Hot Wheels @ Le Duplex

June has been an awesome month. We got our car and we moved into our own apartment!
In US, we were trying to find buyers for our cars and our house. In India, 3 months later, our roles were reversed – we were looking for a car and an apartment.
TEST DRIVING

As soon as we were settled in our temp accommodation, Vipul started his car driving lessons. And after the first lesson he announced we should get a car with automatic transmission. Traffic and driving in India is crazy but anyone who has been to Hyderabad will agree that the craziness is up several notches here.

People don’t drive in their lanes, they don’t let you drive in your lane, they honk if you don’t start driving before the light turns green, they jump out of nowhere into the road  at any convenient location to cross it and to top it, in Hyderabad, they at times drive in the other direction. You blink, and suddenly you will find an auto rickshaw heading on to you and assuming that you will move in order to accommodate it! Luckily, we have not encountered any cows or dogs, but bikers and auto rickshaws make sure you are ever so vigilant on the road.

This is in sharp contrast to Seattle where drivers are famous for letting others go first at the Stop light, even if they were first to arrive at it or where Cameras are installed to deter even the 0.5% accident rate. With so many distractions on the road, we decided to get an automatic car.

I wanted a sedan , in a Rs. 10 – 12 Lakh range which was large enough for my 6 feet plus Dad and Bro can sit comfortably in.

With that in mind, Vipul shortlisted 5 sedans:

  • Ford Fiesta
  • Honda City
  • SKODA Rapid
  • Hyundai i20 (not really a sedan, but still)
  • Hyundai Verna

Now, cars in India are not available all the time. So my US trained vision of seeing rows upon rows of cars of every color and options gleaming in the dealership lot waiting to be taken out for a spin and hopefully home , were a distant dream. Here, when you want to buy a car, you ask about delivery date in the color and option of your choice besides pricing , upgrades, freebies etc. So, we called all the dealers and asked them about availability and scheduled a test drive for those that we could actually get by June end.

This ruled out the Verna and the i20 as we wouldn’t be able to get it before July. So we decided to test drive the rest.

This being India, you don’t have to go to the dealership to test drive your car. They bring the car home and you take it out for a spin. En-route the salesman explains the pros/cons, compares it to the other cars you may be thinking ( to the best of his knowledge) and essentially tries to sell you the car while asking you to take a U-turn on freeway as the next exit is too far.

Any who, we test drove the Fiesta, City and Rapid. Didnt like the first two as much so we settled on the Rapid.

Actually, Rapid was the first car we test drove and loved. Considering that we were using a 2009 Innova, where the doors sometimes jammed up, the windows wouldnt roll down, AC was not cool enough or was nothing more than a rectangular white box with seats, Rapid was a beautiful car. We loved the lines, the options included and the sound system. It’s not like any of our prior cars but at this price point, we will make do with the Rapid.

A day before the scheduled delivery, we drove all the way to Secunderabad to inspect the car. Then we got the car delivered home as we didn’t want to drive through the traffic.

CAR FINANCING

Based on car lease allowance, we decided to lease the car rather than buy it outright. This enables us to get tax break on car lease amount as well as any maintenance we pay for the car. Microsoft has tie up with Sundaram finance for car leasing per the company policy. The leased car financing rate is higher than what banks offer, but with the tax break it makes sense to go with it. So we went ahead with Sundaram finance.

We paid Rs 50,000 for car deposit and the rest was paid once we inspected the car and gave it a go ahead.

SO ARE YOU GETTING A DRIVER?

I didn’t test drive the car ( or for that matter drive it since its been home) as I am still not comfortable with the chaos on the road. The traffic moves like a bee swarm and is very fluid and non predictable. But I am determined to drive from work and back ( albeit initially at non peak hours).

Besides with Varun eager to drive, I may already have a driver handy 😉

…ANY TROUBLES YET?

Oh yea, the car is supposed to be delivered with 10 Ltrs of Petrol. But the guy who delivered the car only filled minimal amount to drive to our place. We drove the car to the nearest gas station but the car stopped outside the station and wouldn’t start. A line of cars formed behind us with few folks offering to help us start the car but giving up after seeing that its an automatic. Apparently 10 Ltrs  of petrol is needed to start the car. This we came to know after spending 45 mins with the car dealer and their service man. The dealer sent some guy with a 10 Ltrs can and only when that was filled could we start the car.Go figure!

A few days later, it rained heavily here in Hyderabad. It was so bad that a regular 15 min commute took me 45 mins as water was accumulating everywhere. Hyderabadis in rain are like Seattleites in snow – they just don’t know how to handle these elements. That was the day Vipul decided to drive to work, and was stuck for almost an hour and half in traffic. Some biker dude decided to change lanes at the last-minute as he was squeezing through the traffic and scratched the car. Bummer 😦

Another day as the parking spot was narrow Vipul decided to back up the car into the lot and didn’t see the pillar and danged the car’s trunk.

As I see it, minor dents and scratches prove that it’s no longer a brand new vehicle 😉

APARTMENT SEARCH

After we sold our house, while I was feeling liberated and debt free, every time, I visited my favorite Home and gardening related blogs and found new things to DIY for the home/garden, I got that itch to make them. Not that I did much when we had the house, but now I bookmark every little thing in hope that someday we will have our house again.

Also, when we were apartment hunting, the blank canvas was especially appealing and my mind would immediately jump to endless possibilities of making it our own, when Vipul used to gently remind me that we are renting and not buying.

We must have looked at least 20 odd properties in about a month’s time. Some were villas, others duplex, yet others were condos. We knew we wanted something more than 2500 sq ft  to fit all our belongings. We wanted 100% power backup, with no water problems and piped gas in a gated community. Also, we wanted something in Madhapur area as it is close enough to work as well as to Jubilee Hills/Banjara Hills where we go for dining, fun and even medical visits. And I really didn’t want to spend more than Rs 40000 in monthly rent.

The relocation agents with Santa Fe showed us all types of houses in and around Madhapur, Kondapur, Gachibowli and even a couple in Jubilee Hills/ Film Nagar area. We found some in Sunday newspaper classifieds and visited them. In the end, either the apartment was too small or too pricey (Rs. 50,ooo + ) or too large (5000 sq ft + )  or too remote ( nothing around us for 5-6 kms) or had construction going around or had poor location overlooking slums, graveyards or plain trash or simply didn’t have 100% power backup (including AC’s) or piped gas.

Based on that we shortlisted 2 complexes:

  • Jayabheri Silicon County
  • Trendset Winz

In the complexes we had shortlisted, we visited almost every flat that was available ( imagine 10 – 12 apartments ) in different towers/wings. We were looking for an apartment that had minimal wood work in all rooms except kitchen , had enough room in the bedroom for our king sized bed and atleast one sdie table and was more to our taste. Alas either the apartments were too traditionally decorated or had wardrobes or doors such that we wouldnt have been able to arrange our furniture (especially the bed). The duplexes is Jayabheri were our best bet but were out of our price point or were only rented out furnished.

Luckily, a duplex apartment owner  in Jayabheri Silicon County, same complex as were temporary put up, agreed to rent it out unfurnished as well as lowered the rent as it was not renting for a couple of months. The location is great, had all the amenities we were looking for and has 100 % power back up. After a 45C summer, we were not going to stay in a complex that didn’t have power backup.

Although the rent is higher than my original budget, it had everything else. And the owner let us keep whatever furnishings we needed (fridge, microwave, washing machine, dryer etc) and removed the rest.

We got the possession on June 1st but we slowly moved into the apartment over last 3 weekends. We scheduled a thorough cleaning of the apartment, got additional shelves put up in the kitchen, got all the bed sheets and towels laundered, hung up our curtains, put up the art work and arranged and rearranged everything till it started to resemble a bit like our old house in Seattle.

We still have to get a new fridge and microwave ( the ones from the apartment are old, quiet small and almost on last leg of their life ) and a convection oven. We still have a gazillion things to do ( get some plants, wall mount the TV’s, hook up the home theater, rearrange the store-room , make the current staircase railing bit safe etc) but this is it for now. Deep breath and baby steps- thats the mantra for now.

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About rutujak

A travel addict, self confessed foodie and a mom trying to make SFO my home after a decade in Seattle and a stint in Hyderabad, India.

Posted on June 28, 2012, in Life in India and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Great relocation review. Kudos to the article and the nuances and due diligence / planning involved in maneuvering the customs / habits and modus-operandi. From the Chicago area, I am wondering similar efforts on Schools and any other Extra-Curricular activities – exploring library, meet-ups etc. Twitter feeds have been a great help. Nothing like boots on the ground experiences. Appreciate any thoughts on KG/elementary school information.

    Good luck exploring the Nawab city.

    • My son is still small so I dont have first hand information about KG/elementary school. Based on whatI have heard from my collageues there are 2 types of schools: ICSE/CBSE/state board (Chirec, DPS are in this category) where focus is mainly on acads. Then there is IB board where focus is extra curricular activities ( Oakridge, Polka Dots, Indus) fall in this category. Most expats tend to send their kids to IB board due to well rounded focus as well are air conditioned/better standards of cleanliness/hygiene. I am still exploring the extra curricyular activities for young toddlers – hopefully will find some in Madhapur/Gachibowli area. Stay tuned!

  1. Pingback: Trans’Planting « Living Large on Tiny Lot

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