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Everyone likes a nice story book happy ending? Right?
And guess what? Spoiler alert! I’m about to give you one…
To recap… once upon a time I had real salaried jobs in India.
With each job at each company there was a little thing known here as a “Provident Fund” i.e. something you contribute to towards your retirement.
Which is a great thing!
Except that if you are not actively contributing to your Provident Fund (PF), it goes dormant and lies there withering away with no interest accumulating.
Yeah… you got that right… it gets frozen.
Factor in inflation… rupee devaluation… and basically what could have paid rent may not even buy a cup of coffee when you try to retire. I exaggerate… somewhat… but not completely…
So what happened?
Job #1 – Zippidydoodah!!
- Remarkably quick… merely took a few calls, getting the right forms, supporting documents in place and that was it!
- Redeemed in weeks… that’s correct! Under a month!
Job #3 – Get smart!
- Began with the usual “We lost the paperwork” and “Ooops! We didn’t set it up with your middle name…”
- Re-submitted paperwork with a different ID and different bank account without my middle name. Smart lass, eh?
- Redeemed in only a few months… that’s correct! Under a year!
Job #2 – Umm….
There is a reason the middle job comes last in this story…
There was more than one obstacle in this case… Like any good tale there were villains aplenty!
Villain #1 – Good old M&A
Original company merged with its global competitor… Combined company again went through a further acquisition… each change meant a further complication.
Villain #2 – Good old incompetance
Original PF registration had the wrong date of birth. Yeah, I know, how could that be when all supporting documents has the correct date of birth? Simple… someone… somewhere… wrote or typed a “0” instead of a “9” and voila! We have a problem.
Villain #3 – Good old ignorance
Once navigating a defunct PF was managed, date of birth corrected, someone got the bright idea that I was disqualified from withdrawing due to my citizenship. Seriously???
Yet like all good stories, we have heroes too!
Hero #1 – Good old boys…
Unbelievably, remarkably, astoundingly… despite all the changes, the Finance guys at my erstwhile employer remain.
Even more amazingly, they respond to my emails and til this day do not ignore my calls.
Without them nothing – and I do mean nothing – would have happened.
Hero #2 – Good old persistence
Even with the right people behind you, without consistently, persistently following up, resubmitting documentation, checking and rechecking… submitting new documentation, checking and rechecking… submitting yet new documentation, following up, checking and rechecking…
Only with pesky sometimes annoying prodding could any progress be achieved.
Hero #3 – Good old info
When ignorance reared its ugly head, more help was needed.
Even the right people, with persistence, gets nothing accomplished without the right “proof” that what someone less informed thought impossible was indeed possible and proper. Information is power. Proof of that information is even more powerful!
Documents were duly submitted dispelling ignorant assumptions that foreigners – and more specifically Canadians – have no access to their Indian Provident Fund.
So then what happened?
The heroes prevailed and defeated the evil villains and my beautiful lovely provident fund was won!
Redeemed in only a few years… that’s correct! Under a decade!
Moral of the story?
Living in India Tip #2
Remain friends with the finance and admin guys of your former employer!!! You never know when you may really really really REALLY need their help!
There are a lot of things different about living in India vs Canada… not the least of which is typically the weather!
When people think of India, they immediately imagine blazing heat!
And Canada? Let’s just say the exact opposite…
And if its Winnipeg? Try swirling snowstorms. And Mumbai? Warm, humid perennial summer!
So this week when my father mentioned how nice and warm it is in Winnipeg? I just so happened to check the temperature…
There in Winnipeg…
And here in Mumbai….
Are you kidding me? How rare is it to have EXACTLY the same temperature in two such otherwise different climates?
We lived in Hamilton, Ontario for a couple of years while my father did his PhD at McMaster University. It was an interesting change from Winnipeg and positive to be in a different environment.
However memory is a funny thing. One thing that stuck with me was an odd event that took place after swimming class.
I must have been 10 or 11 when in the change room there was the usual tween talk with innocent ribaldry.
When teasing turned to boasts about boys, one girl blurted out a peculiar assertion. (more…)
At the moment, I am feeling so miserable… all the posts I planned to write… let’s just say I can’t bring myself to finish any of them. And work stuff? Gaakh!
I have one of those yucky seasonal monsoon colds. You know the kind. Where you can’t go even a minute without blowing your nose, sneeze uncontrollably, ache all over and generally feel like you were hit by a truck?
And I’m running terribly short of a secret weapon from Indonesia – tolak angin.
Which got me thinking about how there is such an amazing range of ‘local remedies’ around the world to help ease your suffering when sick. (more…)
Asia can be a sensory cacophony… Mumbai means living with an everyday decibel level that you just come to accept. Even the background sounds that fade from consciousness are ever present – crows, pigeons, hawkers, traffic, construction, music or TVs blaring, animated conversations at all hours… there is always something day or night.
Average noise levels of our city are at least triple that of your normal North American city. Throw in a festival or two and you can see decibel levels of 140 and above (let’s just say that far worse than jumbo jets taking off!)
We landed in Vancouver a few days ago and were hosted by the closest I have to a brother and his partner of 18 years. Even though he was full-on with organising the upcoming Pride events, my adopted brother still threw us a fabulous BBQ gathering of friends and made time to hang and enjoy. That’s love, that’s family.
It isn’t to say friends haven’t struggled, but growing up gay in Canada is an entirely different proposition than in other parts of the world where public marriages and very closeted private encounters is a survival mechanism. Where being honest with yourself about whom you love is illegal. That’s not love.
So today – let’s celebrate that our LGBTTQ friends south of the border finally have the right to not only love who they want, but can even commit through marriage to their partner if they so chose.
I only hope that one of these days, India (and other countries) will finally take a step forward and decriminalize same-sex love. Then take another step forward and recognise gay partnerships on the same footing as heterosexual ones.
After all – all you need is love!
After the agonising effort to get my address dutifully updated with various mutual fund countries in India, I was slapped with a rude rebuff.
I can no longer invest in India.
It used to be that someone in my circumstances living long-term in India could invest in mutual funds. Which makes sense given this is my country of residence, where I’ve earned most of my money in the last 12 years, where all my global income is taxable.
It would be logical, therefore, that what little savings I have should be invested here. Right?
Wrong. I won’t go into all the details, but it has something to do with FATCA – Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. Which on the face of it is for Americans. To make sure that Americans or those with direct interests in the US are properly paying their American taxes.
But wait – I’m Canadian. I’ve never worked in the US. I’ve never held property in the US. Frankly other than a few short visits, rarely am ever IN the US. And Canada even has an intergovernmental agreement with the US to fairly cover off these matters.
What does that have to do with India?
Well… heck if I know but apparently it does.
As I understand it, most Indian Mutual Fund companies didn’t register with the IRS by the Jan 2015 deadline. Which means they’ve simply decided to avoid any new investments from not only US citizens but Canadian as well!
Last time I checked, Canada was not the 51st American state. Except, apparently, according to the Indian mutual fund industry… I accidentally discovered this when I went to make an on-line switch. It was declined.
Further investigation revealed I’ve fallen down some bizarre global tax rabbit-hole. I made several efforts to find a solution, explaining to no avail repeatedly that I’m not actually American, have zero interests in the US, that my tax jurisdiction is India… nix! None will touch my money as they don’t want to get into trouble with the Americans.
Naturally, there were – ahem – creative suggestions on how to get around this. I won’t name names… but let’s just say I was encouraged to lie about my nationality to get around the restriction. Sorry, but I’m not about to do that.
So… anyone want my money??
Most would have heard of American Born Confused Desi (ABCD)… but what about CBAD? Canadian Born Adopted Desi?
No one fits into a simple description. Country of origin and cultural heritage are just a couple of pieces of a very complex puzzle that makes up a person and then distinct people into a community.
I enjoy stories of others, like me, with a longer term embrace of a country other than the land of their birth. Beyond the traditional ‘expat’ is something else. In my case, if it was the reverse – India to Canada – I would be considered an ‘immigrant’. Comfortably settled into my ‘adopted’ country where my everyday ‘lingo’, cultural reference points, life experience and reality is… well… Indian.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I tried to join a forum for India bloggers. I’ve seen it featured on many blogs I enjoy so thought – why not give it a whirl?
Apparently I don’t belong. (more…)