|Preface Last Updated: 7/1/2004
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
(See Customs, Duties, and Passage for information on care of
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
(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
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.
USE, STORAGE AND PROCUREMENT OF PORTABLE COMPUTER EQUIPMENT IN
The below policy covers the use, storage, and procurement of
portable computer equipment and applies to all personnel under COM
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
3. The current Information Systems Security Officers (ISSOs) are
- 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
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
· 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Religious Activities Last Updated: 6/29/2004 6:45 AM
A Jewish Synagogue conducts services in Hebrew at the Judah-Hyam
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
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Currently the Admissions Coordinator is Ms. Beth
Miller-Manchester. Her e-mail address is email@example.com
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.
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Recreation and Social Life
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
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
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
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
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
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
(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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Recreation and Social Life
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.)
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.
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
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
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
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. Frederick@epamail.epa.gov . 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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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
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.
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
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
(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
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
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
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
Jagannathan, Shakunthala. India, Plan Your Own Holiday.
Khushwant Singh. Sangam City Guide.
Nicholson, Louise. India Companion: A Practical Guide for the
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
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,
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,
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
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
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.
Wolpert, Stanley. A New History of India. Oxford University
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
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
During 2005, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi will observe the
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
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
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
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