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|August 9, 2000|
A friend in the city
Nitish S Rele
Planning to move to Seattle in the near future? Well, do check www.seattleguru.com to help you find anything you'd need in the high-tech city.
The web site offers people from the Indian subcontinent a listing of grocers, restaurants, beauty parlours, travel, etc on its yellow pages. The free directory also lists apartments/roommates, places of worship, cricket and movies.
www.seattleguru.com went online in late 1998 thanks to the efforts of Anjali Sikka who moved to Seattle from New Delhi after her marriage in 1997. Her husband, Ajay, used to work at Microsoft then.
"I have a basic IT background from India," said Sikka. "When I came here, I offered my web designing and HTML services to some voluntary organizations. Then, one day, I thought, why not put up a directory for Indians on the Internet? We didn't have access to much India-related information."
Today, www.seattleguru.com gets about 35,000 to 40,000 hits every month.
"It wasn't even the original domain name," said Sikka. "I had reserved www.seattleindian.com but for some reason, it didn't work out. So I came up with the idea of adding the word 'guru' since it is used so much in the Western world."
Sikka calls her web site a guide to Seattle for people of the Indian subcontinent.
"I am so satisfied when I get e-mails from people who have found information on the site about roommates or finding a home," she said.
"Most Indian women are thrilled to find beauty parlors that offer waxing or some other beauty service."
There are an estimated 20,000 people of Indian subcontinent descent in Seattle, most of whom are high-tech workers working for major corporation such as Microsoft. "Several people from Sri Lanka or Indians from Fiji are moving to the city from Canada," said Sikka. "So the high-tech economy plays a big role in attracting specialized workers."
www.seattleguru.com also offers free listing to all the businesses.
"Initially, it started as a hobby," said Sikka. "I was learning then. Now, we have printed the yellow pages. My husband has also formed a company called IndiaHQ, which will be building yellow pages for other cities here in the United States and United Kingdom."
In fact, IndiaHQ is currently partnering with a company in Canada to start a web site called www.bcguru.com.
"seattleguru.com was like an inspiration. Our plan is to get extremely local. We don't want to build a site that offers everything. Rather, we want people to use it for a specific purpose."
Plans for IndiaHQ include offering yellow pages for cities in India too. "But they won't have community news like the US sites will," Sikka pointed out.
So if you are heading out to Seattle, check out www.seattleguru.com and thank the Sikkas for a job well done.
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