By Radhika Bhirani
New Delhi, April 25 (IANS) Who doesn't want some fun before entering wedlock? Traditional pre-wedding sangeet and mehndi celebrations notwithstanding, young Indian bridegrooms, inspired by movies like "Hangover" and "Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara", are heading to international destinations with their gang of boys for that last fling.
Abhishek Jain, a Delhi-based businessman, took seven of his friends to an unusual destination like Tashkent (capital of Uzbekistan) prior to his wedding last year.
"I did not want to go to a usual destination like Bangkok for my bachelor's. I wanted to go to some unheard place. I asked seven of my friends to be part of the celebration. Eventually, the six-day trip turned out to be an amazing one. The city had everything we were looking for -- great pubs, even better night clubs and it was complete value for money," Jain told IANS.
The trip cost them Rs.35,000 per person, but who was complaining?
"Besides the colourful nightlife and the ballet shows, the nearby areas of Tashkent had all that you need on a vacation. We were taken to a beautiful lake known as Charvak. We did water sports there, paragliding, go-karting and a whole lot of other things," he added.
Sachin Awasthi, a 26-year-old IT professional, wants to let loose once before the D-day.
"Since it would perhaps be the last time to have crazy fun with my cousins and friends, I want to do something bizarre, something similar to what the guys did in the movie 'American Pie'. But that might not be possible in our country because of legal issues and other rules. Places like Bangkok and Macau allow us to do those, and that's quite a temptation," said Awasthi.
Adventure, thrill, casual gambling and, sometimes, just the idea of beach, booze and belly dancers work well for men who may be as young as 24 but are ready to tie the knot.
It's international destinations like Dubai, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Bangkok and Pattaya, which are most frequented, thanks to cheaper deals and unlimited avenues for the boys' idea of fun.
Macau's Cotai Strip has become a "24-hour party zone" with its recently opened Sands Cotai Central, an integrated resort, and now offers more than 10,000 hotel rooms, around 60 bars and restaurants, live entertainment, casinos, spas, 600 shops and so on.
"There are specialist party organisers in Macau ready to show you the various nightlife options," said Natasha Tome, executive director, marketing, Sands China Ltd.
"You can have fun on almost any budget. From fine dining to fast food, including many Indian options, from palatial suites to affordable comforts in world class hotels, with great shopping options for men, we even have gondola rides and entertainers. Indian groups will find everything here," Tome told IANS.
"You can also work in other exciting elements, such as bungee jumping, go-kart racing or helicopter rides to Hong Kong," added Tome.
According to Kushdeep Sawhney of BonVoyage Travels, "Travelling has more or less become a hobby for people, especially in India, and 70 percent of them are young boys and girls aged 20 to 25 years."
"The interest of people going abroad has taken an upward graph in the past two to three years due to increased awareness of tourism, affordable packages, high-level publicity of the tourism ministry of countries and states in India," Sawhney told IANS.
He says the easy visa process to places like Thailand and Hong Kong is also an attraction for youth, apart from flight-cum-hotel packages as cheap as Rs.20,000 per person.
"Passengers travelling from India can get visa on arrival. This has promoted tourism as the person can get the tickets and hotel booked and just proceed to the airport; there is no paper work required for visa which gives a high level of mental satisfaction to the passengers," he said.
Even those who plan their bachelors' party within the country -- there's a lot on offer!
Special arrangements can be made for pole dancers, belly dancers and even strippers at your beck and call.
But those like 27-year-old Deepak Sinha, who is yet to find his dream girl, says he would love to go abroad. "It's just convenient to book tickets online, pack your bags and leave..."
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at email@example.com)