New Delhi, India Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from New Delhi, India

New Delhi, India 07/04/19

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Our family has lived in South Africa, Cuba, Georgia, and USA.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

It is 20 hours flying time to the DC area.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Most housing is apartments in town, with 15-30 minute commutes. The Embassy has actively been decommissioning housing with yards from the housing pool. There are a few government-owned houses but few personnel end up in them. New Delhi is not a great place to bring dogs. Street dogs cause issues for many people when walking pets.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Food and supplies are available but it does take a while to figure out where to find groceries on the local economy and shopping can be a time consuming activity. Many people hire domestic staff to do the shopping.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Ship your favorite liquids. If you are picky about shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, etc.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are a myriad of different foods available in New Delhi and delivery services are on the rise.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mold and mosquitoes can be an issue. There have been many cases of dengue fever from the Embassy community over the last couple of years.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Pouch mail at present. Delhi is attempting to acquire a DPO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Domestic help is cheap and readily available. Many people employee drivers for daily commuting traffic can be frustrating.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Most personnel join the association at the embassy, which has a small gym with filtered air and a pool. There are gyms in town, prices vary.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit card usage and ATMs are common and it is generally safe to use them.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There is a large church that meets w/in walking distance of the Embassy.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Language classes are available and there are a myriad of local languages to choose from. English is the primary working language for most professionals.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

New Delhi is not particularly friendly for people with physical disabilities. The air pollution is a problem.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. Uber is widely used and inexpensive.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Buy a vehicle once you get to post. There are very goofy regulations regarding registering vehicles in the New Delhi region.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, The internet is typically made available as part of the phone service. It is usually activated when the apartments are made ready for occupancy.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Local family plans are reasonable for in-country cell usage. I recommend getting a local cell number.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Getting pets into India can be tricky as it requires FDA approval from the states, within 10 days of travel. The FDA process is not necessarily clear from the US side. Coordinating shipping through the airlines can also be time consuming. Paperwork on the India side is not too bad but there are fees involved.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

EFM jobs are available at the Embassy. Some spouses work with the associated school.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

You can volunteer for various communities boards, activity groups, local charity functions, etc.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

The Embassy is formal but not overly rigid due to the extreme heat in the summer months.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Traffic can be daunting and does not flow the same as western traffic. Vehicles do not maintain "lane discipline" and the buses can be particularly dangerous.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Med evacuations tend to be haphazard depending on who is in the health unit but any serious injury or condition is evacuated.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The air quality seems to be getting better but is still worse than you can imagine. It causes difficulties for a high percentage of personnel.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Prepare to be swollen, itchy, and congested..

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Indian processes can be time consuming and frustrating, this really stresses some personality types.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It is typically hot or polluted.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Most kids from the embassy attend AES. It has a very nice campus. Sports programs are pretty well liked but are often inhibited by the pollution. The school is very proactive concerning diversity and inclusion issues.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

The campus has a lot of stairs and would be difficult for someone with physical needs. AES is inclusive of students/staff with special mental needs.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

In addition to AES, the association at the embassy currently has "apple kids" preschool.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

There is a large community, the US Embassy has been described as a "Mega-Mission". Other countries are well represented as well.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

You can find all sorts of adventure and people that share interests if you get out and about enough.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Some singles, couples, families love Delhi. Some singles, couples, families despise every waking minute.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

The western embassies have a large acceptance of LGBT personnel and I have not heard of any problems. Cross-dressing beggars are common in some parts of the city and they seem to be doing fine.

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5. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

Locals tend to be curious about people from other countries.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Sure, but they tend to be isolated incidents. For the most part Delhi is friendly and accepting city.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

India is a fascinating, huge and entertaining country with all sorts of exotic adventure opportunities. Ancient forts and temples are lying all over the place. Beaches and the Himalaya mountains can provide fantastic and vacations.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

The Taj Mahal is not hidden but most people think it is worth checking out.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Sure, shoppers find all types of locally made art and handicrafts.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

You can find a wide-range of experiences. It is entertaining and you will never feel alone.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

It is basically all apartment living, depending on where you live, walking dogs can be daunting.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Vehicle.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Follow the Drum, Shantaram

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Good luck.

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New Delhi, India 12/04/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Bangkok, Tokyo, Penang, Tel Aviv. And lots of experiences in and around Asia.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

USA. Lots of different ways to get here.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Five months.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

When we first arrived it seemed as though the jungle had overtaken our residence. Mud slicks in place of lawns and the low hum of the Aedis Egyptii dengue mosquito persistent through the undergrowth. With years of monsoon rain the whitewashing of the Lutyens-style bungalow columns had dissolved to in a red-streaked puce. Planters, for years untended, choked with the evolved remnants of a long-forgotten pleasure garden. Everywhere, a vague sense of sorrow and a somehow ineffable loss.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

If you wish for anything beyond a 10 Rupee samosa on the street, you'll wished you stayed safely ensconced in your tastefully appointed Copenhagen home. Here, there is an array of eye-watering prices that puts Tokyo to shame. Seven dollar boxes of breadcrumbs, five dollar avocados. Luxury is anything not found in pollution-coated burlap sacks in a tragic streetside market. Diplomatic celebrations--chiefly national days--involve long traffic jams as hard-up diplomats jockey for a buffet line involving hard-to-find items like prawns, or anything with fresh vegetables. A sense of quiet desperation pervades these events.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Every time we leave the country we set out with empty suitcases, then pack them full of food. Recently I found myself, luggage strewn around and open, on my knees at the ANA check-in counter trying to move around precious items of food before a flight back to Delhi. Taking pity on my plight of having to live in India, the flight attendant let me carry four carry-on bags on my flight.

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4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

You'll basically see every kind of insect in your house. This is an issue you just have to get over.

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Daily Life:

1. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Most things are in English, as Hindi is a dying language.

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2. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

The irony of this question is almost too much to bear. This city presents mobility issues for the most hale among us. From squeezing between cards on unpaved lots to access stores, uneven steps, hanging wires, patties of cow faeces, broken pavements, and other obstructions at seemingly every other turn, this city presents a kind of hellish obstacle course for all its participants: willing or otherwise.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

If you're straight - your spouse is eligible for a work visa and can work on the local economy. Local economy starting salaries are about $100 a month. Which means your spouse will get paid less than your housekeeper. If you're gay - they're not getting a visa or work permit - so this question is moot.

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Health & Safety:

1. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

You better like wearing a surgical mask for five months.

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2. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Do not, under any circumstances, come here.

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3. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

There are three seasons: Pollution, Extreme Heat, and Dengue. That basically means you can't ever be outside - making this post an excellent fit for a shut-in or someone with agoraphobia. In November, air pollution levels reach crisis proportions. Peoples' children get sick; our secretary's lung collapsed; respiratory problems spike leaving people packed in our medical unit's waiting room. Then, a period of extreme heat, followed by months of monsoon in which at least one person you know will get dengue or chikungunya. They say getting dengue the third time is the worst.

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Expat Life:

1. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Imagine a time warp that sends you back to the year 1963, where gays stayed in the closet and polite people didn't talk about "homosexuality." Now, add a draconian law that allows for broad police power to arrest LGBT individuals for "unnatural sex" and you have the heady brew which is being gay in India as an expat. When I checked into the Embassy with my partner(who is 9 years younger than I am) everyone asked if my son was ready for school. There is an LGBT expat group populated mostly by older dead-eyed gay men in long-distance open relationships, trying desperately to arrange some fleeting liaison before their boyfriends return for a 72 hour stint.

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2. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

All of the pretty things cost more than at Anthropologie. That's sad.

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3. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

You don't live in Dhaka.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Sanity. Sense of dignity and self worth. Will to live.

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2. But don't forget your:

Creeping sense of guilt as you watch your family suffer in one of the most polluted cities on the planet.

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New Delhi, India 10/22/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Pretoria, Jakarta, and four others.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington, DC. Fly to NYC, then 16 hours direct flight to New Delhi.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year and a half.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

We are pleased with housing. It's in a safe and green neighborhood, with 15 minutes drive to work. There are a lot of leased properties in which occupants complain about mold, old bathrooms and kitchens, and distance from the Embassy. The two government compounds are decent, but a bit dark inside. One compound is where the embassy is located and that will become a construction site once the new embassy annex construction starts. I would not like to live there, as the air is enough polluted without the construction dust and noise.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Horrible...difficult to find. New Delhi does not have western-style supermarkets, unless you drive outside of the city. Shopping consists of small mini-markets with pilled up goods from the floor to the ceiling. They also sell fresh produce that is not the best quality. There are larger fresh produce open markets in only certain areas of the town, where produce are half a price. It's a good option if you do not mind the filthiness around you.
There is well-stocked embassy commissary, but prices are high. Many embassy employees shop online. There are organic shops (online) as well, but I would not trust an "organic" label on anything in India.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Crackers of all kinds. Indian snacks are all masala spiced. Otherwise - we always try to live of locally available goods.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Most restaurants are "all in one" food type. You can get in same restaurant Indian food, Mexican food, Chinese...The noise (loud music) is often the main reason for not going out, together with not properly washed/bleached groceries. Service is also not great.



There are many online stores to order your groceries. They are pretty good and deliveries are fast.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

There are rats in yards and above the ceiling areas, ants, roaches, termites

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We receive mail and packages via pouch. There is no Diplomatic Post Office (DPO) in Delhi. For outgoing packages we have to use the American Association service at a very high cost. Local postal mail has own complications and bureaucracy.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Household help is readily available, but good help is not. You have to try many before you find good and honest help. The moment you arrive, people will be knocking on your door. Most people have all-rounders (does all for you: cooking, cleaning, laundry), and others have separate cooks, laundry person, cleaning person, gardener, sweeper, driver. A contract is a must for all hired help. Most people have drivers as well as drivers in India are mostly without legal driving licenses and they do not follow traffic rules. You can get a local driving license if you opt for that.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There is a gym at the Embassy, part of American Employee Association ACSA. Free for members of ACSA (membership cost vary, and starts at $375 /person/year).

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Most credit cards are accepted in restaurants and larger shops, but you will need cash for travel. ATMs are everywhere.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None. You can manage with English.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Absolutely. This is not a place for a person with any disability.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Local buses - available but not safe for many reason (filthy). The Metro system is great and it's growing. It's clean and on time. There is airport metro line as well. Cost of Metro per ride: $0.35.



Taxis are available everywhere and they are nor pricey. You always have to negotiate the price, including if you will demand AC in a car. In monsoon season they are often infested with mosquitoes, so wear a lot of bug spray. Tuk-Tuks are everywhere as well.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Import of vehicles with left hand drive is not permitted.You have to get one locally. It's very popular to drive 4 wheel drive. There is 10 year age limit for diesel cars (resale consideration), and 15 year age limit for petrol. There have been recent reports of car burglaries by local gangs, where they force you to get out of the car by tearing your tires and steal your purse and other belongings from the car.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, but the speed varies and it's not stable. The embassy helps with internet installation upon your arrival.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Few local plans are available with different data usage. It's not pricey.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

There are many vets, but some pet owners complain about the quality of service. Due to many toxins in soils and water, rat and other pest poisons, pets get sick very often. No quarantine is needed upon arrival.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Most EFMs rely on embassy employment, which is almost impossible to get with the hiring freeze. Some of them start their own businesses but there are many regulations in regards to owning the business and being employed on a local market (extremely hard). The taxation system does not work in a favor for local employment as well.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many...English teaching or girls empowerment, for example.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Local formal dress for woman at the official functions, and casual at work. Men at work: mostly shirt and tie. All depends on the chief of mission. The previous ambassador had a rule that from April through September (hot months) - tie is not required.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Women walking alone after dark is still a concern. As many people sleep in bushes or on a side of the street, you have to be aware of their presence and keep your distance.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Many. India is dirty and polluted. "Delhi belly" is very common: we all have it at least once a month. Sinus infections and asthma are also very common due to the high pollution. Dengue, malaria, chikungunya and Zika are also common for New Delhi. The medical unit is very busy with medical evacuations as local doctors and hospitals are not deemed adequate.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The worst air we have ever experienced! Last year pollution level was over 1,400 PM2.5 the day after Diwali, and stayed at levels over 500 for at least 2 weeks. For comparison: New York PM2.5 is usually around 30. Winter time is the worst time for pollution as people burn anything to warm themselves (tires, leaves, garbage). In addition, farmers are burning crops in surrounding areas of Delhi. We are restricted in outdoor activities (walking, gardening, jogging, tennis, soccer, baseball....) during those months, and then again during the dengue season. Therefore gaining weight is a "popular activity".

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Bleaching your vegetables, fruit, eggs in a chlorine solution for 30 minutes up to 2 hours is a must. Do not eat salad or any uncooked produce if you do not know where it came from and who served you.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Climate is not your best friend in New Delhi: It's hot (extreme heat from 105 - 115 F) from April through June, followed by the monsoon season (hot and humid) from July - mid September, followed by pollution and cooler weather through mid February. The nicest time is from mid February - end of March.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The American International School is across from the American embassy and compound. There is also a British school and a French school.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Some, but limited.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, and yes.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

The expatriate community is community is large. I am not a part of it.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

It's not easy. There are diplomatic functions at various embassies very often. There are women's clubs as well, but most members are rich Indian woman.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Probably good for couples. Not so good for families. Pollution and disease level, lack of outdoor activities are all major factors to consider.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Genders are not equal in eyes of most Indians.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

India offers very exciting travel, even though most of the time it's hard to get to places. Hindu temples, pagodas, Mogul fortresses and residences, the Himalayas and Darjeeling are most wonderful sites you can visit.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

You get a chance to meet some exceptional local people; airport is great and it offers flights to all over the country and the world.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

You cannot ever know everything. Living and learning is the key. The most shocking (and I still cannot understand the reason behind it) is the lack of "normal" supermarkets.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Heavy winter gear, expectations..

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4. But don't forget your:

Face mask(s), inhalers, clean air, skin moisturizers, mosquito repellents.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Piku movie (perfect example about the culture), many books by Indian authors.

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New Delhi, India 03/15/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This was my second expat experience. My first was teaching in Lukoj, Arno, Republic of the Marshall Islands for one year. This was, however, my first time overseas with a family.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington, DC. We had a couple of options for flights. United Airlines flew Dulles to Newark to Delhi. The final flight being about 14-15 hours. Connection time in Newark varied. Several airlines flew from Dulles to Europe to Delhi, including British Airways going via London. Those flights split the travel in half--about 7-8 hours each flight. Emirates had a Dulles-Dubai-Delhi flight that we took as well. It was about 14 hours from Dulles to Dubai and about 3 onward to Delhi. Overall, expect about 20 hours of travel time.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We lived there for two years from Sept 2013-Oct 2015.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Husband worked at the US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

The vast majority of expats live in apartments. Each apartment in Delhi occupies its own floor and buildings are about 4 floors high. Most buildings are gated with parking inside the gate for smaller cars (typically one per apartment) and open street parking. Most have roof access that often belongs to whomever has the highest apartment. These roofs can be turned into nice patios or garden areas. Some ground floor apartments have small yard access. Many apartments are pretty nice and open, though they lack storage and some have an odd layout-especially the older ones. Most have plenty of space.



Many embassies have housing within their compounds, which varies by embassy. The US Embassy has townhouse-type living with their homes. Each home has a fenced small backyard that then opens to larger common grassy space. Homes are two stories and tend to be on the smaller side-most have a kitchen, dining area, and living room downstairs and the bedrooms upstairs. Each has its own parking spot.



We actually lived in one of the rare exceptions-a single family home in a local neighborhood, Vasant Vihar. The layout was really odd, but we had a dining room, living room, kitchen, three bedrooms, and a small finished basement. We also had a tiny yard, our own driveway, and a roof with laundry room. The home was old but gave us plenty of space.



Many expats with families live in Vasant Vihar or nearby Anand Niketan, Shanti Niketan or West End. Many of the preschools are located there and it takes about 20 minutes to get to the embassies in Chanakyapuri. It is also a popular area for people who work in nearby city Gurgaon. In the evenings it can take 45 min to get home. Many singles or couples without kids like to live in Defence Colony where there are more restaurants and night life. It is also about 20 minutes+ to the embassies. Traffic can be a bear, so live near where you work.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

If you are willing to pay the high import prices, you can find most things from home. INA Market has some Western grocery stalls (shop is too grand a word) and Priya Market near Vasant Vihar has several stores that import grocery items. You'll pay a lot--for example, a container of PAM cooking spray will be 10 USD. Locally produced items are cheap--local fruits and vegetables, rice, lentils, flour, etc.



The US Embassy has a commissary that stocked the basic US items--higher costs than in the US but cheaper than local market. Some months the shelves were practically bare and some months they were full. Shipments only came a few times a year, though that has hopefully changed.



If you have specific brand items you prefer or certain baking or cooking products you can't do without, bring them.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Toiletries that you are picky on brand

Holiday-specific food items (for me, this was the specific box of stuffing I like for Thanksgiving)

Quality toilet paper

Ziploc bags

Favorite brand of sunblock

Baby items--food and diapers and wipes are pricey on the local market and in the commissary



If you have access to US Embassy mail (aka the pouch), Amazon is a godsend and I used it frequently. It can take anywhere from two weeks to a month and liquids are restricted to 8 oz per box, but for dry stuff it is great.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Practically everywhere delivers--fast food, Thai, pizza, Afghan, etc. You can find pretty much any type of food, though Mexican was scarce. Lots of Asian varieties and Western foods. Our favorite splurge restaurant was Indian Accent--about $100 for two people--they do a tasting menu with AMAZING food and pair it with wines. SO GOOD.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

We had issues with ants that we could treat with ant traps.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We mailed through the US Embassy for mail to/from the US. You could receive letters and packages. You could mail letters and packages the size of a VHS tape and smaller. For larger packages you'd have to pay through ACSA (the American Community Association), but I never did that as it was pricey.



Locally, things were often delivered by courier, including things you ordered online. I mailed postcards home from the local post office and it worked well. I have heard that mailing things in envelopes or packages locally is risky due to theft.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Cheap and easy and widely available! Every expat has some sort of help, many have multiple employees. We had:



All-Arounder-- a woman who worked 7 hours/day 5/days a week doing any combination of cleaning, childcare and cooking that I needed. Also worked overtime to babysit as needed. Paid about $220/month, plus about $1.50/hr overtime. Wonderful lady who my daughter adored.



Driver--if you have a car, you will probably have a driver. A few people drive themselves (my husband included), but if you plan on needing to park anywhere other than an embassy, you'll want a driver. Parking is horrendous. Drivers also run errands for you, can pick up and drop off items, and pay bills. Ours worked 6 days a week and we paid $250/month.



Gardener--our part-time gardener watered plants, swept the driveway, and planted things. He came in two mornings a week for about 2-4 hours total weekly and we paid about $30/month



Other people had more staff--perhaps an "ayah" (nanny) and then a separate woman to cook and clean. Or a woman to do childcare and cook and a separate part-time one to clean.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are not really gyms in the typical sense that I was aware of, except at the embassies. The US Embassy has a gym in ACSA that has both classes and workout equipment. They also have a pool with a lap lane. Pool season is about 9 months of the year. Some people run, but the air pollution is pretty bad, so be aware of that. You can always find an in-home yoga class, aqua-aerobics class at a pool, or hire a yoga teacher to come to your home for personal instruction.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

India and Delhi is mostly a cash society except at the bigger hotels. We paid cash for practically everything. At the Embassy, we could put things on our account and pay by US check or cash at the end of the month. We would pay for hotels and flights when traveling by credit card, but day to day is cash. We got our cash from the bank at the US Embassy. I think ATMs in general are fine, though I never used one. Keep lots of small bills with you as no one ever has change. You pay local domestic staff in cash monthly.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English will allow you to get pretty much anywhere and do pretty much everything. Taxi and tuk-tuk drivers know enough English for navigation. Store owners know enough for selling. Knowing some Hindi can be nice and gets you a better price. The US Embassy offers classes for its employees and families. You can also find local tutors for cheap.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes! Few sidewalks, really poor road conditions. Lots of holes and bumps. Few elevators--apartments don't always have elevators go all the way up or you have to take four stairs up to get to the elevator to start with. No handicap parking.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Avoid buses. Metro is safe and cheap and has a separate female-only car. Metro does not go everywhere, though they are expanding (slowly).



Taxis are cheap, though you will argue about prices as most meters don't work. Few have seat belts. You call the nearest taxi stand to send a taxi rather than hailing one on the street. The airport has a prepaid taxi stand. Train stations have taxis.



Auto rickshaws (aka tuk-tuks) are very very cheap. No seat belts and not very safe, but can hail on the street. Cheap option for hauling home groceries from the local market.



We used our car and driver most of the time. As a female, I avoided public transportation and taxis after dark.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

We bought locally from a departing expatriate. That is a very common way to do it. We had a Land Rover. It was big and sturdy and gave us an advantage in traffic and allowed us to fit in guests. However, parts were very hard to get and mechanics often didn't know what to do about it. Buying a local car makes repairs easier.



Burglary isn't really a risk. Smaller cars are easier to park. Bigger cars have an easier time pushing through traffic where size gives right of way.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet speeds are fine for regular internet usage, though we found trying to stream videos often led to a lot of buffering. Installation is pretty quick-our home was already set up and I just had to call to have it turned on. If you need work done, though, repairmen are not always very knowledgeable. We had internet and landline phone problems and had to have the worker out multiple times before it got fixed properly. Internet is cheap--we paid about $32/month for internet and landline phone combined.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

You can get phones on the local market easily or bring an unlocked phone from home. There are several providers. As a foreigner, you have to show your passport and visa and have a letter vouching for your address (work can provide this). You can then do prepaid or postpaid. We did prepaid, which meant we loaded money on our account and when it was out, loaded more. I'd send my driver to add more minutes when needed. Postpaid you get a bill each month that you then pay. Prepaid means giving less information, but they are picky about how long you can have the account for. Postpaid you can have it longer. We had issues with cell service inside our house.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No quarantine for cats or dogs entering the country. We brought our cat from the US. There is a lot of paperwork to do ahead of time. If you are with an Embassy, they will help you. It is a pain getting your pet into the country.



Pet supplies are hard to find if you are picky about the brand. We ordered our cat food online and shipped through Amazon via the Embassy. Kitty litter we tended to get at the Embassy commissary, but it is available locally (though brands I didn't recognize).



Veterinary care is fairly poor. They do a bit better with dogs than cats as Indians tend to own more dogs. Vaccines and care are cheap. We never needed to go to the vet for a sick pet and I was glad. Our cat got his vaccines yearly and had an exit exam before leaving the country (as required by India). I have heard people who needed sick pet care were very disappointed with results. Definitely ask around for recommendations.



Most people have their domestic staff care for their animals when vacationing or they will ask a friend to house-sit or take in the pet (we watched a rabbit for a month while the owners were out of country). It is very hot much of the year and there are not a lot of grassy areas. Dogs that come to post should be able to handle the heat and apartment life.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots!! Americans (or spouses of Americans) can join the AWA and be connected to all their volunteer opportunities (library, thrift shop, NGOs, etc.) Delhi Network is for any foreigner and they do lots of volunteer work with NGOs and within their organization. NGOs do work with animals, people with disabilities, kids, tutoring, teaching skills, medical, etc. You can find something for any niche.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

At the Embassy, the dress code is the same as the US, though often a tie and jacket is not required during the hot months.



Out and about, women should have shoulders and knees covered. I wore a lot of maxi skirts and t-shirts or local garb--especially the drawstring pants with kurtas (long loose tops). So comfy! Cheap and bright and perfect for every occasion. You can dress a bit fancier or with bare shoulders at restaurants in hotels.



Many diplomatic events are dressy at night. You can never go wrong wearing Indian clothing for formal occasions--saris or a Nehru suit.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Women should be careful at night or being alone in certain areas. You get the lay of the land quickly. My driver could give me good advice if I was ok going somewhere alone. Or he would come with me and be my escort. Most tourist areas were fine.



Houses/apartments have walls and gates and nighttime security guards. Some have daytime guards too.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Mosquito-borne illnesses are probably the biggest issue-especially dengue, though others exist too. Malaria isn't in the city. Wearing long sleeves and pants and using DEET helps. Medication is cheap and often doesn't need a prescription.



We did not use local medical care, except I got an ultrasound locally twice when pregnant. Otherwise, our care was through the Embassy Health Unit. They could handle all regular illnesses and care. Staff depended on which EFMs were there--we had a pediatrician half the time we were there because she was the wife of a worker. Otherwise, our kid saw a nurse practitioner.



Medical evacuation for Embassy personnel is to Singapore. Dengue complications were probably the most common reason.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Bad Bad Bad. Horrendous in the winter. On the 0-500 2.5pm pollution scale, Delhi often capped out at 500 (300 and above is considered hazardous). Winter is very grey and smoggy and yucky for pollution. Summer is a bit better. Many people wear masks. People with asthma have a rough time.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Dairy is in pretty much all local cooking. Vegetarians will be fine-many locals are vegetarian and everything is clearly marked. Restaurant staff don't always know what is in the recipes, so be leery if your allergy is bad.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Nov-Jan is chilly (lows 40F but warms up to 60sF). Feb and March is pretty nice (like spring). April-June is really hot and dry (like 110F+). July-Sept is hot and wet (90s and really really humid). Oct is fall-like--pretty dry and nice.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

American Embassy School (AES) is where most of the US Embassy kids go. We didn't have school aged kids, but everyone loved it. Lovely campus. There is a British school and a French one too.

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2. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

There are some good preschools. The US Embassy has one, which is convenient for those who live on compound. Vasant Vihar had several and that is were many people send their kids. Many follow a Montessori-esque style (some completely, some partially). Preschool starts at 18 months--5 days a week, from about 9-12. Preschools are comparable to what you'd pay in the US or a bit cheaper. No one does day care--you hire an ayah (nanny) if you need child care.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Swimming lessons are common. One of the expatriate moms had a little soccer team for preschoolers when I was there. There are not a ton of quality kid activities. Music Together had classes which were good. We did a lot of playdates and playgroups. There are a few playgrounds that are ok. Nothing is Western quality for the most part.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large number of expats. Most love Delhi and India and many stay for a long time. The air pollution is the biggest concern among the expats.

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2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Singles--yes, particularly men. Single females may have a tougher time at night, but it is doable. Couples-yes, lots to do at night. Families-yes. Good schools and cheap household help. Not as much for teenagers to do. Pollution is the main issue for families.

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3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Not really. India is not supportive of LGBT people in general and I believe homosexuality is technically illegal. Embassy workers do come with same-sex partners, but need to be discreet locally.

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4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

People with dark skin may face prejudice. I heard several times the assumption that every black person is a drug dealer from Africa. From what I could most religious beliefs are accepted, at least in Delhi. For locals, there is not much gender equality, but as a foreigner it is much better.

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5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Travel, travel, travel! We loved the tiger safari in Ranthambore, Fort Kochi in Kerala is awesome and a great break from Northern India, Shimla and Landour in the Himalayas are great breaks from the heat. The Pushkar Camel Festival in Oct or Nov is amazing. We did a lot of cities in Rajasthan and loved them all--Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, etc. Taj Mahal lives up to its hype.

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6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

So much history! Visit them all big and small! The President's Mughal Garden is only open for one month in Feb/March and is worth it. Do the Seven Cities tour program for a huge taste of history. Qutab Minar is my favorite big place. Feroz Shah Kotla is a great less visited place.

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7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Lots of shopping! Khan Market has high end shops. INA market is great for spices. Dilli Haat for handicrafts. Cottage Emporium has tons of fixed priced items of all types. Clothing, shawls, art, decorative kitchen items and more.

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8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Cheap domestic help frees up your time for volunteering, shopping, and exploring. Lots of travel nearby and far. From Delhi you can fly to many other cities domestically and internationally.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Air pollution is really really bad!

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, though I would take more precautions with the air.

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New Delhi, India 02/14/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Third post, after Paris and Vienna.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington, DC. There's no direct flight, so it's either the long haul to Newark or a stopover in Europe somewhere - 16+ hours of flying.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Lived there for 2 yrs, 2014-2016.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Spouse, diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

There are 2 compounds and various neighborhoods with on-economy housing. We lived on the smaller Bhagwan Das compound and LOVED IT. It's farther away from where most others live, but it has staff quarters onsite and the community was amazing. Commute to embassy was 15 mins in no traffic (ha!), anywhere from 30-60 mins in rush hour on the way home.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Food in general is cheap, but you will pay more for "American" things or higher quality things. Embassy has a fairly large commissary, and Amazon will fill in the gaps (pouch only though).

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

You can find anything you need, and have the rest shipped! But because it's pouch only, I would advise shipping any special liquid items you need.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

You will get tired of curry. There are 5 star hotels with fancy restaurants and different cuisines, tons of mid-range restaurants, even a decent BBQ place - you can find pretty much anything. Almost anything can be delivered to your house, including McDonalds - but no beef burgers!!

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

We had ants, but nothing too weird inside. Mosquitoes outside are a major issue.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Pouch only.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Household help is plentiful and very inexpensive, of varying degrees of quality. Not unusual for people to have a cook, nanny, gardener and driver!

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Gym available through the American club at the embassy.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Cash is widely used, and there is a Bank of America at the embassy that can cash US checks for rupees. We did not have an Indian bank account. There's also an ATM at post.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English is widely used. Hindi is helpful, but you will be fine without it.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. General infrastructure is not great.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis (including Uber) are available and cheap - maybe not as safe for a woman alone at night. Tuk Tuks widely available and cheap, definitely used all the time, but like riding down the highway with no rules in a tin can! The lack of general road safety cannot be overstated ;-)

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Can't bring a car unless it is right-side driving - everyone gets a car there. It will get dinged up and damaged, but repairs are cheap.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet was ok - ours was often not very fast. Dealing with internet company was painful.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Local provider with my own unlocked iPhone - dirt cheap!

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Lots of jobs at the embassy. Did not hear of any on the economy - not really worth it as you'll be paid in rupees at local rates!

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Tons.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Women should generally cover shoulders and legs. You will sweat through every item of clothing you own.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

I felt very safe. But women in general have to be careful.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Other than air quality, biggest concerns are dengue and other infectious tropical diseases. No malaria in Delhi itself, but that is a concern if you travel south. Onsite embassy Health Unit was a lifesaver. Oh, and you will get Delhi Belly on a regular basis. Hospitals are iffy - there are modern ones, but I would be very concerned about anti-infection practices. Most medical issues out of the health unit's purview will mean a medical evacuation to Singapore.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

I cannot overstate how bad the air quality is. It is horrendous. Please check the daily AQI readings from the embassy- Los Angeles on a bad day is around 60, and Delhi is routinely 200+, and in the 400-500+ range in the winter. Everything outside is covered in black soot. Many people get sick. We all wore masks and ran air purifiers in every room. I sealed off windows with tape. It is BAD.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

The air quality will be very hard on you.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Extreme dry heat from March - July, then extreme heat and monsoon through August/September, then it starts cooling off and will be cold from Nov (40s-50s) until February. There are exactly two weeks of pleasant weather and decent air in October and February.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Great schools and several choices. The American School is very highly rated.

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2. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Preschool onsite at the embassy was great! Other choices in the residential areas.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Big tight-knit group. We loved it. Lots of other expats outside the mission.

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2. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I think this would be a tough place for LGBT expats because of the local culture, especially if you're single.

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3. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes. Women are still not quite equals. But also depends largely on caste/status and where you are - dynamic is different in the south.

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4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Travel is unique but difficult throughout India - infrastructure is not great. Travel to other places in Asia was amazing!

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5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Textiles are fantastic! And jewelry!

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I wish I grasped just how bad the air quality was going to be, and how depressing it would make our day to day lives!

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Hmmm. Not sure. Air quality aside, it was a great adventure. But hard to see my kids breathing that crap every day and not feel extreme guilt.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Heavy winter clothes, fear of squatty pottys, dislike of spicy food.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor and patience!

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

The White Tiger.

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New Delhi, India 11/08/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This is our third. We have been in China, Central America, and now India.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

I'm from New York. 13 hours direct. More like 24 with connections.

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3. How long have you lived here?

A year and a half.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Homes are mostly older, there's a trend toward building newer apartments. Yards are limited.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Grocery shopping is difficult until you figure out the markets and who to call to deliver. A grocery store as most of us know it doesn't really exist here.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

For us, it's all things liquid that we can't get on Amazon.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Many and varied.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

It's tropical, and yes, ants, weevils, all sorts of things can spread.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Local postal facilities, which I haven't tried, would probably be pretty difficult to navigate.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Help is plentiful and very affordable. Full-time housekeepers for about two to three hundred dollars per month. Most people employ a small army of help: housekeepers, nannies, someone to take the trash, gardeners, drivers, someone to sweep your steps etc...

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Most embassies have a gym. As far as local ones, I'm sure they exist but are not readily available or convenient.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards are hardly used at all. And interestingly enough, today Modi demonetized two of the most commonly used cash bills as well. ATMs exist but lately have had problems with being compromised.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Catholic, non-denominational, LDS, and probably others I'm unaware of.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not much, though it would be really useful and get you far.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes, I'd imagine so.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Safety is a concern, but definitely affordable. Functionality and convenience for public transportation in Delhi is not great. I hear Uber works well. Train travel for around the country is a good option.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Right-hand drive, of course, so most people buy them here. Many Innovas and Scorpios and Mahindras... cars I'd never heard of before living here.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

High-speed internet is available and can be installed quickly.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Airtel. Local sim cards are really cheap.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Working locally can be a challenge. A lot of spouses work at their missions, though it can take a lot of time to get all the paperwork cleared. Local salary scales are really low.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plentiful.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Often formal, more on the modest side. I feel like covering up my shoulders with a shawl if I'm wearing a tank top and walking over to our gym.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Yes, like most large cities. And I don't feel safe as a woman anywhere alone at night.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

WOW. This is the reason I logged in. I've never given my input on here, but I've enjoyed the input I've read from others. Anyhow, the environmental hazards here are real and abundant. Available medical care is dicey. Medical evacuation can be required for a myriad of otherwise routine issues (broken bones, infections, illnesses). You can't rely on the blood supply here to be clean for a transfusion. Delhi belly is real, and food safety is a huge issue in a country where 600 million people defecate openly and the food is grown in these conditions. Food borne illnesses galore. We bleach all our produce. Dengue can be endemic, as well as chikungunya. We spray during the season two to three times a day, and if I see a mosquito, it's an all out war until I can kill it. And the air...

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Hazardous. I knew Delhi was polluted before coming here, but WOW. Granted, we've just been through the worst week in years, but it's ridiculous. AQI levels ranging between 500 and 1500 all week. That's not even on most charts. There are things I wouldn't take back, but had I known what it was like we likely would not have come here. It's seasonal (the really bad stuff), but even year round the air is usually somewhere between 100 and 200 AQI, which is very unhealthy. We often wear masks when we're outside. Activities and sports are cancelled with regularity. It's gross.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Be careful, I guess.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Pollution blues maybe?

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

I've never lived anywhere with worse weather. There's the really hot and dry season (temps of 115 F), then the really humid hot season, then the monsoon where it rains a ton (which I don't mind because it cleans the air), then the pollution and colder temps, then you might get two or three nice weeks, then back to crazy hot.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Most people send their kids to the American Embassy School. Other options are the British school, the French school, and the German school. As for AES, it's an excellent school and community.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

That is not one of AES's strengths.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, and generally not too expensive, though not as cheap as household help. About American prices.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, lots of activities available. Just a matter of being able to do the outdoor ones.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Pretty big, though dwindling, due to the air quality I believe. Given the current conditions, overall morale is pretty poor, but people who come to India are not looking for the easy life. And there are lots of things to love here. It's just there's so many difficult distractions.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Lots of embassy activities (of course we live in the diplomatic enclave, Chanyakapuri), but other options exist for getting to know local friends and doing other activities.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Tough for families in many ways, but the same issues could be tough for anyone. Just keeping everyone healthy.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Maybe not the best, but not bad?

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes. This is India.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Great food (when it doesn't make you sick), great travel opportunities, unbelievable history etc...

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

So many travel options. In Delhi, tons to see. We love Delhi by Cycle. Neemrana Fort is cool.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Yes! Shoppers paradise, especially for interesting handicrafts.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Affordable help if you want it, great culture, a once in a lifetime experience (and believe me, it will only be once).

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That the air would be this horrific.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Very questionable. But like I said, there are things I wouldn't take back from my experiences.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Sense of organization, functionality, efficiency and order.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience and ability to see the good in things.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Shantaram.

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New Delhi, India 06/02/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This is the latest of many expat tours overseas in Asia and South America for more than 20 years.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

There are non-stop flights from Delhi to NYC (JFK & EWR), Chicago, and San Francisco. Dozens more connect through Europe. The current city-pair fair for Delhi to DC is an American Airways codeshare with British Airways, with mixed reviews. Some flights arrive or leave at ungodly hours, but there are a few more better options with the advent of the 777 and 787 flying longer routes with smaller passenger loads.

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3. How long have you lived here?

4 years in New Delhi.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Serving in a diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is expensive in New Delhi for anything approximating the safety and neighborhood you may be used to in the North America. The U.S. Embassy has comfortable flats not too far from the diplomatic community or the American Center. Compound housing is great, but it is a very small percentage of the housing pool. So, while many families request to live there, in reality very few do. And many of the compound houses are too small for a family larger than 2.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries are available. Previous reports have covered a lot of good shopping points, so I won't repeat them.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Bring liquid-type things in your shipment because you can't easily get the same quality in New Delhi, and liquids are not permitted in the pouch. Amazon Prime is an excellent way to buy things online. There is an Amazon in India that opened 2 years ago, but their options are much more limited. Big-box stores and multi-brand retail stores are almost non-existent in India, due to bureaucracy and local content/supplier rules. Smaller, less-developed countries in the region have better big stores than what you will find in India.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Lots of vegetarian options. Many familiar western fast-food chains, and now a Taco Bell. Seasonings are different from what you expect in North America. almost anything can be ordered for delivery or takeout. Certain meat products are hard to obtain unless you have commissary privileges.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

You will find plenty of mosquitoes, insects, cockroaches, and hornets. Most can be avoided by taking normal precautions.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Use the diplomatic pouch for everything. There is no APO/DPO in India.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Household help is plentiful, but the quality may vary, so give them a trial period before signing a contract. Those of us who have servants' quarters on their property can have a better choice of who they hire. Drivers and gardeners are also very helpful. Gardeners work a couple of hours a day and are very inexpensive. Having a driver is totally worth it if you buy or bring a car.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are commercial gyms, and the American Club gym (which has filtered air). The quality is good. For American Club (ACSA) members, the pool is also great.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Some stores and restaurants accept them; smaller ones do not. Shops will often add a 3% fee if you use your credit card. ATM machines are common and often give very good exchange rates when you withdraw rupees. However, the Embassy has only Axis Bank ATM machines, and they charge a withdrawal fee. Instead, find another bank's ATM that does not charge the fee. We use cash for almost all purchases.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Religious services are available in English for many denominations, including LDS, Catholic, Seventh-Day Adventist, and non-demoninational near the Embassy. There are also many others.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can do fine with just English, but speaking some Hindi or a local variant will open doors to amazing encounters that English-only speakers will miss. Many language classes are available, but check their references.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Someone with physicial difficulties would have a difficult time in India.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Avoid buses. Trains are fun -- take first-class for overnight trips, or Executive-car class on the shorter Shatabdi "high speed" regional trains. Set up a Cleartrip or Make-my-trip app on your phone, and then you can book train tickets from home. I found this to be very convenient. Bring your own toilet paper on the trains, though --- also your sense of adventure --- and enjoy seeing the beautiful country side roll by.

Normal taxis and rickshaws will try to rip you off unless you negotiate the price before you get in. Otherwise, take an App-based cab like OLA Cabs in Delhi and all around India. They are cheaper than a regular taxi, and they run the air conditioning for no extra charge.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Buy a car locally. Toyota Innova vans are popular with families. Get a newer model, because there are stringent air-quality rules on older cars.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Good high-speed internet is available. some people set up a special VPN router to stream movies from North America. Installation takes a day or two.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Definitely get a local pre-paid cell phone plan. We used Airtel with no problems for a personal phones. Data plans are cheap by western standards. It takes a couple of days to set up an account (due to security issues), and you have to verify your identity.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No quarantine. Work with the Embassy before your arrival for all the requirements. The Indian government requires lots of paperwork ahead of time. Taking pets as excess baggage (or in-cabin) saves a lot of hassle. Flying on Lufthansa to/from India is also much more pleasant than dealing with United or BA.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Finding jobs that are professionally and financially rewarding for spouses is problematic. The Indian government is slow and bureaucratic when asked to approve spouses for work outside the embassy. Be aware that local salary scales are much lower than in more-developed countries.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Everything under the sun is available.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Modest is best. Woman cover shoulders and knees, and men wear long pants. Adults are advised not to wear shorts when off the compound.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Observe all of the usual security concerns for living in a big city. Protect your cash and wallet when going out, and never carry more than you will need.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is spotty.. Most embassies medevac their employees for critical care, usually to Singapore. Air pollution is the number-one health concern. Children often develop chronic breathing problems or get asthma in India. Respiratory infections are common. Also common are dysentery and GI-tract problems, Giardia, Salmonella, and E-coliform poisoning. Malaria and dengue fever are common for more than half the year. Everyone is recommended to wear mosquito repellent from June to January.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The World Health Organization has listed New Delhi as having the worst air quality in the world. It is even bad in the best of times, and it becomes dangerous/hazardous from October to February. Check the Embassy's air quality monitorfor the latest readings.

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4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Many people need to get out of Delhi periodically. A nice week in the Himalayas (Shimla, Mussoorie, etc) are nice get-aways. Mussoorie is very accessible to Delhi: half a day by train or plane.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Temperatures from May - September are above 100F every day. It is very hot, humid, and wet from June to September. From November to February, the highs are in the 80's, and the lows are in the '40s (Fahrenheit). Along with the cooler weather in the winter comes the intoxicating air pollution.

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Schools & Children:

1. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

There are preschools, and many people hire nannies for at-home kids. The American Embassy has an "Apple Kids" program for pre-school ages.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Big. Moral is okay, but air pollution is the main drag for most people. It really depends on your expectations and attitudes. If you focus on the bureaucracy, filth, pollution, and constant sickness, it could get you down. Focus on the good things, like the amazing travel opportunities in India, wonderful food, affordable domestic help, and colorful culture, and it is much better. Many people recommend getting out of Delhi once a quarter for a break and leaving the country one or two times each year for a mind reset.

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2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

There is something good for everyone. Indians love children and will dote on them.

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3. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Our highlights have been traveling to so many wonderful parts of India. There are plenty of resources to give you some ideas of what to see and do.

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4. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There are lots of shopping opportunities in Delhi and around the country.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I wish I had known how terrible the air pollution is, and how the government bureaucracy and mindset affect almost every aspect of your job and personal life.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Perhaps not. I would bid on a post that is cleaner and healthier for my family.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor and adventure --- and any pre-conceived ideas you had about India, even if you have visited as a tourist in the past.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Sam Miller's book "Delhi - Adventures in a Mega City", and "Freedom at Midnight". Other recommendations below are also good.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

Carry out your "due diligence" before coming to New Delhi. And don't expect to to get assigned to the compound.

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New Delhi, India 09/06/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, I have lived in South Asia, SE Asia, and South America off and on for a couple decades.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Non-stop flights to Delhi from Newark (United) and Chicago (Air India) (both Star Alliance carriers) are available, plus lots of connections through most European cities.

Some other airlines are starting up non-stop service from the U.S. to Delhi.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years, from 2011 to the present.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Embassy housing is on 2 separate compounds plus various neighborhoods around the city. Commuting time ranges from 30 to 40 minutes depending on location and traffic at that time of day. Housing is generally adequate, though yard space is at a premium in most places. Housing assignments appear to be somewhat arbitrary depending on available properties. Life on the 2 compounds is much different than living elsewhere--some love it, some don't.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries are available, but due to local Indian bureaucracy and anti-foreign sentiment, multi-brand retail stores have not been able to offer expats the convenience of shopping in stores that South-east asian countries offer. That being said, there are a few stores that are trying, including "More" and "Big Bazaar." Otherwise, you may have to go to several different stores to get everything on your shopping list.

Bring some non-perishable items in your shipment. Cost of some food items purchased locally can be expensive. Some folks never leave the Embassy housing compound and do all of their shopping in the commissary at inflated prices--there are plenty of options for those who are adventurous. Because of recent Government of India additional restrictions and grievances, getting reliable food shipments has become more difficult.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

You can get most things through the pouch via mail, but liquids, flammables and some batteries will get returned to the sender. You also cannot easily use the pouch for outward bound mail. The commissary has a service, with extra fees. Bring good quality toiler paper, peanut butter, and some seasonings from home.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Lots of fast food restaurants, and many boutique restaurants are available for any taste. Prices are mostly reasonable. A foodie club meets periodically to try new places. Be aware that many foreign dishes are Indianized with lots of local spices and seasonings, so manage your expectations.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Dengue and malaria carrying mosquitoes are the biggest problem. Standing water is the main culprit. Each year at least half a dozen members of the Embassy or school community come down with Dengue. Some are flown to Singapore for treatment.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Via the diplomatic pouch, though it can take up to 3 weeks to get items in the mail, so planning ahead is helpful.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Domestic help is plentiful, though you may have to try two or three candidates for a while before settling on a good match. Cost is reasonable for a developing country. Check with the community liaison office for advice on wages and benefits.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. The Embassy has a good gym and for members. Others are available around the city.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

We use an no-foreign-transaction-fee Visa credit card all the time and have had non troubles.

Also, our ATM card from back home works well at all ATM machines here and does not charge any additional fee--the exchange rates are the same as cashing a check at the Bank of America counter at the Embassy. You can also cash US$ checks at the same location for conversion into local currency. Getting US$ cash though is restricted--something about India being concerned with foreign cash flows.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Several denominations have English services, including a non-denominational Christian fellowship near the Embassy community. Also, Catholic services at the Vatican nuncio, and an Adventist English congregation near the Fulbright house. There may be others.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not required, since many people know some degree of English. However, that being said, a little Hindi goes a long way, so try to learn a few phrases--it will open doors and friendships. Knowing the local language has had a positive impact on our time in India.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

New Delhi is not easy to navigate for people with disabilities. Wheelchair-bound individuals would have a hard time even getting into the Chancery much less around Delhi.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The Indian railway system is generally safe and affordable, but better for women to travel with a male companion. Take first class for a better experience. The current Ambassador travels by train--much to the adoration of the press and public. It's a great way to see the country.

Taxis are safe and ubiquitous--bargain on the price beforehand, or use the meter.

Again, safety for women is the main concern.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Most types of cars are available, or bring your own right-hand-drive vehicle. Summer time is when most cars are available for sale. Roads are okay in Delhi but traffic is a problem and drivers do not follow the rules. Getting parts for certain American vehicles may be difficult. For many families, Toyota Innovas are popular here.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, it is available, and cost is reasonable. Sign up for a plan that suites your needs. Wifi available. If you have a 220V long-range router, it may be better than the low-quality one that you buy with the internet plan.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Prepaid SIM cards are available but take a couple days to get activated. Bring a local friend and a copy of your passport.

Make sure your U.S. smartphone is unlocked, so you can use it here. Pricing for Mobile & Data service is very competitive here, but due to Indian bureaucracy and restrictions, only 2G and 3G is available.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No quarantine, but plenty of paperwork in the U.S. needs to be done in coordination with GSO before purchasing air tickets.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Difficulty in obtaining a work permit makes this off limits for most serious jobs. Check the CLO's FAMER report for the typical range of in-house opportunities.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty of opportunities for everyone. Check around once you are on the ground.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Generally modest, especially in public, to avoid harassment.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Home grown and radical extremism is a growing problem, and India has become a target for terrorists. Stay tuned to Security Office guidance for timely updates to avoid trouble. Since the Government of India has removed the security barriers around the Embassy in December, American staff and families are at greater risk walking between the two compounds. Little seems to have been done by India to provide security. Also, violent rapes against women is a trend in Delhi and India. Women and girls may not be safe traveling alone or even with a male companion. Several high profile rapes and murders have occurred in the past 2-3 years. Visit www.travel.state.gov for the official line on security for American citizens in India.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

"Delhi Belly" and respiratory problems are the main concerns. As mentioned earlier, the air pollution has become the number one health problem here, and also brings down morale. No serious solutions have been offered yet, but the matter is being given consideration.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Air quality is dangerous. The Embassy has recently started an air quality monitoring program and during several months of the year, the air quality was hazardous or worse. Recently the air pollution level has surpassed Beijing, which resulted in lots of finger pointing in India. Check the Embassy's home page for a link to the latest air quality data, and hold your breath...

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Delhi winters are pleasant but with horrible air pollution. Spring and autumn are short. Summer is hot (120F+ degrees), then hot & humid (humidity around 80% in June-September).

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

American Embassy School and British School are the most common ones for expats and operate at an international standard of education. The American Embassy school is one of the best American international schools in the world, and helps draw high-caliber international professionals to serve in New Delhi.

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2. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, the Embassy community association operates the Apple school day care, and some folks send their kids to "Little Senators" as an alternative. Some critiques have arisen about safety and quality of attentiveness at the Apple School but I do not have first hand experience.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, the Embassy school has plenty of programs.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Big community. Morale is okay but varies depending on who you ask. Some people face harassment from the local authorities from time to time, with varying and unpredictable regulations, restrictions, and fines. This tends to bring morale down.

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2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's a good city for all types of family configurations. Those who are sensitive to air pollution should do their due diligence.

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3. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Caste and perceived social hierarchy are alive and well in India. Without saying too much here, many people are very conscious of their own level and rank in society with the predictable outcomes.

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4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling within India, you can enjoy Himalayan treks, snow, and there are deserts, beaches. Travel by train is fun and fairly fast as well.
Cuisine--there are a wealth of choices. The international food scene is picking up slowly but it's hard to get true foreign flavors without being "Indianized" with masala and local spices.

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5. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

The list of interesting/fun things to do in Delhi is amazing, and there is more than could be condensed into these pages. Check out some good online advice and guide-books. There is something for everyone. New Delhi is a big and ancient city, with tons of opportunities. Guided walking tours are a good way to see things during the cooler season.

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6. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Travel, carpets, artwork and local hand-made goods.

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7. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Traveling, culture, cuisine.

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8. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

There is more to India than meets the eye. Even with prior India experience, we learned more about the complexities and subtleties of Indian culture, history, and bureaucracy.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, we would still come here, but with a better understanding of the local challenges.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Assumptions about India.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sun tan lotion, mosquito repellent, and a positive attitude.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006TQVWDS/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B006TQVWDS&linkCode=as2&tag=thesunspousunder&linkId=ITREPTHNJCZMJF5D. It is available on Amazon and in the myriad book shops around Delhi.

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New Delhi, India 09/03/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Pretty much, except for limited study abroad during college.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington DC area. Connected through London to New Delhi.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One month.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Depends on where you live but traffic can be a real issue in New Delhi. Not too bad for me, about 15 minutes going to work and 20-25 minutes going home. Depends on when you leave. Rush hour tends to be closer to 9 am in the morning and 5:30 or 6 pm in evening. You can beat the rush if you leave home at 7:30 am.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

This is why hiring a driver (for about US$225/month) and a good housekeeper (for about US$250-300/month) is very important because they know where to go and what to buy. Just tell them what you want and how much they can spend, and they will go get it or take you with them to get it. Cost of foods that Indians normally eat is not expensive, but the cost of your normal American foods will be at least 25%-50% more expensive and generally isn't great quality. But if you have a housekeeper who can cook, she will make really great foods for you.

There are some stores with the brand name of "More" that are kind of like Target or Wal-Mart. They have everything you need under one roof - food, household supplies, etc. Ask a driver or a taxi to take you there to get stocked up, and prices are probably about half of what you would spend at Target.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Trash bags, plastic grocery bags, hangers from my closet that I donated, and Crystal Light packets.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Quite a few to choose from and they are close to U.S. prices. But I didn't come to India to eat McDonald's. The food here is amazing!

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitos are abundant near dawn and dusk but stay away with bug spray at those times. Dengue is a danger, so be vigilant about bug spray during those times.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We use the Embassy post - we are lucky to have that.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

See above, cheap and available but you need to do your homework and follow best practices that are recommended by the U.S. Embassy.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

I have been using the gym and pool at the U.S. Embassy compound, which is very adequate for my needs. It is not super spacious but adequate. However, the fitness center at the U.S. Embassy compound doesn't have a great selection in the way of group fitness options and they cost 400 rupees (US$6.55) per class. We just found a personal trainer who is an American and lives in Anand Niketan neighborhood who offers personalized classes for about US$80/month in the basement of her home.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

We generally just take out cash from the bank and use that. Too much hassle with ATM fees plus there's the danger of identity theft. Very few places don't take cash here.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Catholic, Mormon for sure. Probably others.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

I have been able to get along fine without knowing any.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes, there are few sidewalks and ramps and steps that are in good condition. This would be a very unfriendly city to own a wheelchair or be visually impaired due to the many cracks, etc in roads and sidewalks.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis and tuk-tuk (rigshaws) are affordable and safe. Haven't taken train or bus, but we have been advised against using public buses due to safety and cleanliness. I hear trains are an adventure and I look forward to using them.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Recommend SUV or minivan if you are bringing them. We own a Xylo Mahindra which has been fine. Lots of families own Toyota Innovas, and you see all kinds of compact cars around as well.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, a little less than in the U.S.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Yes, there are lots of options here. You have to make a copy of your passport and visa to get service set up, though. Unlock your phone before you come so you can transfer service.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not a great deal that I know of personally.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Quite a few to choose from, as the community is so large. Just ask around when you get here, but there are lots of groups and charities.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business or business casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

I (male age 39) have been out and about at various times and have felt safe. But also take precautions and be aware of surroundings. Follow the established guidelines that State.gov has. Pretty common sense stuff.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

At the U.S. Embassy there is a medical unit and they have been great. Watch out for dengue (mosquito born illness) and malaria. "Delhi Belly" is common - I've had it twice but I wasn't careful enough about washing down and soaking fruits before eating them. And you can't drink the water from the tap but filtered water is not hard to find.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

This is a downside of Delhi. The air quality is not good, and is expected to get worse during winter. But it's not to a point where we are seeing health problems.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot and humid in summer, monsoon in late summer, then cooler (nice and temperate) in fall and winter.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The American Embassy School is incredible. I can't say enough good about the quality of people and programs. We have middle school and elementary school aged children. The high schoolers also appear to be well adjusted and very satisfied.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, but we don't have personal experience with those.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, through American Embassy School there is a good selection.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Big community and lots of great options. I think this is a good spot to come to for a new U.S. diplomatic officer.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Big malls and shopping areas, lots of places to eat, lots of receptions to attend, lots of tourism things to see.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, lots to do for both. Many friendly expats with children, and many ways to meet people.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

This is a different culture, where the caste system is still in effect, and where many people definitely have that servant mentality that I'm not used to. But at the same time, India is very diverse, and people come from a wide variety of religious backgrounds and beliefs. So it's not uncommon or uncomfortable to have religious symbols and concepts as part of daily life and conversation. Overall I have found people to be pretty open and friendly and not prejudiced.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

There's a ton to see in New Delhi. We haven't even started to scratch the surface. But we have been able to go to Lodi Gardens, Dilli Haat, one of the big shopping malls for dinner (very nice and great food), various grocery stores/shopping areas including Khan Market, we found a church where we are making friendships with expats and locals.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

The various travel websites or books have it all, and they have all been very fun.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Handmade crafts, clothes (tailored suits, etc).

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The people are friendly and nearly everyone speaks at least some English so it's easy to communicate. People are extremely eager to please, which can be a downside if they don't always know the answer to a question but want to help anyway. Cost of living is low, making it possible for most expats to hire help. It takes some work to find the right help but it is possible by making a good network for yourself. The folks in the U.S. Embassy are well connected and helpful. The culture is fascinating and this is a good time to be in India where there seems to be a consensus to make things better economically and socially.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, very easy to in daily life but you will also spend a good bit traveling around the country if you want to see things.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How difficult it is to get food that I'm used to and make it taste good, but how good and cheap the local cuisine is.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

YES, glad I came.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Fear of germs. Things are generally pretty filthy here. But there's so much excitement and vibrancy to make up for it.

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4. But don't forget your:

Adaptability and desire to experience something unforgettable and interesting every day. We saw a man on an elephant cleaning up downed branches after a storm this morning. And a father biking his two sons to school on the same bike in a busy lane of traffic. Never dull, but sometimes frustrating.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Not specific to Delhi, but I just read Song of the Cuckoo Bird: A Novel. It was a helpful introduction to Indian culture and history through the eyes of a few characters over some decades between the 1950s and early 2000s.

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New Delhi, India 08/14/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. We've also lived in Lithuania, Bulgaria, Bangladesh, Germany, Russia, and Switzerland.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

From New York, you can get a non-stop flight (Newark to New Delhi) that takes 12 hours or so.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We arrived in January 2013.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

We have a house with a very small yard. It's not a design that Westerners would really like, but it's a nice little house. We have one extra bedroom. If you are with the USG and you are on the compound, your housing will be very, very tight. No one seems to have an extra bedroom on the compound, for instance. Since we have a big dog, I'm glad to have a walled yard. She gets a little more freedom. And since there are stray dogs everywhere, I'm glad I don't have to walk her out on the streets. Those who do walk their dogs on the streets say that they often have to stomp their feet loudly at stray dogs to get them to move along and/or threaten them with a big stick that they always carry. I'd hate that.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Depends if you want local things or specialty items. At the commissary, prices are high. At the local markets, prices are very low. Imported cheeses and other items are extremely high. Like US$20 for cheese. Things like that.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

A job. I'd ship myself a job :-) Otherwise, I'm good. I always bring maple syrup, but other than that, I can get just about anything here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Anything you could want, but no beef at any of them. Prices are fine. Normal. Probably a little lower than worldwide prices.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes. And they have dengue fever and malaria. We do not take anti malarial medicine here and that's not a great threat, but dengue is always around.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Through our Embassy. It's expensive to send. More than at other posts.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

I'm told we pay at the high end of normal and I pay US$300 per month for a woman to work full time cleaning and cooking and running errands. She also takes care of my dog. Most Indians are afraid of dogs, so I'm glad we found someone who gets along well with mine and cares for him very well.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. At the American compound for USG people in New Delhi. Also the school let's families use some facilities, I think.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

I don't use a credit card here. I use cash only. I use the ATM at the U.S. Embassy. I haven't had any trouble. I wouldn't want to use one anywhere else though.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Cable isn't very interesting, but it's there. Some movies. Indian news, and I guess CNN and BBC. The usual.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You don't need any, but isn't it always nice to know a few polite phrases? No mater where you are, I find that's true.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

A lot. It's not a new, planned city. It's crumbly and bockety and if you were not sure of foot, or if you were in a wheelchair, or blind and trying to find your way around, you'd have nothing but trouble.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Not for girls or women. Taxis are pretty safe. There are preffered companies.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Has to be right-hand drive. We had to buy one here. We got a Toyota car that's sort of a van, but more like a car. It seats 7, but has regular car doors, not sliding van types. This car is very popular here (Toyota Innova).

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

High speed internet is supposedly available in some places. Not at my house. It's snail-slow. Frustrating. Awful, really. But some people have just mildly slow Internet.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

They are easy to get and very cheap.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No. Just lots of hoops to jump through.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Adequate. Not great. But they make house calls, and I love that. I hear there is no acceptable kennel. I hired a housekeeper and part of her job description is pet care while we are away. She watched my dog all summer long.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

I think I've already answered this question. A resounding NO to employment opportunities.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

If I could get a job, I might be able to answer this question.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

For women. An unusually high rate of rape, and extremely violent rape at that. I cannot let my teen daughter take public transportation or go anywhere alone. It's easier for guys.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Air quality is bad. Dengue fever happens. Otherwise, it's fine. If you are USG, the health unit is good.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Hot in summer so though it's cleaner in summer, it's not nice to be outside. In the winter it's very unhealthy and smells just awful, all the time. If you have asthma or other breathing issues, think long and hard before committing to New Delhi. I have this sort of low grade throat clearing going on all the time in New Delhi.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot in summer, and humid and rainy. In winter, it's nice and cool actually. Too bad the air smells so awful, because if it didn't smell so bad, you'd want to be outside all the time in the winter.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

American Embassy School. We came here for the school. It's not perfect and some people go a little crazy with their glowing about the school, but it is absolutely a very good school. One of the best we've had yet.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

If you are USG, there's a preschool on the compound. I think AES has one also. Most people have live-in child minders.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

AES has excellent sports offerings. My son plays both softball and baseball (competitive, traveling baseball teams are rare in the Foreign Service). My daughter is on track and field. This is the first school we've had that's offered track and field. Usually it's just running. My kids are very happy.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Big.

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2. Morale among expats:

Not among trailing spouses who want to work. Work is the problem. You sit around and wait for a decent job to be advertised and do silly things while you wait just to kill time.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Plenty if you are interested.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I imagine so. I am in a family, so from my perspective it's good. The only problem is that while my husband has good work (we travel with his job) and my kids have a great school, there are zero decent jobs for me. So if you like to be at home or are happy finding non working things to do, it's a great post for families. If you find that without decent work you cannot be happy, then this might be a nightmare post for you. You'd think a mega mission like this would have options. Nope. Really, really horrible work opportunities for spouses here.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Against women. Absolutely. It's oppressive for women.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

I love to take photos. I've had wonderful, colorful, vibrant opportunities here.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Tons. This is a great tourism destination and millions come here to enjoy what India has to offer. You'll never run out of things to do.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Endless. Fabric, jewelry, furniture, ... Anything at all that you can imagine, and some things you haven't even thought of yet.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The culture is non-stop, the colors, the interesting music, food, film, etc. If you like to take photos, the opportunities are endless. If you are interested in history, India is great about displaying it for you. If you feel you need house staff, you can afford it here. The cost of child care is very low (but don't expect Western style child care either -- you do get what you pay for in some respects).

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No. Not having a job is horrible.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Hope of employment.

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3. But don't forget your:

Camera. It's gorgeous!

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

City of Djinns.

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New Delhi, India 05/18/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, Islamabad, Geneva, Mumbai.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

New York - direct flight was about 18 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

May 2009 - June 2011

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government - U.S. Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing varies - everything from sprawling lawns in Chanakyapuri, to walled compounds, to newer apartment buildings. Commute time varies; the morning commute before 8 a.m. is decent; the evening commute is a mysterious creature. Wedding season means night traffic is a nightmare. Always carry a book to read in the car :). If you can afford it, hire a good local driver. The traffic is not worth the aggravation. Aggressive panhandlers target western auto drivers.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

High quality things can be expensive. You can get organic farm goods delivered to your door at a premium. Western cleaning products and groceries are available but expensive. Local fruits and vegetables are affordable in season but must be cleaned and cooked throughly. Surprisingly cheap are pumpkins and other gourd vegetables.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Between the embassy and the local markets, we felt well stocked. Electronic items are marked up about 150%.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Food is yummy, unless you love salads, which is like playing Russian roulette. Beef and pork products are hard to come by. KFC has no biscuits. But local Kati rolls, the Indian twist on McDonald's and pizza are fun.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Dengue abounds, especially in Fall. Microbes cause serious GI issues for most people. Delhi's dirty secret: it is one of the sickest embassies in the world because of persistent lung and GI issues. Flies and other insects congregate near neighborhood garbage dumps.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Via the embassy. Most Indians use DHL or Blue Dart because they do not trust local mail for packages.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Good domestic help is available; higher quality costs more money. Labor is very segregated because of caste concerns, so your cook will likely not touch your bathroom or garbage. As a result, most Delhi upper-middle-class families seems to employ an army of part-time local help.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, but the good ones with hygienic facilities are expensive. You can run at Nehru Park and Lodi gardens if you aren't afraid of feral dogs and if you watch the uneven trails carefully. It's best to run with a buddy.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

No problems at all.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, and affordable. More likely to have sitcoms and reality shows, rather than intense American drama. Honestly, there is so much to do that just sitting in front of the TV is rare.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can get around in this former British colony with only English, but learning local polite greetings helps. If you take trains and travel in north India, Hindi helps, but it isn't necessary.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

This is not a wheelchair-accessible city.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Local trains, yes. You can travel around India fairly cheaply on Indian railways, provided you go first class (still affordable, make reservations early). Buses -- NO! They are not safe for women. Taxis are hit and miss.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

A sedan is fine in Delhi. Make sure it has good a/c and air filtration before you come. Japanese makes are easier to service. SUVs are hard to park and maneuver through the tiny Delhi alleys, but they are great for drives outside the city.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. Cost is comparable to the US, speed is up to 2MB as of 2011, with no caps on downloads. Just fast enough to stream SD video. Frequent power cuts are a big problem. Most houses have back-up generators, but there is a gap of a few seconds before they kick in. Invest in UPS units for all of your electronics. Don't bother to reset the clocks on your stove or microwave: it's going to happen almost daily in the summer.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

They are ubiquitous. Coverage is good, but data speeds aren't great.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

It is, but you have to do your homework and find the right people.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Hmm, this varies, but visas are tough to get.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

You don't need to go full on sari/shalwar kameez, but shorts won't work. Loose linens that cover shoulders and have sleeves are wise. The dress code at work is oppressively formal, given the weather in summer.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

For women, yes. Cabs aren't always safe, walking around is often an invitation to be groped (even if you are all covered up). Women should not take buses, but the all-female metro cars are okay. In markets, be aware of pickpockets, adulterated food, bottled water, and pickpockets. Tourism scams abound. Please arrange travel with reputable tour companies in advance. There can be communal and terrorist threats. Spontaneous demonstrations related to political causes are common. Traffic accidents and toll plazas with gun-wielding thugs happen. Delhi police treat women badly, both locals and expats. Please stay in touch with your local embassy. When socializing at night, best do it in large groups in the the more elite and western pubs and bars.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Respiratory and GI issues abound. Dengue is real, as are random outbreaks of things like scarlet fever. The Max hospitals are recommended by most western embassies, but medical care can be rough on women. Medical practiioners can be brutal while shoving needles into your arm, and won't talk to a female patient about her allergies etc. Standard medical banter: "Excuse me, what are you putting into my arms?" Curt response from medical tech with no name tag: "Medicine." If you have a medical emergency, please take a trusted companion with you. Doctors and teachers are treated like gods here; their authority is final. But there is no malpractice risk here, and mistakes often abound. If you are pregnant, medevac! There are way too many miscarriages and hushed-up birth defects.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Very unhealthy, especially for young children, during winter when dung, garbage, and everything else is burnt for warmth, and smog traps it within Delhi. You won't see the blue sky for a couple of months. The open garbage dumps and stagnant sewage doesn't help.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Dry and oven hot in summer, pleasant in winter (if you are breathing purified air in your car). November and February are gorgeous. Monsoon isn't as severe here as in Mumbai, but when it rains, traffic is a nightmare. Also, the weather lends itself to all sorts of antibiotic-immune super bugs. Hello, scarlet fever, cholera, dengue,, etc.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The American school is top notch and is a huge attraction for expats serving here.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, most expats hire nannies and use embassy preschools.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, there is a well-developed Little League program, and many school-associated sports leagues.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge. In addition to embassies, the NGO community is sprawling.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good morale.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Delhi folks are social in a different way than Mumbai folks. You need to cultivate people, and throwing a good dinner party and learning to entertain is important. The various festivals and cultural events are a godsend. People will often invite you to parties away from Delhi at their farm houses, so it isn't as simple as going to a bar and going dancing, On most days, and weekends, you will actually have more invites than you can realistically attend. Bookshops and cafes are great places to hang out.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It is a great city for families (especially if you have hardy kids with strong lungs and digestive systems). It is fun for couples (Delhi couples love socializing with other couples) but tougher for singles. Dating is common, but hush-hush and frowned upon. If you are willing to date casually, without expecting it to evolve into a serious relationship, you are likely to enjoy it more.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Gay life exists, but it is super-underground. Be aware that men holding hands with each other aren't gay in this culture. People are very rough on lesbians. There is a small but supportive gay scene, and they are doing more to win political and civil rights, but this is a conservative culture.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes. Americans, except for Caucasian Americans, learn to develop a thick skin. Indians (sadly) treat white people better than they treat each other. Other ethnicities are treated as a curiosity, at best. This is a country where both male and female stars endorse bleaching and fairness products. You will find women who excel in every field of Delhi society, however violence towards women, molestation, rape, and harassment are a daily reality. Indians are also very weight conscious (the former Miss India, Aishwarya Rai, was skewered in the press for taking too long to lose weight after her pregnancy), so if you are overweight, steel yourself for some harsh comments and humor. Words to identify people of various races and ethnicities that would shock an American are fairly common here.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Excellent white-water rafting on the upper Ganges; touring temples, palaces; zip-lining through old forests; crowded bustling markets; warm people; excellent shopping for jewelry, fabric, furniture; great hub for Regional travel

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Travel. Take art, dance, and music classes. Enjoy great shopping for art, fabrics, and furniture. Attend cultural activities and concerts affiliated with embassies.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Art, crafts, fabrics, furniture, gems, books -- India is a shopping paradise. Plus: regional travel.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Vivid culture, exciting travel, great shopping.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't drink alcohol at the five-star hotels.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes. Especially for the great school for the kids. But I would take specific health precautions.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Ideas of feminism and privacy.

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3. But don't forget your:

sense of adventure and thick skin. Also, your breathable fabrics.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:


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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?




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New Delhi, India 10/21/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

DC - 36 hours

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3. How long have you lived here?

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

(The contributor is with the USG, has been in New Delhi for more than two years. This is her fifth expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

The road system is limited in many ways, and more than 1000 cars are newly registered on the Delhi streets daily. Just assume 30 - 40 minutes to get anywhere regardless of the distance.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Local and fresh produce are abundant. Imported processed foods are hard to come by. Olive oil is outrageously expensive as is toilet paper.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Olive Oil, a back up power system, a fan, and dog food.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Good fast food. The golden arches are here, as is KFC. This is a largely vegetarian country.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Everything including dengue and malaria mosquitos.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I don't. It is tough from here and expensive.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Rising but reasonable.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, a few,

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes. Plenty.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not much...

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

A lot. Sidewalks are uneven and complex. It would be unsafe in a wheel chair. It would be difficult to live here with a disability that limits one's mobility.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes and yes.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Bring a car that is used and has high ground clearance.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. Thirty dollars for a reasonable speed.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

The Prepays work fine.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Not much. Not a great place for pets if they are more than just decorative.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes but obtaining the appropriate visa is challenging.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Conservative. Eve teasing is real.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Nope not really - the concept of Flash mob is from India. While in the US or UK a car accident or an odd site would attract a number of spectators, here in India (with a per capita density of 300 or so humans per square mile) you are never alone.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Smog and burn related air pollution. The water is not safe to drink, and blood-borne illnesses are common.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

TERRIBLE in the winter months and in the hot dry season, for different reasons. In the winter locals burn ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to stay warm, for there is a significant population of homeless people who live on the sidewalks in the city. In the hot, dry, summer months, before the Monsoon, the dust from the Thar desert sits over the city permeating everything. Items left outdoors in Delhi wither quickly.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Starting in April it goes from cool to warm to Hot to scorching in a matter of a week or two, where it remains until the rains arrive in August. Then it goes back down to HOT and humid until the fall arrives, when it becomes hot and less humid. The winter rolls in quickly in November, when temperatures drop to chilly at night, but remain pleasant during the day. By December, the fogs roll in to mingle with the fumes of burning trash, keeping a permanent London-like fog on the city through February. Then temperatures begin to climb again.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

AMAZING. The American Embassy School has a campus like a college and is beautiful.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Not Sure.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

YES very good.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Not sure. My child is TINY.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

LARGE

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2. Morale among expats:

Good!

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Pretty good. I just had a baby, so that is all the entertainment I need.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Great for families; terrible for singles. This is a culture that allows for arranged marriages even before the child is born. Singles are viewed as odd and counter-culture.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Not sure.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, communal violence is alive in India, but the metros are far more cosmopolitan.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Exploring ancient Jewish synagogues, seeking thousand-year-old Hindu temples, discovering incredible India, enjoying the very delicious foods from all over the sub-continent.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Explore temples; see old forts; SHOPPING. Indians have MANY family obligations, so unlike in the US and EUR where there are entire industries dedicated to entertaining folks, here people spend time with family. That is the hard part for expats here... I think, not much to do after work.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Fabric.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

This a fantastic kaleidoscope of religion, economic status, culture, and history. It is a good hub to visit Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan. Thailand is a direct 3 hour flight away.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you do it right and refrain from eating at the five star hotels.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

YES.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Dress shoes!, though they are useful when you go out to a ritzy dinner... The reality is that life as ashoe in Delhi is hard work, and few survive for long.

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3. But don't forget your:

Bug spray.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

A Fine Balance, and Holy Cow.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Gandhi, Monsoon Wedding, Marigold Hotel

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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New Delhi, India 09/16/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

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3. How long have you lived here?

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

(The contributor is affiliated with the Canadian Goverment and lived in New Delhi for a year and a half, a third expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Depends on where you live. Gurgoan is very popular, and commute time to schools from there can be up to an hour. Vasant Kunj, Annand Niketan, and West End can be up to 30 minutes, longer with traffic. Surrounding embassy compounds and be 5-10 minutes.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Depends on where you purchase them. Some imported food items can be very expensive.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

nothing. Most things are available. Some are more expensive than others.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Meats like beef and pork are not widely available, and if they are found they can be very expensive. Buffalo is used as a substitute for most beef dishes. There are lots of good restaurants. McDonald's has only chicken and vegetarian. KFC is really good here.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Dengue Fever is very big here. TB and malaria in southern India.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Through the embassy. Indian mail is not reliable.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Decent price. Most people have a driver and housekeeper. Some have a nanny as well. It all depends on your budget and the size of your home.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

They are generally safe in most malls, but I suggest you have cash on you for markets and reaturants.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

English newspapers are available. TV is very bad here. I suggest that you bring lots of movies. Depending on provider, during every rain they TV will go out.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English is good. It was a British colony, so most people you'll be dealing with know English.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

The ground outside can be very rough, not very good for people with physical difficulties. But all malls are equipped with wheelchair ramps and elevators.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Buses and trains around the city are not very good. Trains to outside cites are good, but book first class. If your teenager attends AES, they will be going on a minicourse known as WOW (Week withOut Walls) depending on their grade level.They'll be taking trains for this.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Smaller cars. The traffic is insane.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet is okay. It depends on your provider. It's not that expensive.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Cells phones are good. People use Airtel or Vodaphone. Airtel is more popular because it has a better system and signal.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Good vets, we've yet to find a kennel. Animal food isn't too expensive.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not really.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Cover your shoulders and for girls, try to wear longer pants because girls are looked at more as objects than people. You don't need to walk around in full cultural garments like a sari.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

That depends on whether you live in a gated community or have home security. It is better to have a hired company watch over the outside of your home. There are some bombings, earthquakes, and the constant threat of war against Pakistan.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Dengue fever and TB are bad. Medical care is available when needed. MAX hospital is one of the better hospitals. It's good to have a doctor before arriving.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Lots of pollution, smog in winter because they burn whatever they can find. Lots of garbage is piled up on the streets. People use the side of the road as a bathroom.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Very hot in summer, lots of rain and humidity during monsoon. Nicely cool in winter but lots of smog.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The American Embassy School is amazing! Lots of good teachers and students. Grades from K-12, all with good classes. The British School is smaller, but I still hear it is okay. The French School is small and not as good. One should go there only if their first language is French; otherwise try for AES.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

There are available programs at AES for special needs.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Most people hire nannies.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

There are lots of extra curricular activities if you join embassy groups or go to school.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Most people are willing to hangout.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Lots of parties.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

There are malls and markets. I know many people with young children that enjoy fun trips to the mall. Ambience Mall and DLF promenade are equipped with fun playgrounds for younger children.For teenagers these malls have stores like Forever 21, etc. It is fun to go and hang out with your friends. And it is safe with security.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Most people don't judge here. You'll see many young men walking around holding hands.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not from what I've seen.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Taj Mahal trips, Safaris (seeing Tigers).

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Going to malls, joining embassy groups, checking out market tips.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

View All Answers


10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

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3. But don't forget your:

Bug spray

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

It's a good place to live for a while. The expats are good people and are always willing to help. You will enjoy the time here if you choose to enjoy it.

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New Delhi, India 08/12/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No; Bogota, Colombia; Tunis, Tunisia; Buenos Aire, Argentina; Hillah, Iraq.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington, D.C. - about 36 hours take off to landing in terms of time difference+travel. Direct Delhi to Newark is 15 hours with a lay over of two hours and a late departure for the one hour flight to DC.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Mostly apartments. They are old, poorly constructed a lot of the time, and road connections from one part of town to another is limited. Makes commuting a long and sometimes arduous effort.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Multibrand retail (walmart and giant) are illegal so most folks shop at small corner stores or markets. That makes grocery shopping a real drag. It is also INCREDIBLY expensive here.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Olive oil, hand sanitizer, toilet paper.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

KFC, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Papa Johns and local fast food options abound. They are very cheap.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

increasingly these options are becoming available and are reliable alternatives.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

LOTS - everything grows and thrives here. Certain bugs blossom once a year, others such as mosquitos prefer the hot and humid or hot and rainy periods.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We dont - no APO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Cheap (though wages are rising) and easily contracted.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

yes, increasingly so.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You can and there are plenty of banks.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, catholic and protestant, jewish...

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, plenty.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

yes. Stairs dominate this electricity-poor city. Sidewalks are rarely used as such.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, and yes.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Something with ground clearance, japanese made, not too new.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. 40 USD

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get one, land lines are so last year.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Nope, but ask their forgiveness. They will not love India.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Increasingly available.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

They are becoming increasingly difficult to come by. Labor laws and visas rules are tightening.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Modest.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

India has unfortunately been the focal point of terrorist activity. It is in a complicated part of the world. For ladies, Delhi is particularly troublesome if you are here alone. There is a real problem with eve-teasing also known as sexual harassment.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Get referrals!

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Terrible during the winter seasons - though it is improving annually. Delhi is close to a desert so assume to breath it all in!

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It is hot, hot and humid, hot and rainy, or cold in Delhi. Those are the four season.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

lots, great, expensive, but well run.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

VERY large

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2. Morale among expats:

Mostly positive.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

As a married couple: dinners, movies, some dancing.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Families and Couples fare well - singles will have a tough time. This is a city and a culture that places a high value on family and does not really know how to deal with single people. Though as with all metropolitan places/cities that is changing, albeit slowly.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling the country, In India one location could not possibly be more different different from the rest of the country.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

there are museums and nice festivals. Delhi though is a dusty, dirty, crowded metro -- traveling to nearby places is more fun.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Sarees, embroidery, travel.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It is INDIA... it is the capital.it is a fascinating place.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, some.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

electronics - here electricity is never a sure thing.

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3. But don't forget your:

frequent flyer miles so you can explore the rest of India.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Holy Cow, Fine Balance, White Tiger.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Three Idiots

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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New Delhi, India 08/07/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

no, also lived in Hong Kong, Suva Fiji, and Lilongwe Malawi

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

14 hours to Newark

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

housing was great for me - 3 bedrooms, huge balconies. Commute could be an issue, particularly in monsoon season - up to an hour plus sometimes.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

cheap

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

you can find anything here. would only consider if had a family member with particular food/allergy issues.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

yes, and it is all very cheap and greasy.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

there is an organic store in Shanti Niketan - it's incredibly small. most veggies need to be bleached before consuming. gluten-free, I doubt.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

every kind imaginable

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

through diplomatic pouch

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

once you find the right person for the job, which can sometimes be a frustrating period of trial and error, you'll never regret the (relative in-)expense.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

yes

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

I used very rarely, cash is easier. large hotels will take cards though

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

i think so

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

a plethora - I think cable cost $6 a month.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

I'd argue you should have some basics for haggling with taxi drivers, but you can make do without hindi I suppose.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

the city is hard for someone with no physical disability to navigate - sidewalks are in disrepair/nonexistant and the weather is ungodly.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

I took taxis regularly, they are cheap, but drivers often try to overcharge and rarely seem to know where anything is actually located. occasionally i felt threatened by some taxi/rickshaw drivers, particularly if alone late at night (to be avoided whenever possible). never took a bus. wouldn't advise train travel for a female alone - you'll likely have a man sit 3 inches from your face, staring the entire time.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

anything goes on Delhi roads.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

yes, around $20/month

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

seem easily available on local economy

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

yes

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

yes, huge multinationals in gurgaon

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

conservative

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

as a single woman, I was routinely harrassed and on several occasions incidents escalated beyond the normal stares and disgusting, breathy comments from men in the street. at least once, men asked my security guards about my habits. I never felt particularly safe in malls or movie theaters and forget about being in a crowd for any special event. I now have a legitimate fear of stampedes.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

everything, including scarlet fever and polio, exists and thrives here. minor asthma can become a large concern here due to air quality. medevacs to singapore are common for serious illnesses.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

the worst in the world

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

you'll experience 3-4 weeks of semi-pleasant weather in a year. the rest is unbearable.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

no experience, hear they are good and families seemed happy with them

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

there's a preschool at the US Embassy. everyone had domestic help for daycare.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

through embassies, for sure.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

extremely large

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2. Morale among expats:

polar opposites - you love it or you hate it, it seems. and you will never know where you fall on this spectrum until you arrive here.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

usually seemed to consist of house parties or dinners out. the bar scene can be annoying unless/because you are affiliated with bollywood-ish scene

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

families and couples seem to generally do well here with the domestic staff and large expat network. single men and women, that's a different story. singles trying to date locals have a hard time due to cross-cultural issues. I know there are worse places for a single female to work in this world, but my experience here was horribly negative and I would never recommend this post to another woman in my situation.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

from what I've heard, I think there is a decent network for gay men.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

across the board in a subtle manner I would argue - yes. the only expat group that I would have legitimate security concerns for would be females.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

traveling with family and friends, Diwali and wedding celebrations, eating pretty spectacular sushi at the Taj Mansingh Hotel, eggplant curry, Kerala

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

spas, great art scene, water sports in Rishikesh, Tibetan community in Dharamsala, yoga anywhere, rickshaw rides through Old Delhi

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

amazing jewelry, rugs, textiles, and blue pottery

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

shopping for jewelry and rugs, traveling outside of Delhi (particularly south to Kerala - also had great trips north in Himalayas and east to Darjeeling and Kolkata), great yoga instruction and fantastic massages in spas

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11. Can you save money?

yes

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

never, the professional experiences were absolutely incredible, but I would never put myself through that again if given the chance to go elsewhere

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

spices, shorts, and miniskirts

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3. But don't forget your:

excedrin migraine and sense of humor

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

everything by Jhumpa Lahiri and Arundhati Roy

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

i was excited to move to India and am incredibly disheartened that the experience was not a positive one for me. i don't normally post on sites like this, but I can't in good conscience avoid placing my thoughts here in the hopes that I can discourage other single women from ever considering a move to this city.

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New Delhi, India 08/04/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Mumbai, Geneva, Islamabad.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington D.C. Long, 22 hours, at least.

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3. How long have you lived here?

May 2009 - June 2011

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Decent housing, new construction prone to mold.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Going up.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

More toilet paper.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Decent fast food, but constant threat of GI issues. Delhi Belly is real.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Paradise for vegetarians, not so easy for those into organic food.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Malaria and Dengue mosquitoes

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Via the embassy.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

No ease of entry for foreign nannies because of changing visa restrictions, but great domestic help is available.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Great in Delhi and other tourist locations.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, not too expensive.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can get around speaking English, but its better to speak Hindi.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Not great for anyone with physical disabilities, not wheelchair friendly.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, but not safe for women. Radio taxis are okay, and first-class travel/women's compartments on the metro are kosher.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Toyotas and Hondas are better to bring. American/German/Swedish cars are hard to service. If you are going to travel around India by car, bring an SUV. Honda CRVs are common.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, decent, comparable to U.S. prices.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get a local SIM, roaming charges are insane.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes. Dr. Kunal at Max Vets rocks.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Rarely.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Conservative for women.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Terrible GI issues, even elite hospitals have a terrible attitude toward female patients, no bedside manner.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Poor

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

HOT dry summers, cold dry winters, humid monsoons, and a few great weeks of Spring like weather in February and November.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Pretty big.

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2. Morale among expats:

Not great among singles, decent for families who are able to afford private schooling.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Same old elite bars and pubs, Mumbai is better for a nightlife. Great cultural events, though.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Great for families, not great for singles, great for couples.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Very closeted culture

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, racial prejudices against Americans of color. Women are belittled and single women are especially subject to sexual assualt.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Travel to Ladakh.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Ziplining in Rajasthan, great forts, palaces, temples, white water rafting on the Indus and Ganges.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Furniture, jewelry, fabrics.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Touring, culture.

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11. Can you save money?

If you don't eat out or drink at bars, you can save money

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Cosmetics, all brands available in India, but they aren't cheap.

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3. But don't forget your:

Toilet paper.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

City of Djins

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Monsoon Wedding, Delhi Belly

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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New Delhi, India 01/08/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

I have lived overseas for 15 of the last 23 yrs, including Johannesburg, Manila, and smaller towns in Kenya and Uganda

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington DC. 15 hours or more travel

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two separate times for a total of 5 years

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

diplomatic work

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Most expatriates live in semi-gated communities -- in flats of short buildings -- and commute 20-30 minutes

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Staples and fresh goods are very cheap. Imported goods are very expensive, but more mid-range and quality goods are available all the time.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Shoes, clothes for the larger-bodied, western toiletry items, unscented toilet paper and liquid detergent.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Some of the major US fast food is available, but localized. There are lots of good restaurants, but too many of them are in major hotels, so they are expensive. Good restaurants in shopping areas are affordable.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Lots of vegetarian meals available

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Moderate

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Through the embassy as an employee.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Highly available, reliable, and inexpensive. Puts even the Filipinos to shame.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, but not common

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards are accepted for most medium to high-end shopping and restaurants. ATMs are available, but limited.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Cable and satellite TV are available and affordable with channels of all languages.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can do fine with English only, but certainly a little Hindi helps.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It is not handicap friendly.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

There is rarely a problem getting a taxi, which is affordable. Stay away from the buses. They are crowded and pickpocket-friendly and dangerous. Trains are the best option for long-distance travel -- basic but inexpensive and safe.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Traffic is dense, so a big vehicle is a hassle to drive and park, and an SUV is rarely helpful. Most expatriates hire a driver. Repairs can be done cheaply, but you can't count on the parts. Bring a sedan, or buy local.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Available and affordable, but not all that fast.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get one there.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Vets, yes.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not much with a real income, but lots of ways to engage.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Conservative.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There is plenty of crime, but it is rarely targeted at expatriates. Usually someone is just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Driving on the roads between cities can be hazardous

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Good medical care is available and affordable, although the appearance of the facilities can be off-putting. The air quality is the only concern for most people.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The air quality is poor most of the year, and downright foul during the cold months

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Summer is painfully hot, but the rest of the year is fine.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

We had a fantastic experience with the American Embassy School with our two children. They have excellent teachers overall and a good international mix of students. It is very conveniently located, safe, and closely tied to US Embassy.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes - soccer, baseball

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Most westerners are diplomats, but the community is growing in the IT sector.

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2. Morale among expats:

Divided between those who love it and those who hate it in India

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Good restaurants, limited clubbing and bars, good movie theatres, some theatre, malls.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Indian culture is fairly conservative, so it seems more difficult for singles. Good for couples and families. Good domestics/nannies help with the little ones.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

India is riven with prejudices, but very very rarely do they have a personal impact on expatriates. There are some places where women will be hassled if alone.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The many architectural sites, the Himalayas, the food, the shopping, Kerala backwaters and beach, whitewater rafting, camel festival, etc...

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

The whole country, the whole region.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Everything. Good solid wood furniture, handicrafts, cheap art framing, fabrics, clothing, sculptures, tailor-made clothing.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The culture is fascinating and complex. If you keep yourself open to new experiences, you will never be bored, but it is a totally in-your-face experience. There are wonderful places to travel locally and regionally.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, unless you like to shop.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

heavy winter clothing (just need jackets and sweaters) unless you're a mountaineer, bicycles (roads are hazardous), humidifier, and spices.

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3. But don't forget your:

rain shoes, sense of adventure, and a camera.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

City of Djinns.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The whole Bollywood genre, Bride and Prejudice, Monsoon Wedding, Fire, Earth, Water

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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New Delhi, India 09/18/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Fourth expat experience.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

USA - 14 hours or more via United or Continental.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government - with the US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is getting tougher and tougher - 30 minutes or more of commute time to south Delhi/school. All apartment living for the most part with constant construction noise and dust.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Fresh produce is cheap if local but needs to be washed well. Imported foods of all kinds are expensive, especially meat and cheese, at higher than European rates. Cleaning products are sub-par locally.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Liquids like special hair products, good sports gear, paper products.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonalds and Pizza Hut type restaurants deliver -- about $10/pizza. Decent restaurants are around, but can be pricey- 5 star hotels have higher than usual prices ($40/head without wine). Good foreign wine runs $100/bottle -- really really expensive.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Recently huge mosquito problems (= dengue fever) thanks to the monsoon rains and Common Wealth Games construction sites. In doors - count on cockroaches, ants and spiders.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Fed Ex, via the Embassy. Don't use local Post.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Plenty available - the Bangalore "mafia" has a lock on house keepers and cooks. Lots available, but overall too much trouble - asking for loans, getting in fights with the neighbors, sneaking in relatives to live in the quarters, domestic disputes and alcohol abuse.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Varies widely by neighborhood and depends whether you have access to a gym at work.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Good luck with the ATMs - they are broken half the time, and only use the majors or you'll lose your card. Avoid credit card use -- few vendors accept credit cards and id theft is rampant.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Anglican, Catholic and Mormon services.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Plenty of newspapers (40 cents a day or less) and cable TV $30/month. IHT comes 2 days late - so it's better to read the NYT online.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Almost none for Delhi proper. Hindi helps, but isn't required.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It would be very difficult. We have a friend in a wheel chair who is almost a shut-in thanks to the poor sidewalks and lack of ramps, etc.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The bus service is Delhi is a death wish. The infamous blue line bus service kills at least one person/day. Trains are usually safe, but read the papers -- when there is an accident there is no rescue service and 100s die. Taxi service varies - like in any big city. Taxis can be relatively cheap, but the drivers will try to con you. Avoid taxis and auto rickshaws (tuk tuks) at night - lots of drunken-driving accidents.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Don't bring a car. Buy local and absorb the Delhi dents and dings. Bigger cars rule the road, so most westerners buy large and everybody drives aggressively and expects complete chaos. If an accident happens - avoid the scene which can quickly turn into a riot. Carjackings are few, but cars are stolen all the time.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

They call it broadband, but service speed is highly irregular. $20-$200 month depending on where you live and what speed you want. Few wifi spots around town and internet cafes are downright dangerous.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Lots of local options - all pretty cheap including 3Band. Don't bring a western phone --or any other electronics-- and expect to get it serviced. On the other hand, you can get your motherboard re-wired down at Nehru Place -- while you wait.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Mediocre vet care. Mainly focused on animal rescue. Lots of street dogs and stray cattle deserve medical care but are left to fend for themselves as "community animals", sadly dying of neglect.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No. A few NGOs hire at local pay rates, but there are many, many volunteer activities (unpaid).

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Suit/tie for men. Pants/suit for women. Loose clothes due to cultural norms and the heat. Linen and cotton rule.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Markets can be a target for terrorists as well as luxury hotels. Generally pick pockets abound as well as petty theft. Women should dress conservatively to avoid hassles. But the biggest risk is probably just crossing the street due to crazy traffic.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Don't count on ER services -- you gotta figure it out for your self. Medical care can vary widely. World class surgeons and miserable "fake" labs. Private hospitals vary within -- nursing services are abysmal, even thefts of personal items while in the hospital. But some doctors are highly trained and very good - especially for the cost. What is not available is any kind of mental health care including basic counseling.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Very unhealthy, in the winter the prized fuel is cow dung so you literally breathe "shit".Asthma and skin disorders are on the rise.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Months of monsoon rain this year with a huge outbreak of dengue fever. Winter is cold and very smoggy/polluted. Oct/Nov and then Feb/March are nice, but the rest of the year is a trial.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Has a reputation as one of the best, but is very "teacher-centric." Also slowly becoming anti-American --there is a rising number of local families who want fewer Americans in the school. The school has developed a serious drug problem being openly ignored by school officials, but has now spilled into the streets so that American school kids are considered spoiled, rich hooligans and druggies.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Only for mild learning disabilities. Special needs kids at each end of the spectrum can't get attention. The school is stretched to the max providing ESL services instead of special needs.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

A large number of options, from the Apple School to French pre-school. Local Indian pre-school is very traditional (rote memory work).

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Delhi International Football (soccer) league is the largest organized sports group in the city, but tends to be over competitive (i.e. cheating) and the quality of volunteer coaches varies widely. Some softball/baseball is available through the US Embassy. The American school has started to expand its sports programs.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

1000s.

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2. Morale among expats:

Life in Delhi is hard. People get sick a lot. Travel is difficult and expensive. If you are young, footloose,have a tough stomach and are fluent in Hindi -- you'll be able to enjoy Delhilife much easier.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Lots of melas (open air fairs for shopping). Most embassies have "balls" as open social events. Alliance Frances and the Indian Intl Center have good programs. The school has a growing community arts program. Some concerts and international artists visit - but rarely. Mostly home parties.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

There is a large ex pat community, but Delhi life is hard so lots of complaining at social events about pollution, illness, roads/traffic and how to find good help. The school is a social community of its own.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Not great, but getting better.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

India is a secular country, but the religious divides are serious and deep. Foreigners don't get "hassled" unless they are involved with religious conversion activities. Gender issues abound with women at the bottom of the totem pole.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Camping in the desert at the Pushkar camel fair, rafting on the Ganges river in Rishikesh, beaches in Goa (before the tar balls), houseboat cruise in Kerala.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Old Delhi touring, nature walks, South side parks, some running/bicycle clubs, a handful of museums and a funky zoo.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Fake antiques, brass items, colonial paintings, expensive formal dress (Indian style), custom textiles and teak furniture.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Cultural experiences can be remarkable. Touring around brings wild, wacky and warm-hearted experiences. But it is not cheap and often not safe.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you are very frugal and don't travel alot inside India.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No - even with the great school (which is now in decline) -- it isn't worth it.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

High heels, woolens, dreams of a cheap exotic lifestyle.

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3. But don't forget your:

Insect spray, sense of adventure, ability to bounce back from daily grind ofpoverty, and pack your camera.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

White Tiger, Shantaram, In Spite of the Gods, City of Djinns, White Moghuls, The Argumentative Indian, Nehru's Glimpses of World History, A Life Less Ordinary by Baby Halder

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Slumdog Millionare, Rang de Basanti, Bride and Prejudice, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Monsoon Wedding, Salaam Bombay, Earth/Water by Deepa Mehta, Lagaan

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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New Delhi, India 08/30/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. I have lived in Sao Paulo, Madrid and Cairo before.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Paris. Direct connections from Charles de Gaulle. An 8-hour-flight to Indira Gandhi Airport.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Working for a transnational company.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

I live in Gurgaon (in the outskirts of Delhi), a "modern" and "upscale" neighborhood (potholes and cows are all over the place, nevertheless). My commuting time is only twenty minutes but sometimes the traffic is a real pain... I live in a closed community with all the amenities included, we have a pool, 24-hour-power back up and hot/cold running water. All the above are considered luxury features for most delhiites.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

If it is imported (many products used by expats are) it will come with a hefty price. If it is locally produced, it will be cheaper.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Mostly house items, cleaning products, tooth brushes (they are of a very bad quality here), medicines, aspirin, sports clothing.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There is almost everything but not easily accesible. You have to go to the places where they are (I mean, they are not around the corner). Food is much cheaper than in Europe but you have to be careful since the hygienic standards are not high either.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Many. Delhi is a "green city" where you can still see monkeys in the parks, so there is enough breeding ground for insects.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We use DHL without problems.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

It can be cheap but the quality is sometimes not exactly the best.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

I go to the local branch of Fitness First and am very happy with it. I have heard there are many other gym chains opening up in Gurgaon. Good gyms and fitness are also something new in India so only new-rich people can afford it.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

There are some ATMs scattered around town and inside the shopping malls. Using a credit card here is still not common. It is still a cash economy.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Many. Very cheap (both in price and quality).

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can survive with English only, although lots of Indians do not speak the language properly. If they do, you might not understand all they want to tell you anyway because of their heavy accents.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

All of them. The city is not prepared for disabled people.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

I don't know about buses. They seem filthy. I have a driver. I would not drive here. Delhi is like hell, there are not common-sense traffic rules.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

None. Buy a used one here. They are expensive and you wouldn't want your new car to get scratches from the crazy drivers in Delhi. It is really much worse than in Cairo.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. I pay around 10 dollars per month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Everybody has a cell phone here. It is the way to go but be careful giving your number to Indian clients and/or acquaintances. They will call you whenever they feel like it.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Not in my case. All papers were in order and it was a swift procedure to get my dog back at the airport.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

So-so... There are some vets in Gurgaon and they have been ok with my dog. Pets are still seen as a extravagant trend of rich people.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not really.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Formal in winter, more flexible in summer due to the unbearable heat.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Terrorism. I am a male but I hear some female ex-pats have problems with staring and groping. Since sexuality here is considered a taboo and is suppresed in most cases, Indian men go crazy if they see some exposed skin.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Many. There is a dengue paranoia right now. Private hospitals are reliable.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Very bad. Worse than Cairo.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

I have experienced it all here: Freezing cold in winter (with a horrendous white fog covering the whole town for days) or scorching hot (48-50 celsius). Rains and humidity in between.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

I think it is large, but I only have contact with a very few of them (outside the office I mean). There are diplomats and people working for NGOs, too.

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2. Morale among expats:

Low in most cases. I am OK but not loving it. Living here is not easy: pollution, traffic, distances, widespread poverty, filth everywhere, ubiquitous animals and the demanding nature of Indians make it hard for everyone.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Mostly in super expensive trendy bars and restaurants or at home with friends. If you expect bar-hopping here...forget about it. Bars are only for the affluent people.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It´s hard for everyone. Maybe it is much better for families. Singles could have a difficult time here to meet girls/guys, since going out with a member of the opposite sex is still unacceptable in certain milieus, let alone with someone who does not belong to your caste or your religion. Couples without children (my case) get stares and many questions, since the only purpose of marriage in India is to have as many children as possible. Marriages here are arranged, so the contract is mostly between families not between individuals. Romantic love, showing affection in public or kisses are frowned upon.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Many. Members of the higher castes treat miserably the people of lower castes. My Indian colleagues say that caste-ism does not exist... but I have been able to witness it on a daily basis.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Indians tend to be warm and affectionate but also very much after usable information. Their sense of privacy is almost non existent. Delhi itself has numerous historical landmarks and some of the best attractions are easily doable on a weekend (Agra for Taj Mahal, Khajuraho for the "erotic temples", Amritsar for the Golden Temple, etc.).

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

There are parks in South Delhi, the famous landmarks of the old town (Jama mosque, the red fort, Qutb Minar, Humayun tomb). There are many markets, which carn turn women crazy (mostly women´s clothing). Some movie theaters (most of the time they screen bollywood flicks in Hindi), etc.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Many handcrafts are similar to what you can find in North African countries and the Middle East. Furniture and clothing (specially women's) are probably your best bet.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

India is a colorful and exotic country and that makes it fascinating. Nevertheless, the mentality and way of life makes this a challenging posting for any expat. As a foreigner it is not as cheap as you might think. If you come to India and stay in a coackroach-infested hotel, eat only vegetarian food and don´t care much about hygiene, it can be very cheap. If you want a decent coffee, a turkey-ham sandwich and orange juice in the morning you have to pay a higher price for it (if you are lucky enough to find places where they offer them).

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11. Can you save money?

No. Traveling within India is expensive. If you want a hotel with a western-style bathroom you have to pay for it.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Probably just as a tourist. I do not dislike it, but living here is another story. It is really hard just to get from one place to another. The heat, the pollution, the poverty only add on the pervasive lack of infrastructure and services. It's improving but not sure if someday the infrastructure will catch up with the "big power" ideal of India.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Ideas that India is all about spirituality and that this is a cheap country. Most Indians are as greedy as any other people around the world and are living in conditions which could be considered "normal" in other countries. To have electricity 24/7 comes with a price.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sense of adventure and humor. Some things here are so ridiculous that you have to laugh at them, really. I have read in previous postings that you should not use shorts, but at least in Gurgaon rich Indian (men mostly) were them in the summer.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

"India, a History". "Holy Cow". I don't remember the names of the authors.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

India is really an exceptional country, but the lack of a decent infrastructure, the different standards of hygiene, the overpopulation, and the island mentality of most people makes daily life a hard task for non-Indians. I would say: come to visit, to wonder at the beautiful monuments and the magnificent history, but please do not come to live here.

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New Delhi, India 08/12/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Second expat experience -- London and Karachi.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

You can fly direct from Chicago or New York or connect through Amsterdam or Frankfurt. About 14 hours from DC.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years from Aug 2008 until June 2010.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government--US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Embassy housing varies and things have a tendency to break. Facilities Maintenance was responsive and efficient in fixing our problems.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Most everything you need is available and really cheap. Western goods (i.e. cheese) are usually a bit more expensive than in the US.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Paper products--tp, paper towels etc. Any specific American food products you don't want to do without.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

The normal fast food restaurants are there (except McDonald's has no hamburgers). KFC, Dominos, Pizza Hut, TGI Fridays etc. There are a lot of nice restaurants, but they are relatively expensive. And tons of fantastic, cheap Indian food.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Ticks which spread disease in animals.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Through the embassy.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very plentiful and inexpensive.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. There is a gym at the embassy and other options in Delhi.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Lots of ATMs. Credit cards can be difficult. India is more of a cash economy.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Lots of decent, inexpensive English-language press.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None is needed but a little Hindi always helps improve your experience.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Delhi would be extremely difficult for disabled people.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Crowded but safe. Delhi has a clean, efficient metro system. Women should travel in higher classes on the trains for safety.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Don't bring your car. Driving in Delhi is crazy and a bigger car helps. Most people hire a driver.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes but power outages make connection difficult. We paid around $20 a month for internet.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Cell phones are cheap and plentiful.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

No quality pet care though kennels are available. When using vets in India, confirm treatment with your US vet.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Work is suit and tie (no jacket in the summer).For public, men shouldn't wear shorts and women shouldn't show legs or shoulders.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Women traveling alone should be very careful. Be prepared to be stared at and possibly groped. Generally speaking, groups of people and single men are safe.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Lots of health concerns--mainly skin and gastrointestinal issues.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Very unhealthy--lots of pollution and smog.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Crazy hot in the summer and shockingly cold in the winter.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The American Embassy School is supposed to be one of the best in the world. Many people extend for this reason.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge and diverse. You can be a part of a very active expat scene or strike out on your own to explore the city and country.

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2. Morale among expats:

Fair. Those who tend to get out and experience India seem to have high morale.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Lots of house parties, dinners, etc. Delhi has an active social scene.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good for all of the above. Delhi has a large expat community so singles can meet friends easily. Delhi has a large amount of cultural and historical sites for families and couples.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Not like a Western city but Delhi has an active gay community and an annual gay parade. Contrary to the last post, our gay friends (including Indians) did not seem to have an issue.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes--it's difficult being a woman in India but being an American woman makes it easier. There are also racial and religious tensions.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling throughout India. Hanging out with our friends in Delhi. The Kumbh Mela and other festivals. Meeting locals. The phenomenal food.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Tons! Restaurants, gardens, historical sites, temples, Old Delhi, meeting up with friends (lots of house parties), volunteering opportunities. The opportunities are there, it's what you make of it.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Huge array of crafts, jewelry, and furniture.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Amazing history in Delhi. Opportunity to travel through India--a country with diverse cultures, flora, fauna, and people. Cheap cost of living. Availability and cost of domestic help.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Definitely. We had an amazing two years though admittedly we were ready to return to the US.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

car, surfboard, skis.

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3. But don't forget your:

sense of adventure and open mind.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

White Tiger; City of Djinns, In Spite of the Gods.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Slum Dog Millionaire and any of the Bollywood flicks.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Delhi can be challenging but is a fascinating city in a fabulous country. Try to get out as much as you can and travel and remember why you came to India in the first place.

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New Delhi, India 08/01/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

My third expat experience. Thailand and Bangladesh came first.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

From the US we stopped over in France and then took Lufthansa Airways to Delhi. From there it was around seven and one-half hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S Embassy New Delhi.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Government housing is getting smaller and smaller if you live off post. Housing is a big problem here. It really sucks to be living in Indian houses. FMS is very bad. They do not want to do anything, and management doesn’t care about embassy members.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries are cheap.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Dog food, washing detergent, and toilet paper.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

All the old favorites are here. McDonald's, though without burgers, KFC, and Pizza Hut, but they don’t taste as good as at home. Most are quite expensive, and cleanliness is out of the question.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes and roaches.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Only by Diplomatic pouch.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

It is not that easy to find help. Because of the caste system, one will do only cooking and the other will do only cleaning. It is very difficult to find one person who can do all.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, there is a good gym on the embassy grounds.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Not many stores take credit cards, especially the smaller stores. We now have many shopping malls, and in these places credit cards don't always work, for some reason. ATMs are common in the expat communities.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Not many, I'm afraid.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Many newspapers are available, as are magazines. Local ones are very cheap. Overseas papers are here, too, but they come with a hefty price. Cable TV is pretty good; we have lots of channels in English, including HBO, and it's very cheap---around $10.00 a month.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It's good to know a little, but most locals speak some English in all the shops I've gone to.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

There are not many sidewalks here, and people with physical disabilities would find it hard visiting most of the monuments, as there are usually no ramps.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Trains are dirty, crowded, and full of pick-pockets. They are very dangerous -- even if you don't ride them. They are well known here for killing pedestrians.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I would not bring a car from the US. The Indian government restricts the importation of left-hand-drive cars. Also, you need to bring a new car. The steering wheel is on the wrong side, and this could be very dangerous here. The lack of parts would be a big problem, too. The bigger the car the better. Whatever car you have, by the time you leave, will be covered in dents. The driving here is the worst I have ever seen.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, again cheaper than home.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

There are many different options here, so just go with the one that suits you.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

The vets are not what you are used to back home, but there are some good ones. I have not heard of many kennels.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Only very few. There are lots of NGOs here, but the pay is very small.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Men tend to go to work in suits, although in summer they wear short-sleeve shirts. Nobody wears shorts here, so you will get stared at if you do. In shopping malls and expat areas, women can wear Western-style clothes.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Recently some bombings happened in the busy part of the city. There are always big concerns about terrorists. Women get stared at and felt sometimes. Women can't walk on their own in a lot of areas.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Being with the government, we get to use certain doctors. All fruits and vegetables need to be soaked in bleach before eating or cooking. You need to use distilled water for washing your mouth. You need to drink only bottled water.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Very unhealthy. I have never seen pollution like it. Houses get very dirty with a black dust. In winter the locals burn wood, so the air is dense, and people get upper respiratory infection very often.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It was still a shock to find out how cold it gets in Delhi in the winter. The mornings are very cold. It warms up during the day, and then the evenings are cold again. So bring clothes that you can layer. The summer is, well, HOT! It hits 115F.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The American School (AES) is excellent, and that is why most people come here. Kids miss the fun of going out and enjoying fast food.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

None.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Kind of okay.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes: pool, bowling alley, tennis, etc.,

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Very large. You will never be able to meet everyone here.

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2. Morale among expats:

Most of the time very bad. They want to bite your head off.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

People tend to stay home and watch TV.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

No. If you can find some other city in some other country, that will be great.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

NO! If the locals know you are gay or lesbian you will be stoned to death.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, big time. If you are male and white the society looks at you differently.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Beggars, pollution, and vendors.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

One of my favorite things is to go take picture of SPIT ART. This is people spiting all over the place.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

You can get some wonderful pieces of furniture.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

There are no special advantages of living here.

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11. Can you save money?

We thought we would be able to save, but it's getting more expensive all the time. If you want to visit other places in India it can cost a fortune.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

NO WAY, JOSE!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

good clothes. The water you wash your clothes in here seems to wear out your clothes very quickly. Also, leave behind anything that you treasure.

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3. But don't forget your:

toilet paper, shoes, and sandals. Trainers, especially, are very expensive here.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Slum Dog Millionaire.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Don’t come here. Go somewhere where the city is clean and the people are friendly. ANd where the post management takes care of its people.

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New Delhi, India 03/11/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, I've also lived in Sydney, Canberra, Sofia, and Lisbon.

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2. How long have you lived here?

9 months.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I am affiliated with the U.S. government.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

From the U.S. we stopped over in England and then took British Airways to Delhi - from there it was around 7 and 1/2 hours.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Government housing is getting smaller and smaller if you live off post. The rent for housing is getting higher every month and only big companies can pay the ridiculous rents that landlords charge.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

The cost of groceries is going up all the time. If you eat only Indian food and go to the local markets, food is very cheap. Lots of expats want organic produce because of the high use of pesticides here so this can be very expensive. All imported food is twice as high as back home. The big expense here is dog food and washing detergent.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Dog food, washing detergent and toilet paper.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

All the old favourites are here. McDonalds, though no burgers. KFC is just like home and Pizza Hut. They do have wonderful restaurants here some of which are cheap but most are quite expensive.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very easy to find help, just ask other expats for good recommendations. You can't live here without getting someone and it's one of the few places in the world where it won't cost you too much.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Not many stores take credit cards especially the smaller ones. We now have many shopping malls and in these credit cards don't always work for some reason. ATMs are common in the expat communities.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Not many I'm afraid. There is a church run out of the British School every Sunday that is for all denominations.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Many newspapers are available as are magazines. Local ones are very cheap. Overseas papers are here also but come with a hefty price. Cable TV is pretty good, we have lots of channels in english including HBO and its very cheap around US$10.00 a month.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It's good to know a little but most people speak some English in all the shops I've gone to.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

There are not many sidewalks here and people with physical disabilities would find it hard at most of the monuments as there are usually no ramps. This is starting to improve though as things are slowly changing as they are getting ready for the Commonwealth games in 2010.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

They drive on the left just like in England.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Trains are affordable and an experience everyone should have while living here. Buses, I don't know anyone that has been on one. They are very crowded and dangerous. They are well known here for killing pedestrians. Taxis are cheap and are everywhere.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I would not bring a car from the U.S. as the steering wheel is on the wrong side and this could be very dangerous here. Lack of parts would be a big problem too. The bigger the car, the better. Whatever car you have by the time you leave, it will be covered in dents. The driving is the worst I have ever seen.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, again cheaper that at home.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

There are many different options here so just go with the one that suits you.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

We use Skype right now; it is very cheap indeed.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

The vets are not what you are used to back home but there are some good ones. I have not heard of many kennels; people usually get their staff to look after their pets. NOTE: If you are coming with a dog or cat and they might need an operation - bring one of those Elizabethan collars with you to stop them biting the operated area.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Few and far between. There are lots of NGOs here but the pay is very small.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Men tend to go to work in suits although in summer they wear short sleeve shirts. Nobody wears shorts here and you will get stared at if you do. In shopping malls and expat areas the women can wear Western style clothes. But in the markets you get less attention if you wear the local dress.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Very unhealthy; I have never seen pollution like it. Also this is basically a desert, so there is dust everywhere. Houses get very dirty with a black dust in some areas.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No big concerns with terrorits. Only being a woman here is hard. You get stared at and felt sometimes. You can't walk on your own in a lot of areas and teenage girls have it hard here. They have to be in groups at all times.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Being with the government we get to use certain doctors. But other people tell me there are very good doctors here and some of the hospitals are excellent.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It was still a shock to find out how cold it gets in Delhi in the winter. The mornings were very cold, warmed up during the day then got much colder at night. So bring clothes that you can layer. The summer is well, HOT!

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The American School (AES) is excellent and that is why most people come here. My daughter who did not want to come here now wants to stay because she loves the school. It has lots of after school activities which is needed here as there is not much for teenagers to do otherwise.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Very large. You will never meet everyone here.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

People tend to eat out a lot or have people over for dinner. There are many things to keep you busy, from the museums to art galleries, music nights etc.. Many theaters have movies shown in English.

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3. Morale among expats:

Most of the time it's pretty good. We all have our good and bad days here in Delhi so it helps to have a friend.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think this is a great city for couples and singles. I am not sure I would come here with children because of the pollution. Smaller children get more out of the city than teenagers. Teenagers feel like they lose their freedom when they come here.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

There are many gay/lesbian expats living here.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

The different religions seem to get on pretty well here. Of course, again, prejudices against women are a big thing. You only have to read the Indian newspapers every day to see it. If you complain about something as a woman no one listens to you, another story if a man complians. As a woman you tend to lose confidence in yourself after a while.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

One of my favourite things to do is actually going shopping in Old Delhi. The many sights sounds and smells remind you how it once was. Visiting all the old monuments, there are so many; some not well kept though. Shopping is wonderful here if you find the right places and can get lots of bargins.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Paper products are beautiful. You can get some wonderful pieces of furniture. One of the best buys are the textiles made up into tablecloths, napkins, and bedding.

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9. Can you save money?

We thought we would before we came but it's getting more expensive all the time. If you want to visit other places in India it can cost a fortune. Just be careful not to get carried away with the shopping and the foreign goods.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Not sure. I do love it here, but health-wise I think I would really consider it very carefully before bringing children here.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Your good clothes. The water you wash your clothes in here seems to wear out your clothes very quickly. Anything that you treasure. We didn't bring much but now wish I'd brought a lot less.

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3. But don't forget your:

Buy all the shoes and sandals before you come. Trainers are very expensive here.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Twilight in Delhi by Ahmed Ali.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Twilight in Delhi by Ahmed Ali.

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

People ask me if I like it here and I always say it like a love/hate relationship. I love it for many reasons, the colors, the people, the sights. Then I hate it at times, but I'm glad I did experience it all.

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New Delhi, India 02/04/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This is my first expat experience.

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2. How long have you lived here?

6 months.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I am here for my father's job.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

From the US, there's a direct 1- hour flight from Newark. From Europe, it's a 10-hour flight from Amsterdam

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

We live in an apartment. It's very nice, much nicer than what we're used to at home for this price. It has marble floors, window AC, and all amenities we would ever need.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

If you shop where the locals shop it's very cheap. My mom bought 3 bags full of fresh produce, for roughly US$3. If you go to a chain grocery store and buy western brands, it's very expensive. One single Warm Delights dessert dish was US$5. If you shop savvy, it's a lot cheaper than anything you'll ever find in the states.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

We've been able to find everything we need at local stores. If you're brand-particular, I'd say ship those.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

We love Indian food so we try to eat it at often as possible. Virtually everywhere delivers, which is very nice. We've had no problems with food illness because we avoid the sketchy looking restaurants. However, if you eat at a place that looks unsanitary, you'll probably get sick..obviously. Fast food here is not as fast as the U.S., but there are options, and they deliver too. If you prefer western food, there are plenty of TGI Fridays, Ruby Tuesdays, pizza chains, Subways, and the hotels have everything you can imagine (including a sushi bar, that was excellent, just very over priced).

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Cheap and readily available.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATMs are everywhere. Malls accept credit cards, outdoor markets only except cash. Same as at home. We've had no problems with any of our cards.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

There are plenty of English newspapers and you can get almost any magazine you want in English. The newspapers are cheap, the magazines are more expensive if imported, cheap if they're local. We have about 30 English TV channels with enough variety to keep us entertained.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Most everyone speaks enough English to understand what we're saying. We know Hindi words for food items, which makes it easier when grocery shopping, or when eating out. Other than that, you should be okay knowing only English.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

I would think so. I've seen no special accommodations for the disabled.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Left, unless that side is moving too slow, then you drive on the right. Like I said--chaotic.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Trains are cheap from city to city, the Delhi Metro is apparently very clean and surprisingly uncrowded. Buses are dangerous, if not for what happens on board (theft, harassment) but for how drivers drive. Taxis are the way to go. Cheap and readily available. If you're daring, rickshaws and auto-rickshaws are good too, for short distances at least.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I don't know about what cars to bring or not bring, but I definitely wouldn't recommend driving here. It's pretty chaotic, and for as cheap as it is, I'd say hire a driver.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get one. They're cheap, and it's rather like a safety blanket knowing that, should you get separated from your group, you can call them. You have to have documents to get a cell phone though, so have a copy of your passport and a letter from your employer.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

We use Yahoo Voice. It's 1 cent a minute. Calling the U.S. from our Indian cellphone costs about 25 cents a minute.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Definitely dress conservatively. Skin showing is a no-no. Dressing sloppy is too.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Unhealthy, there are no emissions controls.. However, we are living in a suburb called Gurgaon, and it's not as bad here as in the city. My parents and I have had very few problems with respiratory illnesses.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

I, being a 19 year old female, would not feel comfortable being alone but my mother has had no problems. The people are very friendly and will strike up a conversation instantly.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

If you have an existing condition such as asthma, Delhi's probably not going to be fun for you.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Well, there's raining and not raining. When it's raining, it's hot and of course humid. When it's not raining, it's hot intially, followed by a shortened fall type feel, an even shorter winter, and then it starts warming up again.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

It depends on where you are. Where we are, I'd say about 10 expats per apartment complex. In Delhi, I've seen quite a few. Usually we either see no expats, or lots of them.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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3. Morale among expats:

Reading the other reports on this site, it's not very high. We, however, love it. I've heard numerous people say it's either you love it or you hate it. It depends on your mindset. If you're unhappy, sick, or bored the first week, you'll hate it. If you have a positive attitude, get used to the fact that things take longer, that things are a little more chaotic, then you'll love it.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Male/male physical contact is a very common sight but it's just a show of friendship. With the things I know about India, I would not advise public displays of gay/lesbian affection.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Religious, no. Gender, yes. Women are lower on the totem pole in accordance with Indian tradition but my mom and I haven't had any negative experiences. Also according to Indian tradition and the caste system, people of darker skin color are lower on the pole.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

There are tons of temples and monuments to see all over Delhi. The Gandhi Museum was exceptionally moving. Shopping in Delhi could fill many days. Dilli Haat is an outdoor market in South Delhi - it's definitely worth a trip.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There are so many things here worth noting, things we've bought are spices, teas, pashminas, jewelry, artwork, incense...the list goes on and on. Load up on presents for birthdays and holidays for sure. We bought a 12x24 inch traditional Indian drawing for US$12. We found one on an American website for US$180. That's money well spent in my book.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes! A thousand times yes. If you don't buy western brands, but buy local brands and produce, you'll save tons just there. If you eat at local restaurants, instead of hotels, you'll save loads. Souvenirs are cheap as well.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Sense of urgency. You probably won't be on time for anything, but then again, no one else will either, so no one will notice.

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3. But don't forget your:

Camera. There are so many wonderful sights here, everything from the cows in the middle of the road,the 1000 year old tombs, the brightly colored saris, and the dust colored monkeys. I've taken at least 2000 photos in the last 6 months.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

A Fine Balance from Oprahs book club--it's very depressing and quite long, but it's also a very accurate picture of the poverty here.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

A Fine Balance from Oprahs book club--it's very depressing and quite long, but it's also a very accurate picture of the poverty here.

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Gandhi, for sure. My dad recommends Guru. The new movie, The Darjeeling Limited was filmed partly in India, so it'll show you ahead of time what you're getting yourself into.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

If you're coming to Delhi, definitely try to have fun. I've said it a few times, but it's worth saying again. If you stay in your comfort zone and don't get out, it won't be very enjoyable. If you get out, experience things, make the most of it, and laugh when things go hideously wrong, you'll love it. Instead of getting annoyed about the hour long traffic jam, get a chuckle over the fact that it was probably caused by a cow about a mile ahead. Instead of being outraged by how expensive a bottle of Herbal Essence is, buy Himalaya brand and save about US$3. Instead of being disgusted by the the poverty, find an NGO or other charitable group and do something about it. Instead of blasting the AC and fan 100% to avoid the heat, turn the AC off and turn the fan to half speed, go outside, and let your body adjust--after a few weeks it won't be so bad.

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