Heritage, adventure, start-ups, social service… The city is crammed with several groups who have common interests and a willingness to expand their horizons

Groupism, “the tendency to conform to the general thinking and behaviour of a group”, is healthy, useful, and profitable. That’s the message Chennai’s countless groups are sending out. Can you guess how many group-meet-ups are planned on a day you choose? You can’t. And each group has its unique composition: some insist on formal membership, others keep an open door. There is one for you — online and offline — whatever your current mode.

We believe we can do more as a group. We bask in the group’s social status, we feel secure, happy, confident. The smart may take it as a route to self-promotion — “I need to be seen in the company of these golf players, sure to help my business!”, but that’s group dynamics.

As you read this, Chennai Leadership and Coaching Group is probably discussing strategy, Touchwood Adventure Club drawing a roadmap, SriCity Outdoor & Adventure Club (SOAC) looking for outdoor venues, Beautiful Journey promoting women’s travel, Samañjasa (social advocates) and everything else for women. Wonder Moms must be laughing away their baby blues, Creative Souls India-Chennai taking up DIY projects, Branding Up Businesses estimating branding costs, Startups Club-Chennai welcoming entrepreneurs, Children’s Writers in Chennai narrating stories, 25 Thought Leaders critiquing authors and film buffs shredding the latest release.

In the digitosphere, Madmob members address problems of UXs for smaller screens, Titanium Platform users thrash the ins-and-outs of Appcelerator Cloud Services (ACS), Chennai NetSquared builds new relationships online, Indian Startups enables investors and ideators to connect. There are Developers’ groups and Big Data-Hadoop Enthusiasts. Chennai Stock Market Investors Group finds safe investment opportunities, Law of Attraction members embrace its Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). “Madras” is dear to Mad About Madras, a group that gathers for “Madras meals”. Madras Pattinam Singles meet to mingle. There are family groups that keep the members across the world together with news and gossip. Are you a member of these?

Chennai photo-walks group

If you spot a bunch of camera-toting people walking around, they are probably being led by Chandrachoodan Gopalakrishnan. His informal group, Chennai PhotoWalk (CPW) branched off the Flickr community of Madras. The term PhotoWalk was coined by Trevor Carpenter, the concept conceived by Thomas Hawk and Robert Scoble, says Gopalakrishnan. A friend visiting from Delhi wanted to explore Chennai, and walking Chennai’s streets with a camera sounded like a good idea. “We had fun — waking up at 5 a.m. on a Sunday to photograph sunrise, braving traffic on Mount Road to capture a bus from the lowest possible angle. This is a great way to know a city and learn its history.” A memorable moment was being chased out of Royapuram station where photography was banned.

Sruti Bala Kendra

Bhajan groups aren’t new to Chennai, but Sruti Bala Kendra is a registered one whose sevaks and sevikas of all ages journey to sing devotional songs wherever invited to. They visit schools to narrate stories, teach slokas, organise spiritual classes. Music, games, activities and annual contests form their classes, at the end of which children and faculty get handbooks and CDs for follow-up sessions. This year’s book is on traditional stories, good behaviour and Nature conservation.

Tamil Heritage

Interested in Tamil heritage? Get in touch with Tamil Heritage group people by retired Prof. Swaminathan (IIT, Delhi), publisher Badri Seshadri, and Gandhian Annamalai of Thakkar Bapa Vidyalaya. Those interested get a chance to hear experts speak and “avid amateurs”, join their summer camps. Their site seminars — cultural and historic studies — are held on location. “We want to expand knowledge of history/science/art/architecture of the Tamil country in particular and India in general,” said convener Gopu. All you need is time, enthusiasm and effort, no membership, fee or qualification.

Madras Naturalists Club

Nature lovers make a beeline to Madras Naturalists’ Society, a not-for-profit organisation, most of whose members are passionate birdwatchers. Among members are professional ornithologists and keen hobbyists. Interests of this group vary from trees, insects, environment to renewable energy. An online newsletter keeps members informed of its activities and field-trips to Nature reserves and bird-watching contests are events members look forward to.

Book clubs

Chennai Book Club readers discuss, share, exchange books — and meet-up once a month. CBC offers plenty — a bookshelf, to-read lists, polling options. You can do promos, borrow/lend/resell/swap/give away books.

Book Club India — another online book club provides information about publication of books, reviews, book launches, book fairs. “We post articles on various topics to create and sustain interest of the visitors,” said curator Olivannan. Visitors are from 100-plus cities in India, and over 130 countries in the world. It boasts of around 4000 members on Facebook.