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“Madam you must put your permanent address!” Aka a logic defying day

Global views


Sometimes you simply have to accept what life throws at you. There is no choice. Fighting won’t help. Getting upset won’t help. Today was one of those days…

Rather than rail at the universe, it got me thinking about different definitions of what is accepted as “proof” of address for various official (and perhaps unofficial) requirements.

Permanent Address

The stumbling block today, aside from some mysteriously missing paperwork, was a little thing known in these parts as “permanent” address.

Now… for those not familiar with the term, permit me to introduce you to this pesky little thing.

If you happen to luck out and your parent’s own their flat / house – yippee!! Hang on to their address as your “permanent” address until you graduate (if ever!) to the status of being a real live “home owner.” Forget all those fancy flats you live in proudly paying rent from your hard-won earnings, these simply will not do!

If you aren’t so lucky, hopefully in your “native place”  or anywhere some distant relative has “ancestral property” to which somehow you can finagle some form of tenuous connect… This is why most driver’s and maids in the major metros proffer paperwork with an address in their village, not the place that they actually live.

But… I hear you ask, what if I don’t own any property in India? Or my parent, or grandparent? Or…. even some crazy long lost great-uncle? Well… my friend…. you are basically screwed.

You either need to forge documents or not get done whatever you want to get done because without a “permanent” address, you do not exist.

Home ownership

If anyone ever wondered why India ranks 8th globally in terms of home ownership, this is a factor!

Personally I don’t believe the data on ownership – a whopping 86% in 2011 or even 55% in 2001?? Really?! I can’t help but wonder if this data reflects this bizarre often convoluted way of somehow tracing back to someone in ones extended family that does own property!!

This is completely contrary to notions in other countries where – guess what? The address you provide is the one where you actually LIVE. As in the address where if someone came knocking on your door, you would probably be home to answer.

Nope! That simply will not satisfy certain authorities in these parts because if you rent, you will at some stage move on to a different place, so you can’t be tracked down. That is too risky.

What is needed instead is your father’s father’s (in very rare cases like Kerela your mother’s mother’s) home which has been taken over by the family retainer and no one can access, no mail would reach you, no word would ever find its way to you. That would be acceptable.

Foreign element?

Some of us as we go global have no “permanent” address.

Often in your adopted country there are restrictions on owning property. And links to ones country of origin fade as years become decades… particularly as the generations before shake off this mortal coil.

If you are a foreigner in India? It is considered impossible for you to have a “permanent” address in India. Even if you have lived here for decades. Your passport is not Indian therefore no Indian address could ever be acceptable.

It means providing a mythical “permanent” address from your passport country, with oodles of physical ORIGINAL and CURRENT proof that it is your “real” address… even if you haven’t actually lived there in, say, 30 years!

There is no logic.

I wonder – how many people who go global retain a current valid “permanent” address in their country of origin?

PS This is just temporary grumbling. I am blessed with “homes” and a loving families – Canadian and Indian – plus friends who are like family scattered all over the globe. Indian issues will be sorted… it was just one of those days…

The Hicklings - 2013 summer edition

The Hicklings – 2013 summer edition



  1. OK… I shall never again complain about paperwork required by Western European bureaucracy!

    • It is quite something! To be experienced to be believed. And logic defying?? After scrutinising my Canadian passport, was asked why I don’t have an Indian voters ID. Um… Duh… Gaaaakkh?!?!?!

    • But the question remains…? Do you still keep some kind of paper trail link to an address in Germany? Is this ever required?

      • Nope. My parents are not home owners and no longer live in the house where I grew up. Nobody ever asks for stuff like that. All that’s required is a current address, and some proof that you actually live there.

        I would have throttled someone!!!! Would prison count as a “permanent address…”?

        • Hahaha! One American girlfriend who has lived many years in India speculated – “Is murder of the official out of the question?” 😉 So clearly you have company!

          But your situation is exactly what I think most folks who go global experience… we do not have easy access to what would meet the requirements of India’s notion of a “permanent” address!

  2. Each one of these articles about the troubles in India makes me appreciate German bureaucracy more and more! 🙂

  3. TheLastWord says:

    Indian red tape is the best in the world! Hands down the best. We took what the British left behind and modified it to suit the peculiar culture. There is logic there, actually, a method to the madness. I mean, if you did have a property handed down from generation to generation in your family why would you not consider this as your “permanent” residence? It’s simply not logical. Yes, you may have never seen it in your life. Your own parents may not have seen it either, but it’s there, nahi?

    It reminds me of the way my elder son used to get pissed off because during his weekly call home to his grandparents in India he would be told that the flat he’d renting for the last 6 years in Toronto wasn’t “his nijer bari” ( own house ). His house is actually the house my wife and I own in Mississauga.

    Weirdly, my wife’s house is the house her parents live in in Calcutta. And my in-laws consider their house to be in Chandannagore. And on it goes, or would, but there are no more generations left beyond that.. 🙂

    It follows then that your house is in Winnipeg. ( even it it isn’t you can always say it is 🙂 🙂 the babu at the window ain’t going to check ! )

    • Hahaha! Very well put!! You get this COMPLETELY!! 🙂

      My father did wonder why, after so many years, I’ve felt compelled to get a joint bank account with him and put efforts into sneakily trying to renew my defunct Manitoba driver’s license. Just to have some kind of official looking proof of a Canadian address.

      In yesterday’s scenario, even though I could provide the desired ‘proof’ the guy had his nose out of joint that I hadn’t put on the paper initially Canada as my “permanent” address so refused to listen to anything. Which means this was a wasted trip and I have to fly back to go through this whole process again in a few months.

  4. OMG I think I would be tearing my hair out!

  5. Egads! In Japan, the challenge for us is where to keep our family domicile. Due to registration rules, it’s in a ward of Tokyo we never lived in together and it’s still there. Hitoshi’s parents want us to move it to their city… if we need a copy of it for anything official, they have to go to Tokyo. It’s interesting to me that even though we don’t live in Japan, our family domicile will still be there as if we were.

  6. emmaalex1 says:

    So you will go back in a few months and hope to find a different official? 😉

  7. Marta says:

    OMG, India wins China in annoyingness in this regard xD I don’t think I have been ever required to write a Spanish address…

    • Personally I’d rather India DIDN’T win the annoyingness contest!!! 😉 But happy for you that there has so far been no need for you to whip out something that is current for a Spanish address!

  8. You must have figured this one out too: even if you are Indian, as long as you are not Marathi, you cannot always put down your real address in Maharashtra as your permanent address, even if you have bought the house and the land. (I use Maharashtra only as an example; this problem may arise in any state.) You can imagine that this could be a bit of a problem for people whose ancestors came from what today is Pakistan or Bangladesh.

    Its not much comfort to figure out that Japan and Korea have similar expectations. Koreans living in South Korea whose families originally lived in North Korea could have had it tough except that South Korea does recognize North Korea as Korea.

  9. mmarinaa says:

    I live in the UAE and am also required to have a permanent address from my passport country for things like my work contract or my bank account. And luckily my mother hasn’t moved since before I was born, so that one works quite well. I also need an American address for my bank account in America… and also when filling out forms for doctors in America, etc. It would be quite inconvenient not to have one, now that I come to think of it.

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