Questions from a new expat in Chennai

#1 Mar 11th, 2011, 14:25
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  • rcopple is offline
#1
Hello Everyone,

Just moved back to India and specifically Chennai. Wife is Indian and we lived in Hyderabad from 2004 to 2007. I work in the BPO industry here. We have been here about a week and have just been focused on knocking out the big items Housing and Car. We have finally settled on a house in Thorapakkam and will hopefully be closing the deal tomm. BTW if anyone is interested in housing my wife must have seen about 50 houses over the last few weeks so she could make some recommendations. Best piece of advice is stay away from the agents that cater to expats, they jack the prices way up and best bet is to ask an Indian to help you shop around.

I have some questions about some of the lighter stuff and am hoping that I can get some feedback from people that have been here a while.

A. Internet: Who would you consider the best provider. I have visited all the sites for the big boys Sify, Tata, Reliance & Airtel but I am not sure about the service provided. My main concern is getting a bandwidth package that is fast at least 1 MB (and by 1 MB I don't want up to 1 MB and a package that is unlimited on the data downloaded. I am willing to shell out some money for good bandwdith but in India it seems like you never get what you pay for.

B. Cable: Again visited most of the big boys here, I would like to find the provider that has the most channels that play American sitcoms and movies. I was happy to see that they have HD but it looks like there are only 4-5 HD channels is it worth it.

C. Applicance & Electronics shopping: For the house that we are getting we need to buy fridge, washing machine, microwave and TV can anyone recommend any good shops or shopping areas that would have these items, would prefer to buy from one place since we will be spending quite a bit of money and we would want a discount.
D. Restaurants: What would you guys recommend as the best western restaurants in the city. Any really good mexican, spanish, italian places. And the big question, where do you find the best steak and hamburger in town. And does anybody know of a good place to buy beef (steaks and hamburger, I know this is a tough one.
E. Beer: My last and favorite, where do you get good imported beer? I know we donít have many options but hoping at least to find a place where I could buy some Corona in bulk. Was thinking that the best option might be to check with a Pub that carries it to see if they could hook me up with their supplier.

Sorry for the long message just trying to get everything sorted out. Glad to be in Chennai, letís see how hot this summer really is. LOL

Robert
#2 Mar 11th, 2011, 15:09
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  • Nick-H is offline
#2
Quote:
A. Internet: Who would you consider the best provider. I have visited all the sites for the big boys Sify, Tata, Reliance & Airtel
In my humble opinion, there are only two competitors: BSNL and Airtel. You will not get a fixed bandwidth from either. Even in London, such a thing would be a luxury. Of course, if money is no object, you can go for a commercial plan involving a leased line, but you won't have any money left for that beer when you find it!

I gave up on BSNL because their customer service, from the moment someone answers the helpline, is pathetic. I am quite satisfied with my Airtel 2Mb connection and, their record so far is having an engineer in my house within two hours!
Quote:
C. Applicance & Electronics shopping
For instance... the northern part of North Usman Road in T Nagar has just about all the major electrics retailers, but they have branches elsewhere too, of course.
Quote:
D. Restaurants: What would you guys recommend as the best western restaurants
Tuscana (Italian) is the only one I really recommend, but I have not visited very many western or "continental" restaurants.
Quote:
let’s see how hot this summer really is
So far, hottest March in ten years, with temperatures 6C over average!

The rest I don't know about. Cable... Actual cable is provided by small local outfits that are a huge pain in the neck to deal with. There are a few satellite providers. Perhaps Tata-Sky is the one I hear complained about the least, but I don't have the knowledge to recommend. You know Indian TV already: you know that the providers consider it more important that you see their great logo plastered all over the screen, than actually watch the content, when you can see it at all for streaming banners, and for the small amount that exists between the commercial breaks. It's not a big deal to me: I'd rather read a book than watch a film, and the internet provides all my other news/entertainment/etc. I just don't watch TV. But, I didn't in London, either.
#3 Mar 11th, 2011, 15:19
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  • Iluvblr is offline
#3
Welcome to chennai.. regarding the beer thing in bangalore most of the upscale shopping malls has liquor shops where you get imported beers or even the grocery stores like spencers sell beer(imported/local) wine etc , I would say the same to be true about chennai, though it is a little conservative side when it comes to alchohol, I am totally with you , cold beer on a hot sunny day would be awesome, enjoyed the best of the coronas in hot summer weather in texas, and I love it.
#4 Mar 11th, 2011, 16:24
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  • Nick-H is offline
#4
Quote:
... even the grocery stores like spencers sell beer(imported/local) wine etc , I would say the same to be true about chennai...
That would be against the law here.
#5 Mar 11th, 2011, 20:26
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  • rcopple is offline
#5
Nick and ilvblr, thanks so much for the quick responses.

For internet I am leaning towards Airtel, that cap just sucks the best package they have is the 4MB with 25 GB cap then the speed goes down to 256 MB, so at least you still get bandwidth. I guess we Americans are spoiled. In Seattle was getting 10 MB unlimited for 50 bucks a month. On a positive note the prices seems to be getting better than what they were 4-5 years ago, just keep my fingers crossed that the service is as well.

For cable/satellite: one of the guys in the office was telling me about DishTV dishtv.in they have about 30 HD channels plus the other channels as well. Hoping it has DVR because although I forgot Nick brings up a great point of ten minutes of programming for every 10 minutes of commercials. So yes DVR is a must in India.

Good info on the appliance and electronics, I will check it out this weekend.

Thanks for the tip on Tuscana might try it this weekend as well, do they serve non-veg?

I will have to figure out the Corona deal and yes nothing better than an ice cold beer on a hot day. I even have a Coleman cooler here in India, so now just need to figure out how to get enough ice to fill it.

Another quick query, where are the stores that sell the imported food items? I saw in one forum Anna Manna or something like that near the Park Sheraton, any other places?

And last but not least, where's the beef? Only here a week and already craving a juicy steak.

Robert
#6 Mar 11th, 2011, 21:45
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  • engharsh is offline
#6
1) Internet - Nobody comes close to Airtel, if they are available in your area. Try this plan from Airtel for your area if you are eligible:

South Office 2999
Monthly Charges (Rs.) 2999
Bandwidth upto 8 Mbps
Free Usage per month 50 GB

2) Television - Tata sky is pretty good with good customer service. I guess only they have DVR + HD in a single box, although no. of HD channels are less. Dish TV has max number of HD channels (total 40)
#7 Mar 11th, 2011, 21:52
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#7
Engharsh,

thanks for the post, I will ask about the 8MB 50 GB package. I download alot of programs/movies so need as high a limit as possible.

Does DishTV not have DVR, seems like a waste not to have it?

Robert
#8 Mar 12th, 2011, 00:21
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  • Nick-H is offline
#8
Not all Airtel plans are available in all areas. Even though my street has fairly new cabling, I cannot get packages faster than 2Mb due to restrictions of up-stream exchanges. The good thing is that they have told me this, rather than taking my money for something that would never work.

Imported foods? Nuts'n'Spices sell some. You can get your Heinz ketchup --- and your baked beans, if you are prepared to pay over a pound a tin! There is another independent store on East Coast Road called Five Star that has imports. I'm told that the guy is prepared to try and get stuff too. Mostly, though, it is easier (and cheaper) to adjust and live on and with what is easily available. But you are not a newcomer to the country: I'm sure you're used to all that already.
#9 Mar 12th, 2011, 15:44
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  • Rockyp44 is offline
#9

Food

Amma Nana is across the street from the Park Sheraton--it also has a good bulletin board; 500 rs to post an ad. Nilgiris in Besant Nagar, on ECR (Neelangeeri?) & on Cathedral Road in Mylapore also have quite a bit of imported goods inc. cheese. Eco-Nut in Besant Nagar (near ICICI bank) has good whole grain breads, homemade peanut butter/tahini/almond/cashew butter at times and other good food.
#10 Mar 12th, 2011, 15:46
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  • Rockyp44 is offline
#10

Foreign wine

5-Star across from the Gov't Museum in Egmore and on ECR (about 2 km. so. of Thiruvanmiyur) have wine under the table. Go to the Customer service desk and quietly ask to see it. They'll bring the bottles from somewhere.
#11 Mar 12th, 2011, 19:32
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#11
Thanks for the info. Rocky, I will check these out tomm.
#12 Mar 12th, 2011, 23:08
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  • Mo Ravat is offline
#12
Hello Robert,

Hope you can help me... My wife and I are in the process of obtaining our work permit to move to India. Can help with some pointer with regards to finding accomodation and transportation. We currently live in the UK and are moving to Chennai. Your guidence will be much appreciated.

Look forward to hearing from you.

thanks
Mo
#13 Mar 13th, 2011, 10:07
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  • rcopple is offline
#13
Mo Ravat,

I will offer you any information that I can provide. I tried sending you a PM here but don't think you can do that. Send me an email at robertcopple@yahoo.com

Robert
#14 Mar 13th, 2011, 15:41
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  • Iluvblr is offline
#14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post That would be against the law here.
Spencers grocery is a chain like Moore or reliance they would not do anything illegal
#15 Mar 13th, 2011, 19:44
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  • Nick-H is offline
#15
They probably don't. I don't think you are familiar with the law on buying alcohol in Tamil Nadu.

As to shops that have an "under the counter" system, I doubt that they want that publicised on the web
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