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Pppffft Provident Fund Follies in India – Part 1

Dealing with the tax authorities, government officials and more can be so painful in India that every time I’m able to take one step forward, I’m absurdly happy.

As in right now – witness me doing a manic happy jig as I managed to calculate my Service Tax charged less Service Tax paid with a gazillion little receipts to determine my Service Tax payable.

Yessir! I’ve paid it, printed my ‘challan‘ (proof of payment) and the online filing is happening as I speak.

I’m a happy camper!!

Except who knows what will go wrong next… (more…)

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Urban development – Gurgaon vs Manila

I’ve ramped up to a higher gear on the working to get work front (i.e. business development for a client)… which found me hoping on a plane last week to Delhi. Except this trip, I didn’t actually spend any time in Delhi.

Nope it was all Gurgaon for me baby!

Welcome to Delhi Airport

Welcome to Delhi Airport

Believe it or not, the first time my feet touched ground in Gurgaon, Haryana was 25 years ago. Yup! Back in the day when this massive, teaming, constantly growing city spawned outside of another megalopolis was merely a crazy idea with the first skeletal buildings starting to spring up in the middle of nowhere.

I was on a Shastri summer study abroad program and learning, amongst many other things, about India’s urban development plans. (more…)

It never ends… shrug and sigh…

For those just tuning in… our building in Bandra is undergoing structural repairs. This is the latest instalment of our ongoing experience!

Ding dong! The doorbell rang and a mumbled “Close your windows” was delivered quickly before the worker moved on to the next flat to repeat the message.

It has become such a regular request, we essentially have shut ourselves in as you never know when falling debris will come tumbling down. We have more than one cracked window now too. This is all just part of life now… (more…)

Company anniversary – welcoming work

With social media, being inundated with birthday greetings – especially over Facebook – has become the norm. Hundreds of enthusiastic personalised wishes can get a bit overwhelming!

What snuck up on me was the recognition social media brought to the 1st anniversary of opening my company in Singapore.

Given that I’m buried deep into sorting through the accounts and navigating another tax system, the last thing I’ve been thinking about is celebrating one year of being my own boss internationally!

Which made it all the more delightful to see how many folks paid attention to LinkedIn’s ‘work anniversary’ alert to hit ‘like’ plus send a congratulatory message! Thanks folks!!

So in celebration of “CLH Consulting Pte Ltd” turning one, I’m delighted to introduce the new ‘work‘ category to Everyday Asia. (more…)

Welcome home?

You know that special ‘Aaaahh…’ that comes from walking in your front door, flopping on your familiar sofa, making a home-cooked meal, sleeping in your own bed after a trip?

No matter how fun-filled, fabulous and remarkable the journey was, there is that sense of ‘rightness’ in coming home.

Unless your cosy sanctuary is in shambles, the kitchen inaccessible (let alone functioning), all careful efforts to keep furniture undamaged gleefully undermined, every single assurance the work would be done dashed.

Once upon a time this was a kitchen

Once upon a time this was a kitchen

In this case, for want of a 2 minute phone call, a 10 minute job with a $2 expense. (more…)

You know you are in trouble when…

We all know that when construction folks say “It is a 5 days job” it is likely to be more. It is practically a universal phenomenon that unexpected developments occur in any major project.

In India, you can reliably double the time so I wasn’t surprised when “5 days” work in our bedroom stretched to two weeks. What was amusing to discover was the different definition of “done.” According to the contractor, “finished” looks like this… (more…)

“We don’t want your money!” Indian mutual fund cos deny Canadians because of the Americans

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. refuse_1 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 want you to pay your taxes 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??

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Passport power… cross-border crossing from different countries

I wonder if there will ever come a day when the double standard of differential access to countries will cease?

I recently stumbled across an interesting info graphic by Rosie Spinks for GOOD Magazine. (see also a modified version below)

Rosie Spinks infographic in Good Magazine

Rosie Spinks infographic in Good Magazine

It poses the question, how powerful is your passport?

I never take for granted the privilege of possessing a Canadian passport or the opportunity to make India my adopted home.

However, just to put into perspective:

  • Canada has visa-free access to 170 countries around the world
  • Whereas India has visa-free access to only 52 countries

With a partner possessing an Indian passport, I witness regularly first-hand the additional steps required – most recently as he renewed his UK tourist visa for our upcoming Canada – UK trip.

Cross-border crossings for me are easy. For him, even though clearly he travels internationally regularly for work and pleasure, it is not so straightforward. I can take an impromptu trip to Amsterdam, whereas he cannot and most travel requires advance planning with visa applications.

So far, we are able to navigate these matters, however it breaks my heart to hear of stories where couples with different countries of origin, struggle… when love goes global, governments do not always agree!

I ask you then, what is your passport power? If you have someone else in your life, does your partner / spouse / significant other possess a different passport? How does that impact your lives?

Would love to hear your stories and invite guest posts – just drop me a line at info[at]everydayasia.com. 

Here is a version modified by move hub that may be a bit easier to read online:

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Swinging into Singapore – an ‘alternate’ home

Lately I’ve been caught calling Singapore my ‘alternate’ home…

My original home is Canada.

My adopted home is India.

My work home is often (happily!) Indonesia among many other countries across Asia.

However my international company is based in Singapore. It is my work hub, my frequent hop stop from various countries… and when I’m away too long, I get this itchy feeling… and my fingers reach out to book a flight!

Up in the air - again!

Up in the air – again!

So this week I’m off to Singapore for a mad time chock-full of all sorts of activities. A sneak peak into a few include:

  • Zip from airport to an evening of jazz with an old high school buddy
  • Co-facilitate a session at a Women’s Leadership Development workshop
  • Meetings, meetings and more meetings over coffee, lunch, more coffee, maybe some tea… with hopes something somewhere ‘clicks’ and there will be some interesting next steps
  • Slightly mind-numbing accounting and annual file preparation… ugh!
  • Feasting as food is just too good! And best accompanied with friends and general fun faffery
  • Explore a few whisky hot spots with more than one set of fabulous folks
  • Inspect (oops meet!) the new ‘man’ of a dear friend and see how the little one of another is growing up!
  • A stroll along the East Coast… just because I’m lucky enough to be staying nearby

Honestly… I can’t wait to get on that plane and plunge back into Singapore life for a few days.

And I know… none of this sounds like a wild ‘explore the world’ kinda trip. It is just catching up on regular life type activities.

Because after all… Singapore is my ‘alternate’ home.

Daily commute from the East Coast to CBD, Singapore

Daily commute from the East Coast to CBD, Singapore

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Social Media – Personal vs Professional

I’m a bit out of synch with social media and have entirely out-dated notions about personal vs professional spaces.

For me, Facebook is a personal space to share what I chose with friends. As in ACTUAL friends. As in people I really do honestly KNOW. As in really have MET at some point in our lives.

Not random strangers who happen to have at least one common connect (necessary to find me on FB) and a bizarre notion we can ‘make friends.’ For the unfamiliar, that is code for “I expect to get my jollies by chatting you up as after all… you are a loose ‘white’ woman.” (Oh and the ‘white’ part only enhances the sleaze factor, lovely desi ladies are not immune to such unwanted attentions).

Whereas for me, LinkedIn is a professional space where I’m happy to keep connected with those I’ve met professionally. Ideally we’ve worked together directly. If not, we have at least met in a professional context or there is a rationale for keeping abreast of each others professional developments. The bonus about LinkedIn is it doesn’t seem to be the horny stalker social medium of choice – yeah!

Sure the lines between professional and personal are blurred. It is perfectly natural to meet interesting professionals along the way and become friends. Just as some friends share professional interests. (more…)

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