Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Useful services in Pune (and beyond)

One of the harder things to adjust to here is not being able to use the internet to find shops, restaurants, services, etc.  For a country that's always in the news for its booming IT sector, the average Indian and average business here just plain doesn't use the internet.  I'm glad that hasn't translated to a doorstep piled high with YellowPage type directories.  Fortunately there is JustDial.  It doesn't have much in the way of reviews or detailed information about products and services, but is nontheless a vital resource.

Do you like having things delivered?  Then you would probably like India.  Using JustDial of course, I found a pet shop in my neighborhood.  I called to confirm that they had cat supplies (dog supplies are more common) and to get better details about where they are located (addresses aren't always that helpful here).  But instead of getting that information, they asked what I wanted and delivered it to my door within the hour.  The wine shop, the small local grocer, probably just about everybody will deliver.

Including just about any restaurant.  (Not the Hard Rock Cafe, no sir, they are too good for that.)  You may have difficulty taking advantage of this if you don't speak Marathi or Hindi though.  I've been told by more than one neighborhood restaurant that they don't take English orders, even though it seems like a list of food shouldn't be that hard.  YumKing to the rescue!  We love, love, love this service.  There are a fair number of Pune restaurants on the site and it's very easy to use.  It only shows you restaurants that deliver to your area, warns you if they aren't open at the moment, and delivery is free!  McDonald's has online ordering too, but that is more like a curse than a blessing.

We also love BigFlix, which is available in several cities throughout India.  It is pretty much just like NetFlix.  Major differences being:  the suggestion algorithm, if there is an algorithm at all, is not very sophisticated; there is some streaming, but not of English titles; they tried to emulate NetFlix I think, but the  second icon that looks like it will add a movie to the top of your queue, adds it to the bottom just like the normal 'add to queue' icon; I hear they have brick and mortar stores too; they hand deliver and pick up your movies the very next day.

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