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Preface Last Updated: 7/1/2004 6:20 AM

India challenges and fascinates any newcomer as a land of contrasts: 4,000-year-old Indus Valley seals in the National Museum. Indian teens browsing among the latest Western fashions to the beat of rock music at Benetton's. Elephants draped in red and gold plodding up music-filled driveways of five-star hotels amid lights and gyrating wedding guests. Bazaars filled with ultra-soft pashmina shawls and silk saris edged in gold. Cows dozing on the center divider of busy urban avenues. White-water rafting on the chilly Ganga (Ganges River). Bookstores with Anglo-Indian literature and American novels. Delicious makhani dal (red bean dish) and masala dosa (South Indian crispy potato-filled pancake). Graceful Maharaja palaces offering tourist specials. Bird sanctuaries with wintering flamingos and cranes from Siberia. More than a dozen recognized regional languages with English widely spoken from north to south. And one of the wonders of the world-the Taj Mahal in Agra. India requires patience and flexibility. First-time travelers overseas—as well as veterans—can expect a certain amount of culture shock. The English language is used in ways that may perplex Americans. Local customs concerning timeliness and sanitation are relaxed. Indians may give the answer they think a questioning foreigner wants to hear, rather than the truth. Gentle persistence on issues of importance to you yields dividends.

India, especially New Delhi, is a wonderful family Post. Schooling, support and social activities are good and plentiful. "Ach-cha" (fine) or "T.K." (o.k.), accompanied by a head bobble, is the most common reply to a question. So, "Na-must-ay" (hello) and "Welcome to India!"

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 7/5/2005 5:03 AM

India—"Bharat" to most Indians—is the seventh largest country in the world, with an area approximately one-third the size of the U.S. India is bordered by China, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar (Burma), and Sri Lanka. To the west, south, and east, India is surrounded by the sea—the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal, respectively. The Lakshadweep Islands off the southwest coast and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 750 miles off the southeast coast in the Bay of Bengal, belong to India.

India stretches more than 2,000 miles from Jammu and Kashmir in the north to the southern tip of Tamil Nadu. It is 1,800 miles from Gujarat in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east.

The topography is dominated in the far north by the majestic Himalayas, which include the world's highest peaks. From the Himalayan foothills to the Vindhyachal Range in central India spreads the vast, fertile, heavily populated Gangetic Plain. The sacred Ganges (Ganga) and the Yamuna Rivers dissect the Plain. South of the Vindhyachal Range lies the Deccan Plateau. The Western and Eastern Ghats lie along the southern coastlines.

The climate in India ranges from Arctic-like conditions in the high Himalayas, to blast furnace heat in many parts of the country during the summer, and heavy monsoon downpours during the rainy season. At other times, the weather can be mild and delightfully pleasant. (See the Temperature, Humidity, and Rainfall Chart.)

New Delhi has an altitude of 700 feet above sea level in north central India. The weather in the capital is most pleasant during the temperate months of October-November and February, periods characterized by cool nights and warm days. Although the winter months of December and January are usually fairly temperate, the it can become surprisingly cold at night. From April through mid-July daytime temperatures often top 110°F. The nights cool off somewhat, but are still hot. From mid-July to September, the occasional monsoon rains combine high humidity with high temperatures.

New Delhi is experiencing a serious and long-term water shortage, with potential impact on both residential and office facilities. While the Embassy is fortunate to have a tanker service to partially offset the shortages in municipal supplies, the demand may eventually exceed capacity for these deliveries. For example, in March 2003 Facilities Maintenance Service made 223 water deliveries; in March 2004 it was 341 deliveries. Without water deliveries, these residences would have no water for cooking, cleaning, washing, flushing, etc. Remember, everyone has both the ability and the responsibility to help conserve water. This includes children and domestics as well, so please instruct them regarding conservation tips. By conserving water you are helping yourself, helping the community and helping India!

Throughout the year, severe air pollution is a problem in New Delhi. (See the Health and Medicine Section for health concerns.) During the monsoon season, mosquitoes breed in standing water. That spreads malaria, Japanese B Encephalitis, and dengue fever. Mold, dust, and bacterial infections are common. Cockroaches, termites, moths, and flies are common pests.

Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), India's financial capital, is a port on the Arabian Sea in the western state of Maharashtra. On a map, Mumbai appears as a peninsula (actually two islands) off the west coast of India. A great natural harbor provides 75 square miles of sheltered deep water.

Mumbai has a tropical climate with three distinct seasons. The heat and high humidity of April, May, and October make life quite uncomfortable. The monsoon season, June to September, brings a welcome relief although the humidity remains high. An average of 77 inches of rain falls during the monsoon. Late November through February is cooler, although the days are still hot and sunny.

Calcutta, the capital of the state of West Bengal, is situated on the Hooghly River about 80 miles north of the Bay of Bengal. Because the city is built on near sea-level marshland, Calcutta and its suburbs suffer from poor drainage and periodic flooding—especially during the monsoon, June to October. From November through February, temperatures are pleasant; however, the city suffers from considerable air pollution during these months. The heat begins in March, and occasional "nor'westers" bring welcome cool winds and rain from the Himalayas through May. Then the overcast sky of the monsoon brings relief from the glare of the sun, even though the temperature remains high.

Chennai (formerly known as Madras), the capital of Tamil Nadu, lies on the shore of the Bay of Bengal, about 900 miles north of the Equator. Chennai has a medium-sized artificial harbor and a wide sandy beach that extends for several hundred miles along the coast. The surrounding countryside is a largely flat, coastal plain devoted to rice cultivation. It is green and fertile during part of the year but dry and dusty during the rainless spring and early summer months.

The climate is tropical throughout the year. December and January are relatively cool months. The weather heats up drastically from March through June. Unfortunately, as the temperature rises, so does the humidity. Chennai is unique among the Consulates General cities as its primary rainy season occurs later; i.e., from mid-September through mid-December. Premonsoon rains bring slight relief in July/August, and the temperatures decrease slowly until the cooler season returns in November. During the hottest months, sea breezes occasionally lessen the discomfort.

Chennai averages 48 inches of rain annually, although droughts occur when the monsoon fails. Most rain falls from October through December, but frequent showers can occur from May to September. Occasionally, cyclones strike the coast. Mildew damage occurs throughout the year. All U.S. Government houses have air-conditioners in every room to help combat this fungus, as well as to provide comfort.

Climate Chart Average Temperature (F), Humidity, and Annual Rainfall (inches)

Avg. Daily Avg. Daily Relative Precip. Max. Min. Humidity Temp. Temp. New Delhi Jan. 84.2 30.2 72 0.98 Feb. 89.6 32.0 67 0.86 Mar. 102.2 44.6 49 0.65 Apr. 114.8 53.6 35 0.27 May 114.9 64.4 35 0.31 June 114.8 66.2 53 2.56 July 113.0 71.6 75 8.31 Aug. 104.0 71.6 80 6.81 Sept. 105.8 64.4 72 5.87 Oct. 102.2 51.8 56 1.23 Nov. 93.2 41.0 51 0.05 Dec. 82.4 33.8 69 0.20

Mumbai Jan. 84.4 66.9 71 0.08 Feb. 85.1 68.5 72 0.04 Mar. 87.8 72.9 72 0.02 Apr. 90.1 77.2 73 0.11 May 91.9 80.4 73 0.63 June 89.4 79.3 80 20.48 July 85.6 77.2 85 27.93 Aug. 85.1 76.6 85 17.30 Sept. 86.2 76.5 85 11.69 Oct. 89.4 76.3 80 3.46 Nov. 90.1 73.0 73 0.81 Dec. 87.6 69.4 70 0.09

Calcutta Jan. 79.5 54.1 74 0.52 Feb. 84.2 59.2 72 0.86 Mar. 92.8 68.7 70 1.17 Apr. 96.8 76.1 70 1.96 May 96.3 78.8 75 5.30 June 92.8 79.2 79 10.36 July 89.2 78.8 83 12.60 Aug. 89.2 78.6 82 12.52 Sept. 89.6 78.6 81 9.95 Oct. 88.5 74.5 77 5.28 Nov. 84.2 63.7 72 1.15 Dec. 79.7 55.4 75 0.14

Chennai Jan. 83.8 68.5 83 0.94 Feb. 87.1 70.0 80 0.27 Mar. 90.9 73.6 77 0.59 Apr. 94.8 78.8 72 0.97 May 99.7 82.0 63 2.04 June 99.1 81.7 58 2.07 July 95.4 79.3 65 3.29 Aug. 94.1 78.4 69 4.89 Sept. 93.0 77.7 73 4.65 Oct. 89.2 75.9 81 10.51 Nov. 84.6 72.5 83 12.15 Dec. 82.8 69.8 84 5.48

Population Last Updated: 7/1/2004 7:08 AM

India is the world's second most populous country with more than 1.06 billion inhabitants by recent estimates. If current population growth trends continue, India's population will likely surpass China's in the next 20 to 30 years. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates General are located in the following cities: Delhi (including New Delhi), 14 million; greater Mumbai (Bombay), 16 million; greater Calcutta, 12 million; and Chennai (Madras), 10 million.

India is a predominantly rural country; more than three-fourths of the people live in villages. Nevertheless, India's cities are huge and continue to expand with the annual migration of hundreds of thousands of rural residents. The strain on the cities to provide basic services to these burgeoning populations is outstripping their resources. The result is predictable—the quality and reliability of the water, power, transportation, and communications infrastructures have deteriorated in many urban centers.

India is a cultural, linguistic, ethnic, and religious mosaic unequaled in the world. The nation's 28 states and 7 union territories are established roughly along ethnic and linguistic lines. Hindi has been designated as the national language; it is used widely throughout the north and is increasingly understood in other parts of the nation, especially in large urban centers. English also continues as a language link between educated people from different parts of the country. Shopping and getting around in any of the urban areas can be easily done in English. Communication in rural areas can also be pursued in English, but some understanding of Hindi or the local language is a definite advantage.

Although largely a Hindu nation (nearly 80% of the population), India has a huge Muslim population (approximately 15%)—the world's second largest, after Indonesia. Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, and others make up the balance. Religion in India often provides identity and defines a way of life. Marriage, clothing, diet, employment, and location of housing can be dictated by religious considerations. Most women and some men dress in their traditional clothing, though modern fashions tend to blur ethnic lines in cities. (See Clothing under the Embassy and Consulates General for more details.)

Most Indians have dietary restrictions; many are vegetarian, and some avoid eggs and dairy products. Many fast on a particular day of the week. Among those who do eat meat, Hindus do not eat beef and Muslims avoid pork. In cities, Indians generally dine late, often as late as 9 or 10 p.m.

Caste identification remains strong today, even among some non-Hindus. Having evolved over thousands of years, castes or family clans now number in the hundreds and are roughly divided by the Government into the Forward Castes (priestly, warrior, and business), Backward Castes (agrarian and tradesmen), Scheduled Castes (formerly untouchables), and Tribes. Despite longstanding government affirmative action programs, most members of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes remain at the bottom of India's social and economic ladder. Socially, an Indian is expected to marry within his/her own caste.

Dating and public displays of affection are rarely seen. Arranged marriages are the norm, though there are exceptions, especially among the urban middle class. The traditional joint family is common, and a bride typically moves into her in-laws' home. Traditionally, an Indian family is not considered complete until there is a male heir to care for his parents in their old age and to light their funeral pyres.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 7/2/2004 6:45 AM

India is a democratic republic made up of 28 states and 7 union territories. Its 1950 constitution is mainly derived from the British parliamentary system. The constitutional head of state is the President, although his duties are mainly ceremonial. He resides in Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, formerly the residence of the British Viceroy. Executive power is held by the Prime Minister and his Council of Ministers (the Cabinet) who belong to the majority party or a coalition in the lower house of Parliament ("Lok Sabha").

Legislative power is vested in the bicameral Parliament, which is made up of the "Rajya Sabha" with 245 appointed and indirectly elected members, and the "Lok Sabha," with 543 directly elected and 2 appointed members.

The judicial system is headed by a Supreme Court appointed by the President.

The political structure of the state governments is similar. The Governor, who is appointed by the President, is ceremonial head of the government. The Chief Minister and his cabinet members, who come from the majority party or coalition in the State Assembly (Legislature), exercise executive authority.

National political parties include the Congress (I) Party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Janata Party (United), Communist Party of India (CPI), and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM). In addition, there are several important regionally based political parties, including Telugu Desam, All India Anna Dravida Munetra Kazhagam, Dravida Munetra Kazhagam, Akali Dal, and Samajwadi Janata Dal. Many philanthropic organizations exist in India. The Rotary and Lions Clubs, the Red Cross, the YWCA and YMCA, the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides--to name a few. The National Cadet Corps selects young men and women from all over the country to train at a military camp in New Delhi each year.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 7/2/2004 6:45 AM

The cultural heritage of India is one of the richest and most ancient in the world. India absorbed immigrants and invaders with their varied cultures. Although as a nation state India is little more than 50 years old (1947), it has an ancient civilization spanning more than 4,000 years.

Indian architecture and sculpture have served primarily religious functions, mainly in temple carvings, tombs, mosques, and churches (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam). The pinnacle of Muslim Mughal architecture was reached in the 17th century when Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal at Agra as a tomb for his favorite wife.

Beginning with the sacred Vedas, Sanskrit literature developed over 2,500 years and is now alive in the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana, which were originally handed down orally. Indian philosophy, which analyzes the soul, karma (action or duty) and salvation, is divided into many schools of thought (e.g., schools of Yoga).

Indian music comprises a wide variety of instrumental and vocal traditions, among which are classical, religious, popular, theatrical, and modern. The internationally famous Ravi Shankar still performs on his sitar, accompanied by tabla drummers.

The classical traditions of Indian dance are at least 2,000 years old and have evolved into dance dramas that dramatize Hindu religious stories through stylized gestures, which are highly symbolic and emotionally suggestive.

Education is primarily the responsibility of the state governments. Although free in most states for children between the ages of six and fourteen, education is not compulsory. Secondary schools offer instruction in Hindi, English, and the appropriate regional language. Higher education is provided in colleges, universities, and technical institutes. Social education programs promote adult literacy. In the 50+ years since independence, India has built a university education system that is second in size only to that of the U.S. with 200 universities and more than 6,300 colleges.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 7/1/2004 7:14 AM

India has a population growth rate of more than 1.6% per year and a real gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate since the early 1980 is averaging 6%—one the highest consistent growth rates in the world. This combination has made modest progress in improving the standard of living for most of India's population. Per capita income is $470—one of the lowest in the world, but India has a sizable and growing middle class of 330-340 million.

India is the world's fourth largest economy in purchasing power parity terms after the U.S., Japan, China, and Germany according to the IMF. Agriculture's share of GDP has declined steadily since independence from 60% in 1950 to 22.7% in 2003. Farming, however, remains the main economic livelihood of approximately two-thirds of the population. India is self-sufficient in food grains production, but imports edible oil and pulses. The manufacturing sector, including heavy industry, has grown gradually over the same period from approximately 15% of GDP to more than 23.5%. The services sector has grown the fastest since independence and now comprises roughly 50.7% of GDP.

India generally runs a modest trade and current account deficit. India's leading exports include textiles and garments, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, agro products, engineering goods, gems and jewelry, and in recent years, manufactured goods. Principal imports include petroleum, capital goods, chemicals, electronic goods, pearls, gold and silver, and edible oils. India accounts for less than 1% of world trade. With $18 billion in two-way trade, the U.S. is India's largest trading partner followed by the U.K., Belgium, and Japan. The U.S. is the largest foreign investor and the largest source of joint ventures in India.

Textiles remain the most important industry, along with steel, heavy industry, and chemicals. The rapidly growing software sector is boosting service exports and modernizing India's economy. India now manufactures a variety of finished products, including consumer durables such as TVs, washers, stereos, electronics equipment, computer software, and automobiles for domestic use and export. Mineral resources (coal, iron ore, bauxite, and manganese) are substantial but have been only partially tapped.

The Information Technology (IT) sector in India is growing rapidly. Indian IT companies developing software for Indian and international clients are gradually achieving parity, both in size of projects and quality, with the best software developers in the West. Annual Indian IT industry turnover totals $15.9 billion, software exports amounting to $4-12.5 billion, and domestic software $3.4 billion. Revenues from the IT industry will cross $20 billion in 2004-05. In terms of IT usage in India, PC penetration is currently 8 per 1,000. PC sales are growing by more than 35% annually, and this figure is expected to grow to 10 per 1,000 by 2005. Real growth in Internet use will probably not be realized until the Internet can connect to the 40 million Indian cable TV customers.


Automobiles Last Updated: 6/18/2004 4:56 AM

Most people assigned to India find having a car convenient. U.S. Government employees who do not ship a car may make do with taxis, which are usually available and less expensive than in the U.S.

(For information on diplomatic privileges with regard to importation and sale of imported vehicles upon departure, see Notes for Travelers, Customs and Duties. This information may affect the type of vehicle you consider bringing to India. For information on hiring drivers, see Domestic Help under the post cities.)

For the purpose of discussing privileges extended to diplomats serving in India, the term "diplomat" refers to those on the diplomatic list recognized by the Government of India.

Locally Manufactured Vehicles. An increasing number of U.S. Government employees buy locally manufactured automobiles, which can be purchased immediately on payment with delivery within a few days. The diplomatic buyer receives an immediate exemption from the Delhi sales tax (app. 10% of the vehicle price). The buyer does pay the Indian Federal excise tax at the time of purchase (approximately 24% of the vehicle price), but this amount is reimbursed in Rupees within three or four months upon an application through GSO. The local dealer normally includes three free automobile mechanical service checks. The cost for a locally manufactured car ranged in 2004 from approximately $12,250 to $20,850 before taxes are reimbursed. Reimbursement reduces the effective purchase cost of a new locally manufactured car to the range of $8,000-$12,000.

A wide range of locally manufactured U.S. and international auto brands (Ford, Opel/GM, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Honda, Maruti/Suzuki, etc.) are available. These vehicles are mostly small to mid-sized and lack some of the electronic features common to vehicles in the U.S. Locally manufactured four-wheel-drive vehicles are less common.

Imported Motor Vehicles. Most employees import vehicles that have air-conditioning. Air-conditioning is desirable during hot or humid months, and a necessity to avoid breathing the excessive vehicle exhaust fumes in most cities. Traffic moves on the left side of the road. Although a small car is easier to maneuver on Indian roads, a medium or large-size vehicle is considered safer due to the frequency of serious accidents. Visibility is better in a minivan or 4-wheel-drive utility vehicle—the driver can anticipate traffic conditions ahead. Due to the requirements of good-quality gasoline and specific diagnostic equipment, cars with computer-controlled fuel injection systems can be problematic. However, for such vehicles imported by employees, service organizations provide adequate local servicing and import needed spare parts.

Also, an employee can import needed spare parts duty free after obtaining a duty exemption certificate from the Ministry of External Affairs. Accessories for imported automobiles should be shipped in the HHE—not with the vehicle. Car owners may want to ship spare tires, fan belts, oil filters, air filters, fuses, spark plugs, windshield wiper blades, sun shades for the windshield, steering wheel cover (to prevent a steering wheel from becoming too hot to handle), and replacement light bulbs. Many of these items are imported and are now sold in India; however, quality, cost, and availability may be a problem. It is important to deal with a reputable local supplier.

Inform the post and obtain specific instructions if you plan to import a motorcycle. Motorcycles, regarded as motor vehicles by the Government of India, may not be included in HHE shipments. They must be boxed in a wooden crate and shipped under motor vehicle conditions. Importing a motorcycle takes the place of shipping an automobile. If entitled to ship one vehicle to India, you may not ship both an automobile and a motorcycle. Also, consider that motorcycle riding is considered very dangerous in India due to the lack of protection in case of accident.

Shipping. In an effort to reduce New Delhi pollution levels, only vehicles that conform to Euro II pollution norms or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Emission Standards may be registered in the National Capital Region of Delhi. If you intend to ship a U.S.-manufactured vehicle, you must bring with you a certificate issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stating that the emission norms of the vehicle conform with EPA standards. Vehicles manufactured outside of the U.S. may only be registered in New Delhi if the vehicle has the required Euro II pollution certificate from the vehicle manufacturer. Employees should not attempt to import non-EPA/Euro II compliant vehicles.

Diplomatic and consular officers are allowed to sell right-hand drive vehicles on the open market without customs duty once the vehicle has been in-country for four years. Right-hand drive vehicles in-country less than four years can only be sold tax-free to other diplomats, or exported from India. If a right-hand drive vehicle which has been in-country less than four years is sold on the open market, the seller is responsible for collecting applicable customs duty from the buyer. Left-hand drive vehicles may only be sold to another diplomat or privileged person.

Once loaded on a ship, the vehicle may require at least two (2) months to arrive at an Indian port. Processing and movement of the vehicle from the port to post takes additional time. Upon arrival at post, the vehicle should be inspected for loss or damage. (For additional information, see Customs, Duties, and Passage.)

Insurance. Any company may be used for maritime insurance for the shipment of a motor vehicle to India. Regular automobile insurance for the duration of the employee's stay in India can be obtained after arrival at post.

The Government of India requires all vehicle owners to purchase third-party-liability insurance, which costs about $25 a year. The U.S. Mission, however, recommends additional coverage because driving in India is difficult and accidents are common.

A discount on additional insurance is available to those who present a letter from their most recent insurance agent, specifying the number of years of accident-free driving. A 20% discount is given to those with one (1) accident-free year, 25% for two (2) years, 35% for three (3) years, 45% for four (4) years and 50% for the fifth year.

If a duty-free motor vehicle is totaled in an accident in India and is disposed of within four (4) years of its importation, the Government of India requires payment of the Customs duty. This duty will be deducted from the sale price of a totaled vehicle, e.g. if the sale price of a totaled vehicle is Rs. 100/- and GOI duty is 65%, then Rs. 35/- would be retained by the employee and Rs. 65/- would be collected by the GOI as Customs duty. Some employees prefer to insure against this possibility also.

Registration. An automobile should be registered within 30 days from date of receipt. The GSO Shipping Section in the U.S. Mission will help with registration. Diplomats pay no registration fee and no road tax.

GSO Shipping will also help obtain temporary and regular license plates, which last up to 10 years. Registration stickers for tax-exempt vehicles expire each year on March 31 and may be renewed by presenting a valid insurance certificate.

A pollution check is made on the carbon monoxide output by the local transit authority. If the vehicle does not pass, a tune-up and a carburetor cleaning usually suffice. The owner of a vehicle is required to obtain this certificate every three (3) months from a gas station.

Drivers license. All employees and dependents (18 years of age or older) who expect to drive in India must obtain an Indian drivers license. All applicants must submit a medical certificate with the application and appear at the licensing bureau. GSO will assist with the process, which can take two (2) hours.

Fuel. Diesel fuel, 93-octane petrol (gasoline) and unleaded fuel are readily available throughout the country. Both petrol and diesel are available at the Embassy and certain Consulates General pumps are free of the excise duty. Diesel costs about one-third as much as petrol.

Rental Cars. In India, a rental automobile usually comes with a driver. Air-conditioning costs more. Using rental services through a hotel more than doubles the cost, but this insures an English-speaking driver. One can rent a car without a driver through Budget and Hertz.

New Delhi. Arriving and departing personnel and their dependents are authorized home-to-office transportation during the first and last thirty (30) days of their tours. Post will collect a charge not to exceed $2.70 per person per one-way trip, which is the standard cost of using public transportation in the Washington DC area. In addition, official vehicles will be provided for check-in and check-out requirements, and for official functions as available.

With its wide boulevards and flower-filled traffic circles, New Delhi is probably the easiest Indian city in which to drive . The Embassy is located in Chanakyapuri and most employees live within a 20-minute drive. Some are close enough to walk to work.

Motor vehicles for use in New Delhi should be equipped with an air-conditioner and a heater. The summers are hot and the winters can be cold--almost down to freezing.

Once a vehicle arrives in Mumbai, it usually takes five (5) days to arrive in Delhi. The Customs clearance is generally completed in Delhi and may take an additional three (3) days.

The American Community Support Association (ACSA) operates a petrol pump (gasoline station) at the Embassy in New Delhi for its members. In mid-2004, diesel cost $0.40 per liter and ordinary unleaded cost $0.70 per liter. (See Supplies and Services for information on auto repair.)

Mumbai. The Consulate General encourages employees to bring personally owned vehicles (POVs) to post. There is an initial adjustment period to Mumbai's fast-paced andcongested traffic, which moves on the left side. Hiring a driver is an affordable option, if you prefer not to drive. If you plan to ship a car and have not yet purchased one, a medium-sized, right-hand drive, air-conditioned vehicle with automatic transmission is best for Mumbai traffic. However, some Consulate General personnel drive left-hand-drive cars in Mumbai with no trouble.

Mumbai is not the best place to buy a new car. Local Toyota, Maruti/Suzuki, and Honda dealerships offer only locally built versions of selected models. Engines and certain components are imported, but car bodies and other parts are made locally. Not only are locally made Maruti/Suzukis expensive for the quality of the product, but export of these somewhat unique vehicles to a subsequent overseas Post might cause the owners problems later in securing service and spare parts. Dealers will not sell a tax-exempt car off the lot, thus, requiring diplomats to pay the full taxed amount up front and letting him or her sort out the tax exemption later. It is better to order a car from Japan or Dubai. However, be aware that the ordering and delivery process can take longer than six (6) months. An alternative is to buy a car from someone departing post or from another individual who is entitled to duty-free privileges. It is usually easy to sell a car to someone with duty-free privileges. Duty-free cars in good condition generally are in demand.

Public transportation is available for those who prefer not to ship a car to Mumbai. Taxis are inexpensive (about 50 cents one-way between home and work) and readily available during daytime hours though often not late in the night. However, they are small and uncomfortable. Local buses and trains are extremely crowded and unclean.

Calcutta. Road conditions are poor. During the monsoon season, streets flood and can stay flooded for two to three days. Spare parts are not readily available for foreign-made cars.

Vehicles painted olive green in color are not acceptable for registration by local authorities.

It takes approximately one week to obtain a drivers license. A driving test is not necessary if you have a valid U.S. license. Local transportation includes the subway, buses, taxis, three-wheelers, and rickshaws. Buses are overcrowded, and service is irregular. Metered taxis are available at all major hotels and shopping areas. The rates are low; however, most taxi drivers prefer to negotiate a flat rate. Tipping is optional. The city subway provides service somewhat near to the Consulate General and the residential quarters. The stations are well maintained. The journey is comfortable, safe, and uninterrupted by traffic congestion.

Rental vehicles are available, but it is very difficult to get an English-speaking driver.

Chennai. Most employees find a personal automobile convenient for shopping, recreation, and family use. Cars should be air-conditioned and have a locking gas cap. Vehicles shipped from the U.S. take about two (2) months to reach the port of Chennai.

Depending on the make, spare parts for imported vehicles can be ordered by FAX from the U.S., Europe, or Japan. Tax-exempt gasoline is available for U.S. Government employees only at the Consulate General pumps at a cost in 2000 of about $2.35 a U.S. gallon. (For more information on importation and sale of motor vehicles, see Customs, Duties, and Passage.)


Local Transportation Last Updated: 6/18/2004 6:23 AM

Public transportation in Indian cities includes trains, buses, taxis, auto rickshaws (three-wheeled covered scooters) and cycle rickshaws. Horse-drawn tongas are still seen in some cities and towns. Taxis and auto rickshaws are not air-conditioned, yet quite inexpensive. Meters are often not set at the current rate, but drivers will produce a current rate card if asked to substantiate the higher rate. Taxis charge higher rates late at night.

VIP automobiles are given more leeway on the roads than are emergency vehicles. They usually come equipped with flashing lights, sirens, and are often accompanied by hand- and gun-waving security vehicles. (There are also VVIPs and VVVIPs.) Ambulances may have a small flashing light, but not a siren. Police vehicles (jeeps, motorscooters, buses) are marked "Police" in English or Hindi. Fire engines have sirens.


Regional Transportation Last Updated: 6/18/2004 7:15 AM

Public transportation between cities is done by bus, train, or plane. India has an extensive rail system. State corporations run the bus companies which network throughout the country. Luxury tour buses can be rented.

Roadways. India's highway system extends to most parts of the country. During the monsoon, roadways can become flooded from sudden downpours. Traffic is diverted, potholes and sinkholes appear while power and telephone service goes out. If you plan to do a lot of traveling in India by a personally owned vehicle, a four-wheel-drive utility vehicle with right-hand drive would be very useful.

Cars are driven on the left and most vehicles are right-hand drive. Operating a left-hand-drive vehicle outside city limits can be dangerous. The driver will need someone in the passenger seat to tell when to pass or when another vehicle or if an animal is coming head-on in the left lane.

Driving is a challenge when sharing the road with the vehicles of varied speeds and sizes—trucks, buses, auto rickshaws, Indian-made Marutis, bullock carts, bicycles, handcarts, bicycle rickshaws, motorcycles—not to mention wandering livestock, taxis, pedestrians, and the occasional elephant or camel. Accidents are frequent and can be very serious, especially to unprotected passengers and pedestrians. Emergency medical services for road accident victims are usually poor or nonexistent.

Road conditions throughout the country differ from state to state. India began a new system of traffic signs in the 1990s. A single sign lists destinations and distances in English, Hindi, and the local language. Bypasses are being installed around major cities. Petrol pumps are readily available throughout the country with 93-octane petrol and diesel fuel.

No matter how challenging the new ways of the road may seem, Indian drivers are tolerant of unusual behavior on the roadways. The key to driving in India is patience, flexibility, and avoiding high speeds.

Air. India has separate domestic and international terminals at the major airports. To enter the airport, you must have a current airplane ticket or an official airport pass. Check-in procedures take one to two hours for domestic flights and two to three hours for international flights. Most international flights arrive and depart in the middle of the night. Arriving passengers can expect to wait fifteen minutes to two hours for their baggage.

New Delhi. The KLM/Northwest "code-share" via Amsterdam currently provides daily service between the United States and Delhi. Likewise, United Airlines/Lufthansa via Frankfurt and Delta/Air France via Paris also have "code-share" service between the United States and Delhi. Both provide daily service out of Delhi.

Mumbai. Delta Airlines provides daily service to the U.S. via Paris. Both Lufthansa/United via Frankfurt and Northwest/KLM via Amsterdam have daily service. British Airways also provides daily service via London with onward connections on United and other American carriers.

Calcutta. British Airways provides service to Calcutta only three times a week (on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays). The city is served by a few foreign carriers with limited services. Overnighting in Bangkok or Singapore is unavoidable. Calcutta is connected with major Indian cities by Indian Airlines, Jet Airways and Sahara Airlines.

Chennai. There are no direct American carriers to the U.S. from Chennai. There is a Lufthansa/United Airlines code-share flight via Frankfurt which provides daily service. On Wednesdays and Sundays, British Airways flies to London with onward flights to the U.S. via American carriers.

Direct flight connections link various Indian cities with Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Sahara Airlines and other private air carriers offer service throughout India. Domestic travel by air is expensive. A round trip from Delhi to Goa, a distance of 500 miles, costs $490.

There is no international airport departure tax to be paid at any of the airports in India.

Railroads. India has one of the largest railway systems in the world. Although train stations can be a challenge, train travel is very enjoyable and probably the best way to see the country. Computerized ticketing and reservations should be arranged well in advance. Trains are no longer the bargain they once were. Indian rail offers first and second class sleepers, chair cars, compartments and air-conditioning as well as a choice of vegetarian or non-vegetarian meals. Passengers are encouraged to carry their own toilet paper and drinking water.

Rail and air travel in India requires a great deal of planning, patience and flexibility. Occasionally a train, plane or bus will be rescheduled.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 6/17/2004 2:30 AM

The Mission in New Delhi currently funds nine International Voice Gateway (IVG) lines, which are for the exclusive use of participating agencies. The participating agencies currently include the Department of State, Department of Defense, Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Agency for International Development. All agencies are encouraged to participate in the IVG program.

Local and international telephone service is available in India. Public telephone facilities are available at the STD Trunk Booking Office. Service is often disrupted, especially during monsoons. A heavy workload can delay repairs and installations. In general, the phone system functions adequately but requires patience, persistence, and low expectations.

Residential telephones are installed and maintained by the local telephone company. The basic monthly rate is $5.70 for 50 calls and employees are responsible for paying their own bills, which are issued monthly. Most residences have telephones that are not removed when residents depart.

Telephone numbers in India currently have7-digit numbers. Most homes have only one extension, usually placed by the front door or in the kitchen. Employees may wish to bring a telephone jack or Y-connection, extra wire, and extra telephones. A telephone-answering machine 220v, 50/60 cycles cordless phone with transformer is also handy. Many servant-handled messages are incomplete. Most Embassy employees in New Delhi now have residential telephones served by electronic digital exchanges; many have direct-dial capabilities for international calls.

USA-Direct is now available in India for collect and credit card calls. Many Embassy employees have an AT&T credit card for international use. Having the long-distance phone call originate in the U.S. incurs the least expense; therefore most employees use the IVG lines which originate in Beltsville, Maryland. Commercial telegraph, public fax, and international telex services are available in India, but are often unreliable. Long distance callback services are also available.

Official and personal messages may be sent through the U.S. Mission and Consulates General by fax.

Telephone No. Fax No.

Embassy New Delhi 91-11-2419-8000 91-11-2419-0017

Consulate General Mumbai 91-22-2363-3611/18 91-22-2363-0350

Consulate General Calcutta 91-33-2282-3611/15 91-33-2282-2335

Consulate General Chennai 91-44-2811-2000-16 91-44-2811-2020


Internet Last Updated: 6/17/2004 2:33 AM

In India, it is becoming increasingly common to have access at home to the World Wide Web. The numerous Internet Service Providers (ISPs) throughout the country provide varying levels and quality of service at different costs. ISP pricing differences to the customer are complex, involving differing costs for installation, phone line usage, and ISP hourly fees. ISPs advertise 256K connectivity, but the actual throughput is often considerably slower. India currently offers customers four types of Internet connectivity:

TCP/IP Dial-up—the most common, but relatively cheap and slow DSL (ADSL)—limited use in New Delhi, expensive, 24/7 connectivity, slow to intermediate speed, some computer/router conflicts ISDN Dial-up—less common, relatively expensive, but offers the fastest connectivity Cable—quality and cost are reasonable. Wireless is becoming more available and is already at the five-star hotels.

No matter which ISP or method of connectivity the customer chooses, all ISP international links transit through VSNL (the national telephone company), causing a bottleneck at the international link between India and the rest of the world. At times, download speeds can be frustrating and logon, impossible. A few visionaries have applied for their own international segments in order to bypass the national telephone company completely.

For computer equipment, a UPS unit with 50/60 cycles along with a transformer is recommended. With OpenNet Plus, employees have internet on their desktop; this is often used after hours and on weekends.


Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 7/5/2005 6:09 AM

No APO or FPO facility is available in India. The most reliable mail service is the Department of State pouch. The Embassy mailroom operations are not a part of the United States Postal System or any other commercial courier service (e.g., DHL, FedEx, UPS, etc). The vast number of rules and regulations generated by the USG, Department of State, Government of India and other regulatory bodies turns the process of importing duty free merchandise from the United States into India into a complex operation. We cannot over emphasize the importance of following these regulations, as failure to do so could result in the loss of property and/or privileges.

POUCH / MAIL REMINDERS RESTRICTIONS! Reminder about pouch/mail size and weight restrictions via the 20189 zip code. They are able to accept packages up to 17x18x32 inches in size and up to 50 lbs in weight through the 20189 personal zip code.

The following are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the Diplomatic Pouch.

QUESTION: Are there different addresses for official/office personal mail/packages versus official correspondence?

ANSWER: Please ensure official, office correspondence/mail from the USA is either addressed to the office (generic) or to specific American staff members. Official mail should always be addressed:

Department of State American Embassy New Delhi American Employee Name Section/Agency Name 9000 New Delhi Place 9000 New Delhi Place Washington DC 20521-9000 Washington DC 20521-9000

Personal mail/packages should always be addressed thus:

American Employee Name 9000 New Delhi Place Dulles, VA 20189-9000

American Employee Name 6240 Mumbai Place Dulles, VA 20189-6240

American Employee Name 6250 Calcutta Place Dulles, VA 20189-6250

American Employee Name 6260 Chennai Place Dulles, VA 20189-6260

QUESTION: Is there an international mail address? ANSWER: The local addresses of the U.S. Embassy and Consulates General may be given to international and Indian correspondents. In general, it is better to use the Embassy address than your home address.

Name American Embassy Shantipath, Chanakyapuri New Delhi 110 021 India

Name American Consulate General Lincoln House, 78 Bhulabhai Desai Road Mumbai 400 026 India

Name American Consulate General 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani Calcutta 700 071 India

Name American Consulate General 220 Annasali Chennai 600 006 India

QUESTION: Are there any restrictions on what can be sent to the USA through the Diplomatic Pouch?

ANSWER: Authorized personnel may send personal letter mail as well as audio or videocassettes weighing no more than two pounds per shipment. The cassette shipments must be clearly marked as "USED AUDIO TAPES" or “USED VIDEO CASSETTES." Authorized personnel may also return packages with broken, damaged, or incorrect items to retailers. Any other personal mail, even packages under two pounds (e.g., local purchases - shawls are a favorite, etc.) that do not contain documents will be refused by the Mailroom. These packages must be sent by other means (e.g. ACSA’s Homeward Bound Mail Service). (5 FAH-10 H-541.1-1) Ship all personal packages - even small ones - via ACSA.

QUESTION: What if packages/boxes are broken or damaged?

ANSWER: The USG does not accept responsibility (5FAM 341) for parcels lost or damaged while being transported in the diplomatic pouch. The DPM does permit you to mail back such packages by returning them to the sender.

QUESTION: Does there have to be a return address on outgoing mail?

ANSWER: Yes, please ensure that ALL outgoing mail has a proper return address. State Department regulations require that outgoing mail without a return address be held in the Mailroom. An email will be sent requesting identification of mail not having a return address. If the mail has not been identified within three weeks then the Pouch Control Officer will open the mail and take appropriate action. Also, please ensure your outgoing mail has clear, correct addressing.

QUESTION: Are there any restrictions on what can be sent to American Employees through the Diplomatic Pouch?

ANSWER: Personal pouch mail for authorized employees is limited to parcels that do not exceed 17x18x32 and must not weigh more than 50 pounds. In addition the following restrictions apply:

1. Pouches may not contain items that are illegal to import into the receiving country, export from the sending country, or items that are classified as hazardous.

2. The following items are among a long list of items prohibited for pouch dispatch: aerosols; glass containers; liquids, other than medically related; any items for resale; bulk supplies; magnetic materials, such as powerful magnets that can damage computer software and other electrical equipment; and incendiary materials such as road flares, cigarette lighters, self starting charcoal, etc.

Please check 5 FAH-10 H-531 or the DPM for the full list.

QUESTION: Are there any alternatives to the Diplomatic Pouch?

ANSWER: Currently there are four options at US Embassy New Delhi. Please contact the consulates directly for their options.

1. The American Community Support Association (ACSA) provides express courier services via DHL. The current rate (subject to change based on fuel charges) is as follows: Documents cost 809 Rps/KG + 18.2% taxes + service charges (roughly 957 Rps/kg). Non-Documents cost 1107 Rps/KG + 18.2% taxes + service charges (roughly 1309 Rps/kg).

2. For packages, ACSA offers two levels of Homeward Bound Mailing Service - EXPRESS (a pouch is made up immediately for the package - 350 Rps/kg + postage) and lower cost REGULAR (waits until there are 100Kgs of outgoing material - 250 Rps/kg + postage). We recommend strongly that you get Christmas packages mailed out before the third week in November - earlier if using the slower, bulk rate.

3. Indian postal service is inexpensive, but people have had varying results. It is best, however, to send such items as checks, securities, audiotapes, and video cassettes through the State Department pouch.

4. Many Embassy employees volunteer to carry first class letter mail back to the United States and are given letters that, upon their arrival, are dropped immediately into the USPS. This “Pony Express” program is coordinated by the Management OMS.

QUESTION: Can I ship consumables or supplemental HHE in the pouch? ANSWER: The pouch may not be used to supplement HHE shipments or to ship case lots of consumables. The extra consumables allotment for employees assigned to Mumbai, Calcutta, and Chennai must be shipped in their HHE or air shipment.


Radio and TV Last Updated: 7/5/2005 6:13 AM

There is a considerable variety of official television entertainment available for local broadcasters and by cable. Dozens of channels may be accessed—including Discovery, National Geographic, All India Radio (AIR) broadcasts in various Indian languages, Western music, and programs such as CNN and FOX in English. A good shortwave radio is necessary to receive Voice of America (VOA) and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

Doordarshan, the local government-run TV, telecasts in color on the PAL system. One or two channels can be seen in major cities. Classical Indian music, melodramatic Hindi movies/serials, political debates, and educational instruction are interspersed with cricket matches, edited coverage of Parliament, and old English-language movies.

Perhaps more important to Mission employees is the wide variety of cable programs—including CNN, BBC, MTV, sports, movies, and entertainment in English, German, Spanish, French, and several Asian languages. Availability and hookup costs vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. All costs related to cable television subscription are personal expenses that must be borne by the individual. Information about cable services and cost, and assistance in providing them, is offered by ACSA in New Delhi.

The ACSA Video Club, located in New Delhi, services the Consulates General with videos in the NTSC system. Indian video clubs carry videos in the PAL system. Employees who bring only the NTSC TV and VCR will be limited to the ACSA videos or videos sent from home. Bringing a multisystem and dual voltage TV and VCR will allow use of Indian and cable television and both types of video tapes. A voltage-stabilizing unit is recommended to protect expensive electronic items. A surge protector/constant voltage supply unit can be bought locally in New Delhi for approximately $175, but the quality is variable. Another handy item to ship is a cleaning tape to clean the VCR heads.

In 2005, the cost of purchasing a good color multisystem 25-inch television in India was about $600. Multisystem TVs and other electronic appliances can be purchased locally at prices comparable to the US.


Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 6/29/2004 5:28 AM

India has wonderful bookstores with much to read in English. Such nationally circulated English-language dailies as The Times of India, The Indian Express, The Hindustan Times, and The Hindu are delivered to home or office. The International Herald Tribune, the Asian Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, all printed in Singapore, are available one day after publication. Such foreign newspapers and magazines as the Asian editions of Time and Newsweek, as well as The Far Eastern Economic Review are available within a few days of publication. India Today, Business India, Delhi Diary (tourism), First City, Femina, and many other magazines are of high quality and address a variety of subjects.

Recently published fiction and nonfiction books are sold in local bookstores, especially mysteries, science fiction, current bestsellers, and books on India by American, British, and Indian authors. Locally published paperbacks are inexpensive; imported ones tend to cost less than in the U.S. Hardcover books are often much less expensive than abroad. Employees may wish to join a book club by mail. The American Women's Association in New Delhi has an excellent lending library located on the housing compound near the Embassy.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 2/10/2005 4:57 AM

Qualified English-speaking specialists, many trained in the U.S. and/or Europe are available in India for consultation and patient care. Each post maintains a list of qualified health care providers. The Health Unit can arrange referrals, if indicated or requested, with local physicians and dentists. Bills from these private physicians and dentists (including lab bills, X-rays, physical therapy, MRIs, etc.) must be paid in full at the time that the services are rendered. U.S. health insurance is not accepted in India. However, if you submit your paid receipts to your U.S. health insurance company, they are often reimbursed and/or applied to your deductible. The Health Unit can also assist in making dental and medical appointments in the U.S., Europe, Bangkok, and Singapore during home leave, R&R, or other travel.

Routine prenatal care is available, but all pregnant women are strongly encouraged to return to the U.S. to deliver their children. Basic dental services as well as orthodontics (braces) are available in India and are less expensive than in the U.S. Dental services in Calcutta are somewhat limited. Root canals, crown, bridgework, and orthodontic care in New Delhi are of high quality and inexpensive. High-quality, low-cost optical services are available throughout India.

The Embassy Health Unit in New Delhi is spacious, modern, and well equipped. The staff includes two regional medical officers (RMOs), a regional psychiatrist (RMO-P), a nurse practitioner (FSHP), a registered nurse (RN), and a regional medical technologist (RMT). The regional officers cover other posts in Asia and are in New Delhi when they are not traveling.

The Health Unit provides evaluation and treatment for routine illnesses and injuries, periodic physical examinations, Pap smears, immunizations, family planning counseling, blood pressure screening, crisis intervention counseling, and consultation on health-related matters. The Unit has an excellent clinical laboratory.

Newcomers to post receive an Orientation Health Briefing and a Health and Medical Information Booklet. Please take immunization records, medical clearance forms, health insurance information, and medical records/charts when you visit the Health Unit for the first time.

The Health Unit at the American Embassy in New Delhi has a well-stocked pharmacy with a full-time FSN registered pharmacist responsible for managing and operating the pharmacy under the direct supervision of the RMO. The pharmacist packages and dispenses medications prescribed by the RMO, FSHP, and local consulting physicians. Immunizations, malaria prophylaxis and treatment, fluoride supplements for children, and medications for such "India-related" illnesses as malaria, intestinal parasites, dysentery, and tuberculosis are currently provided cost free. All other medications are charged to the individual patient's "ACSA" account. Medications are stocked in the pharmacy based on the standard formulary prepared by the RMO and FSHP; the pharmacist procures them from both overseas and local vendors. Many of the prescription/OTC medications manufactured by U.S. and other multinational pharmaceutical companies are available locally in New Delhi at a cost far less than in the U.S. The pharmacist assists patients in procuring these medications locally. He also helps patients in procuring items that are neither in the Health Unit formulary nor available locally from pharmacies in the U.S.

The pharmacy at Embassy New Delhi also provides pharmaceutical support services to some of the regional posts in Asia and central Asia. Embassy Health Unit personnel provide an adequate supply of acute care medications, immunizations, malaria prophylaxis, and fluoride supplements for employees and their families posted in the Consulates General at Mumbai, Calcutta, and Chennai. These medications and supplies are stocked at the small health clinics in the individual Consulates General. Medications and supplies that are not stocked in these small clinics are sent to the individual patients via the Diplomatic pouch/traveler from the Embassy Health Unit at New Delhi.

Mumbai. Mumbai has a small Health Unit (HU) located in the Consulate compound. A local physician holds office hours there on a regular basis and is available by telephone at other times. The New Delhi regional medical officers also pay visits to Mumbai approximately four times a year. Local dental care is good and orthodontia is available. Employees traveling to Mumbai via New Delhi should stop by the Medical Unit in New Delhi for a briefing and updating of shots if possible. Vaccines and/or medications are sent to Mumbai periodically from New Delhi. Any ongoing prescription needs should be addressed with the RMO.

Calcutta. Located on the top floor of the Consulate General, the Health Unit is where the local post medical advisor comes to see patients for two hours weekly. Medications and vaccines are not stocked to any great extent; rather, they are sent from New Delhi as needed. The regional medical officers will visit 2-3 times per year. Dental care and eyeglasses are available in Calcutta, but officers are advised to have specialized dental work done in the U.S. if possible.

Calcutta's humidity and pollution have a drying effect on hair and contribute to a variety of skin rashes.

Chennai. The Health Unit (HU) in Chennai is located on the ground floor of the Consulate. It is staffed by a nurse and a local physician who see patients there on a scheduled basis. The New Delhi medical officers visit Chennai regionally approximately four times a year.

(See Customs, Duties, and Passage for information on care of pets.)

Health and Medicine

Community Health Last Updated: 2/10/2005 4:58 AM

In most of India, public sanitation falls far below Western standards. Open sewers abound. Insect control programs have been underfunded. Tap water is considered unsafe throughout India, and adequacy of water fluoridation varies with locality and other factors. Fresh produce is considered contaminated and should be treated. Regulation of food handling and preparation in restaurants is not subject to the strict health codes that are enforced in the West. Intestinal parasites, bacterial dysentery, malaria, hepatitis, dengue fever, meningitis, Japanese B Encephalitis, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and rabies are health concerns. Automobile accidents can be catastrophic due to inadequacies in the Emergency Medical Response System. AIDS is a growing health problem. Air pollution is a significant problem in India's larger urban cities, especially New Delhi and Calcutta.

Health and Medicine

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 7/5/2005 4:57 AM

Adjusting to a new living and work situation, a new school system, and a tropical environment creates stresses as well as rewards. Culture shock can cause insomnia, headaches, irritability, and a variety of other symptoms. A program of proper rest, exercise, and nutrition, coupled with advice from the Health Unit staff, can be very helpful in managing these conditions and in making your overseas tour an enjoyable one.

Respiratory illnesses and allergies are common due to dust and heavy pollution and these conditions can aggravate respiratory ailments and allergies. Adults or children prone to these illnesses may want to consult with a physician before considering this assignment.

Caution must be exercised concerning food and water. Commercially bottled beverages such as beer, soft drinks, and mineral water can be considered safe. Otherwise, water must be made safe for drinking by boiling, distilling, or adding chemicals. Water at the U.S. Embassy—including the housing enclave and in the American Embassy School—is safe. Commercially bottled mineral water is available at the commissary, at restaurants, and on the local market.

Chicken, beef, and pork should be well cooked. Fish should be cooked rather than eaten raw. All fruits and vegetables that are eaten raw must be thoroughly cleaned and soaked for 15 minutes in disinfectant solution.

Malaria is endemic in India, and chloroquine-resistant malaria can be found in New Delhi and other urban centers. All personnel are advised to use an appropriate drug regimen and personal protection measures to prevent malaria. Employees may begin malaria prophylaxis before arrival in India. Information about malaria risk is available via fax from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control, in Atlanta): call the toll-free number (1-888-232-3299) and follow the instructions given. U.S. Government personnel assigned to India may contact the State Department Immunization Clinic at (202) 663-1705.

Tuberculosis is still a common problem in India. Children and adults should have TB skin testing done per the recommendations of the Health Unit staff.

AIDS is a health risk in India. Use of condoms and avoidance of high-risk behaviors are encouraged. Specific information may be obtained by calling (800) 342-AIDS.

Immunizations. Up-to-date immunizations are a must for life in the Foreign Service. Routine childhood immunizations should be up to date, including Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus (DPT); Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR); Polio (either OPV or IPV), and Hemophilus b Conjugate Vaccine (Hib). In addition, the following immunizations are recommended:

Hepatitis A and typhoid vaccinations are recommended for employees and dependents traveling to India. Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all employees and dependents posted to India. It is not recommended for employees on short-term (less than 60 days) temporary duty, unless they fall into a high-risk group. Preexposure rabies vaccine is strongly recommended for persons posted to India. Japanese B encephalitis (JBE) vaccine is recommended for personnel assigned to India who will be traveling frequently and/or visiting farms as part of their duties. Rabies is a viral illness spread via contact with the saliva, usually from a bite, of an infected animal, mostly dogs, but monkeys, cats, bats, raccoons, and other mammals can also carry the disease. Rats, mice, squirrels, chipmunks, and other such ruminants do not carry the disease. Rabies is common throughout India, including New Delhi, and causes an estimated 30,000 (!) deaths yearly. The symptoms of rabies usually develop within a few weeks of the animal contact. Once symptoms develop, this disease is always fatal. To prevent this fatal disease,

MAKE SURE THAT YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN HAVE COMPLETED THE THREE-DOSE PREVENTATIVE SERIES OF RABIES IMMUNIZATIONS. Avoid contact with stray or wild animals, especially those exhibiting unusual behavior, foaming at the mouth, or attempting unprovoked attacks. Do not let your children have contact with stray animals or monkeys. Make sure your pets’ rabies immunizations are current. Take appropriate precautions when undertaking activities which might increase your chances of a dog bite … such as running, walking through villages at night, or making loud noises or threatening gestures when stray dogs are nearby. Dengue fever, a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, is present throughout India. No specific treatment and no vaccines are available. Employees should try to avoid mosquito bites.

Those arriving in India from Africa should have a valid Yellow Fever vaccination. The WHO-approved facility at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi can give this vaccination to those who need it.

Last, but perhaps most important, while driving or riding in an automobile in India, buckle the seatbelt.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 11/5/2004 6:49 AM

The U.S. Department of State is committed to assisting eligible family members obtain meaningful employment while posted abroad. A limited number of positions are available at the embassy and there are also opportunities to work on the local economy.

Jobs on the Local Economy

With the signing of the reciprocal Bilateral Agreement between the United States and the Government of India, any eligible family member who receives a job offer from an Indian company or organization can usually obtain the required work permit. In order to assist those desirous of working on the local economy as an employee or as a self-employed worker, The American Embassy operates a Strategic Networking Assistance Program (SNAP) that is managed by a Local Employment Advisor (LEA). Contact SNAP through the Human Resources Office to obtain the assistance of the LEA and for help in processing work permits from the Government of India.

Jobs in the U.S. Mission

There are several opportunities for individuals to work in the U.S. Mission.

Adult U.S. citizen dependents of direct-hire U.S. Government employees can find part-time, intermittent or temporary appointment, FMA and Personal Services Agreement PSA-Plus positions in the U.S. Mission. Both full-time and on-call PSA-Plus jobs are also available.

Although it is hard to predict which positions will become available, the following jobs have been advertised by Human Resources Office to American Family Members: Community Liaison Office coordinators, Residential Security Coordinator, Secretaries, Logistic Clerk, Nurses, Consular Assistants, Consular Associates, Courier Escorts, Security Assistant, Program Assistant, Science Program Coordinator, Reader/Assistant, Administrative Assistants, FMO Make-Ready Coordinators, Refugee Processing Assistant, and GSO Assistants. An applicant may be asked to take typing and/or any other appropriate tests.

All sensitive jobs need a security clearance. Dependents of direct-hire employees working under the Chief of Mission are generally eligible for secret or top secret clearances. The American Embassy School hires teachers and teacher's aides. In 2004, four American family members were employed at the American Embassy School.

Dependents should bring completed copies of the DS-1950, SF-171, or résumés along with copies of the SF-52 (Personnel Actions, if prior government employee) Forms with copies of security clearance cables with them to post. All dependents are encouraged to maintain their own personal files of all employment documents (vacancy notices, application forms, resumes, performance appraisals, and contracts). Applicable U.S. income tax and FICA contributions will be withheld by the employing agency.

If funds are available, the Embassy runs a summer-hire program for teenage dependents of Mission employees. Jobs vary from clerical support covering vacation schedules, to helping GSO process the summer turnover, and doing special projects at USAID.

American Embassy - New Delhi

Post City Last Updated: 7/13/2005 1:24 AM

New Delhi is located in north-central India beside the old city of Delhi on the Yamuna River. The capital of modern-day India traces its roots to King George V's triumphant tour of India in 1911. While encamped on the outskirts of Delhi, the King announced that the capital of British India would be shifted from Calcutta to a new city to be built beside the ancient city of Delhi.

Older residential areas feature broad, tree-lined streets and large bungalows with spacious yards. Houses in newer residential areas are more modern, but yard space is often at a premium and streets are congested with a variety of conveyances. The commercial heart of New Delhi is Connaught Place, where state emporia sell local crafts. Jan Path and the nearby Cottage Emporium, famous as the capital's souvenir center, has everything from cheap curios to exquisite pieces of art. Luxurious five-star hotels have good restaurants and shopping malls. An occasional cow meanders down avenues, reminding visitors that this is India.

The old city of Delhi is a vivid contrast to the spacious orderliness of New Delhi. Jama Masjid and the majestic Red Fort lie amid narrow, crooked streets teeming with humanity, vehicles and produce. Chandni Chowk in the heart of Delhi is jammed with shoppers, vendors, conveyances, temples, mosques, and small shops selling everything from spices to expensive jewelry. Qutab Minar, a 13th-century minaret more than 240 feet high, stands amid ruins outside the city limits. New Delhi is filled with massive forts, palaces, and grand tombs built over the centuries by Delhi's various rulers.

(For information on automobiles at post, see the Transportation Section in addition to the Customs and Duties under Notes for Travelers. For health information, see Health and Medicine and Passage under Notes for Travelers.)

Security Last Updated: 8/30/2005 4:49 AM


THREAT ISSUES: The security situation is generally safe for all American personnel, except for travel to Jammu and Kashmir. New Delhi is a HIGH crime threat post primarily due to extensive low-level, non-confrontational criminal activity such as pick-pocketing and consumer fraud. Violent crime is on the rise.

ANTI-U.S. DEMONSTRATIONS AND TERRORISM: Demonstrations protesting U.S. policy in South Asia and the Middle East occur occasionally but are generally peaceful. Demonstrators are kept approximately one mile from the Embassy compound. Groups intending to demonstrate against the Embassy are required to apply for a permit 48 hours in advance. However, spontaneous demonstrations do occur and visitors are advised to be alert while traveling in the city to avoid becoming involved in such events.

Terrorists can pose a threat in India. While there is no evidence that Americans are specifically targets, visiting Americans in some parts of India are at risk from bombings, mob violence, police/civilian confrontations and mentally unbalanced individuals supporting political causes. Risk to Americans from random bombings depends largely on their being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Be attentive to local events as reported in the English language media.

CRIME: In general, crime is on the rise in New Delhi. There is no specific criminal threat to Americans in India. Criminals have rarely targeted American tourists or diplomatic personnel. Visitors to India should always be aware of their surroundings. Petty street crimes such as theft, pick-pocketing, purse snatching and scams are common. Train stations are notorious for pickpocketing and thefts of baggage. Travelers by train should hold on to their luggage until the train has left the station. Travelers by plane should check the contents of their carry-on luggage carefully. Travelers staying at hotels should leave their valuables with the Front Desk Manager or use the safes when provided in hotel rooms. Minor physical contact can occur, primarily in the form of Eve-teasing, a local term encompassing all forms of harassment of women.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, and the more recent incidents in India, security has been significantly enhanced in the Diplomatic Enclave, particularly around the U.S. Mission's three compounds in New Delhi.


The below policy covers the use, storage, and procurement of portable computer equipment and applies to all personnel under COM authority.


1. Portable computer equipment includes laptops, personal digital assistants (PDA), or other devices that are capable of creating, storing, and processing data (e.g., MP3 players).

2. Travelers are defined as any USG employee or family member, including non-State personnel, on temporary duty (TDY) for 30-days or less.

3. The current Information Systems Security Officers (ISSOs) are as follows:

- UNCLASSIFIED Systems ISSO: Sherril Pavin, ISO - UNCLASSIFIED Systems alternate ISSO: Matthew Wolsey, A/RSO-I - CLASSIFIED Systems ISSO: Neeru Lal, IPS - CLASSIFIED Systems alternate ISSO: Robert Hall, IPO


Connection: Department of State policy prohibits the connection of official, portable computers to OpenNet or ClassNet without the explicit approval of the post ISSO (12 FAM 625) or Department policy (e.g., SWEET PDAs). Personally owned computers may not be connected to OpenNet or ClassNet under any circumstances.

CAA Spaces: Personally owned computers may not be used within USG Controlled Access Areas (CAA)(12 FAM 625). Unclassified government owned portable computers intended for use any place within overseas facilities, and particularly within the CAA, cannot be taken in and out of the CAA, unless specifically authorized by the RSO. Exceptions are unclassified official (SWEET) PDAs that are specifically designated for CAA use. Classified portable computers must remain within the CAA at all times.

TDY - Travelers and Portable Computers within the CAA: Official travelers on temporary duty, including non-State personnel, must coordinate the transport of official unclassified portable computers that will be used within USG controlled access facilities with the RSO and ISSO. A country clearance request cable containing a statement to this effect will meet the requirement.

Unclassified portable computers intended for use within the CAA on a long-term basis (over 30 days), must be shipped via professional or non-pro Diplomatic courier (classified pouch).

An official traveler can personally transport a USG portable computer intended for use within the CAA to post only under the following conditions:

· The official traveler must have at least a secret level security clearance; · The official traveler will be on temporary duty at the Embassy or Consulate for a period not to exceed 30 days; · The portable computer must have been transported under the continuous personal control of the official traveler; · Under no circumstances may the computer have been left unattended outside of the CAA or in a public area, nor should it be checked in as luggage on public transport; and · All "wireless" and audio features on the portable computer must be disabled or de-installed, to include infrared ports and sound card, before entering the CAA, regardless of mode of transport.

SWEET PDAs: Certain personal digital assistants (PDAs - e.g., FS1935 HP iPAQ) have been approved for direct connection to DoS OpenNet-Plus networks overseas, for synchronization of e-mail, calendar, contacts, tasks, and documents. Connectivity is authorized if the equipment is USG owned, meets DS security guidelines and the SWEET (Secure Wireless Extended Enterprise Technology) software is installed. Currently, wireless connectivity is not/not authorized. The PDA may not be connected to any non-DoS systems (e.g., home computer). The expansion slots will be encrypted and are not to be used for audio or video recording or still photography. Please contact the ISO for additional information regarding this program.

General: Ensure all equipment and media are properly labeled with the highest level of information that may be processed on each system. For additional details, see Staff Notice 05-014 Guidelines On Use Of Removable Computer Storage Media. Users are responsible for protecting the equipment assigned to them to prevent loss or unauthorized access as well as preventing possible tampering of the device. Report any loss or suspected tampering of computers to the RSO and ISSO.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 8/30/2005 4:56 AM

Sixteen agencies are represented at the American Embassy in New Delhi, including the Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of Defense (the Defense Attaché's Office and the Office of Defense Cooperation), the Department of Agriculture (Foreign Agriculture Service), FBI/Legat, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Department of Homeland Security (CBP and ICE), Foreign Commercial Service (FCS), Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Library of Congress (LOC). Engineering Services (ESC), Office of Building Operations (OBO) and RIMC also have offices in New Delhi.

The American Embassy is located in the diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri, about 30 minutes from Indira Gandhi domestic and international airports. The U.S. Embassy and Roosevelt House (the Ambassador's Residence) were designed by American architect Edward Durell Stone, designer of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

The Ambassador and most senior officers have offices in the Embassy (Chancery and Annex). FCS, the American Information Resource Center (AIRC), FBIS, and LOC are located at the American Center in the downtown business district of New Delhi, a 20 minute drive away. Limited shuttle service is available between the American Center and the Chancery. Contact GSO for operating hours.

Embassy operating hours are 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday. The Embassy switchboard (telephone number 91-11-2419-8000) functions around the clock. Marine Guards, who are on duty at the Embassy 24 hours a day, can help employees contact the Duty Officer in case of emergency.

Once travel plans are made, new employees should notify their agency of arrival times and flights so that housing can be reserved, sponsors assigned, and arrangements made for airport pickup. Newcomers are met upon arrival and provided transportation and a Welcome Kit. If newcomers are not met, they should telephone the Embassy for assistance. The switchboard operator or the Marine Guard will notify the appropriate official.

Because most new employees arrive in the middle of the night after a long airplane ride from the other side of the world, it may take a few days to a few weeks to get over jetlag. New employees should contact their agencies for in-processing. HR provides a detailed check-in sheet to all State employees.

The Embassy Cashier, located in the lobby of the West Building, receives and distributes rupees (shuttle fees, long-distance telephone and fax fees), and issues salary checks for local hire employees. A branch of the Bank of America is also available to employees in the lobby of the Annex. Both facilities are open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM Monday through Friday, but are closed on Embassy holidays and select Indian holidays. In addition, the Bank of America is open Friday from 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM and on Saturday from 10 AM to noon. At Bank of America you can exchange dollars for rupees, cash dollar checks for rupees, make wire transfers to dollar accounts and cash travelers cheques. American employees and their familie members are not required to have a Bank of America account to use these services. Bring plenty of checks with you as credit cards are not readily accepted in India.

Newcomers will want to spend time at the Community Liaison Office, x8754, learning about life at post.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 8/30/2005 4:57 AM

Employees and their families are normally moved directly into their permanent quarters. If this is not possible, employees and their families may be temporarily assigned to U.S. Government-leased or -owned housing. There is no staff house in New Delhi. If no temporary quarters are available, employees will be housed in nearby hotels within the per diem allowances.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 8/30/2005 5:00 AM

Embassy residences are located in various parts of New Delhi, all within about ten miles of the Chancery. The Enclave, located on the Embassy compound, features 54 American-style apartments with two, three or four bedrooms. Nearby are the ACSA commissary, restaurant, bar, snack bar, swimming pool, ballfield, bowling alley, clay tennis courts, as well as the Embassy.

Leased accommodations consist of independent houses or apartments. The ground floor apartment normally has use of the yard or garden; the upper floor apartment has use of the "barsati" (an extra room on the roof). If there is a garage, it may be assigned to the first family to occupy quarters.

GSO's Housing Section issues a handbook which explains the ins and outs of living in a Government-leased or -owned home in New Delhi.


Furnishings Last Updated: 8/30/2005 5:02 AM

New Delhi is considered a furnished post; therefore, only a limited shipment of HHE is authorized. Each house or apartment is equipped with Government-owned furniture (including a normal complement of living room, dining room, and bedroom furniture), carpeting, vacuum cleaner, water distillers, ironing board, lamps and/or ceiling light fittings, stove, refrigerator, air cleaners, washer, dryer, freezer, air-conditioner/heating units, transformers, water distiller, smoke detectors, and mirrors. All agencies provide an allowance for recovering furniture and the purchasing draperies and/or curtains.

Stereo/TV stands or cabinetry, computer furniture and small household appliances are not provided. Most agencies provide microwave ovens (please check with your sponsoring agency). Bring china, glassware, silverware, baking and serving dishes, kitchen utensils, queen- and twin-size bed linens and blankets. Layettes/baby cribs are in short supply at Post and are issued for use only until the new arrivals' UAB is received. Employees anticipating the need for a baby crib should ship one in the UAB.

New arrivals will receive a Hospitality Kit from the GSO Property Office that includes sets of four dishes, water glasses, table and kitchen utensils, sheets, blankets, pillows, pillowcases, and towels, as well as a toaster, iron, and coffee maker. The ironing board, vacuum cleaner, and water distiller which arrive with the Hospitality Kit are to remain with the household. The Hospitality Kit must be returned when your HHE arrives.

Important note: Importation of duplicate electronic items are prohibited by the GOI. Any employee who imports more than one of the same-type of electronic item, may be required by the GOI to either re-export it, or pay all necessary Customs Duties. This may delay the clearance process; therefore, post recommends that employees do not import duplicate electronic items. Please note that New Delhi is a fully furnished post, and all major appliances such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, microwave ovens, air filters/cleaners and water distillers are provided by the post, and therefore should not be included in the shipments. If these items are found on the packing list, they will either be subjected to export or payment of customs duty, the costs of which must be borne by the employee. Therefore, it is strongly suggested that these items should not/not be included in your shipments.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 8/30/2005 5:04 AM

New Delhi's electric voltage is 220v, 50 cycles, AC. American 120v, 60-cycle electrical appliances require stepdown transformers, a limited number of which are supplied to residences. Government-owned quarters have 110v outlets but are still 50 cycles. Some appliances also require cycle adjustment.

Plugs on American-made transformers and 220v appliances can be changed to the Indian-type plugs locally at little cost, or, you can purchase adapter plugs from local electric shops to save the wear and tear on personal property. It is occasionally difficult to insert the wide prong of U.S. plugs into Indian-made stepdown transformers.

Before departing the U.S., you can adapt stereos and tape recorders for 50-cycle operation. Check warranties on other 60-cycle motor-driven equipment to determine advisability of use on 50-cycle current. Any item with a built-in timer will run slower. 120 volt electric clocks, clock radios, VCR clocks, breadmaking machines, telephone answering machines, and certain slide projectors may not function properly.

In New Delhi, the power situation is variable, especially during summer. Low voltage, power outages every now and then, and large fluctuations with dangerous spikes are very common. It is advisable to protect your electronic and expensive electrical items with voltage stabilizers, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units, or spike protectors. The UPS provides the necessary protection for hard-disk drive computers. Voltage stabilizers, spike protectors, and plug adapters are available in India, but the quality is variable.

Indian-made international brand 220v irons (usually without steam), small space heaters, air-conditioners, small refrigerators, washers, vacuum cleaners, mixers, and cookers are available.

Useful electrical appliances to bring include a coffee maker, mixer, blender, small space heaters, hair dryers, toasters and steam irons. If your agency does not provide a microwave, most employees recommend that you bring one—220v if possible. The ideal appliance is dual voltage and dual cycle (110v-220v, 50-60 cycles).

(For information on the importation of electronic items, see Customs, Duties, and Passage.)

Air-conditioning is necessary half the year, beginning in April. Heating is required in December and January. The Enclave quarters have electric ranges. Off-compound quarters use butane for the gas ranges.

Food Last Updated: 8/30/2005 5:09 AM

In New Delhi, U.S. Mission employees are fortunate to have many Indian markets and the ACSA Co-op in which to shop. The Co-op, about the size of a very small chain grocery store, is open six days a week. Co-op use is limited to U.S. Government employees, USAID contractors with specific notation on Co-op use in their contracts, U.S.-hire employees of the American Embassy School and diplomatic staff of qualified third countries. Domestics may not shop at the Co-op. The refundable membership deposit is $100 per adult, $37.50 per child, up to a maximum of $300 per family.

Full ACSA membership includes use of the Co-op, restaurant, video club, snack bar, bar, sports fields and equipment, pool, bowling alley and gym. (The snack and drink carts in the Embassy and the Indian cuisine canteen are open to all Embassy employees.)

The Co-op carries a variety of basics, including frozen foods, baby foods, dog/cat food and litter, toiletries, paper products, and ethnic ingredients. Meats often carried include frozen beef, fish, chicken, bacon, hotdogs, turkey, pork and leg of lamb. The Co-op stocks evaporated, long-life shelf (UHT) and powdered milk; cigarettes; soft drinks and alcoholic beverages; a variety of fresh dairy products from Australia, and frozen meats from Australia and U.S. A small, but expensive, shipment of head lettuce and celery comes from Australia. A limited supply of frozen U.S. bread, and bread and rolls baked at the ACSA restaurant is stocked. (See Supplies and Services for more information on the Co-op.)

Every neighborhood in New Delhi has at least one market that sells fresh fruit, vegetables, cut flowers, and dry goods (rice, sugar, lentils, and spices), oils, eggs, some canned or bottled items, milk, soft drinks, lotion, and shampoo. There are also chemists (pharmacies), bakeries, and sometimes a meat shop with chicken and/or mutton. The most popular grocery markets among foreigners are Modern Bazaar, Khan Market, and INA Market.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are seasonal and the selection may not be as large as in U.S. supermarkets. The winter season is best for price and variety. Potatoes, onions, tomatoes, carrots, limes, lemons, cucumbers, eggplant, at least one variety of squash, bananas, oranges or tangerines, apples (sometimes stored from the previous season), frozen peas, and coconuts are always available. Seasonal vegetables and fruits include peas, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, red and white radishes, kohlrabi, green peas, spinach, lettuce, string beans, parsley, varieties of squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, breadfruit, avocados, melons, many varieties of mangos, limes, pomegranates, tangerines, oranges, grapes, papaya, grapefruit, pineapple and occasionally small peaches, thin celery, and apricots. Dried fruits, cashews, walnuts, almonds, and pine nuts are also usually available in the market.

Mutton, goat, pork, and chicken are available in several cuts. Buffalo undercut can be used as beef in recipes. Fresh sea fish and shellfish are available, but should be eaten only in the cooler months. Baby food in the local market is limited to powdered milk in tins and an occasional box of cereal mixed with dried fruit.

Employees assigned to New Delhi get no extra weight allowance for consumable items. However, if you have space in your HHE shipment, consider sending special items—diet foods, baby formula and ingredients for special recipes. If more space is available in your HHE shipment, bring toilet paper, paper towel rolls, tissues and detergent because these items are expensive at the commissary.

Vegetable and flower gardens are popular in New Delhi. Take packets of your favorite vegetables, herbs, and flowers. (See Supplies and Services for more information on what to bring.)

Clothing Last Updated: 7/1/2004 7:46 AM

In general, adult Indians dress more conservatively than Americans. Men wear shirts and slacks, suits, bush or safari suits (the short or long-sleeved shirt is worn outside the same-color pants), or a kurta-pajama (long tunic over drawstring pants). At home, a man might wear an undershirt with lungi (3 yards of material tucked in at the waist).

Most Indian women wear either a sari or a "salwar kameez." A sari is a combination of six meters of often elaborately bordered silk, cotton, or polyester wrapped over a drawstring full-length petticoat and a form-fitting choli blouse that leaves the midriff exposed. The accepted national dress for women is the sari, which can be worn in a number of ways. The "salwar kameez" is a two-piece suit made of decorative knee-length tunic over drawstring pants, sometimes worn with a scarf ("dupatta").

Although Indian women are not hesitant to show their mid-section—some even have open backs—they usually feel self-conscious in pants and a tucked-in blouse. Most would not wear shorts even in the privacy of their own homes. (See Special Information for more information on Indian sensitivities on dress.)

New Delhi's climate alternates between extremely hot summers, humid monsoons, and surprisingly chilly winters. Lightweight, loose yet covering cotton clothing is suitable for 8 months of the year. Sweaters, jackets, wool skirts, wool suits, sweatshirts, hats, scarves, and even gloves will be welcome in winter. Excursions to the north or to hill stations require warm clothing including heavy sweaters and coats. American-style underwear and sports socks are not available locally. Light raincoats or windbreakers may come in handy. Umbrellas are needed in the monsoon season. Hats, which are not readily available in India, are especially desirable for the summer season.

Washable fabrics are the most convenient for maintenance, but drycleaning services are also available. Dry cleaning, however, is not up to Western standards, except in major hotels. Cotton, silk and wool are the most comfortable fabrics to wear. Quality woolen and knit fabrics are generally not available. India's distinctive cottons and silks, however, are among the bonuses of life here.

Local footwear consists mainly of sandals ("chappals"), which have straps over the instep and big toe. Ready-made shoes often lack quality, comfort and durability—and they can be expensive. Cobblers repair shoes at little cost. Shoes wear out more quickly in this climate. Bring several pair of comfortable walking shoes, good work shoes, and sport shoes for recreation and exercise. If representational entertaining is part of the job, bring comfortable dress shoes for in-house, as well as on-the-grass functions to stand in for hours. Nike, Reebok, and Adidas are now all readily available in India but are slightly more expensive than in the U.S.

Military. The normal duty dress for USDAO and DSA military members in the Embassy is civilian shirt and slacks or coat and tie (or equivalent for females), depending on the weather and occasion. Marine Guards work in their uniforms. Attaches must hand-carry uniforms for orientation briefings in Hawaii, military receptions, and official calls before their HHE arrive. (Contact the USDAO and ODC for more details.)


Men Last Updated: 6/29/2004 5:56 AM

Lightweight and wool suits or Western-style sport shirts and pants are worn to the office, as well as to after-hours functions. Lightweight suits are practical for most of the year, but warmer suits (wool) are needed in December and January. High-quality local silk ties are beautiful and inexpensive. Men occasionally wear locally tailored bush or safari suits for summer or winter wear. Local tailor-made shirts and suits vary greatly in quality and fit, and can be more expensive than ready-made. Most Americans prefer to bring tennis shorts, knit shirts, golf clothes, and swim trunks. Shorts for at-home wear can be tailored locally, but may cost more than U.S. readymade shorts. Men's sandals, available in many styles, are comfortable during the summer heat.


Women Last Updated: 6/29/2004 5:56 AM

Casual dresses, suits and pants are suitable for most daytime occasions. Dressier outfits are worn in the evenings to receptions, cocktails, and dinner parties. For formal occasions, which are infrequent, long dresses or sequined cocktail dresses are worn. Sequined clothes are comparatively inexpensive on the local market. Cotton dresses and cotton underwear are coolest in the hot weather. Women may want to bring panty hose as comparable panty hose are difficult to find on the local market, but it is acceptable to go without hose, particularly during the warm weather. Bring a swimsuit. Bathing caps are not required at any of the pools. Shorts and strapless tops are not worn on the public streets.


Children Last Updated: 6/29/2004 6:03 AM

At the American Embassy School in New Delhi students dress casually. Both boys and girls wear jeans, slacks, shorts, T-shirts, shirts, light jackets, tennis shoes, sweatshirts and sweaters. Teenage girls also wear the salwar kameez and dresses on occasion.

Sweaters and warm jackets are worn daily in December and January. Warm clothing will be needed for the middle school and high school sport conventions held in neighboring countries, for school or family outings to the hill stations or up north, and for winter months. Light colors are cooler in hot weather, but dark colored clothes are practical for active children—the red soil is difficult to wash out.

Take tennis shoes, required for physical education at the school, to post—more than one pair and in increasing sizes if the child is still growing. Sandals, worn by both girls and boys during summer, are widely available locally. Socks and tennis shoes wear out quickly.

When planning a wardrobe, consider the growth of the child during the stay in New Delhi. Take Scout uniforms or have them tailored locally. Take bathing suits in current and larger sizes for growing children.

Take baby clothing, shoes, and diapers. Cloth diapers are used by some families who hire laundrymen to wash clothes. The Co-op carries a variety of disposable diapers, but they are quite expensive.

Teens can buy the latest fashions in jeans, sweaters, shirts and cotton skirts from sidewalk vendors or in upscale shops.


Office Attire Last Updated: 7/5/2005 6:14 AM

Office attire for both men and women is the same as that worn during the summer months in Washington, DC. The Embassy has a tradition of more relaxed attire during the hot months between the holidays of Holi (March) and Diwali (November). The Ambassador expects that staff will be neatly attired at all times and in a manner that reflects the professionalism of our Mission, while taking into account the operational needs of each office. This is particularly important when meeting outside guests in the Ambassador's Office and making outside calls.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 6/29/2004 6:07 AM

The ACSA Co-op is a convenient outlet for U.S. products, but the cost is usually above U.S. prices. The Co-op stocks a limited supply of toiletries, cosmetics, feminine hygiene products, cigarettes and cigars, over-the-counter medication, some vitamins, detergents, liquid soaps, insect sprays, and cleaning fluid. Some pens, tape, notebooks, and tennis balls can also be found. During American holidays, special candy, decorations, and wrapping paper are usually available. Locally made surge protectors and light bulbs, small batteries, Kodak film, household cleaners, and car care items are sold in the Co-op. (See Transportation for a list of automobile parts to bring.)

Local Indian markets have shops selling books, jewelry, stationery, music tapes, ready-made Indian and Western clothing, bicycles, appliances, and materials (with resident tailors). Aida cloth, wool and acrylic yarn, embroidery floss, and other good quality inexpensive needle art supplies are readily available at local markets.

Repairs to Government-owned and -leased housing are handled by the Embassy GSO Maintenance, but a small box of household tools may come in handy (hammer, screwdriver, wire clipper, small scissors, thread and needle, packet of small nails, tacks, electrical tape, tape measure, extension cords, wire). You may want to bring favorite cosmetics, toiletries, and feminine products. Take holiday decorations and an artificial tree if desired, hobby supplies, arts and crafts supplies, games and puzzles, and musical instruments. Useful gadgets to bring include openers (puncture-top, bottle cap, rotary can opener and corkscrews), oven thermometer, kitchen timer, good paring knives, and vegetable peelers.

Mail-order, duty-free catalogs, and department store catalogs are available at CLO.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services Last Updated: 6/29/2004 6:16 AM

Local dry-cleaning is available with varying results. Most clothes washing is done in the home. Shoe repair is available and inexpensive. Tailoring services vary in quality and price. Copying existing clothing achieves the best results, but, with varying results, tailors will work from pictures as well.

A beauty shop and a barbershop are located on the enclave compound. Some of the hotels have complete health club facilities, including massage and sauna. For excellent private massages, specialists will come to the home on a regular basis. Prices are inexpensive for these services.

Piano tuners are available from the Delhi School of Music.

India is a good place to have older books rebound in leather for a moderate cost.

Repairs to American electrical appliances are dependable. Bring circuit diagrams or maintenance instructions for each item. Automotive repair is available but certain foreign-made parts are difficult to obtain. Mechanics at the Embassy are competent and will do private work after duty hours at reasonable cost. Bodywork is relatively inexpensive. Many car repair shops exist in Delhi; some will send a driver to the Embassy to pick up and deliver the car for a small fee.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 7/5/2005 1:13 AM

As in most of Asia, household help is not a luxury, but a necessity - not to provide a life of ease, but to help a family live a normal life and maintain a good level of security. Normal housekeeping is complicated by pollution, the enervating hot weather, unpredictability of illnesses, frequent visits of Embassy workers to the house, frequency of guests, and the necessity of visiting several markets to buy daily needs. In addition, you must take extra precautions when preparing food and must thoroughly scrub and peel vegetables before cooking, or soak them in disinfectant and rewash them in bottled water if you eat them raw. Marketing can be time consuming, although the Commissary makes shopping easier, albeit at a higher price. Domestic staff cannot shop in the commissary.

Even Indians of moderate circumstances have household help. Most households require at least two household staff, and you may need more, depending on your family size. You may have to replace staff members, or even the whole staff, before you achieve the right combination. Staff management can be difficult and requires patience and good nature. Some staff require constant supervision, especially on cleanliness, market prices, storage and use of food supplies, and personal effects.

The number of household help needed and their salaries differ according to individual households, with varying emphasis on their responsibility and ability. Below are examples of staff responsibilities. Many families employ one or more "all in one" helpers who combine the functions of cook, maid/houseboy, and nanny.

Housekeeper. Cleans the house, dusts, windows and appliances, runs errands and does small shopping. Does laundry if no dhobi is employed. Provides basic care for pets. May also prepare meals on the cook’s day off or if she or he is the only servant in a small household.

Cook/Chef. Plans the meals with you; informs you of what is on the market and does shopping; keeps a kitchen account book, which you should check; cleans vegetables and fruits; cleans the kitchen; does the dishes.

Nanny/"Ayah." Takes care of children, cleans their room, mends their clothing, and sees that it comes back from the launderer in good condition. May help with general housework if the family is small.

Driver. Acts as chauffeur, purchases gas and oil, and keeps your car in good operating condition. May run errands, make small purchases or payments depending on ability. May help the housekeeper with heavy lifting.

Gardener/ "Mali." Tends the lawn, shrubs, flowers, etc. Keeps lawn furniture and gate clean and can clean after pets if arranged in advance. May help the housekeeper with heavy lifting. Some people employ a sweeper as well to clean sidewalks, the patio and outside windows.

Watchman/"Chowkidar." The Embassy generally provides residential guards from 8:30 PM to 6:30 AM at leased housing. The Embassy residential enclave and Baghwan Dass compound are guarded 24 hours a day. Residential guards may be hired at personal cost for the day-time hours at leased housing.

Laundryman/"Dhobi." Washes and irons your laundry using your washing machine, dryer and iron. Depending on the size of your household, he may come in once or twice a week.

Indian domestic staff depend on their employers. Salaries are paid monthly in rupees and are considered quite affordable by western standards. The median monthly salaries for a full-time cook is $100; for a housekeeper, $100; for an ayah, $100; for a driver $120. Annual bonuses (1 month’s salary if the employee has worked at least a year, prorated for shorter periods) are given at Diwali, Christmas, or Eid depending on the servant's religious preference. The employer customarily provides uniforms and/or clothing; some employers provide tea, uniforms and/or clothing as well as some medical expenses. Overtime is given usually to drivers, to housekeepers borrowed from another household for special functions, and to your own servants who do extra work. Depending on house size and your individual preferences, one or two domestic staff normally live in. Most houses (but not all) have staff quarters. Very few Americans provide quarters allowance for servants living elsewhere.

All household staff should have a pre-employment physical examination and annual stool tests and chest x-rays. As of June 2005, the range in cost for full physicals was $10-$30; x-rays were $15. Domestic employees who are dismissed by you for any reason other than wrongdoing (e.g., if you leave post or your needs change) should be given severance pay at the rate of 1 month’s salary for each full year worked and a prorated portion of a month’s salary for employment periods of less than full years. If the employee resigns, you are not obliged to give severance pay but may want to give "service pay," something like a thank-you bonus; the amount is at your discretion.

The Domestic Staff Registry, operated by the American Women's Association (AWA), acts as an employment agency to serve both American families and those who want to work for them. Employers are encouraged to consult the Domestic Staff Registry evaluations (chits) written by former employers before hiring, and, in turn, to write accurate evaluations at the end of their servant's employment. There are also domestic listings in the Post’s newsletter, the India Ink.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 6/29/2004 6:45 AM

A Jewish Synagogue conducts services in Hebrew at the Judah-Hyam Hall.

Christianity in India dates back nearly 2,000 years. Most Christian churches have services conducted in regional languages, as well as in English.

Catholic churches conducting Mass in New Delhi include the Carmel Convent School, the Holy See Embassy, St. Dominic's, and Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Protestant churches include the Bible Bhawan Christian Fellowship, the St. James Church of North India, Centenary United Methodist Church, Cathedral Church of the Redemption, New Delhi Christian Fellowship, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Free Church, the Delhi Bible Fellowship and the Green Park Free Church.

Muslims worship in Arabic in mosques ("Masjid") all over Delhi.

Sikh Temples ("Gurdwara") are numerous, with readings in Punjabi.

International prayers are read in English and Hindi from the holy books of all religions meeting in the Baha'i House of Worship.

Hindu and Jain Temples ("Mandirs") abound; the language of worship is Hindi.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 7/1/2004 7:03 AM The American Embassy School (AES) is a private nonprofit, coeducational day school, conveniently located on a 12-acre site near the Embassy compound in New Delhi. Instruction by American, Indian, and third-country national teachers follows the American educational system from preschool through high school. AES is on a par with the best schools in the U.S. The school is divided into three sections: elementary (ECEC-5), middle school (6-8), and high school (9-12). The school year runs from early August through May. Students with U.S. citizenship may be admitted any time during this period.

About 30% of the 1,000 students are Americans; the balance represents 55 different nationalities. About 98% of AES graduates attend universities in the U.S. and in other countries. The school is a designated testing center for the College Entrance Examination Board, American College Testing Program, Secondary School Admission Test, and Graduate Management Admission Test and Graduate Record Examination. The school is accredited by the Middle States Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges. Selected Advanced Placement courses are offered. Courses are also offered to satisfy the requirements of the International Baccalaureate diploma. AES offers a stimulating intercultural experience for its students, fostering an on-going exchange of ideas and a spirit of tolerance. AES provides exposure to India through both course-work and annual Mini Courses, a week during which the student groups travel to various places in India studying various aspects of life and culture. These courses are available to students in grades 6-12.

Many extracurricular activities are offered, including softball, soccer, swimming, hockey, basketball, baseball, tennis, camping, photography, drama courses, cheerleading, and student publications. In addition, the South Asia International Association (SAIA) provides students with opportunities for varsity-level athletic competition, and fine arts and drama exchanges with several other American/international schools in the sub-continent (Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka). AES provides daily school bus transportation to most neighborhoods in New Delhi; a late bus is available for those engaging in after-school activities.

Apply for admission to AES as early as possible. Write to the school at the following address:

Director American Embassy School Chandragupta Marg Chanakyapuri New Delhi-110 021 India

e-mail address:

Currently the Admissions Coordinator is Ms. Beth Miller-Manchester. Her e-mail address is

Include a record of academic achievements (official transcript of high school credits or official elementary school report card) and health record. In some cases, interviews with school officials, appropriate testing, and physical examinations may be required. A child who is 3 years old on or before September 1 is eligible to enroll in the Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC). However, AES does not guarantee space in this program. To enroll a child in this program, parents should write the school as soon as their assignment is firm. A child who is 5 years old on or before September 1 is eligible for admission to kindergarten; a child who is 6 years old on or before September 1 is eligible for the first grade. For information regarding a child with a specific learning disability, contact the school prior to coming to post.

There are also French, British, German and other international schools in New Delhi.

New Delhi has a range of preschools, both Montessori and traditional, which attract both Indian and foreign diplomats' children. They offer quality education at lower cost than the ECEC of AES. Some American children attend these schools, which provide contact with children in other communities. On Mission grounds there is a preschool called the Apple School. This program has morning and afternoon sessions. Each session is limited to 10 students, and the program is open to Mission members, ACSA members and the general expatriate community if space is available.

The Parent group associated with the school is School Administration (PSA). All participants in the high school program are eligible for PSA family memberships for a small fee.

The Public Affairs Section has a large library at the American Center that is open to Americans and Indians alike. The Public Affairs collection concentrates on all aspects of the U.S.

The American Women's Association (AWA) operates a growing library near the Co-op. Open sixteen hours a week, it has a good collection of fiction and nonfiction.

AES runs an elementary library and a high school library. Parents may also use these libraries.


Dependent Education

Away From Post Last Updated: 7/1/2004 7:04 AM Because AES is a U.S. Government-sponsored school, no education allowance higher than the tuition fee paid to AES is granted for schools away from post. Two long-established American coeducational boarding schools founded by missionaries and located in hill stations offer high-standard instruction from grades 1 to 12. Students attending these schools need warm clothing, as temperatures in these areas fall as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Located at a hill station about 170 miles north of New Delhi, Woodstock School is accredited by the Middle States Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges. The school year is July-November and February-May. Direct enrollment queries to the following person:

Principal Woodstock School Mussoorie, Uttar Pradesh India 248179

The second hill station school, Kodaikanal School, is located 320 miles from Chennai and is also an American-accredited school. The school year runs from June to October and January to May. For information, write to the following person:

Principal Kodaikanal School Kodaikanal, Madura District Tamil Nadu, India 624101


Special Needs Education Last Updated: 7/1/2004 6:22 AM

AES offers remedial education classes, but only for the mildly learning disabled. It is essential to note that AES does not offer services for severely learning disabled or handicapped children nor are alternative schools available in Delhi. There are some ramps throughout the grounds, but the school is not equipped to handle children who require special accommodations due to physical handicaps.


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 6/29/2004 6:46 AM

The American Embassy School offers programs in handicrafts, folk music, and folk dancing for children through eighth grade. They also offer a limited adult evening education program.

The Delhi School of Music offers private instruction in a full range of instruments of Western music, e.g., piano, violin, cello, and guitar.

Private instruction in Indian music, both instrumental and vocal, and in Indian dance is readily available at moderate cost. Piano teachers are also available. Those interested in art and handicrafts can take courses in painting, ceramics, batik, tie-dye, and fabric design.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 6/29/2004 6:57 AM

Among the sports activities to be enjoyed in and around Delhi are golf, tennis, bowling, badminton, horseback riding, polo, swimming, yoga and softball. Spectator sports include horse racing, polo, cricket, soccer, field hockey, and school sports.

ACSA manages four tennis courts (one on the compound and three at AES), a swimming pool, a gym, four bowling lanes and a ballfield for Little League baseball, men's and women's softball leagues, volleyball, and community functions. Bring tennis equipment. Rackets can be restrung here by the instructors. The Co-op stocks tennis balls at a higher price than in the U.S.

Some Embassy personnel join private clubs. The Delhi Gymkhana Club and the Chelmsford Club offer swimming, tennis, squash, and billiards. The Delhi Golf Club and the Classic Golf Club have 18-hole courses, complete with peacocks in the trees. Many golf clubs in Delhi offer pay and play—the Delhi Golf Club is hard to get into, but Embassy staff also frequents the Army Golf Club and a new course in Noida across the Yamuna River. The DLF Golf and Country Club is located at DLF City, Gurgaon. The British and the Americans compete at the Classic Golf Club every year for the Ryder Cup.

For horseback riding, the Delhi Riding Club and the Army Polo and Equestrian Club give instruction from beginner to advanced levels. Both single-glider rides and gliding instruction are available at the Delhi Gliding Club. Several major hotels offer memberships to their swimming and health clubs.

Within the community, one can also find the Delhi Football League (soccer) and Hash House Harriers (joggers). A vast wooded park area near the school and Embassy offers several running/jogging paths that range in distance from 2.5 to 5 miles. Women's aerobic and aquaerobic classes are held at AES, ACSA and other facilities.

During the hottest months, spouses and children spend a lot of time inside with air-conditioning or around the ACSA and AES pools. Bring suntan lotion, hobby materials, table games, books, videotapes, video games, puzzles and special craft materials.

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 6/29/2004 7:02 AM

The designated R&R point for India is London.

Sightseeing opportunities range from those in immediate neighborhoods to extensive tours of other parts of India and neighboring countries. Costs may be higher than expected, especially when traveling with a family, and the quality of accommodations varies. Delhi has many historical monuments, religious buildings, and shrines open to visitors.

Excellent sightseeing guides, which are updated every year or two, include India, a Travel Survival Kit and Fodor's India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The most comprehensive and useful guide is the Lonely Planet Guide to India. It is available at ACSA Bookstore.

Ancient and historic sites are everywhere. Once the home of viceroys and now the official residence of the President of India, Rashtrapati Bhawan overlooks a 2-mile long mall down Rajpath to India Gate.

On CLO Tours you can see many sites: Qutab Minar and the nearby mosque constructed from demolished Hindu and Jain Temples; the Mughal Gardens of Rastrapati Bhavan, Parliament House and the Secretariat; the Red Fort with Shah Jahan's Court, the Pearl Mosque and the evening Sound and Light Show on its history; Raj Ghat, Mahatma Gandhi's Cremation Memorial grounds; Chandni Chawk and the spice and silver bazaars; Hauz Khas village and Muslim ruins; Feroz Shah Kotla grounds with an Ashoka pillar on the Jamuna River Bank; Humayun's Tomb and Gardens; Lodi Gardens with tombs and pathways; the huge 14th-century fortress city of Tughlakh; Suraj Kund, a pre-Islamic site; Purana Qila; the 1857 Mutiny Memorial on Delhi's Northern Ridge; the Jantar Mantar Observatory; the Viceroy's Church; Safdarjang's Tomb; and Jama Masjid in old Delhi.

When visiting religious sites, remember to dress accordingly. Visitors may be asked to cover their heads, remove shoes, and/or wait until devotions are completed.

During the hot season, it is good to combine outdoor touring with a trip to one of the many museums—National Museum, Crafts Museum and Village Complex, Mahatma Gandhi Museum, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, National Museum of Natural History, Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum, and National Gallery of Modern Art. State museums are closed on Mondays.

Children particularly enjoy the Delhi Zoo with Indian birds and animals, Appu Ghar Amusement Park, and Shankar's International Doll Museum. Near the American Embassy is the Rail Transport Museum and the opportunity to circle Delhi on a train in a couple of hours. During cool months, the city's parks and gardens are filled with all-seasonal flowers and offer pleasant picnic spots.

For out-of-town trips, transportation is available by car, train, tour bus, or plane. The Travel Section in the Embassy can plan and book personal and official transportation and lodging.

Your first trip, however, should be to see the Taj Mahal in Agra. Travel by train early in the morning—visit the Taj, the Agra Fort, and Fatipur Sikri—then return at night by train. Near Agra is the Bharatpur bird sanctuary.

Rajasthan has several palaces and fortress cities on the tour map—the pink city of Jaipur is 180 miles away or 5 hours by car; and a trip to Udaipur's Lake Palace, Jodhpur, and Jaiselmer would make a week-long trip by car or train. The major pilgrimage site on the Ganges River, Varanasi (Banaras), is 450 miles from Delhi and is accessible by car, plane, or train.

White-water rafting on the Ganges River, north of Rishikesh, has become a popular three- to five-day family outing or school trip.

Two areas for skiing are Auli, Uttaranchal, and Solang in Himachal Pradesh's Kulu Valley. With an incredibly beautiful panorama of India's major Himalayan peaks, Auli offers the basics. Accommodation is very cheap. No ski-lift is available, and it takes two long days to get there. Solang has a ski-lift—for those taking a course or who obtain permission from the Manali Mountaineering Institute, which owns the lift. Rental equipment is cheap. However, the ski season is very short in both places, from late December to early February.

Visitors to Corbett National Park, 183 miles from Delhi, can see tigers, leopards, hyenas, deer, peafowl, and elephants. Hill stations offering relief from the summer heat are Mussoorie, 170 miles away, and Shimla, 225 miles. There are many excellent game reserves and bird sanctuaries. Bring binoculars and a good camera.

Photography is prohibited at airports, dams, bridges, and military installations. Still cameras, not video cameras, may be used to photograph certain historical monuments; but the rules may be changing. At the entrance to historical or tourist sites, a posted sign or guide will explain the current policy. In some cases, a fee is charged to carry in a camera. Obtain the consent of any local individuals to be photographed. If someone volunteers to be photographed in their ethnic outfit or with their elephant or cobra, be prepared to pay a tip—this is their livelihood.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 6/29/2004 7:05 AM

New Delhi has many auditoriums, concert halls, stadiums, and luxury hotels with grand ballrooms. Indian and Western music, drama, dance, exhibitions, and lectures are plentiful, especially in the cooler season. Traditional Indian festivals are celebrated in Delhi, as well as all over the country. These festivals offer exceptional photo opportunities.

The All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society holds regular lecture meetings and exhibitions of contemporary Indian art. Many restaurants feature Indian musicians. In addition to Indian music, local hotels and auditoriums occasionally feature performances by foreign jazz groups, ballets, and Shakespearean plays. Cultural centers of various embassies regularly offer special programs. The Delhi Music Society sponsors an international concert season. The Delhi Diary, a small weekly magazine, carries a current listing of events in New Delhi.

Tickets are available for these annual events: Republic Day Parade, Beating Retreat, Ram Lila (drama) and Suraj Kund Mela (fair).

Amateur performers have wonderful opportunities here. The Delhi Community Players, an international group of theater lovers, presents one or two dramas or musicals each season. AES conducts an active program of dramatic and musical presentations by students. The AES High School Chorus and the Delhi Christian Chorus always welcome new members.

The ACSA Video Club rents VHS videos and DVDs. Local Indian video clubs rent current Indian, English, and American videos in PAL and SECAM cassettes in English and Hindi. They are usually copies of copies and are often not good quality.

Films are regularly shown at the British High Commission, the Max Mueller Bhavan (Goethe Institute), the Alliance Francaise, and the India International Centre. Both English-language foreign films and Indian movies are screened at local movie theaters.

For those who enjoy dinner and dancing, most large hotels in New Delhi feature Western-style dance bands and discotheques.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 6/29/2004 7:07 AM Americans in New Delhi can lead an active social life. In addition to the Indian and international events, Americans generate many activities themselves. Most of these activities also attract Indian and international participation.

AWA offers opportunities for Americans to share activities in the American community and to explore and enjoy living in India.

Activities at post include morning and evening bowling leagues, tennis lessons and matches, courses in Indian cooking, bridge, exercise classes, Newcomer Coffees, Halloween, Christmas and Easter children's parties, art shows, darts and a variety of new activities each year.

Scouting in New Delhi has an active program for boys (age 7-18) and for girls (kindergarten through grade 6)—camping, white-water rafting, hiking, exploring, crafts, drama, and community service projects. Scouts should take their current records and equipment. Uniforms, packs, and sleeping bags may be ordered or locally tailored. Adult leaders, merit badge counselors, and helpers are always needed.

In addition to afterschool activities organized by AES (soccer, volleyball, swimming, basketball, and track), PTSA sponsors Saturday night Open Gym for high school students, and a foreign film festival during Language Week.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

International Contacts Last Updated: 6/29/2004 7:08 AM The best opportunity to meet Indians is at a reception or dinner party. India is a warm, open society. Indians invite Americans to their homes and readily accept American invitations. Older children of Indians and Americans are often included in invitations.

Sports clubs, churches, business associations, international organizations, and American groups offer occasions for meeting people outside the American community. The Rotary and Lions Clubs have local chapters.

Mission Americans may apply for reciprocal membership in the British High Commission and at Canadian and Australian High Commission clubs.

Delhi Network is an informal organization which invites foreigners new to Delhi, to a monthly coffee morning where information on life in Delhi is shared.

The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce welcomes Americans and Indians to their varied and interesting programs.

The Women International Club (WIC) and the Delhi Commonwealth Women Association (DCWA) have 50% Indian membership. WIC has a very active social and cultural program for members. The DCWA turns its energies to the funding and running of the DCWA Clinic and small school for the poor.

The Outreach Committee of the AWA operates a recycling program and has a listing of Indian organizations welcoming volunteer help.

Each week Reach Out at the American Embassy School offers high school students and adult volunteers the chance to assist the Indians who reside in a small settlement ("juggi") behind the school.

Official Functions Last Updated: 6/29/2004 7:09 AM

Protocol is relaxed and no formal calls are required. However, there is ample opportunity for both U.S. Mission employees with representational duties and spouses to use calling cards or business cards. Diplomats may want to take an initial supply of calling cards until cards can be printed here. Employees will find calling cards useful for exchange with Indians, members of other missions, and businesspersons. Locally available printed or engraved cards and invitations are less expensive than in the U.S.

Social life tends to be informal. The amount of representational entertaining done depends upon your official responsibilities. Official functions consist of large receptions at major hotels, cocktail parties, buffet and sit-down dinners, luncheons, coffees, and teas.

If the function is to be held outside in a garden or lawn, liberal mosquito repellant and comfortable shoes are in order.

When invited by the Ambassador, the DCM, and the heads of sections, U.S. Mission employees are expected to arrive early to help greet the other invited guests.

Invitations usually specify the type of dress to be worn. Casual means no tie or jacket if an American is the host, or suit and tie if an Indian is the host. A dress, slacks, or Indian outfit is suitable for women. Bush or safari suit means casual to Indian hosts. Informal or lounge suit means suit and tie for the man, and a dress or Indian outfit for the woman. Black tie means tuxedo or white dinner jacket and fancy cocktail dress or long dress—but these occasions are rare (e.g., the annual Marine Corps Ball). Invitations to the many National Day celebrations and military anniversaries often list Uniform/Lounge Suit/National Dress, to cover the appropriate attire.

Special Information Last Updated: 6/29/2004 7:11 AM

Indians dress modestly. To respect Indian sensitivities when in public, Western women should wear skirts below the knees or longer or relatively loose dark slacks, avoiding sleeveless blouses, tight pants, and shorts. Young women and teenage girls, especially those dressed in tight or short Western dress, may attract undesirable attention. Western men should avoid going shirtless; trousers are preferable to shorts. These suggestions are especially important when visiting rural areas or tradition-bound urban areas. (For more detail, see Clothing under the Embassy and Consulates General.)

Short-term visitors, especially those planning trips outside the major cities, should keep the weather in mind when arranging their travel. (See Host Country Climate, Health and Medicine, and Notes for Travelers for more information.)

Post Orientation Program

Each fall, the CLO conducts a comprehensive half-day orientation program to introduce employees and their adult dependents to Indian culture and life at the Embassy. Sponsors help orient newcomers during the first few weeks. All newcomers receive CLO welcome booklets, which include information on various aspects of life and work at the Embassy and in New Delhi.

When funding permits, the Embassy offers beginner Hindi-language classes to all employees. Adult dependents may join ongoing classes on a space-available basis. The National Museum occasionally gives courses on the history of Indian art.

Consulate General - Calcutta

Post City Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

By Indian standards, Calcutta is a new city. It was established by Job Charnock in 1690 as the trading center in Bengal for the East India Company. The site of the city was occupied at that time by three villages, one of which had been developed by Portuguese traders as early as 1530. Development of the city has been shared not only by the English and the Indians, but also by Greeks, Portuguese, Dutch, French, Swedes, Jews, Armenians, and Persians—all of whom have contributed to its history.

Once a trading center for the East India Company and the capital of British India from 1772 to 1912, Calcutta today is India's second largest city with 12 million people. It is the capital of the state of West Bengal, situated in eastern India on the Hooghly River about 80 miles north of the Bay of Bengal. The city is built on marshland and experiences periodic flooding.

About half of Calcutta's inhabitants are Bengali Hindus, and a significant percentage are Muslim and members of other communities (Sikhs, Parsees, and Christians). The largest single foreign group is from the U.S. and now numbers about 400 residents. The British community is estimated to be about 184. Principal languages of the city are Bengali, Hindi, and English.

Overpopulation and associated problems—poverty, poor sanitation, and lack of housing—are evident everywhere. Despite facing problems of high unemployment, overcrowding and poor infrastructure, Calcutta, as a city, shows remarkable resilience. The friendliness of Indians of all classes provides many contacts and experiences that together can make your tour in Calcutta pleasant and memorable.

(For information on automobiles at post, see the Transportation Section under the Host Country in addition to the Customs and Duties Section under Notes for Travelers. For health information, see Health and Medicine in the Host Country Section and Passage under Notes for Travelers.)

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 7/2/2003 10:07 PM

The four-story Consulate General is located in the center of Calcutta at 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, Calcutta PIN (Zip) 700071. Telephone numbers are 91-33-2282-3611-15. The fax number is 91-33-282-2335. Office hours are 8 am-1 pm and 2 pm-5 pm, Monday through Friday.

The Consulate General building contains a small canteen, and a large conference room, in addition to spacious offices for the consul general and Political, Economic/Commercial, Administrative, and Consular Sections.

The American Center, which houses the Public Affairs, USEFI, USAEP, and USFCS offices, is located at 38A Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Calcutta 700071, opposite the Maidan, Calcutta's large central open park. The Center's telephone number is 91-33-2288-1200 (seven lines available).

In addition to offices, this Government-owned property houses an auditorium/exhibit area, a library, and a commercial library. Library hours are 10 am-6 pm, Monday-Friday. The American Center sponsors musical events, exhibits, film and VCR shows, and seminars with visiting American academics.

The U.S. Educational Foundation in Eastern India is located at the American Center. Office hours are 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, and the telephone number is 91-33-288-1636-37.

The Calcutta consular district has a population of well over 240 million people. It includes the states of Assam, Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Sikkim, West Bengal, Jharkhand, and the Union Territories of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 7/2/2003 10:09 PM

Several hotels are suitable for brief stays in Calcutta. The Oberoi Grand Hotel, the ITC Sonar Bangla Sheraton & Towers, the Hyatt Regency, and the Taj Bengal are the best and most expensive. The Oberoi and Taj are located in or near the city center, while the Hyatt and ITC properties are located on the outskirts, closer to the airport. The New Kenilworth, Park, Hindusthan International, and Fairlawn Hotel are less expensive, but adequate. Hotel Airport Ashok, about 16 miles from the city, is convenient for those in transit.

New arrivals, for whom permanent quarters are not immediately available, are provided temporary lodging facilities as post has no transit apartment. The Consulate General maintains a Hospitality Kit of bed and table linens, dishes, glassware, and cooking utensils. Bring basic household items—towels, flatware, small appliances, and toilet articles—in the airfreight.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 7/2/2003 10:10 PM

All employees are assigned to U.S. Government-owned housing. The principal officer's house and swimming pool are part of the Consulate General compound located beside the Consulate General. The compound also includes a government-owned, four-story apartment building. Three of these apartments have three bedrooms and the fourth--on the top floor--has two bedrooms.


Furnishings Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Furnishings include a refrigerator/freezer, range, microwave, distiller, water filter system, washer/dryer, rugs, lamps, and furniture for living room, dining room, and bedroom.

Subject to funds availability, new occupants receive an allowance for new drapery and upholstery materials. Bring pictures and knickknacks.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 7/2/2003 10:12 PM

All quarters are air-conditioned and have Consulate General telephone extensions, in addition to outside phone lines. Backup generators support all Government-owned residences and offices.

Electric power has AC and DC facilities scattered throughout the city. U.S. Government-owned residences and apartments have 110v and 220v power outlets.

Portable stepdown power transformers (220v-110v) for use with 100v appliances are available in the supply room on requests basis. Record players require 50-cycle adapters (from U.S. or Hong Kong) to play properly. Dual-voltage, dual-cycle electrical equipment that operates on both 110v/220v, AC/DC, and 50/60 cycle is best. Power stabilizers for electronic equipment are available in Calcutta at a cost of $70-90.

Food Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Sources of food include the local markets, ACSA Co-op in New Delhi, and an additional consumables shipment.

Local Economy. In-season fruits and vegetables are plentiful. Bananas, oranges, and limes are always available. In winter, cauliflower, broccoli, red cabbage, and squash are specialties. All fruits and vegetables must be washed and treated with a disinfectant solution.

Excellent and inexpensive beef and mutton are plentiful in the market. Pork and poultry (poor by U.S. standards) are also available. Better cuts of these meats are usually purchased at higher prices from specialty shops or vendors who deliver.

Fresh fish is reasonably priced in season. Shrimp, crabs, and crayfish are available seasonally at slightly higher prices. Rice, eggs, sodas, and baked goods are available locally. Fresh milk is available, but it is not pasteurized and should be boiled before drinking.

American Community Support Association (ACSA) Co-op in New Delhi. Monthly group orders are made from the ACSA Co-op for liquor and dry and frozen food. Orders to New Delhi take about 2-3 weeks. Nonperishable orders are sent by rail, and perishable orders are sent by air, adding transportation charges to the cost. Those stopping in New Delhi on their way to Calcutta should join the Co-op and place an order at that time. (See New Delhi, Food, for more information.)

Take initial supplies of baby foods and powdered milk for infants to last until the Co-op order arrives. Locally available powdered milk is expensive.

Additional Consumables Shipment. In addition to the weight allowance specified in 6 FAM 163.3, personnel assigned to Calcutta on a 2-year or 3-year tour are authorized shipment of 2,500 and 3,750 pounds, respectively, of consumables from Washington, D.C., or from their post of origin. This is an additional shipment, separate from the regular HHE shipment. It should be packed separately and sent under a separate bill of lading, marked and consigned as follows:

American Consulate General (Employee's full name) 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani Calcutta 700071, INDIA

Employees are encouraged to use the full allowance, which may be used up to 1 year after the employee's arrival at post, or applied to freight charges from the ACSA Co-op orders.

Employees can make group orders for California and European wine or purchase from local bonded warehouses provided it falls within the annual Government of India quota authorized to each employee.


Men Last Updated: 7/10/2003 10:17 PM

During the warmest part of the year, short-sleeved shirts or locally made bush (safari) suits are worn. Formal calls may require a lightweight suit and tie. A large supply of short-sleeved shirts (which can be worn with ties) is useful.

Wash-and-wear or other lightweight suits in cotton or blends are appropriate. Mohair, wool, or blend medium-weight suits are good for the cool season. Local drycleaners are adequate, but the quality of service is irregular. Formal wear is not used during the hot season. Vacations in the hill stations call for a coat, raincoat, jacket, and/or sweater.

Calcutta has many country and sports clubs. Those interested in tennis, swimming, golf, and riding should bring appropriate attire.


Women Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Washable, inexpensive, and easy-care cotton dresses are worn for most daytime occasions during the 9 warm months of the year. During this time evening wear is casual. Dresses and slacks in synthetic blends are comfortable only for indoor air-conditioned entertaining. During the cool months, cottons, lightweight woolens, wool, synthetic fabrics, and silks are worn. Bring casual dresses, cocktail dresses, and a formal gown. A lightweight coat, sweaters, and knitwear are good for vacations in the hills.

Local tailors can make clothing from patterns or pictures with the local cottons, cotton-blends, and silks. Pattern books and fashion magazines are scarce. Zippers, buttons, and thread are low quality. Banaras saris, brocade, and Kashmir wool shawls are available.

Bring lightweight, sturdy summer footwear. Flat, low-heeled shoes are necessary for the rough terrain. Relatively inexpensive sandals are available in small sizes only, others can be made to order, but quality is inconsistent. Cobblers can copy shoes that you own or work from pictures.


Children Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Bring at least an initial clothing supply for children, especially underwear, swimsuit, tennis shoes, and school shoes. Bring a small supply of winter clothing for cool winter days or visits to hill stations. Children who attend boarding school in hill stations will need a full supply of winter clothing and warm blankets. Bring graduated sizes, tailor locally, or place catalog orders. (See Host Country, Communications, Mail and Pouch for more information).

Local baby supplies are not up to U.S. standards; bring cotton or disposable diapers and rubber pants. Outerwear can be made locally with local fabrics.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Bring the following items as desired: baby furnishings, toys for holidays and birthdays, hobby and craft items, puzzles, playing cards, adult games, special toiletries or medicine, and cosmetics. Pianos are scarce. Some children's books are available on the local market.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 7/10/2003 10:34 PM

Families usually employ one or two servants. Those with a car often choose to hire a driver. Many domestics are available, but good ones are difficult to find on the open market. However, post has a tradition of handing down domestic servants from one officer to the next. Consequently, many domestics with several years of USG service are available. Wages for cooks/housekeepers stand at approximately Rs. 4000--4400 (roughly $85.00--$90.00) per month. The four apartments share a Dhobi, or laundryman, who spends one day a week at each flat, and does the laundry there. Each officer pays the Dhobi Rs. 600 (approximately $13.00) per month. The Dhobi uses the apartment's washer and dryer, and also irons and hangs clothing.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 7/2/2003 10:13 PM

Calcutta's largest religious groups are the Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists.

The Jewish synagogue is located across the street from the Catholic Cathedral of the Most Holy Rosary.

Calcutta has several Anglican churches in addition to the Cathedral of St. Paul. Presbyterian services are held in St. Andrew's Church of Scotland. The most popular of the Roman Catholic churches is St. Thomas' on Middleton Row. Other denominations represented are Methodist, Baptist, Seventh-day Adventist, Christian Scientist, Assembly of God, and Quaker. Many church services are in English.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM Schooling in Calcutta above the lower elementary grades is poor by U.S. standards. Many American students go to the Calcutta International School (CIS), which accepts students from nursery school through grade 12. CIS follows the British curriculum but satisfies most American requirements. Grades 10-12 are geared to the British A-level equivalent, requiring American students to do additional coursework before entering most U.S. colleges and universities.


Dependent Education

Away From Post Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM Older children usually attend American-style, coeducational boarding schools, such as Woodstock and Kodaikanal. (For more information, see Education under New Delhi and Chennai.)

The Mongrace Montessori School, located 3 blocks from the Consulate General, is excellent for preschoolers (age 3 and over). Most schools give admission preferences to diplomatic personnel.

The school calendar varies among the schools, but most continue throughout the year with a month-long break in December to January, and a 1-month break during the summer months of May and June.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 7/6/2003 11:05 PM

Many sports are available—golf, tennis, swimming, horseback riding, rowing, squash, soccer, cricket, polo, horseracing, and field hockey. Squash is played on European-sized courts with imported English squash balls (softer than American balls). Swimming pools are located at the consul general's home and at several private clubs.

Bring sports equipment, shoes, and clothing. White shorts, shirts, and tennis dresses can be made locally. Tennis balls and rackets are available. Squash balls are difficult to obtain. Golf and tennis balls from the ACSA Co-op are expensive. Golfers may use either English or American-sized golf balls. Importation of firearms is prohibited.

Most Americans pay to join a private club for the social life and sports facilities. The Tollygunge Club, about 30 minutes from central Calcutta, has two swimming pools, an impressive18 hole golf course, clay court tennis, horseback riding and equestrian events, five bars, and two restaurants serving, respectively, Indian and Continental food. The club is popular with the local expatriate community, and enjoys a cosmopolitan membership.

The Saturday Club, approximately two blocks from the Consulate General and U.S. Government-owned quarters, has clay tennis courts, a swimming pool, library, restaurant, and lawn. The Calcutta Swimming Club has a large outdoor swimming pool, dining room and bar. All three clubs accept single women as members.

The Bengal Club offers its older, conservative membership a quiet atmosphere for business luncheons and dinner parties. The Calcutta Club is the most prestigious among Bengalis, and caters largely to the professional community. The South Club and International Club are popular with tennis players. The Rowing Club uses a small lake in south Calcutta, and the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, with an 18-hole course, has been in continuous operation since 1829, and is the oldest golf club outside the U.K.

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

A drive on the Grand Trunk Road along the Hooghly River reveals glimpses of bygone splendor in Calcutta. Boat rides are available at Diamond Harbor and Kakdwip, a 2-hour drive from Calcutta.

The ocean resorts of Puri and Gopalpur lie about 300 miles southwest on the Bay of Bengal and may be reached by overnight train. Hotel accommodations are moderate to poor. Visitors may swim and surf. Also on the Bay of Bengal, and only 4 hours from Calcutta by road, is Digha, which has limited accommodations.

The temples and caves of Bhubaneswar, Puri, Konark, and other historic towns are 275 miles southwest of Calcutta in Orissa. The largest collection of white tigers in the world is in the Nandankanan Biological Park, near Bhubaneswar. Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is about 700 miles northwest of Calcutta. The hill station town of Darjeeling is an hour's flight or an overnight train ride from Calcutta.

Permits are required to visit Sikkim, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, and the scenic Andaman Islands, a 2-hour flight from Calcutta. Good snorkeling, scuba diving, moderately priced hotels, and tours are available. Some rental snorkeling and scuba gear is available. The peak holiday season is November through April.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Calcutta has good hotel restaurants with international cuisine and live dance bands. Americans also dine at local Indian and Chinese restaurants.

Several movie theaters regularly screen European and American films, but facilities are poor. Periodically, the American Center presents programs on American film classics. The British Council and the Max Mueller Bhavan also show films.

A multisystem VCR is useful but difficult to buy locally. Local video clubs have good copies of a wide array of current Western films.

Calcutta is known as the creative capital of India. Bengalis are lively, talkative, and outgoing people. During the cool season, Calcutta comes alive with Indian poetry, music, drama, painting, sculpture, and dance programs. The Calcutta School of Music presents occasional chamber music concerts. Visiting vocal, instrumental, and dance artists perform several times a year.

The Birla Planetarium has daily lectures and demonstrations, except on Mondays. The Zoological Gardens with its white tigers, and the Agri-Horticultural Society are located in Alipur. There are also the Botanical Gardens in Sibpur.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

In addition to the many dinners and functions which take place in the home, many clubs are available for membership. The Lions and Rotary Clubs welcome members of all nationalities. The Consular Corps of Calcutta has monthly luncheon meetings. Many organizations welcome the participation of foreign women in their educational and charitable activities, including local orphanages and Mother Teresa's institutions.

Official Functions Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Social life for official Americans in Calcutta is closely connected to official business. The consul general and the PAO attend social functions year round. Consulate General staff are also active socially with Indians and members of the international community. New arrivals call on the principal officer immediately after arrival. The consul general and the PAO should bring about 100 calling cards. More can be printed or engraved locally.

Special Information Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Post Orientation Program

Language instruction in Bengali or Hindi is sometimes offered to employees and dependents.

Consulate General - Chennai

Post City Last Updated: 3/21/2005 6:09 AM

Chennai, known as Madras until 1996, the capital of Tamil Nadu, lies on the shore of the Bay of Bengal, about 900 miles north of the Equator. With a population of roughly 8 million, Chennai is the fourth largest city in India and the major industrial, business, and cultural center of South India. Founded by the British in the early 17th century as their first trading and military post in South Asia, Chennai has continued to grow with very little planning. Modern concrete and glass buildings are often flanked by small shops, thatched huts, and vacant lots. Major streets bustle with bicycles, scooters, handcarts, oxcarts, buses, and long-distance trucks. The pace of life is a little slower than in Mumbai, but catching up fast. Although agriculture is still practiced by 70% of the population in South India, the consumer, engineering, and computer software industries are experiencing rapid growth.

Chennai is one of India's more pleasant major cities and is spread out over 50 kilometers. However, it experiences poor sanitation and overcrowding. All U.S. Government housing is air-conditioned to provide comfort in the heat and humidity, as well as to control mildew. (See Area, Geography, and Climate under The Host Country for more information.)

The population is 90% Hindu, with large Muslim and Christian minorities. Most men wear Western dress (button up shirt and pants), although the traditional wear of jibba, veshti and lungi is still worn by many men. South Indian women typically wear saris, although the North Indian tunic sets are gaining popularity. South India is famous for Carnatic music and classical dance in the Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, and Kuchipudi styles.

English is spoken by about 10%-15% of the people in South India. Tamil is the primary language in the Chennai, although most people know some English.

(For information on automobiles at post, see the Transportation Section under The Host Country and the Customs, Duties, and Passage Section under Notes for Travelers.)

(For health information, see the Health and Medicine section under The Host Country and the Passage section under Notes for Travelers.)

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 3/21/2005 6:15 AM

The Consulate General is located near the heart of the city at Gemini Circle, Anna Salai (Mount Road), Chennai 600006. The main telephone numbers, 91-44-2811-2000 and 2811-2010, are also used for after-hours and weekend calls. (See the Communications section under The Host Country for fax and telex information). A duty officer is available in case of an emergency.

The Consulate General is housed in a well-designed building, which was dedicated in 1969. The consular district served by Chennai includes the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu as well as the Union Territory of Pondicherry. Twenty-eight direct hire Americans, five eligible family members, one member of household and 191 Foreign Service Nationals (FNs) work for State and the Foreign Commercial Service and OBO. In addition to the 28 direct-hire Americans, the communite consists of 39 family members (19 spouses, 20 children). As staffing levels are on the rises, the communite will continue to grow over the years. The Consulate also houses the American Information Resource Center (AIRC), which has a 16,000-volume library, a 200-seat theater, and the United States Educational Foundation in India (USEFI).

The consul general is responsible for the overall management of the post. American officers are assigned as heads of the following Sections: Consular, Public Affairs (formerly known as USIS), Political/Economic, and Administrative. The Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are also headed by an American officer. The CLO provides a variety of support services to the Consulate General community.

Employees should notify post of their arrival date, time, and flight number. Be aware that flight schedules change suddenly and delays are common. All new arrivals are met at the airport by their sponsors and are settled into comfortable quarters.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 3/21/2005 6:24 AM

Most new officers and their families assigned to Chennai are taken directly to their permanent quarters. Occasionally, they are temporarily placed in an apartment or on rare occasions, they are placed in a local hotel.

Chennai has several good hotels: the Taj Coromandel, the Chola Sheraton and the Park, all located near the Consulate General; the Taj Connemara, located in the central business district; and the Park Sheraton Hotel and Towers, located south of the central business district near many Consulate General residences; and the Trident, located farther out near the airport. Taxis are readily available near the airport and five-star hotels. Three-wheel auto-rickshaws are also plentiful, but are less safe. The Western-standard hotels in Chennai have air-conditioned rooms, serve Western as well as Indian cuisine, and are similarly priced as comparable hotels in the other Consulate General cities.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 3/21/2005 6:32 AM

Permanent housing consists of both government-owned and leased dwellings. Most government-owned quarters are situated near other U.S.-owned houses in quasi-compounds located south of the Consulate General. Four of the houses are independent, located closer to the Consulate General and the center of town. The flooring in all houses in Chennai is tile or some other form of hard flooring. The Consulate provides a couple of large squares of carpeting. The carpets are neutral in color as are the walls in all Consulate houses. Most bathrooms are white. The individual houses in our housing pool have landscaped and fenced yards while the apartments do not have a yard. The Housing Board makes assignments based on availability, rank and family size. The Consul General's residence has a pool and tennis court that all official Americans and their dependents may use. All the homes have at least two bedrooms and at least two full baths, spacious living and dining rooms, and kitchens that range from adequate to large. All residences have white interior paint, air conditioning, and ceiling fans in most rooms. Many residences also have detached servants' quarters. As post continues to grow, some officers will live in individual houses and apartments closer to the beach and the American International School but farther away from the Consulate.


Furnishings Last Updated: 3/21/2005 6:41 AM

All houses are fully furnished with rugs, lamps, and basic furniture in the dining room, living room, and bedrooms. Each residence is provided U.S. appliances: refrigerator, upright freezer, gas stove, washing machine, dryer and vacuum cleaner. Local baby cribs are available through the Consulate General, although families may prefer U.S. cribs that meet Federal safety standards. Reasonably priced dhurries and carpets in silk, cotton, or wool may be purchased locally to supplement government-provided rugs. Garden-type cane or wrought iron chairs and tables are supplied at most residences for outdoor entertaining. Employees may wish to bring their own grill or hibachi.

A Welcome Kit is made available to all new arrivals, until their UAB and HHE have arrived. This Kit includes bedding, kitchen and cooking items, towels, and other necessities.

Because most Americans in Chennai entertain primarily at teas, luncheons, cocktail parties and dinners, a good supply of table linens, dishes, glassware and flatware is necessary.

The mini-commissary at the consulate also has a supply of plates, glasses, silverware, and chafing dishes that can be rented for parties. Inexpensive import quality tablecloths, napkins, and place mats are available locally, including lovely hand-woven, embroidered, and lace items. Some inexpensive dishes, glassware, and flatware are available in Chennai. Locally made towels and washcloths are of good quality and are inexpensive. Flat, but not fitted, sheets can be purchased locally. They are not, however, standard U.S. sizes, and are 100% cotton. Several lightweight blankets are useful and are available, but quality is not equal to those made in the U.S.

Bring sturdy and durable kitchen equipment, pots, pans, and plastic storage containers. An extensive selection of stainless steel cooking items is available at very reasonable prices. Brass is also of good quality and easily found. Silver tarnishes rapidly and must be stored in closed cabinets. Note that most locally made metal pots are not designed to withstand the temperatures of U.S. ovens and ranges. Good plastic pails, basins, and the like are available locally.

No damage to oil paintings or books from the Chennai climate has been noted; however, prints should be carefully mounted to limit damage due to high humidity and insects. Children's toys, such as Barbie dolls (including Bindi Barbi dressed in a sari) and Matchbox cars are available and inexpensive, but the selection is limited. Stuffed toys are available in limited varieties.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 3/21/2005 6:42 AM

All Government-owned houses are 220v, 50-cycle, AC. Household appliances wired for 110v current can be used with step-down transformers provided by the Consulate General. All houses have an emergency generator. Recent renovations of kitchens in the residences have included 110v and 220v outlets. Several houses have been modernized, and further upgrades will depend upon the availability of funds.

Food Last Updated: 3/21/2005 7:17 AM

Most fruits and vegetables are available locally and of good quality. A variety of good nuts can be bought at most stores as well, such as almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, peanuts and cashews.

Beef, chicken, mutton, lamb, pork and occasionally veal are available. The government occasionally imposes bans on imported beef. During those times all five-star restaurants get their own supply and still serve beef on the menu. The cost of all meats, except lamb and chicken, is less than in the U.S. Turkey is also available, but the quality is poor. U.S. meat and poultry may be ordered from the ACSA Co-op at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. (See the Food Section under New Delhi for more information on the ACSA Co-op.)

Fresh seafood (fish, lobster, crab, and shrimp) is available and reasonably priced. Eggs are plentiful and their quality is good. UHT long-life milk or powdered milk is used by many foreigners for both drinking and cooking. Good-quality cream is available locally, but the supply is not dependable. Fresh milk should always be boiled. Baby food and formula are also available locally, but the quality is questionable.

Staff members have access to the Consulate General's mini-commissary, which stocks top-quality frozen meats from Bangalore (beef fillets, hamburger, roasts, veal scaloppini and cutlets, chicken breasts and fryer parts, and leg of lamb). The commissary also sells soft drinks, beer, duty-free liquor, some dry goods and a variety of frozen items.

A wide selection of items is available from the ACSA Co-op in New Delhi. Orders are placed periodically, and transportation accounts for an additional 20% of the cost. (See the Food Section under New Delhi for more information.)

According to U.S. regulations, a consumables allowance is authorized and is available for diplomats, provided that the order is initiated within the first year after arrival at post. For nondiplomats, the order must be initiated within three months of arrival at post. Employees with the one-year facility may wish to split their shipment, planning a follow-on order after they have arrived at post. Recommended items include soaps for laundry, dishes and bath; paper products (toilet paper, dish towels, tissues, and plates); baby articles (food, formula, and cloth and paper diapers); toiletries, including deodorant, hair spray, hair gel and mousse; cosmetics, vitamins, and medicines; favorite canned food; fruit juices; long-life cheese products; Western spices; cocoa; dry yeast; specialty pastas; and any other processed food normally used in an American kitchen. Baked products (cakes, breads, cookies, etc. are) of good quality are readily available with bakeries and breadshop outlets throughout the city, but if you have a favorite cake or cookie, consider bringing your own mix. Local ingredients for home-baked goods are fair in quality. Items such as flours, yeast, baking soda, and baking powder are available in most food stores. Kelloggs is producing good-quality breakfast cereals. Due to strict vegetarian diets among South Indians, most pasta products do not contain eggs and therefore have a different consistency than U.S. brands.


Men Last Updated: 3/21/2005 11:37 PM

American men usually wear short-sleeved or long-sleeved dress shirts or bush shirts and slacks in the office, although a sports coat or suit may be necessary for an important appointment or official function. American women's office dress is similar to that worn in U.S. offices during the summer.

The vast majority of luncheons and evening functions are casual. A white dinner jacket or tuxedo is almost never used.


Women Last Updated: 3/21/2005 11:42 PM

Materials for women's summer clothing are excellent, inexpensive, and easily available in Chennai, although notions (e.g., elastic, thread, and zippers) are not of the highest quality. Frequent laundering, tropical sunlight, and perspiration combine to shorten the life of clothing. Since there is little seasonal change, cottons are worn year round. Indian dress (two-piece salwar/kameez outfits and saris) is popular for casual as well as formal wear. Cool cotton summer clothes that cover you well are recommended. Chennai is very conservative. Also, if you are hard to fit in clothes or shoes, bring more of your own until you can have clothes made to order here.

Chennai is a center for a great variety of export-quality handloom silks and cotton textiles. Many women bring a good supply of summer dresses from the U.S. and add locally made garments to their wardrobes. Excellent local tailors can copy almost anything and several good designers in town can design clothes or copy from pictures. Long dresses are very rarely worn at evening garden parties and dinners. A few social functions in Chennai are more formal, so one or two cocktail-type dresses might be needed. Although nylon stockings are not usually worn in the heat and humidity of Chennai, a few pairs should be included for special dress occasions and visits to colder parts of India.

Bring several swimsuits and other sport clothes, including shoes for tennis, jogging, and riding. Shoes with Western styling and quality are difficult to find, though both inexpensive dress and casual sandals are available locally up to shoe size 9. A good supply of undergarments is also recommended, as local versions are not designed or sized to American tastes. Keep in mind that cotton is the most comfortable fabric for the Chennai climate.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 3/21/2005 11:51 PM

Bring cosmetics, nail polish, home permanents, hair color, mosquito repellant, ant traps, perfumes, sprays, and sanitary needs from the U.S. Beauticians prefer American products if customers can supply them. Electric hairdryers are useful.

Most medicines and drugs are available, although the brand names differ and quality control is inadequate. Employees are advised to bring their own supply. Most medicines cost less than in the U.S. Vitamins are available, though not in combination supplements. Chennai water supply does not have fluoride added. The Regional Medical Officer recommends vitamins with fluoride added for children.

Other useful items to bring are toys, greeting cards for certain U.S. holidays, tennis balls, Christmas decorations, artificial Christmas trees, ribbon, birthday party decorations as well as gifts for children. UNICEF, Hallmark and local Christmas cards are available.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services Last Updated: 3/21/2005 11:52 PM

Hairdressers and barbers are adequate and inexpensive. Drycleaning facilities exist but are of low quality. Laundry is usually done by a part-time laundry person (dhobi) or a housekeeper in your home. Several good electronic and electrical repair services are available. Auto repair work is below US standard. Because foreign parts are hard to find and expensive to order, include these items in your HHE. (See the Transportation Section under The Host Country for suggested automotive supplies to bring.) As unleaded fuel is readily available in and around Chennai, there is no need to remove the catalytic converter from vehicles before they are shipped.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 3/22/2005 0:01 AM

Servants are an asset in Chennai. Most single employees or childless couples employ only a cook-bearer (combination cook, cleaner, and butler), a gardener (mali) and a personal driver. Those with children may want to hire a children's nurse (ayah) as well. The average cost for a housekeeper is $75-100 a month; $100-150 per month for a personal driver; $75-100 for an aya (depending on the hours) and $40-75 per month for a gardener. In addition to salaries, uniforms are provided, and an annual bonus (one month's salary for each year of service) is customary. Most employers provide weekly tea and food money.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 3/22/2005 0:15 AM The American International School in Chennai (AISC), which opened in August 1995, offers classes from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. AISC is an independently operated American-sponsored school, which often receives small grants from the U.S. Department of State. It is governed by a Board of Directors composed of parents of the children attending AISC and Consular personnel. AISC is the only English-medium school that uses the American system. The school year runs from mid-August to early June. The school staff is composed of 45 full-time teachers, 3 part-time teachers, 8 teacher aides, 2 librarians and a guidance counselor. As of February 2005, 36 students were enrolled in preschool through kindergarten and 252 students are enrolled in Grades 1-12. Approximately 25% of the students are American citizens.

Inquiries regarding admission may be addressed to the U.S. Consulate General, Community Liaison Office. Dependents may preregister by cabling the names, dates of birth, grade level, and arrival dates to post before arrival.


Dependent Education

Away From Post Last Updated: 3/22/2005 0:49 AM Older children may attend the Kodaikanal International School, a boarding school located in a delightful hill station about 350 miles southwest of Chennai. Parents can make frequent weekend visits, traveling either by overnight train, or by flying to Madurai, and then taking a taxi to the school. Children attending Kodaikanal School should bring warm clothing and blankets, as it is 7,000 feet above sea leavel. It never freezes in Kodai, nor is it unpleasantly hot. (See the Education, Away From Post Section under New Delhi for more information.) Consult the Educational Support Officer at the Family Liaison Office in Washington, D.C., for information on other educational resources outside India.


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 3/22/2005 0:57 AM

A few teachers of Western music live in Chennai. Though not imported commercially, some pianos are available for rent. The quality of piano instruction is adequate for beginning and intermediate students.

Private instruction is available in classical South Indian dancing, instrumental music, philosophy, and yoga. Several famous yoga instructors reside in Chennai.

In Chennai, colleges are affiliated with the University of Madras; however, few admissions are granted to foreigners.

The Government College of Arts and Crafts offers instruction in painting, sculpture, and handicrafts. Interested persons may arrange private lessons from staff members.

People interested in learning Tamil or other Indian languages can arrange for private tutorials either at the Consulate or in their homes.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 3/22/2005 1:01 AM

The consul general's home has a tennis court and swimming pool, for staff use. Americans occasionally join the Madras Club, the Cosmopolitan Club, or the Chennai Gymkhana Club. All have swimming pools and tennis courts where whites are customarily worn. The Cosmopolitan Club and Chennai Gymkhana have marginal golf courses.

Bring sports equipment, such as golf clubs, tennis rackets, and balls. Tennis balls are available at high prices from the ACSA Co-op in New Delhi. Good equipment for volleyball, hockey, badminton, and soccer is available locally.

Several new gyms have sprung up all over Chennai and one can join a local gym for about $25-35 per month. The Consulate also houses a small gym for everyone to use.

There are several riding schools in and around Chennai that offer riding lessons.

The Chennai Hash House Harriers organize biweekly runs around the city for individuals and families.

Laws in the southern states make the sport of hunting almost impossible. Do not import weapons into India.

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 3/22/2005 1:03 AM

The ancient rock carvings at Mamallapuram (also called Mahabalipuram), the temple cities of Kanchipuram, the French colonial town of Pondicherry, and the temples at Madurai are only a few of the many places worth seeing in and around Chennai. Facilities for sightseeing are improving every year. Adequate overnight accommodations exist in hotels, clubs, guesthouses of business concerns, or government-run tourist bungalows.

The beach in Chennai (called the Marina) is not considered usable for health reasons. Many Americans use a resort area 35 kilometers south of the city for swimming and sunbathing. Here, you can rent a beach house for weekends and holidays. However, be aware of the powerful undertow, and avoid leaving the beach line. Employees who plan to use the beach should bring a sufficient supply of sunscreen.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 3/22/2005 1:26 AM

Most employees bring a VCR and TV to post. With multisystem VCR and TV equipment, you can view local TV, American videos, and local videos from one of the many clubs in Chennai. Local video clubs are continually expanding their selection of DVDs.

All residences may be hooked up to a local cable operator that offers a large selection of channels, many of which are in Tamil and Hindi, but which also include the English-medium Star TV, BBC World Service, ESPN, Star Movies, CNN, the Discovery Channel, MTV, HBO, Action Network, Hallmark and TNT.

The Government Art Gallery has a small collection of contemporary art, and exhibits by individual artists are displayed periodically. The Government Museum exhibits a world-famous collection of early and medieval temple sculpture and an outstanding collection of bronze art.

There are many good restaurants in Chennai, ranging from those in five-star hotels, to private clubs and small take-away establishments. Indian, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Korean, French, Thai, and Continental are among the many kinds of cuisine that Chennai has to offer. New restaurants are always popping up. Newer additions include Pizza Hut, Domino's, Whistle Stop Café (Mediterranean food) and a sports bar.

There are a few bars and nightclubs in Chennai as well where people gather on the weekends.

The Community Liaison Officer (CLO) leads regular trips to various locations in and around Chennai as well as weekend trips to other parts of South India.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 3/22/2005 1:31 AM Several informal groups meet regularly for bridge, mahjong, snooker, and Scottish Dancing. There are two women's groups that are popular with the expatriate community. The Overseas Women's Club (OWC) is open to foreign passport holders. Although it concentrates on fundraising to support local charities, it also provides some support and orientation to newcomers. The OWC published a book entitled At Home in Madras: A Handbook for Chennai, which is an excellent resource for persons setting up residence in Chennai. Originally published in 1995, this handbook was recently revised. Once you're posted to Chennai you may want to contact either the CLO or your sponsor to obtain a copy of the book before your arrival.

The International Women's Association (IWA) is an Indian/International organization that provides a social network. Activities and programs are centered around cross-cultural exchanges, friendship, and goodwill between the Indian and the expatriate community in Chennai. Monthly programs include topics on philosophy/religion, health/ecology, current events, tours/travel, cooking swapshop, book discussions, and arts/handicrafts. The recently established American Social Club sponsors holiday parties and country western dances.

Social life is centered in the home for Indians and Westerners alike. Consumption and importation of alcohol is tightly controlled. Certain clubs, restaurants, and hotel permit rooms may serve Indian liquor and wines. The Consulate spouses gather for regular teas and lunches.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

International Contacts Last Updated: 3/22/2005 1:32 AM South Indians are hospitable, easygoing, and pleasant. Entertaining at home consists of dinner parties and buffet suppers, occasional cocktail parties, and large receptions. Many Indians do not serve alcohol.

Third-country nationals in Chennai are largely members of the consular corps and business community from the U.K., Japan, Korea, Germany, Russia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Sri Lanka. About 20 honorary consuls reside in Chennai. The Consulate General of France is located in Pondicherry, a former French territory.

Official Functions Last Updated: 3/22/2005 1:33 AM

Official functions in Chennai are held in conjunction with VIP visits, staff travel to outlying cities, transfers to and from post and periodically throughout the year. The most common event is a cocktail party or buffet supper. A business suit or bush/sport shirt is the appropriate dress for most functions. "Easy dress" usually means a sport shirt for men, though women get more dressed up. On very rare occasions, a tuxedo or dinner jacket is worn.

Good-quality calling cards are inexpensive and very useful. Initially, you will need about 100 calling cards. They can be printed or engraved locally in a few days.

Special Information Last Updated: 3/22/2005 1:44 AM

All newcomers are assigned a sponsor who meets them at the airport, assists with customs and immigration formalities, and transports them to their quarters. A Welcome Kit is assigned to newcomers (dishes, cutlery, cookware, toaster, kettle, bed linens, and towels). After pickup by the shipping company in the U.S., air-freight takes up to six weeks to reach Chennai. Surface freight from the U.S. averages 2-4 months from the time of its turnover to the U.S. Dispatch Agent. All shipments should be packed in waterproof containers.

British Airliens and Lufthansa have direct flights from the Europe to Chennai. For long flights, a midpoint layover is recommended. Other major international airlines fly into India through Mumbai and New Delhi. Many officers assigned to Chennai transit through New Delhi with a one-day stopover to visit the Embassy before proceeding to post. Lufthansa operates daily flights from Chennai. British Airlines flies only on Wednesdays and Sundays. There is recent news that Delta Airlines is in the process of operating from Chennai very soon. Transiting Mumbai is not recommended.

Chennai employees are authorized R&R travel to either the U.S. or London. Business class is not authorized for R&R. For any other point out of the US, the ticket can be cost-constructed up to London on Full Fare Economy class. Diplomats who are traveling to Tokyo, Uganda, Bangkok and Australia must get a visa prior to departure. Countries other than Australia issue gratis visas for diplomats.

The hill station of Kodaikanal can be reached by overnight train and offers a respite from the heat, especially during the steamy months of April, May, and June. The other hill stations of Ootacamund (Ooty) and Bangalore also offer a cool climate and change of scenery. For those who wish to travel farther afield, Kerala, Sri Lanka, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, the Maldives, and Singapore can be reached with ease from Chennai. Families occasionally work in a trip to northern India, Agra (to see the Taj Mahal), or Rajasthan during official trips to the Embassy in New Delhi.

Post Orientation Program

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi offers an annual orientation program. Chennai employees and their dependents are invited to attend at their own expense. Transportation costs must be covered by the employee and dependents for travel. Several employees have had their travel orders amended to permit them to travel through Delhi on their way to Chennai. The Community Liaison Office in Chennai offers a basic orientation to Chennai to all employees and family members.

Consulate General - Mumbai

Post City Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

The Government of Maharashtra changed the name of the city of Bombay to Mumbai in December 1995. With a population of more than 16 million, greater Mumbai now outranks Calcutta as the largest urban area in India. Mumbai is India's most western city, and yet the most representative of India's diverse populations.

Mumbai occupies two islands on the west coast of India in Maharashtra state. The Consulate General is located in a former palace on the western side of the island city, facing the Arabian Sea. The eastern side looks out over a great natural harbor, unrivaled elsewhere on the subcontinent, that provides 75 square miles of sheltered, deep water.

At the southern end of the city lies the sweeping, 3-mile curve of Back Bay, fringed by a boulevard whose lights—brightly gleaming at night—are known locally as the Queen's Necklace.

The downtown business area is flanked to the north by a belt of thriving markets or bazaars that sell everything from essential foodstuffs to luxury items. Beyond the bazaars, Mumbai is a hodgepodge of densely crowded tenements, slum areas, factories, cotton mills, railway lines, and crowded streets.

Mumbai provides about one-third of India's income tax revenue and two-fifths of the country's total revenue from air- and seaborne trade. It has the country's busiest stock exchange and the largest concentration of industries. More U.S. banks and manufacturing companies are located in Mumbai than in any other city in India. By far India's busiest port, Mumbai handles twice the tonnage of Calcutta and Cochin. The Indian film industry, known as Bollywood and whose capital is Mumbai, produces more movies than any other place in the world.

Nearly 70% of Mumbai residents are Hindus. Muslims account for another 15%. The remainder of the population is composed of Christians (mainly Catholics), Buddhists, Jains, Jews, Parsees, and Sikhs—often influential minorities, though few in number. Most of the estimated 5,000 Americans in the Mumbai consular district are of Indian ancestry.

Americans have few language problems in Mumbai. English is widely used in government and business circles. Service personnel often have a poor understanding of English, speaking instead Marathi or Gujarati. Most domestic employees speak some English and Goan or Konkani.

(For information on automobiles at post, see the Transportation Section under the Host Country in addition to the Customs and Duties Section under Notes for Travelers. For health information, see Health and Medicine in the Host Country Section and Passage under Notes for Travelers.)

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

The Consulate General is located at Lincoln House, 78 Bhulabhai Desai Road, Mumbai 400 026. Bhulabhai Desai Road is also known as Warden Road. The Political/Economic, Administrative, and Consular Sections are housed here. The consul general's home is also at Lincoln House.

Telephone numbers for the Consulate are 91-22-363-3611-18. These numbers are available 24 hours daily. Office hours are 8:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 1:45-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The American Center is located at Sundeep, 4 New Marine Lines, telephone 262-4590. American Information and Resource Center office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1:30-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The Mumbai consular district includes the four states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Goa (including the two territories of Daman and Diu).


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

New arrivals usually move directly into permanent quarters. On occasion, transient quarters will be necessary for brief periods.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Living in Mumbai means living in an apartment. Due to scarcity of land and the high cost of real estate, there are very few single family dwellings left in Mumbai. The U.S. Government currently owns one apartment building, Washington House, which contains 9 apartments (a mixture of two- and three-bedroom units), and leases a number of residential apartments in several other buildings. Most of these apartments have two or three bedrooms with limited storage space. Newcomers are provided with Hospitality Kits containing a basic set of dishes, cooking utensils, towels, and bed linens, which must be returned upon receipt of HHE.


Furnishings Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

The U.S. Government provides basic furniture for each Government-owned or -leased apartment plus draperies and rugs.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Electricity in Mumbai is 220v, 50-cycle, AC. Electrical power in Mumbai is relatively stable; however, employees with high-value electronic equipment, such as personal computers, are well advised to obtain a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) for each device. All Government-owned and Government-leased quarters are equipped with electric ranges, refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers, and telephones. Apartments usually have one air-conditioner for each bedroom and one for the living/dining area. The post supplies a vacuum cleaner and a limited number of stepdown transformers needed to operate 110v appliances. Television is broadcast in PAL; therefore employees wishing to view local television should obtain a PAL-compatible TV. Multisystem televisions and VCR's that are compatible with PAL television specifications (not all multisystems are) work well. NTSC (i.e., American television broadcast specification) does not work in Mumbai. All apartments now owned or leased by the Consulate General are hooked up to cable TV. Local cable TV companies broadcast CNN, BBC, TNT, Discovery Channel, Cartoon Network, various sporting events, old American TV shows, and, often, fairly recent movies.

Food Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Most basic food items are available locally. Beef has become increasingly scarce since the ascension to Maharashtra state power of a Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, in 1994. Mutton, pork, ham, and chicken are readily available. A broad variety of fresh seafood is available in the dry seasons, including many kinds of fish, prawns, lobster, and crab. A good variety of vegetables is found in plentiful supply year round—tomatoes, green peppers, potatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, beets, beans, onions, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, and okra. Lettuce and celery are available. Many wonderful fruits are available at different times of the year—papaya, mangoes, pineapples, oranges, tangerines, grapes, peaches, pears, plums, apples, and strawberries. Prices of fruits and vegetables can be as much as 80% less than prices in the U.S.

Many canned and dry goods can be found on the local market. White flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar (very coarse), confectioners' sugar, tea, coffee (ground or beans), juices, jellies, gelatins, crackers, potato chips, excellent nuts, dried beans and lentils, and locally bottled soft drinks such as Pepsi, Coca Cola, 7-Up, orange soda, club soda, and tonic water are all available. Local dairy products such as fresh milk, cream, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese are available. However, the fresh milk and cream are generally not considered safe unless they are boiled before use. It is safer to use long-life milk, which is available locally. Specialty items such as pat‚, cheese, and olive oil can be found, as can many American products (Tang and Hershey's Chocolate Syrup), but the prices are high.

Even though most food items are available in Mumbai, American products are found only intermittently and are expensive, often six times the normal price. A consumables allowance of 2,500 pounds is given to all foreign affairs agencies assigned to Mumbai. Employees should take advantage of the consumables allowance.

Consulate General employees may join ACSA in New Delhi and order imported groceries, beer, wine, and liquor from the Co-op there. Orders are submitted monthly and received 4-6 weeks later. Mumbai also has its own mini Co-op which is associated with the ACSA Co-op for the convenience of the employees at post. Prices at both facilities are high.

Clothing Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Because of the heat and humidity in Mumbai, lightweight, washable clothing is a must. Although offices, apartments, and cars of American employees are air-conditioned, the same is not true of Indian homes and offices. Even in the coolest months, polyester blends are uncomfortably warm. Clothing, including underwear, made of 100% cotton is best. Bring clothing for cooler climates for travel to the mountain and desert areas of India and for planned or unexpected trips to Europe, the U.S., or other parts of the globe in winter.

Sports attire is informal in Mumbai, but whites are generally used on tennis courts.


Men Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

In the office men wear short- or long-sleeved dress shirts, often with a tie and dress trousers, or more casual washable trousers such as khakis. At business meetings and official evening social affairs, men are usually expected to wear coats and ties. Men should bring at least two or three suits.

Cotton dress shirts and sports shirts are available in Mumbai, but employees will probably want to bring a supply of their own, since the quality is not quite the same as in the U.S. Bring a supply of ties, socks, cotton underwear, and shoes. Good sandals and slippers are sold locally, but dress shoes are not satisfactory. Bring athletic shoes, bathing suits, and clothing for sports activities (tennis, volleyball, squash). Either a dark suit or tuxedo is appropriate for the occasional black-tie function. Some better quality men's clothing can be purchased in Benetton. Good quality athletic shoes are not available locally. Casual waterproof shoes are helpful to have to wear to the office during the monsoon.


Women Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

In the office, women wear nice dresses (or dress blouses and slacks), and business shoes. At business meetings and official evening events, more formal attire is appropriate. For other times, inexpensive, lightweight cotton dresses, blouses, skirts, shorts, and slacks are available locally. On Fashion Street, an open fair-market dealing in seconds, dresses and skirts are sold for $2-$3. Better quality clothing can be found at shops like Benetton.

Readymade Indian suits (salwar kameez) and saris in beautiful design may be worn for casual and formal occasions. Silk saris can be tailored into dresses and suits. Accessories such as belts, scarves, and costume jewelry are inexpensive. Shoes and sandals are available, but the quality is not as good as in the U.S. Leather purses in a multitude of colors and styles are sold at reasonable prices.

Bring some nice dresses for dinners and cocktail parties and the occasional black-tie function; they can also be made locally. Quality silks and cottons are available here.


Children Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Children's clothing should be lightweight and washable. Bring a supply of cotton underwear, bathing suits (and other swimming necessities), and shoes. Cotton T-shirts and shorts are available, but bring a supply. Also, bring rubber boots and umbrellas. Infant supplies are sold locally, but are not up to Western standards. Bring plenty of lightweight clothing and diapers. Cloth or disposable diapers can be obtained locally but at prices far exceeding those in the U.S.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Shopping in Mumbai is interesting. The city has many handicraft shops that specialize in crafts from many parts of India, especially Kashmir and Gujarat—gemstones, embroidery, leather goods, antiques, carved screens, brass, gold items, and carpets.

Bring a supply of film. Black-and-white and color film is available but expensive. Color slide film is expensive and often stale when available. Certain types of film may be ordered from the commissary in New Delhi. Film can be developed in Mumbai for a reasonable price.

Gasoline is about $3.60 a gallon for 93 octane. Eighty-seven octane, as well as unleaded gasoline, is also available. Gasoline quality is good but not as good as in the U.S. Government employees get the tax refunded with a great deal of paperwork.

U.S. postage stamps are available at the Consulate General's mailroom and can be ordered from the commissary in New Delhi. Lovely writing paper can be found in a wide variety, as can greeting cards for most occasions.

Families should consider bringing toys for birthdays and holidays. Indian toys are not durable and varied. Supplies such as wrapping paper, party favors, birthday paper plates, napkins, and cups are available, but not as nice as the U.S. equivalent.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Beauty salons and barbershops are adequate and inexpensive.

Drycleaners exist, but quality is questionable. If you must have something cleaned, make arrangements through one of the five-star hotels.

Tailors and dressmakers are inexpensive. They can easily copy already existing items (rather than sewing from pictures or patterns). Tailors are not as speedy as in Hong Kong or Bangkok, nor is the finished product as skillfully made, but one can usually find a tailor who does adequate work. Women who prefer to sew their own clothing should bring a sewing machine. Good-quality fabrics are available here, but notions (thread, buttons, fasteners, etc.) are below American standards.

Auto repair and maintenance services are available, but quality is unreliable. Mechanics are unfamiliar with automatic shift transmissions. Scarcity of parts for foreign-made vehicles makes service expensive and slow. (See Host Country, Transportation for automotive supplies to bring.) Local law requires catalytic converters on all new and newly imported vehicles, and unleaded fuel is readily available. Thus, it is essential that catalytic converters not be removed from vehicles prior to shipment from outside India. Many employees buy a right-hand vehicle either before coming to post, or after arrival.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Servants of modest skills are affordable here. Servants can be a significant asset—most people hire at least one. To boil and filter water, to clean and soak fruits and vegetables, and to have someone at the apartment to allow access for repairs and deliveries is a necessity here. A wide variety of job titles and duties characterize domestic helpers in Mumbai, including cooks, bearers, nannies, and drivers. Most employees with families have at least two servants, a cook and a bearer (housekeeper). Families with children normally have a nanny (ayah), and some people hire a driver.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Mumbai has Hindu Temples, Muslim mosques, Christian churches, and Jewish synagogues. Among Christian denominations represented are Roman Catholic, Methodist, Church of Christ, and Episcopalian (Church of England). Services are conducted in English, Hindi, Gujarati, and Marathi.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM The American School of Mumbai (ASB) offers classes from prekindergarten through grade 12. ASB is an American-sponsored school and receives grants from the Department of State. It is the only one of the many English-medium schools to use the American system. The school year runs from mid-August to late May. The school staff numbers 31, including a principal, 18 full-time teachers, special staff, and several aides. The student body is composed of just under 300 at the beginning of school year 2000-2001, 30% American and the remainder other foreign residents of Mumbai. The new school is located roughly 5 miles from the Consulate.

ASB's high school program is operated as an independent course of study with the University of Nebraska correspondence program. ASB modifies the University of Nebraska program by scheduling the students into as normal a school program as possible.

The State Department authorizes away-from-post dependent education allowances for all grades. Most parents send their children to ASB at least through the eighth grade.

Other English-medium schools in Mumbai operate under the British system. Mumbai International School, Cathedral School, and John Cannon are well known. The schools are competitive and children are under great pressure to perform well. Admission is difficult, particularly in lower grades. Few American-type extracurricular activities are available. The school year begins in early June and ends in early April.

Sunflower School and Casa Bambino are two nursery schools located in the residential areas near the Consulate General. Both accept children sooner than ASB does. Though classes are crowded, in recent years American children have been attending Casa Bambino.


Dependent Education

Away From Post Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM If parents do not wish to enroll their high school children in ASB, they may consider two well-known boarding schools in India. Woodstock School is in northern India, and Kodaikanal School is in southern; both have international teaching staffs. (See Education, Away From Post under the New Delhi section for more information.)

For other educational resources outside India, consult the educational support officer at the Family Liaison Office in Washington, D.C.


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Teachers of Hindi are available. Classes are available locally in pottery, Indian cooking, weaving, art, computers, fabric painting, and many other subjects are also available. Coaches are available for tennis and golf.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

The Consulate General's swimming pool and tennis courts (which often double as a basketball court) are used by American employees and their dependents. The Consulate General is currently establishing a Wellness Center in an empty space in the Washington House Compound. It will house a variety of equipment for use by American employees and their immediate families. Most sports activities in Mumbai are centered around various private clubs.

Breach Candy Swimming Bath Trust, located about 2 blocks from the American Consulate General, has two saltwater pools, a lap pool that is partially covered, and an outdoor pool in the shape of prepartition India. Applicants must have a European sponsor to join. The membership fee is $755 and the annual fee is $86. The children's park and playground may be used at Breach Candy free of charge. Visitors may use the pool area for $4 per person during weekdays and $6 and $11 per person during Saturdays and Sundays, respectively.

The Willingdon Sports Club is Mumbai's most prestigious private club. Foreign businessmen and diplomats must have a sponsor, but are admitted under special provisions. The membership fee is $4,000 a year and the annual fee is $215. The only club with a golf course in Mumbai, it also has tennis, badminton, and squash courts, a swimming pool, a library, several restaurants, and gardens often used for large parties.

Mumbai Gymkhana is located in the downtown area near the AIRC. It offers tennis, swimming, badminton, and squash. The membership fee is $6,465 and the deposit is $323 (which is refundable); the monthly fee is $11. Single women diplomats are admitted at a lower rate. Married women cannot be members, but can use the facilities as their husbands' dependents. This club is very popular with Mumbai's young professional crowd.

The Royal Mumbai Yacht Club, located near the Taj Mahal Hotel and the Gateway of India, has sailboats for members to use during the October-May sailing season. Members of Washington, D.C.'s Army-Navy Club are allowed to use the club and the sailboats at no cost. The Colaba Sailing Club also has sailboats and is less expensive.

The Amateur Riders' Club is adjacent to the race course and has riding facilities. It is especially nice for young people who wish to take riding lessons.

Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, and Masonic Lodges are active in Mumbai.

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

There are fascinating sights in and around Mumbai. Newcomers can begin by taking one of the several half-day or full-day city tours arranged by the Government of India Tourist Office. A tour of Victorian architecture of the city and a boat ride from the Gateway of India to Elephanta Caves is worthwhile. There are also many Hindu, Jain, and Muslim shrines to see.

Other daytime outings include trips to the Buddhist temple caves on a jungle-covered hillside at Kanheri, the Portuguese fort city of Bassein, and the Kanala Bird Sanctuary with a fort perched atop a jungle-covered hill.

The three hill stations of Lonavala, Matheran, and Mahableshwar make pleasant weekend excursions. Lonavala has the Karla and Baja Buddhist temple caves and two interesting old hill forts. Matheran has pleasant views, walks, and bridle trails. Mahableshwar is the coolest of all, with attractive views and walks.

Goa, about a 45-minute flight from Mumbai (about $100 round trip), has clean beaches, luxury resort hotels, and historic Portuguese towns. Reservations usually must be made well in advance. Aurangabad, 30 minutes from Mumbai by plane, has the temple caves of Ajunta and Ellora and an old fort at Dalaudabad. A trip to the Taj Mahal at Agra is a must for anyone stationed in India.

(See Host Country, Transportation, for more information on travel in India.)

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Mumbai is a cosmopolitan city where dining out in the many Chinese, French, Italian, and Indian restaurants is popular. Hotels often have discotheques and dance bands in their restaurants. Many new nightclubs have opened throughout Mumbai.

Mumbai is a center for Indian and Western classical music. Well-known Indian and international artists perform in Mumbai's concert halls.

Art and archeology exhibits can be found at the Jehangir Art Gallery and the Prince of Wales Museum. The Museum Society sponsors slide lectures by international and Indian scholars. The Mumbai Natural History Society organizes weekend bird-watching trips and publishes magazines, bird guides, and books on flowering trees. English-language plays by professionals and vintage American and English films can be seen. American action-style films are frequently shown in local theaters.

The AIRC and British Council libraries, Alliance Fran‡aise, and Max Mueller Museum are open to everyone. The Consulate General has a small collection of books on India. Inexpensive paperback books published in India, U.S., and U.K. are available in the several nearby, moderately well-stocked bookstores.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM A small, active American Women's Club holds monthly meetings, and sponsors the Thanksgiving Day dinner on the back lawn of the Consulate General. A small, limited-scope post recreation association hosts an early Friday evening party in the lounge atop Washington House periodically.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

International Contacts Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM An active social life with international contacts is possible in Mumbai. Indians are hospitable people and friendships develop rapidly. Americans are welcome to join the American Alumni Association and the Indo-American Society. Both offer opportunities for contact with Indians interested in the U.S. Indus International is a popular women's organization that features study groups and trips to interesting parts of India. Many business people join the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce.

The Hash House Harriers, an international running group, sponsors a run the last Sunday of each month, an occasional weekend trip to Goa or a hill station, and the Hash Bash (party) every fall.

Single employees who may have initial difficulty in establishing an afterhours social life can meet people through sports, cultural, and special interest activities, as well as through the Young Diplomats of Mumbai, a newly established club that sponsors social activities for local diplomats.

Employees with young children may wish to participate in an informal playgroup with other internationals. Employees may wish to bring books, a music player, a PAL-compatible TV, and a PAL-compatible VCR. (See Host Country, Communications for more information on TV and books.)

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Mumbai is an informal post with few occasions requiring the attendance of all Americans. Buffets and sit-down dinners are the most common form of entertainment, with the meal served late at night. Cocktail parties are frequent.

Official Functions

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

Calling cards are a necessity. Engraving and printing are available here at lower than U.S. prices. Nondiplomatic employees do not need calling cards, but often find them useful. You may want to ask your sponsor to order your cards prior to your arrival as they can take several weeks to obtain.

Special Information Last Updated: 1/31/2002 6:00 PM

The community liaison officer corresponds with employees when they are assigned to Mumbai. Inform the post of any change in arrival date or time via cable.

Newcomers are met at the airport and assisted through customs and immigration formalities and transported to quarters. Each new employee is assigned a sponsor and is given a welcome booklet filled with helpful information. On the first day at post, the Administrative Section will assist with in-processing formalities.

Take ten (10) passport-sized photographs for the Government of Maharashtra identification cards and Indian drivers license. Photographs may also be taken in Mumbai. Bringing an international drivers license and/or an American license will expedite getting an Indian drivers license.

Employment Opportunities. Because of the signing of the bilateral work agreement in April 2000, some spouses may find employment opportunities on the local economy. They can often find employment at the American School of Mumbai as teachers, teachers' aides, and librarian. Spouses who have completed the Consular Associate training may be employed in the Consular Section. In the Consulate General there are currently two positions: Community Liaison Office Coordinator, which is a part-time position (20 hours a week) and the consul general's secretary/admin assistant, a full-time job.

Post Orientation Program

A one-day orientation program is held at post for all newcomers, usually in the mid-fall. The program includes a morning of talks and an afternoon tour of the city. In addition, the administrative officer briefs all new arrivals who are assigned sponsors to assist with the adjustment process, newcomers can attend the annual orientation program at the Embassy in New Delhi held in September at their own expense.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 3/22/2005 1:46 AM

Most employees travel to India by air, crossing the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean, and landing at New Delhi or Mumbai during the early hours of the morning. New employees are met by their sponsors on arrival at the airport and taken to a hotel, temporary quarters or their permanent residences. The sponsor will provide a Welcome Kit from the GSO, and if requested, rupees and bottled mineral water.

Bring the following items:

Passports, tickets (with extra weight allowance, if any), visas. Keep used and unused ticket stubs and coupons for excess baggage and airfreight to support travel claims. Spouse's SF-171/ DS 1950, resumés, transcripts, recommendations, certificates, awards and work records. Original purchase invoice for your automobile, registration and sales papers (describing model, engine serial number, fuel capacity in liters, number of cylinders), title, car insurance (letter from insurance company verifying number of years accident-free driving), bill of lading for car shipment, and marine insurance papers. Original invoice from shipper for HHE, inventory, detailed list of all electronic equipment (with type, model, serial number, date of purchase and value). School records, report cards, transcripts, recommendations, test scores. Medical shot records, medical records (dental records should be mailed), prescriptions, extra eyeglasses or contacts and solutions, medical insurance card/policy information, medical clearances, medications as needed. Drivers license (international and U.S.), are required with their issuance and expiry dates. Tax information for the current year and the previous four years. Birth certificates for each family member, power of attorney, citizenship papers, if any. Credit cards, business addresses, and phone numbers. Duplicate address book (another may be mailed or sent in shipment). Calling cards. Strong umbrella or raincoat if in monsoon season. Clothing for two to four months. Include warm clothing for New Delhi or unexpected travel. Toiletries, sunscreen and insect repellant for two months. Regarding the Fly-America Act, employees must cross the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans on American-flag carriers. They must also fly American-flag carriers or foreign carriers with code sharing arrangements with an American carrier into India.

The KLM/Northwest "code-share" via Amsterdam currently provides daily service between the U.S. and Delhi. Likewise, United Airlines/Lufthansa via Frankfurt and Delta/Air France via Paris have a "code share" service between the U.S. and Delhi. Both also provide daily service out of Delhi.

Delta Airlines provides daily service from Mumbai to the U.S. via Paris. Both Lufthansa/United Airlines via Frankfurt and KLM/Northwest via Amsterdam have daily service. British Airways also provides daily service via London with onward connections on United and other American carriers.

Three times a week, British Airways provides service to to Calcutta (Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays). The city is served by a few foreign carriers with limited services. Overnighting in Bangkok or Singapore is unavoidable. Calcutta is connected with major Indian cities by Indian Airlines, Jet Airways and Sahara Airlines.

From Chennai, there are no direct American carriers to the U.S. There is a Lufthansa/United Airlines code-share flight via Frankfurt which provides daily service. On Wednesdays and Sundays, British Airways flies to London with onward flights to the U.S. via American carriers.

Hand-carried and accompanying luggage will be weighed in some airports. The international limit is 88 pounds for first class and business class and 44 pounds for economy. Carry-on baggage is included in the weight allowances. For first class or clipper class, the two bags checked through from the U.S. to India must not exceed 62 inches in total dimensions (length, width, height). Economy class is limited to two pieces of baggage, each not to exceed 62 inches in total dimensions. The total size of unchecked carry-on baggage is 45 inches. The maximum weight per piece of baggage is 70 pounds. Infants paying 10% of adult fare are allowed one piece of baggage not to exceed 39 inches, plus a fully collapsible stroller, which must be checked. Special provisions apply to odd-shaped or bulky items (skis, golf bags, musical instruments).

If extra weight is authorized, the employee must have a Government Excess Baggage Authority Ticket (GEBAT). Otherwise, excess baggage coupons will be procured at airfare rates on a space-available basis. Airport officials in India may ask passengers to remove batteries from hand-carried items (radio, walkman, camera) and place them in the checked luggage.

Electronic items will attract attention, and customs officials may request the payment of high customs duty or delay them until proper exemption certificates are presented.

Most international flights land in the early hours of the morning—making it about 3:00 or 4:00 AM by the time the newcomer to India gets to a hotel or quarters. Jet-lag takes up to two weeks to fully wear off. Newcomers often find themselves awake and hungry when the rest of India is asleep. Perhaps a good book and a couple of granola bars will carry one through the early hours.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 7/19/2005 4:34 AM

(Note: The term "diplomat" refers only to those on the Diplomatic List. Contact your parent agency for clarification.)

India does not allow the export or import of rupees. Employees may exchange dollars into rupees after arrival at the airport banking facilities or request an initial supply of rupees from their sponsor. The Government of India imposes no limitation on the total amount of travelers checks imported, but sets the currency limit at $10,000. One bottle (750 ml) of alcohol and one bottle (750 ml) of wine may be brought in to India.

Diplomats and Consulate General officers are entitled to duty-free entry Customs privileges throughout their tours. Staff members are accorded duty-free privileges up to four months after arrival. By agreement with the Government of India, direct-hire USAID employees have privileges and immunities comparable to those accorded diplomats. For contract employees, these privileges may vary according to specific contractual provisions. Duty-free entry privileges are extended to all USAID employees assigned to at least a ten-month tour. Other privileges vary depending on the place and nature of the assignment.

Automobiles. !!NEW !! The Government of India (GOI) has imposed additional restrictions on the importation of government and privately owned-vehicles (POV) to India that do not comply with the new EURO III emission standards. These standards came into effect April 01, 2005 and are more stringent than EURO II or current US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. Post has managed to convince GOI Foreign Ministry officials that all vehicles that were manufactured prior to April 01, 2005 and are shipped to India on behalf of US Embassy employees will be required to comply only with the older EURO II or US EPA emission standards.

In order to obtain US EPA emission compliance certificate, employees are requested to contact Mr. Frederick Hart at EPA. He can be contacted at tel: 734-214-4877 and fax 734-214-4869, email address is: hart. . Mr. Hart will take approx. 20 days to mail this certificate; therefore, please do not forget to give your mailing address to EPA.

EPA will need the vehicle's make and model, year, the engine size, and the most important thing is the test group number or the engine family name. This is made up of 12 alphanumeric characters and is located under the hood of the vehicle on the emissions label. The VIN number will not be of any use to EPA. Please note it takes about 20 days for EPA to mail this certificate to the customer. They will not fax your certificate or send it by email attachment, so please do not forget to give EPA your mailing address.

However, the GOI now requires that new vehicles manufactured after April 01, 2005 comply with EURO III norms to be cleared by customs and registered in India. At this time, US EPA standards do not equal EURO III emission standards. Therefore, any employee that plans to ship an automobile to India that was manufactured after April 01, 2005 must obtain a EURO III certificate from the manufacturer and fax it to GSO at 91-11-2419 8223. Please note that the dealer’s EURO III compliance certificate will not be acceptable by the GOI. If this is not possible, these employees will need to request authorization to store their vehicles in the Department’s long-term storage facilities for the duration of tour.

Additionally, all vehicles entering India must be fitted with a catalytic converter. An employee is allowed to import left-hand drive vehicles, and vehicles more than three years old. Such a vehicle can be sold to another diplomat or privileged person only or must be exported at the time of employee’s departure from India.

Note that the GOI considers motorcycles as POVs. If you intend to import a motorcycle in your HHE, you will not be allowed to import or purchase another duty free vehicle unless you have a title of First Secretary (or equivalent) and above. Also, please ensure that your motorcycle complies with EURO II/III emission standards. All employees may import a personally owned vehicle, which meet all applicable standards, or may order a new vehicle directly from a manufacturer or authorized dealer, and import it into India duty free. The GOI may grant permission to import a second vehicle (First Secretary and above only) upon specific request. Upon departure, diplomatic personnel may sell their POV to another diplomat on a duty free basis.

All employees are required to have the bill of sale or invoice of their vehicles in order for the vehicle to be imported into the country and for sale of your vehicle after the completion of tour of duty.

Employees fortunate enough to have no claims against their auto insurance policies in the U.S. or at their previous posts are encouraged to bring with them a “proof of no claim” letter, written on their insurer’s letterhead. This documentation will help in obtaining reduced auto insurance premiums in New Delhi.

Before shipping any vehicle, employees should contact Post. For additional information on catalytic converter, usage, and shipment of automobiles to individual posts, see Host Country Transportation.

Diplomats and AID employees with diplomatic status may buy a vehicle from other diplomats in India without paying customs duty, provided the seller has approval from the Government of India. Diplomats may order a vehicle directly from the manufacturer or authorized dealer and import it into India duty free. A duty-free vehicle cannot be processed for customs clearance and entry into India until after the individual with diplomatic privileges has arrived in India. The U.S. Mission will not authorize the importation of a vehicle if an employee expects to transfer or separate within six (6) months of such importation. To obtain the name of a motor vehicle import sales agent in India, prospective buyers should contact the head office of the car manufacturer several months before arriving in India, addressing inquiries to the Sales Manager for Exports to India. However, be aware that ordering an automobile from the company may take many months and payment must be made up front. For example, to order a Toyota, the buyer must pay the full value of the automobile to the company in Japan, then the order is initiated through an Indian-operated Toyota dealership in India, and only then does the company in Japan begin to make the ordered automobile. A wide range of international brands (Ford, Nissan, Toyota, Opel, Ikon, Mitsubishi etc.) are available on the local market.

Before deciding which motor vehicle to import into India, one may want to consider what will happen at the end of tour. Diplomatic and consular officers are allowed to sell right-hand vehicles on the open market without customs duty once the vehicle has been in-country for four years. Right-hand drive vehicles in-country for less than four years can only be sold tax-free to other diplomats, or exported from India. If a right-hand drive vehicle which has been in-country less than four years is sold on the open market, the seller is responsible for collecting applicable customs duty from the buyer. Left-hand drive vehicles may only be sold to another diplomatic or privileged person or must be exported from India. Please note that the date for counting this 48-month period starts when the imported car arrives in India, not when the employee arrives. Also note that the Embassy will not allow an employee to depart India and leave the vehicle behind so that it will qualify for the 48-month period cited above.

Employees should hand-carry the original purchase invoice, bill of lading for ocean freight costs, and marine insurance papers (listing the make, model, year of manufacture, engine and chassis numbers, number of cylinders, horsepower, and value of accessories such as air-conditioner and radio) to help establish the accurate CIF value, improving the vehicle's ultimate sale value at the end of tour in India. If only the vehicle title and no sales papers are available, the Customs authorities will establish the CIF value.

Household Effects. All employees are allowed duty-free entry of HHE. However, nondiplomats are allowed duty-free entry of used household and personal effects only during the first four (4) months after arrival. These shipments must not include liquor, tobacco, or large quantities of consumables. (Note: AID Institutional contractors must seek advice prior to importation of their UAB, HHE from USAID/Executive Office). Personal property. The General Services Officer or Consulate General Administrative Officer will help request permission for all property sales.

Restrictions. The Government of India prohibits importation of duplicate electronic items. If found, this will be subject to re-export or it will be released after payment of appropriate Customs duty. The shipment will be opened in order to remove the duplicate electronic items to assess the Customs duty. It will be the responsibility of the employee to pay this duty and Post will not be responsible for it. For Customs clearance, list all electronic equipment (including but not limited to radios, cassette players, CD players, tape recorders, VCRs, DVDs, computers, typewriters, TVs, or any combination thereof) by make, model, capacity/size, serial number, date of purchase and value. Prior Government of India permission is required for importation of a two-way transceiver, and operating licenses take several months to get after arrival.

U.S. Mission and USAID employees with non-diplomatic status should ship their electronic items (including but not limited to radios, cassette players, CD players, tape recorders, VCRs, DVDs, computers, typewriters, TVs, photography equipment) with their HHE. If such items are hand carried, Customs may temporarily detain the owners or the property pending presentation of exemption certificates.

Antiques and art objects irrespective of country of origin must be declared with your HHE and registered with the Government of India to prevent difficulties when leaving the country. The Government of India has prohibited the export of antiques from India. Employees must contact GSO/Shipping in order to obtain export permission from Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for antiques being shipped as part of their HHE. To legally import any antique object, one must declare it to Indian Customs. This will facilitate export from India. The Government of India will confiscate antiques not declared, regardless of the country of origin.

Shipment. All employees should furnish shipment information in advance of arrival in India to facilitate prompt Customs clearance and to determine if any added charges are required. An inventory with the approximate value of items shipped by sea, bills of lading, insurance papers, and the packer's statement giving net and gross weights of HHE should be sent to the Supervisory General Services Officer. Employees should also keep copies of these documents.

Please note that UAB, HHE and motor vehicles cannot be cleared before the owner's arrival; these shipments should be timed accordingly. It takes about ten (10) days to process the clearance documents and 10-15 days to receive shipments forwarded from a port area.

All containers must be waterproofed—especially those arriving in the monsoon season (June through September). Packing cases should be reinforced, metal banded and packed for rough handling. Cases should be numbered consecutively and each case marked with the employee's name (U.S. Embassy) or initials (Consulates General) and the post of destination. NOTE: The consignee should be the U.S. Mission, not the employee.

American Embassy (ICD) New Delhi, India (Employee's full name) Port of Discharge: Mumbai Final Place of Delivery: ICD, New Delhi

All employees (except USAID contract employees and military employees) must send their shipments through one of the following U.S. Despatch Agents: (USAID contract employees must make their own shipping arrangements with door-to-door private clearing and forwarding agents.)

For HHE out of Atlantic ports except those below: U.S. Despatch Agent Parkway Towers Bldg. B 485B U.S. Route 1 South Iselin, NJ 08830-3013 Tel. (732) 855-88 80

For HHE out of Baltimore, Norfolk, and the Carolinas: U.S. Despatch Agent Suite 125 2200 Broening Highway Baltimore, MD 21224 Tel. (410) 631-0043

For HHE and UAB from all Florida ports, New Orleans, and the Gulf: U.S. Despatch Agent 7789 NW 48th St., Suite 250 Miami FL-33166 Tel: 305-526 2906

For HHE and UAB out of all Pacific ports: U.S. Despatch Agent 2800 South 192d Street, Rm 108 Seattle, WA 98188-5163 Tel. (206) 764-3805

For information on air shipments, contact: Transportation Operations Branch A/LM/OPS/TTM/TO U.S. Department of State Washington, D.C. 20521-1244 Tel: (202) 647-4140

Employees unable to use the State Department's Transportation Section must advise the nearest Despatch Agency of the following:

· Name and address of packer, vendor, or supplier; · Travel Order number, date, appropriation, allotment, obligation, activity and group numbers, and total number of authorized travelers, plus any amendment or extension to original travel order; · Date of expected arrival at post; · Gross weight and cubic measurement of goods shipped and whether or not an automobile was shipped.

Sea shipments and motor vehicle shipments from South America should be transshipped through the nearest U.S. Despatch Agency. Since direct sailings are not available from African countries, shipment should be routed via Antwerp (ELSO). Overseas posts initiating shipments must send Form OF-199 (Notice of Shipment of Effects) with an original bill of lading and packing list to the receiving GSO.

Claims for damage or loss of private personal property in shipment must be submitted to GSO within thirty (30) days of receipt of shipment. Employees are encouraged to carry private insurance against damage to or loss of personal property.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Passage Last Updated: 6/29/2005 5:45 AM

After arrival, official and diplomatic passports will be sent to the Ministry of External Affairs for a multiple entry-exit visa which lasts for the tour of duty. Please note that the Ministry of External Affairs will only process tour of duty visas for official and diplomatic passports when a Government of India diplomatic ID has been issued to the diplomat and the eligible family member. A business visa is required of those coming to establish industrial/business ventures or to explore business possibilities. A tourist visa is valid for multiple entries for a total stay of six months with extension and costs $50.

USAID contract employees must register with the Indian police upon arrival at their post.

Medical authorities recommend taking preventive measures against malaria, rabies, hepatitis, meningitis, and Japanese B Encephalitis. Travelers arriving from countries where outbreaks of yellow fever have occurred will be required to furnish a certificate for Yellow Fever vaccination or undergo inoculation at the WHO-approved facility at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Pets Last Updated: 7/19/2005 4:47 AM

Employees intending to ship a pet to India should advise the U.S. Mission in advance so that a Government of India pre-quarantine certificate can be arranged. Only dogs and cats are allowed to be imported to India. Species other than dogs and cats are not permitted because of the bird flu. Fax the airway bill to GSO, or forward the airway bill number, the pet's arrival flight, the number of pets and the breed of pet(s). Diplomatic personnel may import pets (dogs and cats only) any time during their tour. All others may import one pet per adult family member, provided the pet enters India no later than four (4) months after the owner's arrival.

In the case of pets being shipped unaccompanied after the arrival of owner stationed at the Embassy, GSO needs a week's notice before the pet's arrival to obtain a Government of India duty-free exemption certificate. (Pets imported without a duty-free exemption certificate can cost 50%-60% of the Government of India-determined value of the animal, depending upon its breed.)

Whether accompanying the owner or being shipped unaccompanied, the following documents must be available at the time of arrival:

· A current international health certificate from a vet approved by the FDA with the pet's name, breed and sex, stating that the animal is in good health, fully vaccinated and free from contagious diseases. Contagious diseases for a dog include distemper, rabies, these two are also not tested for in the D.C. area-leishmaniasis and leptospirosis. Contagious diseases for a cat include rabies and distemper. · A rabies vaccination certificate which must be either: (a) a nerve tissue vaccine taken more than thirty days but not more than twelve months before arrival of the pet in India, or, (b) a chicken-embryo vaccine taken more than thirty days but not more than 36 months before the arrival of the pet in India. · A distemper vaccination certificate.

Pre-quarantine is must for the pets shipped as unaccompanied.

Hotels in India do not allow pets. Occasionally, a hotel will grant an exception to those with a small pet. Some kenneling facilities are available in India, but may not be up to U.S. standard.

Bring an adequate supply of flea collars, heartworm pills and any required medication. Employees may ask their veterinarian in the U.S. to mail order items to them. Also, remember to bring durable pet toys—nylabones, tough rubber balls, litter box equipment, and litter (although all are available now in India). Airline cages are available in some pet stores but they are VERY expensive. Cages cannot be shipped through the State Department pouch due to their size.

Veterinarian services in India are improving. Several excellent veterinarians practice in New Delhi and Chennai, but in general they tend to administer multiple medicines without adequate examination. Volunteers from the American Women's Association (AWA) occasionally organizes a Sunday pet clinic with a local veterinarian who checks animals and administers vaccines.

When deciding whether to ship a pet to India, consider the heat, humidity and availability of living space. Pets here seem to develop a variety of skin rashes. Shipping an animal into India during the peak summer months can be hard on it. (See the Climate chart under The Host Country.)

Three methods exist for transporting pets to India. Please note that not all the airlines provide all three options:

a) As Excess Baggage: Depending on the airline, you may be able to have your pet travel on the same flight(s), either in the cabin or in the cargo hold. The airline may consider a pet transported this way as excess baggage and charge you accordingly. Do not assume that you can take your pet on the same flight with you. You must confirm this weeks in advance with your airline(s). As a rule animals weighing 100 lbs. or more will travel as cargo even if they are transported on the same flight as you.

b) As Air Cargo: You may arrange for your pet to be transported on a separate flight as an air cargo shipment. In this case, you do not have to accompany your pet, but you need to make arrangements for picking up your pet at the final destination. Be aware that the cost of this service is usually higher than excess baggage. GSO does not provide any support in booking pets as cargo and employees will be responsible for completing export formalities for their pets.

c) As Air Cargo via a Commercial Shipping Company: You may arrange with a licensed commercial shipper to handle the arrangements to ship your pet as air cargo. You pay the cargo rate plus the shipper's fee. Please consult GSO/Shipping who will provide you with a list of commercial pet expediters in New Delhi.

Please note that Northwest, American, Delta and other American Flag Carriers impose an embargo during the summer season and do not accept pets. There are no transportation services offered by an American Flag Carrier out of India. However, a few of the American Flag Carriers have code share services that have pet transportation services available from New Delhi. Please consult GSO/Travel office for the latest updates and to make a reservation for your pets.

Information on animal handlers, kennel operators and veterinarians is available on the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) International, Inc. website at:

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 7/19/2005 4:40 AM

Diplomats and staff are not permitted to import firearms of any make or caliber into India.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 7/19/2005 4:40 AM

The official currency is the rupee, which is divided into 100 paise. Rupee notes come in the following denominations: 10, 50, 100, 500, 1,000. One-, 2- and 5-rupee notes are no longer being printed but are still in circulation. Coins come in the following denominations: 10, 25, and 50 paise, and 1, 2, and 5 rupee.

As of July 2005, the rate of exchange was Rs. 43.3 to $1. The exchange rate is free floating, changing daily.

All currency and travelers checks in excess of $10,000 and cash in excess of $5,000 if carried into India must be declared at customs upon arrival. An unlimited amount of other currencies, drafts, travelers checks, or letters of credit may be brought in. Foreigners must usually pay hotel bills and domestic air fares in hard currency. The U.S. Mission (GSO Office) will provide a letter of exemption for official expenses.

India uses the metric system of weights and measures. Mileage markers are in kilometers, and frequently in miles also (not in South India). Smaller distances are gauged in meters. Weights are in kilograms (kilos) and grams. Liters are used to measure liquid amounts. One inch equals 2.54 centimeters or 25.4 millimeters.

Temperatures are measured in centigrade—for weather as well as baking. (U.S. Mission-supplied ovens are in Fahrenheit.)

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 6/29/2005 5:42 AM


(See Customs and Duties above concerning the importation and sale of automobiles and household goods.)

All employees and spouses (diplomatic and nondiplomatic) and adult dependents of diplomatic personnel (ages 16 and over) are issued Government of India identity cards. Six black-and-white or color passport-size photographs are required for Government of India identity cards. Employees will need additional photographs of this size for visas, school enrollment, joining clubs, and many other reasons. Photographs can also be taken by local photographers after arrival.

All U.S. Government employees are subject to U.S. income tax, but not to Indian income tax. Diplomatic officers in New Delhi can have sales tax removed from local purchases more than a certain amount. Employees based elsewhere must pay the taxes, but may have the tax reimbursed by submission of paperwork through the U.S. Mission.


Banking facilities are located in the various U.S. Missions in India. The exchange of dollars should be made through U.S. Mission cashiers or U.S. banking facilities. Employees and their dependents may cash personal dollar checks for rupees up to $2,000 and temporary duty officials may cash $250. There is no limit on converting dollar travelers cheques to rupees.

The export of currency is strictly controlled by the Government of India. Employees going abroad may receive up to $2,000 in cash per person for the trip.

Salaries and post differential are paid by direct deposit to the employee's U.S. banking account. A checking account in the U.S. is useful for ordering by mail, paying bills by mail, paying ACSA bills, and cashing personal checks for rupees. Employees stationed outside U.S. Mission facilities maintain rupee checking accounts in Indian banks.

Rupee notes are bundled in stacks of 100. Torn bills will not be accepted by most Indians. Banks are supposed to accept the damaged bills and replace them upon request, but the time and paperwork required are often not worth it. Newcomers should pay attention to the condition of the notes they receive, especially the 500 and 1,000 rupee denomination as there has been an increase in the circulation of counterfeit versions of these notes. Travelers cheques may be obtained locally through the Bank of America. Travelers cheques may be cashed for rupees in banks and hotels in large cities in India.

Sale of Personal Property

Sale or transfer to either privileged or non-privileged (A&T staff) persons of personal property which was imported duty-free must have prior approval of the Central Board of Excise and Customs, if the sale or transfer is to take place within three years of the property's entry into India or purchase from a bonded store. If such a sale or transfer is to be made to a non-privileged person within three years from the date of importation, Customs duty shall be recovered from such privileged persons by the Commissioner of Customs nearest to the person's assignment post (Embassy or Consulate). GOI approval of sale or transfer is not required if three years have elapsed since the item's entry into India or purchase from bonded stores.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 6/29/2004 7:18 AM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published in and about India. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Some of the following books are published and sold only in India.

Periodicals India Today. Published in India, available in New York.

Newspaper Express India. An Asian Weekly from Washington, D.C. (1500 Mass Ave NW, Suite 400, Room C, Washington, D.C. 20005.)

General American University. Area Handbook for India. U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, D.C.

Travel India, a Travel Survival Kit. Lonely Planet.

Fodor's India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. David McKay Company: New York.

Jagannathan, Shakunthala. India, Plan Your Own Holiday.

Khushwant Singh. Sangam City Guide.

Nicholson, Louise. India Companion: A Practical Guide for the Discerning Traveler.

Williams, L.F. Rushbrook. A Handbook for Travelers in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Barnes and Noble: New York.

History/Politics/Economics/Social Work/Autobiographies Allen, Charles. Plain Tales from the Raj.

Blank, Jonah. Arrow of the Blue Skinned God.

Brass, Paul. Caste, Faction, and Party in Indian Politics. Chanakya, New Delhi, 1988.

Bumiller, Elisabeth. May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons. Fawcett, Columbine, N.Y., 1990.

Collins, Larry and Dominique Lapierre. Freedom at Midnight. Vikas Publishing House: Delhi, 1975.

Craven, Roy. Concise History of Indian Art.

Farwell, Byron. Armies of the Raj.

Fishlock, Trevor. India File: Inside the Subcontinent. J. Murray Publishers, 1989.

Frankel, Francine and M.S.A. Rao. Dominance and State Power in Modern India: Decline of a Social Order. Vols. 1 and 2. Manohar Book Service, New Delhi, 1992.

Frater, Alexander. Chasing the Monsoon.

Galbraith, John K. Ambassador's Journal.

Holmstrom, Indira. Inner Courtyard. Rupa and Company, New Delhi, 1990.

Keay, John. India: A History. Atlantic Monthly Press, 2000

Kohli, Atul. Democracy and Discontent: India's Growing Crisis of Governability. Cambridge University Press, U.K., 1991.

Kux, Dennis. Estranged Democracies.

Malhotra, Inder. India Trapped in Uncertainty. UBS, New Delhi, 1991.

Naipaul, V. S. India, Million Mutinies Now. Viking Penguin 1991.

Nehru, Jawaharlal and Robert I. Crane, ed. The Discovery of India. Doubleday: Garden City, 1960.

Panniker, K. M. Communalism in India. Monohar Book Service, New Delhi, 1992.

Rudolph, Lloyd I. and Susanne H. In Pursuit of Lakshmi: Political Economy of the Indian State. University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Sengupta, Bhabani. Problems of Governance. Center for Policy Research.

Singh, Khushwant. History of the Sikhs. 2 vols. Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1990.

Singh, Khushwant. Train to Pakistan. Grove Weidenfeld, 1990.

Tully, Mark. No Full Stops in India. Viking, New Delhi, 1991.

Watson, Francis. A Concise History of India.

Weiner, Myron. The Child and the State in India. MIT Press, 1989.

Wiser, Charlotte and William. Behind Mud Walls. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1989.

Wolpert, Stanley. India. University of California Press, 1991. (Highly recommended)

Wolpert, Stanley. A New History of India. Oxford University Press.

Fiction India has been the subject of many fiction authors: Anita Desai, Ruth P Jhabvala, M. M. Kaye, Rudyard Kipling, John Masters, R. K. Narayan, S. Rushdie, Paul Scott, Bapsi Sidhwa, Khushwant Singh.

Books of interest to children and adults include comic books depicting the Ramayana and Mahabharata classics. Jim Corbett wrote many books on his experiences with tigers, Maneaters of Kumaon. Madhur Jaffrey wrote Seasons of Splendor. R. Kipling's books: Kim, The Jungle Books, and The Just-So Stories. Santha Rama Rao wrote Home to India.

Many cookbooks have been written on Indian food. Madhur Jaffrey's An Invitation to Indian Cooking has information on spices, utensils, and a countrywide selection of recipes.

Videos A Passage to India As India Builds Bandit Queen Fulbright to India Gandhi Heat and Dust Jewel in the Crown (series) Little Buddha Mahabharata Massey Sahib Salaam Bombay Staying On The Far Pavilions The River The Sword and the Flute

Local Holidays Last Updated: 8/29/2005 2:52 AM

In addition to the ten American holidays observed worldwide, the Embassy and Consulates General observe ten Government of India designated holidays. The Embassy and Consulates General do not always observe the same holidays.

Due to its religious and regional variations, India has a great number of holidays and festivals. Most of them follow the lunar calendar, which differs from the Western calendar; thus, they fall on a different date each year-which makes a fixed schedule impossible.

During 2005, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi will observe the following holidays:

New Year's Day Friday, December 31, 2004 M.L. King's Birthday Monday, January 17 Idul' Zuha (Bakrid) Friday, January 21 Republic Day Wednesday, January 26 Presidents' Day Monday, February 21 Good Friday Friday, March 25 Buddha Purnima Monday, May 23 Memorial Day Monday, May 30 Independence Day (US) Monday, July 4 Independence Day (India) Monday, August 15 Raksha Bandham Friday, August 19 Labor Day Monday, September 5 Columbus Day Monday, October 10 Dussehra (Vijayadasami Dashami) Wednesday, October 12 Diwali (Deepavali) Tuesday, November 1 Idu'l Fitr Friday, November 4 Veteran's Day Friday, November 11 Guru Nanak's Birthday Tuesday, November 15 Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 24 Christmas Day Monday, December 26

During 2006, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi will observe the following holidays:

New Year's Day Monday, January 2 Idu'Z Zuha (Bakrid) Wednesday, January 11 Martin Luther King's Birthday Monday, January 16 Republic Day Thursday, January 26 Presidents' Day Monday, February 20 Holi Wednesday, March 15 Ram Navami Thursday, April 6 Good Friday Friday, April 14 Memorial Day Monday, May 29 Independence Day (US) Tuesday, July 4 Raksha Bandhan Wednesday, August 9 Independence Day (Indian) Tuesday, August 15 Janmashtami Wednesday, August 16 Labor Day Monday, September 4 Gandhi's Birthday/Dussehra Monday, October 2 Columbus Day Monday, October 9 Idu'l Fitr Wednesday, October 25 Veterans' Day Friday, November 10 Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 23 Christmas Day Monday, December 25

During 2005, the Consulate General in Chennai will observe the following holidays:

Pongal Friday, January 14 M.L. King's Birthday Monday, January 17 Idul' Zuha (Bakrid) Friday, January 21 Republic Day Wednesday, January 26 Presidents' Day Monday, February 21 Good Friday Friday, March 25 Tamil New Year's Day Thursday, April 14 Memorial Day Monday, May 30 Independence Day (US) Monday, July 4 Independence Day (India) Monday, August 15 Labor Day Monday, September 5 Vinayaka Chathurthi Wednesday, September 7 Columbus Day Monday, October 10 Avudha Pooja Tuesday, October 11 Diwali (Deepavali) Tuesday, November 1 Idu'l Fitr Friday, November 4 Veteran's Day Friday, November 11 Guru Nanak's Birthday Tuesday, November 15 Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 24 Christmas Day Monday, December 26*

*In lieu of Sunday

NOTE: In the year 2005, one Indian National holiday, Mahatma Ghandi's birthday, falls on a Sunday. Consulate General Chennai will observe the holiday on Sunday, October 2.

Indian Republic Day. Celebrates the anniversary of India's establishment as a republic in 1950; there are activities in all the State capitals but most spectacularly in New Delhi, where there is an enormously colorful military parade. Republic Day parade practices and Beating Retreat military bands can tie up traffic and diplomats in New Delhi between January 24 and 29.

Holi. This is one of the most exuberant Hindu festivals, with people marking the end of winter by throwing colored water or powder at one another - don't wear good clothes on this day! Wear old, white clothing, as it will become covered with colored water and powder. Not a good day to travel except in one's own neighborhood.

Indian Independence Day. The anniversary of India's Independence from Britain in 1947. The Prime Minister delivers an address in Hindi from the ramparts of Delhi's Red Fort. Diplomats are invited to view the speech from temporary seating in front of the fort.

Ganesh Chathurthi. This festival is dedicated to the popular elephant-headed god Ganesh. Pune, Madras, and Mumbai are important centers for its celebration.

Dussehra. This is the most important festival of all the Indian festivals and takes place over ten days. It celebrates Lord Rama's victory over the demon king Rawana and in many places culminates with the burning of huge images of Rawana and his accomplices in effigy. In West Bengal the festival is known as Durga Puja since the goddess Durga aided Rama in his defeat of Ravwana.

Gandhi Jayanti. A solemn celebration of the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi's birthdate with prayer meetings at the Raj Ghat in Delhi where he was cremated.

Diwali. This is the happiest festival of the Hindu calendar and at night countless oil lamps are lit to show Rama the way home from his period of exile.

Govardhan Puja. This is celebrated in Govardhan hill near Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna and also in other northern parts of India by worshiping Krishna, as he saved his devotees from heavy rain by lifting the hill on his little finger.

Guru Nanak's Birthday. The birthday of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, is celebrated with prayer readings and processions, particularly in Amritsar in Punjab.

Id-ul-Fitr. This day celebrates the end of Ramadan, the most important Muslim festival which is marked with a 30-day dawn-to-dusk fast. In Muslim countries, Ramadan can be a difficult time for travelers since restaurants are closed and tempers run short. Fortunately, despite India's large Muslim minority, it causes few difficulties for visitors.

Mission offices are closed to the public on official holidays, but officers are on duty to handle emergencies and urgent official business.

Government of India offices are closed for New Year's Day, Republic Day, Holi, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, Independence Day, Dussehra, Gandhi's Birthday, Diwali, Guru Nanak's Birthday, and Christmas Day.

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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