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Old 24th January 2010, 20:57   #1
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Default Living in Chennai

A friend of mine is considering a job offer in Chennai. He is currently
in Bombay, so has still not made up his mind - because of the change
in location.

He had a few questions about Chennai - I hope tbhpians from Chennai
can help.

1) First Question is about water - are there major water shortages in
Chennai. Is it still a big problem?
2) Is the water on tap hard water or soft water?
3) Electricity - are there power cuts & Load sheddings in Chennai. If yes,
how frequently & how much?
4) Transportation - are autos/taxis a convinient way to travel around Chennai? He himself will drive but if his wife wants to go around couple
of times a week are autos/taxis good? Asking because in many cities in India, getting an auto guy to go where you want to go is a pain - for eg. in Hyderabad I faced major issues with autos. In Pune also, if you go outside the city to Aundh/Baner, autos are pain. How is Chennai with respect to Autos & Taxis?
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Old 24th January 2010, 23:45   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carboy View Post
He had a few questions about Chennai - I hope tbhpians from Chennai
can help.
1) First Question is about water - are there major water shortages in
Chennai. Is it still a big problem?
2) Is the water on tap hard water or soft water?
3) Electricity - are there power cuts & Load sheddings in Chennai. If yes,
how frequently & how much?
4) Transportation - are autos/taxis a convinient way to travel around Chennai? He himself will drive but if his wife wants to go around couple
of times a week are autos/taxis good? Asking because in many cities in India, getting an auto guy to go where you want to go is a pain - for eg. in Hyderabad I faced major issues with autos. In Pune also, if you go outside the city to Aundh/Baner, autos are pain. How is Chennai with respect to Autos & Taxis?
This comes from a keralite, now living in chennai since an year and half.

1 & 2) Shifted 2 houses, and havent faced any sort of water 'shortages' or 'hard' water issues yet. However, for drinking- most of the houses purchase 20L water cans on a regular basis.

3) I haven't felt this to be an issue.

4) Getting an auto is easy, but the prices they qoute are ! But there is 'share auto' system as well and call taxi services like fast-track which have reasonable rates (reasonable compared to autos anytime!)

What my friends from mumbai and north do complain are- summer climate, language & food. But there would be similar problems in any new place, i guess!

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 24th January 2010 at 23:47.
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Old 25th January 2010, 00:02   #3
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1) No shortage in my area, Adyar. Not heard of any issues with regards to water in other areas of late as well.
2) Water is harder than, say, Bangalore. But not prohibitively so. In fact, I prefer slightly hard water for bathing. Easy lather, easy to wash off.
3) Very minimal power cuts during the peak of summer. Say once or twice a year in Adyar.
4) Autos in Chennai are best avoided. Especially if you do not know the language, or 'seem' like an 'outsider'. No one follows the meter, but atleast you know you will get to your destination through the shortest route. Personally, I try to get my friends and relatives (local) to avoid autos since I feel they are a menace on our roads, and I feel a boycott will push them to improve themselves. (Prepaid) Taxis are professional and more comfortable albeit more expensive. What I would really suggest is your friends wife get her own transport. The bus network in Chennai is amazing by the way; rather crowded 90% of the time, though.

Language shouldn't be too much of an issue. I've been here for over 10 years, and my Tamil is a joke. Just learn to count to 10, who, what, when, where, why, how (much) and the occasional swear word, and you should do fine. I'm sure your friend will be much more capable of learning new languages than me, so he will get along fine. Not knowing Tamil doesn't really piss anyone off here as long as you appear to be making an effort. From my experience, I have found it is better to fall back onto English instead of Hindi in the event you are speaking to someone who is still miffed at the whole Hindi vs. Tamil era.

Last edited by GreaseMonk : 25th January 2010 at 00:07.
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Old 25th January 2010, 00:47   #4
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Power cuts are very dependent on whether there is any VIP nearby or not. We get them regularly, and did go through a stage of daily two-hour load shedding, but that hasn't happened for a while. Cuts of five minutes to half an hour are common.

Water is really dependent on the previous monsoon. Even so, our house is outside the Metro area, and the Panchayat gives water only three days a week. We don't really notice that, because our sump has enough water, when full, to last us nearly two weeks. Worst thing is sometimes it is salty.

Certainly mains water is not for drinking, although the metro water is chlorinated and my wife used it for cooking. Here we have an RO purifier.

Autos can be ok if you get to know some of your local guys. Otherwise, the cost/hassle factor is making it worthwhile to take call taxi.

I'm not sure, any longer, how I'd get by with out a Tamil wife --- i wouldn't be able to speak to maids, ironing lady, etc etc, but I guess I'd get by. At least people are tolerant of me being a monoglot Brit; it is not as bad as being a non-French speaker in Paris! Or, they tell me, a non-Hindi speaker in Delhi! I'd agree that English is probably more popular here than Hindi, although the younger generation seem to learn it happily without the old prejudices.
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Old 25th January 2010, 12:07   #5
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Me lived in Mumbai (then Bombay) for 5 years and now living in Chennai for past 2+ years and sort of qualified to put my couple of paise in here, I believe.

Having been in Mumbai,you definitely feel the water quality a bit hard, but within city limits, Chennai Metro water, is as soft as Mumbai's tap water. No problems at all, throughout the year. But during peak summer, in May-June, Chennai metro rations water and sometimes the Flats have to partly go for bore-well water, which sure is harder than tap water. Depending on the area, you may even get good bore-well water too. (Look for this when you take up any house. Check for availability of bore water and taste it.)
Power, well, like Thad says, depends on how close you are to a VIP area. During summer, Apirl-May-June the power cuts varys from 0 hours to 5-6 hours/day in some remote areas of city and some suburbs. (Me gets rarely power cut ranging from 10 to 30 minutes only, Living in center of Kilpakkam area).

Conveyance, moderate I would say. City itself is coverable end to end within an hour and a half by car/auto/train/taxi and hence this must be much easier than Mumbai. Autowallas, as elsewhere, you need to bargain hard and local language is required. But English will pass easily for bargaining. Hindi won't help at all, might rather irritate them. Driving around Chennai, once you get familiar with peak-hours, peak-routes you can plan yourself accordingly and as I said, the entire city is traversable within 2 hours and it is a big Plus here in Chennai. I drive around myself and my wife autos around for less than few kilometers ride and for longer trips, she hires a known cab driver.

In addition to all that, there is a sizable North Indian community here in Chennai,who are here for centuries, and once get into that circuit, things become much easier and you always get the tips on the nittygritties from these stalewarts.

Finally, Welcome to Chennai (to your friend).

Last edited by RajaTaurus : 25th January 2010 at 12:12.
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Old 28th January 2010, 23:19   #6
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1) First Question is about water - are there major water shortages in
Chennai. Is it still a big problem?
2) Is the water on tap hard water or soft water?
3) Electricity - are there power cuts & Load sheddings in Chennai. If yes,
how frequently & how much?
4) Transportation -

1 & 2 Water quality depend on area and also the individual. If a person compare the water of Himalayas then it is worst. If some one compare a ground water of any coastal towns it is fine as a hard water. 3.Power cut is not serious in Chennai if compared with other parts of the country. But out of Chennai in Tamilnadu an average of 2 hours. 4.Transportation good buses and worst buses. Call Taxis fast track is better with out a bargain.
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Old 29th January 2010, 09:35   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carboy View Post
How is Chennai with respect to Autos?
Autorickshaw drivers in Chennai are very 'honest' and 'straight forward': They do not differentiate between a local and an outsider, when it comes to cheating! They cheat all irrespective of their origin, caste, creed, nationality, language, region & religion. Meters are only ornamental pieces, not to be operated. Most of the autorickshaws belong to the cops. So, cops turn a Nelson's eye, if you lodge a complaint against them. You have to bargain the fare before boarding. It is better to avoid autorickshaws in Chennai. But, you have other better modes of transportation like city buses [damn cheap], sub-urban trains [economical], call-taxies [costly], etc.

Last edited by J.Ravi : 29th January 2010 at 09:38.
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Old 29th January 2010, 09:49   #8
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^^
I would always suggest a Taxi in place of the auto. The charges are more or less the same.

From Perambur to Pallavaram by Call Taxi, the meter charge comes to 250 Rs. The autorickshaws will not quote anything less than 300 bucks.

Trains are much better option compared to the Buses!
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Old 29th January 2010, 10:34   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RajaTaurus View Post
you always get the tips on the nittygritties from these stalewarts.
Why did they become stale ?

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Originally Posted by J.Ravi View Post
Autorickshaw drivers in Chennai are very 'honest' and 'straight forward':
Absolutely. Whether you are white or black, rich or poor, you will get fleeced. Autos are only for absolute emergencies. Bargain hard and then only get into the auto, else you might be charged for even being seated inside.
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Old 29th January 2010, 11:13   #10
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Originally Posted by CrAzY dRiVeR View Post

What my friends from mumbai and north do complain are- summer climate, language & food. But there would be similar problems in any new place, i guess!
Summer in Delhi and Mumbai, anyone?. Isn't Mumbai located near the sea and hot and humid just as any coastal area would be in summer?. With the accompanying power cuts too!.Or, is there a Mumbai in Europe, we didn't know of?. And, would your friends in "Mumbai and the north" complain about language while considering a job opportunity in Germany?. And, if they are well off where they are, why even consider moving to another location?.

I moved out of India because when i graduated there were minimal opportunities in this country at that time and i went overseas fully aware that i had to adjust to a different country/society and learn to get along. I lived in a small university town where a brief summer squall could send power lines down and leave us sweating for two days or a hailstorm in winter could do the same damage. Try living without heat in winter!. More than three fourths of the people in Delhi seem to get along without heating in winter , though!.Year after year!.. So much for "India Shining".Or, summer in Delhi anyone?. You can bake bread in your verandah!. I was almost fleeced by an auto driver in Delhi two weeks ago who wanted RS150 to get from the Pragati Maidan to South Delhi. I had paid RS80 in the morning to get to the Expo center from South Delhi.Luckily , a friend returned my call as i was about to get in the auto and offered a ride. I get around Delhi without speaking a word of Hindi by the way. I speak English. Concern about food while considering moving to another location i can understand. Chennai has it's share of multi cuisine palates so no worry.

I dislike the premise behind the questions in this thread. To everyone else, if you're thinking of moving to Chennai for whatever reasons just do so and enjoy your stay!. Cheers!

Last edited by nickatnite : 29th January 2010 at 11:26.
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Old 29th January 2010, 11:25   #11
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Sharing 2 cents of my 32 years experience living in Chennai

Quote:
Originally Posted by carboy View Post
1) First Question is about water - are there major water shortages in
Chennai. Is it still a big problem?
2) Is the water on tap hard water or soft water?
3) Electricity - are there power cuts & Load sheddings in Chennai. If yes,
how frequently & how much?
4) Transportation - are autos/taxis a convinient way to travel around Chennai? He himself will drive but if his wife wants to go around couple
of times a week are autos/taxis good? Asking because in many cities in India, getting an auto guy to go where you want to go is a pain - for eg. in Hyderabad I faced major issues with autos. In Pune also, if you go outside the city to Aundh/Baner, autos are pain. How is Chennai with respect to Autos & Taxis?
1. It depends on the area. Water is extremely bad in a place called Velachery, the water in the same Velachery is good on other sides, and, ofcourse, the monsoon plays a major role. If the monsoons are good, you see flooding & city stands still for about 1-2 days, but the summer has plentiful of water supply, if the monsoon is bad, its good to commute, however the summer had it

2. Again it depends on the area

3. Compared to other states, I would say TN is blessed, especially Chennai.

4. Best best is call taxi, Auto is always a "NO NO"
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Old 29th January 2010, 11:34   #12
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1. I live in the suburbs. During the peak power shortage, we had to put up with load shedding for one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening, during specified hours. Much better than some other cities, I would imagine.

2. The autos will fleece passengers, but will not give you any heartburn, because they will as readily fleece a local as they will fleece you! I generally avoid autos and take a call taxi as the fares will be almost same. But one important exception ; 99% of Chennai autos are very very safe for women travelling alone. I don't think twice about it if my wife and child happen to take an auto to their destination.

Last edited by Gansan : 29th January 2010 at 11:35.
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Old 29th January 2010, 11:35   #13
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Smile Chennai autos...cant live with them...cant live without them either !

Quote:
Originally Posted by carboy View Post
...4) Transportation - are autos/taxis a convinient way to travel around Chennai? ...
Regarding autos in Chennai, most of it has been covered by others.

Coming from Mumbai, your friend may find it bit tough (using autos). I was in Mumbai for a short visit a long time back (1997), and I was pleasantly surprised by the auto service there. I mentioned my destination, and he immediately tells me to get in (in Chennai, the autodrivers will not come to all locations at your beck and call, they will refuse to take you if the destination happens to be near his mother-in-laws place)...then I ask how much, and he tells me 'Meter, sir' (in Chennai, this would be a warning...never trust meters in Chennai...always negotiate the price beforehand). Ok, fine. As I get down, i ask him how much (since he has to convert from the meter reading using a chart for the new rates), and he tells me Rs.17.50/- I am surprised that he mentions the paise value also (and not rounding it off to Rs.20/-)...i give him Rs. 20 and almost start walking away, when he quickly picks up the change and gives me Rs. 2.50 back..i was totally . I was not expecting to get back the change so exactly.

Of course, this was a long time back, i dont know how it is now...hope it continues to be the same good service now also.


Quote:
Originally Posted by RajaTaurus View Post
...from these stalewarts...
Quote:
Originally Posted by esteem_lover View Post
Why did they become stale ? ...
because, they ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by RajaTaurus View Post
....are here for centuries, ...

Last edited by Blue Thunder : 29th January 2010 at 11:48.
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Old 29th January 2010, 11:37   #14
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Its all depend on individuals, I am from coastal region but somehow I cannot manage in Chennai. I stayed travelled/stayed around in India and Chennai is the only place I struggled a bit to get adjusted, entirely due to climate condition.

I did not find any issue with transportation, water during my short stay in Chennai(few years back).

language - I struggled in the beginning to get adjusted in JSR, your friend may face similar difficulty in the beginning. Then it'll become a habbit and learn to ignore:-))))))

Last edited by Latheesh : 29th January 2010 at 11:42.
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Old 29th January 2010, 11:53   #15
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Chennai has seen the worst of water scarcity and the TN govt is doing everything in its limits to prevent a drought in future. They get water from neighbouring states,They have long distance pipelines to get water from southern and western parts of TN, 2 desalination plants are being built, etc. In my opinion, Chennai's water scenario is only going to improve in the future.
Those who are street smart, can take an auto rickshaw in Chennai. All you need to have is good negotiating skills.

I don't see any language issue in the City.I have more than 10 northies in my team and no one can talk a word in Tamil. They are staying here for more than 5 years BTW.
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