locations’ and are often disclosed to the guests closer to the event. Guests and hosts are vetted and now, proof of vaccination is important to book a seat.  

Has the pandemic and the growing preference for uncrowded spaces and events opened a window of opportunity for home-bound businesses? 

F&B consultant Sudeshna Reddy thinks so. She has rented the leafy terrace of her villa in Sarjapura on the said platform (@thinnaii on Instagram). She has hosted three sets of guests, offering them water, tea, cutlery and access to the restroom, and declined seven requests due to her unavailability. She says, “People have realised we have to live with the pandemic and step out cautiously, so the proposition of small, private corners fits in well.” As for hosts, she feels people don’t use the terraces and patios of their houses a lot, so it is safe to let others in and it can also bring monetary returns.

Law student Shivani K Gowda celebrated her friend’s birthday in the balcony of an M G Road store but says she won’t mind a home either. “We have been cooped up in our homes for far too long. Service apartments are expensive. In cafes, waiters tend to disturb. So I would like alternative spaces that give privacy. That day, we ordered a pizza online and the host left us on our own.”

Cofounder Aravinth Prabu sums up, “We are giving guests a nice ambience and the freedom to order the food they want via delivery apps rather than be limited by the menu of the restaurant they are visiting.” 

‘Appetite for socialising’

Gaurav Israni oversees the Bengaluru chapter of Sofar Sounds (, a global movement to host gigs at intimate spaces, including homes. It held a music concert at a lifestyle store recently. 

Gaurav says the pandemic has increased the appetite for socialising but at the same time public events are few and far between, so there is a market for private gigs to thrive. “We get applications from 500 to 600 people to attend a gig but we take in only 50-60,” he makes a case. 

Nidhi Shah, COO of Motojojo (, a Mumbai startup that organises intimate music, poetry and travel storytelling gigs in over 20 cities and lets people bring food, agrees. “Since the Covid restrictions relaxed, we have received requests from Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune. We have done four gigs in Bengaluru since October, capping the guests to 20,” she informs.

Covid challenges remain

However, Nidhi had to cancel a year-end gig in Bengaluru because of the night curfew in the wake of the Omicron scare. The pandemic has hurt businesses in general and house gigs are no exception, she says.

Manu Mathew runs a similar platform, House Concert Foundation (@houseconcertin on Instagram). He says people are craving for live events in uncrowded spaces but there are limitations. “We used to host shows in homes earlier but now we are curating commercial spaces too. Not everybody is willing to let strangers in their homes when one can’t be sure of their travel history,” he explains.

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