How to Prepare for India: (PS: You Can’t)

So in my last post on preparing for India I spoke about getting a Visa and medication; this works fine for a few weeks of travelling. But, coming here for a longer (business) trip requires a bit more, like a local number, adapters for plugs and a bank account; not to mention a place to live! All of which are slightly impossible to get set up until you reach India and if you know a local. Thankfully, I have an amazing support network in India who took care of me. The first few days/weeks in India happen in a blur of exhaustion, stomach pain and bewilderment, so to have people who can feed you, put you in direct contact with A/C and get you on the grid is ideal.

Due to past bombings and terrorists threats in India, going inside any building feels like crossing security at an airport. All your belongings are checked and in some cases your “person” is checked as well. Now, imagine a foreigner trying to get a local phone number. Eep. Thankfully, I didn’t have to go through this, as my local friend registered herself to own the phone number which took 10 minutes. If I were to get a phone, it would probably take a day and at a hefty “foreigner’s rate”. The only thing that I should have done was unlocked my blackberry in Canada.

Furthermore, there is no wifi signal anywhere so one must get an internet stick which again, my local friend arranged for me. So basically I travel with my iphone, blackberry, laptop and internet stick with adapter plug. I bought a huge adapter plug from Toronto, which is heavy and cumbersome, while in India they are small and portable. So I would suggest just getting adapter plugs from India instead.

So, at the end of my first week, I had a local phone number, adapter plug and internet stick. I was back on the grid.

Now there is the issue of getting a bank account and a place to live. Phew..

Again, my local friend did the research and found me a place to live. It’s in South Delhi at a “homestay” type place with all the comforts of home owned by a Canadian Indian. Not sure what sites she used to find it, from what I tried, there is no central or reliable place for ex-pats to find a place (I could be wrong). There is RoomWale.com, Airbnb.com and MyGuesthouse.com to start yet it can be overwhelming when you’re not familiar with the areas. From my brief stay here, it appears that GK, and Haus Khas seem to be the fun, and cool areas for ex-pats to live, both in South Delhi.

I have settled on ICICI bank as my parents have an account there and all the setting up has to be done by courier. Yay, no running around Delhi!! Although, this still has to be done… eek. I won’t bore you with those details though, it requires some paperwork, yet a better alternative to State Bank of India which requires your parent’s cancelled passport proving you are in fact an NRI. I tried to set up an account in Toronto but they were rude and disorganized.

Overall, trying to set up a life here is challenging without the help of some sort of support network. I am really not sure how people who don’t have anyone to help them do it without a hassle and getting severely ripped off.

 

 

 

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