Working in Chennai for 2 months

#1 Dec 30th, 2008, 20:01
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  • Michael-Z is offline
#1
Hey Guys

I will be working in Chennai for 2 months from Jan 2009.

I have been to Mumbai,Dehli,hyderabad and Ahmedabad and i was impressed by friendly Indians. But since i spent short time previously, i still have doubts to be cleared when it comes to staying there for a long time

1. i will be working in somewhere at ALWARPET, Is it a satellite city or a district of chennai? How far is it from chennai airport? Is it safe and friendly enough to foreigners? I heard that after Mumbai attacks some terrorists move to Chennai and mastermind another plot, is that the case? In that case, i guess i am unable to visit crowded venues and shopping malls?

2. Is it convenient for me to get a SIM card for phone? what is the local call rates? What about the international phonecall ? Do i have many options for international phone cards?

3. What is the Chennai food like? is it spicy too?

4. I am planning to vist some quiet and safe places on weekends. My friends are interested in Indian handicrafts, are there any recommended shops at reasonable price?

5. I learnt that there are six working days in India and i need to confirm again

6 Can you give me some ideas of taking auto richshaw? some of them do overcharge foreigners. What is the general rates?

7. Are first rate banks available for wire transfer near ALWARPET,CHENNAI

I like Indian temples very much, what are the must-see places in Chennail?

Thanks
#2 Dec 31st, 2008, 00:05
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  • Ambler is offline
#2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael-Z View Post 1. i will be working in somewhere at ALWARPET, Is it a satellite city or a district of chennai? How far is it from chennai airport? Is it safe and friendly enough to foreigners? I heard that after Mumbai attacks some terrorists move to Chennai and mastermind another plot, is that the case? In that case, i guess i am unable to visit crowded venues and shopping malls?

2. Is it convenient for me to get a SIM card for phone? what is the local call rates? What about the international phonecall ? Do i have many options for international phone cards?

3. What is the Chennai food like? is it spicy too?

4. I am planning to vist some quiet and safe places on weekends. My friends are interested in Indian handicrafts, are there any recommended shops at reasonable price?

5. I learnt that there are six working days in India and i need to confirm again

6 Can you give me some ideas of taking auto richshaw? some of them do overcharge foreigners. What is the general rates?

7. Are first rate banks available for wire transfer near ALWARPET,CHENNAI

I like Indian temples very much, what are the must-see places in Chennail?

Thanks
Well, I can respond to some of these questions.

1: Alwarpet is a lovely neighborhood in central Chennai. It's probably 45 minutes from the airport with litle traffic--longer (much longer!) during rush hour. There have been rumors of impending terrorist attacks in Chennai, especially just after the Mumbai attacks, and security has been stepped up at the airport and the 5-star hotels, but I personally haven't changed any of my habits because of the possibility of terrorist attacks. Indians in Chennai are very friendly, and I have yet to find a neighborhood that I wouldn't consider safe. Alwarpet is lovely with some nice amenities.

2: To get a SIM card fr your phone you'll need proof of residence in Chennai (at least in my experience). I had to show our lease (and give a photo) to get a SIM card. If you have a lease or something that proves you're a resident it's easy to get a SIM card. I haven't found any international phone cards but direct dial from our landline (to the US) is quite reasonable. I've switched to VOIP, however.

3: I don't think Chennai food is spicy. At all. But others may disagree as I have a high tolerance for spicy food. It's flavorful, however. If you do want spice Chettinad cuisine is moderately spicy.

4: Don't know.

5: Some people I know work five and a half days, with a half day on Saturday, but I don't think that's universal.

6: Autorickshaw drivers do try to overcharge foreigners, but soon after you start taking them you'll get an idea of what rides should cost and you can bargain to get the correct price. Ask an Indian friend and then add a few rupees (if you are not of Indian background--no matter how hard I bargain I can't get the same fares Indian friends do, but I'm probably just caving in far too easily) for a good idea of prices once you're here. The drivers will cry poor and put up a good argument when you try to lower the price, but once you turn to walk away usually they'l meet your price. And if they don't, chances are that there are other drivers who will.

7: I opened an account at HSBC, and the main branch is located relatively near Alwarpet (I think it's technically in Mylapore). I have transferred money from the US into my HSBC India account with no problems, and I'm sure that transfers the other way would not be an issue.

I'll leave the temple question to others (and will be interested to read the responses so I know where to go as well!).

Nick H will undoubtedly respond at some point and suggest you buy the Eicher Chennai City map to give you an idea of the layout of the city before you arrive. I ordered one on line and had it for several months before we actually moved here and it was SUCH a help! The postage may well cost more than the map but I found it completely worth it. Then you can look up places like Alwarpet yourself and get a feel of how the neighborhoods fit together.

Good luck on your move to Chennai!
#3 Dec 31st, 2008, 01:30
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  • Nick-H is offline
#3
Quote:
Nick H will undoubtedly respond at some point and suggest you buy the Eicher Chennai City map to give you an idea of the layout of the city before you arrive.
I've moved into the modern age! One can use Google Maps or Wikimapia (or even Google Earth) to get a good idea of the layout of the city.

I still use the Eicher map book a lot, though, keeping one in the house and one in the car. It is time they produced a new edition; fly-overs have been built and one-way systems introduced and changed.

Most Tamil people put far more chilly in their cooking than I can take, but I'm told (by being advised not to try them!) that the Andrha restaurants here are the places to go if you really want hot hot hot.

Safety is really not a big issue here. It is common sense not to wander around slum streets at 10.30 at night --- otherwise, I'd say it quite a safe city.
~
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.
#4 Dec 31st, 2008, 13:17
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  • praveen307 is offline
#4
Hi Michael,

Being a guy from Chennai, i think i can answer most of your questions...

1. Alwarpet is one of the most beautiful areas in Chennai with broad and neat roads and huge trees on either side of the road almost shielding the entire area from the heat and humidity Chennai is usually famous for. Its in the heart of the city and it will take 30 to 45 mins from the airport. Chennai has never witnessed any bomb blasts in its history and you can be rest assured about safety as the Chennai police is one of the best in the country.

2. As Ambler has replied, you need an address proof to get a SIM card. International call rates are quite reasonable while local call rates are very cheap. Just enquire at any of the shops nearest to your residence about the calling cards, if you still require them.

3. Chennai food is not spicy contrary to the popular belief. You can find good restaurants in TTK Road and CP Ramasamy Road where you can get anything from Afghan food to Chinese.

4. There are quite a few large handicraft shops in TTK Road. Or you can hit the Spencer mall (known as Spencer Plaza) on Mount Road. Not sure about the prices, though.

5.Working days depend on the organisation you work for. Usually, MNCs have 5 working days.

6. Auto rickshaws are the biggest headache for any person in Chennai, however, you can get a lot of practice in bargaining. Follow the suggestions given by Ambler. I would suggest you start your bargain a little over half of what is demanded (Eg: if they ask for Rs 100, start your bargain from Rs 60). But auto rickshaws are the best way to travel within the city.

7. Citibank and ABN Amro (now RBS) are available in CP Ramasamy Road. You can use their services for wire transfer.

8. Temples near Alwarpet: Kapaleeswarar temple in Mylapore(a huge one & many centuries old), Kesava Perumal temple in Mylapore (almost 800 years old), Padmanaba swamy temple in Adyar are must-see ones.
You can hit the Marina beach (2nd longest in world) in the mornings and evenings.
Try to make the most of the "Chennai Sangamam" festival scheduled in January. Jan 14 to 17 is the peak of festive period in South India.

Wish you a great journey. Have a nice time at Chennai.
#5 Dec 31st, 2008, 13:36
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#5
Just a little balance to the enthusiasm about this city, of which I too am very fond:
Quote:
Chennai police is one of the best in the country.
That really isn't saying much! Best of a bad lot!

Are you talking about transfer of money into or out of India? Actually, any bank can certainly handle inward payments, and should be able to handle outward too, although there will be a bit of bureaucracy involved with that.

I don't know how anyone can say that native Chennai food is not spicy! Idly is one of the blandest foods in the world: the samba it is served with may be anything from mild to explosive! There is chill in some quantity in most food.

Pumpahar (I probably mispelt that) in Anna Salai (Mounts Road) is one of the best places here to seek handicrafts. They have everything from small, inexpensive items to large, fine quality and very expensive bronzes. The Khadi Gramadyog shops are good too --- there is a good one further up Mounts Rd. These are government-owned... the prices are fixed, and you will not be pressurised into buying.
#6 Dec 31st, 2008, 13:39
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  • Michael-Z is offline
#6
Thank you for your kind advice,Ambler,praveen307 and Nick-H.

The information is rather helpful.

I am wondering what i should wear (Clothes and shoes )if i stay there from the middle of Jan to the end of March. I searched online and it is said that the hottest day starts with April. In the way i am lucky haha
#7 Dec 31st, 2008, 13:41
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I am transfering money out of India.
#8 Dec 31st, 2008, 13:51
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From mid-January until the end of March, the temperature will be rising from the low 30s (winter ) to the higher 30s (C, of course), and it is always very humid.

Hottest is comparative only; if you are used to a temperate or cold climate, you will find it very hot here at any time of year. You will not need more than the lightest of clothes.

Sunglasses is good. The tropical sun is very intense, and high UV levels. Similarly, a hat to protect your head is good too.
#9 Dec 31st, 2008, 16:46
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#9
Thanks. I am really glad to know it is a safe place to stay although temperature is extremely high as here it is minus 5-10 now in winter season.

Do you local guys have a good idea of killing mosquitos? Is it likely to be infected with some diseases?

Do i have to dress formally to visit a temple? I guess some nations have regulations like that, such as Thailand

sorry for keeping asking questions coz i have got millions of doubts and questions.
#10 Dec 31st, 2008, 17:05
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#10
I would like to make some friends who live near alwarpet.

MSN: michael_zhuang22 at hotmail dot com

contact me if you are interested
#11 Dec 31st, 2008, 17:05
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#11
The more time you spend browsing this forum, the fewer questions you will have

But even browsing the forum, good though it is, will not be as good as the real-life experience!

You'll find stuff here about mosquitoes, and the diseases they carry. You should certainly have net screens over your windows, and maybe the doors too.
#12 Jan 6th, 2009, 18:17
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  • Rockyp44 is offline
#12

Transferring money OUT of India

Do not use ICICI. I used Axis Bank, but Velachery branch. They had a Priority Account banker who specialized in working w/demanding foreigners and it went rather smoothly. See a long thread on this in this forum.
#13 Jan 7th, 2009, 00:50
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#13
Oh dear, Axis bank depends so much on the individual responsible for handling your account. We used to have a lady who was absolutely superb.

Don't go near their "wealth management" if you want to have any money left to take out of the country .
#14 Jan 7th, 2009, 20:26
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  • Michael-Z is offline
#14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rockyp44 View Post Do not use ICICI. I used Axis Bank, but Velachery branch. They had a Priority Account banker who specialized in working w/demanding foreigners and it went rather smoothly. See a long thread on this in this forum.
Thanks

It seems that an easy way like western union is not available if you intend to transfer money out of India
#15 Jan 10th, 2009, 01:11
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#15
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Originally Posted by Ambler View Post
2: I haven't found any international phone cards but direct dial from our landline (to the US) is quite reasonable. I've switched to VOIP, however.
Hi Ambler,

I was wondering what VOIP you are using and how satisfied are you with the call quality? Secondly what kinda connection do you have for the internet to support those calls.

Thanks,
VJ

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