City Life – The Expat World of Delhi
A glimpse of the bubble.
[Text by an expat; pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Delhi is tough. Ask the expats. Some say that they survive the city by living in a bubble. How is this bubble built? The answer can be found in this e-mail by an expat, who shall remain anonymous.
After 18 months in this wonderful flat, we’re heading to Silicon Valley to start a Biotech venture.
As such, we are selling all furnishings as a package. It’s an ideal flat for expats moving to India.
1) The landlord expects 1Lac/month (Rs100,000 is $2,200) + 3 months security + 3 months advance.
2) We negotiate the sale of our $18,000 furniture/household package, and also help transfer our trained house staff (driver, cook, maid).
3) In one transaction, an expat gets a totally debugged and furnished flat (ask around, that’s worth a lot in peace-of-mind).
Nizamuddin East is a 286-house enclave near south Delhi, with easy access to places that caters to an expat’s life. It’s a park-like setting, with two gardens just in front of our flat. Most of the year, we only see trees from the balcony’s French doors. Kids would enjoy the safety of this neighborhood. (You cannot say this about much of Delhi.) The flat has served our ‘entertaining lifestyle’ well. If you’re into flash, Nizzie isn’t the place for you. This flat is modest and comfortable, central, yet slightly off the beaten track.
Many journalists and artists live in our colony, as does the mayor of Delhi. A decent landlord owns our flat. He sets the rent for his flat, while we are selling our furnishings inside his flat, as a package. The American Embassy School (AES) is 17 minutes away in the morning, and 25 minutes away at 5pm. Khan Market is 10 minutes away, Defence Colony Market and South Extension are 15 minutes away. The Oberoi is about 10 minutes away (stunning Sashimi and pizzas), and the amazing local ruins are there for morning walks, runs or yoga.
The flat has been totally debugged. That means we’ve spent countless hours with plumbing and electricity. The Indian water ‘tankies’ have been set to work as they should. The electrical panels also work properly, with correct gauge connections, plus fuses, etc.
There is plenty of space for 8-12 person dinner parties, and a central space for yoga, workouts, or for kids to play. The house has three same-size bedrooms, each with an attached bath. Each bedroom has a window A/C, with a silent split A/C unit in the living room. Surprisingly, each bedroom has lots of large closet space, floor to ceiling. There’s a built-in safe in the master bedroom. There’s a balcony in front, plus a smaller screened-in porch in the back for the washer/dryer/ironing. Being a first floor space, the house is insulated from the rooftop heat.
We’ve slightly upgraded this flat with kitchen and closet shelves, so its now more usable by expats. There are bolts on interior doors, with a deadbolt on the front, and a security guard at street level. There is a smallish maid’s quarter on the roof, along with the staff bathroom. A quite building — the ground floor owners are often away; upper floor is the Tanzanian Arts Council (they arrive late, leave early). There’s a dedicated parking space big enough for an Innova. We’ve installed a rooftop satellite TV dish, and have debugged a blazing 8Mb WiFi, where the modem blasts a solid 5X5 signal throughout the flat.
We urge you to retain this staff. They are all exceptional, in a country of mediocre help. Our driver is safe, safe, safe. He’s been trained in turn-signals and smoothness, knows Delhi well, and drives without the drama-and-trauma that is daily traffic here. We trusted and tested him with our 18-year-old son’s late night parties, as our driver is one of the very few who doesn’t drink and drive (trust me on this). Our cook always did superb Indian, but now also delivers authentic Mexican Enchiladas, Italian Pasta Primavera, and chicken burgers with amazing fries. He’s been trained on egg-white omelets, with a South Indian twist (OMG). He’s a great, great cook, but his always-friendly attitude is his best attribute. He’s always ready to make you something, anytime. And, he’s been taught to only cook with 1TBS of oil in each dish. Finally, there’s our house maid, who was with us last time we were posted to India. She found us this time, to work for us again. The best thing is that they are all… silent. We don’t know she is around as she goes about doing her stuff. Again, nothing in India happens by accident. You’ll enjoy the training my wife has put into working with our staff. Of course, our pay scale is higher than locals might pay. But the staff’s great attitude and loyalty cost me less than $600/month, for nearly 24/7 access.
To quote Brad Pitt in the movie Fight Club, “The stuff you own, ends up owning you.” So we had a modest goal: a place for everything and everything in its place. Thus, a zen like minimalism towards “stuff.” We installed an oven for making pizzas, and a large US sized fridge. We co-designed this top quality furniture and had it custom built. All furnishings are being sold as-is, as a package only. We won’t piecemeal items, until the final hours just before leaving. The expectation is that it all serves someone who wants to just start living in India, and not spend 12 frustrating months… making things work. Believe me, we’ve lived in Delhi, twice. Getting things to work takes a good long while.
“Amazing local monuments”
Almost like home