Never trust a foreigner – sort of, well, ugh, wait a second!

In India, a foreigner has to renew his working visa annually. Reasonable (except for the process of doing so, but that’s another story). And in India, a foreigner has to pay taxes annually as well. Also reasonable (except for the amount one pays and what he gets out of it in return, but that’s again another story). But when you combine the 2, it gets interesting:

Let’s say your annual visa renewal is due in March. Tax payment needs to happen until somewhere in July. Now, if you apply for a visa in March of one year, the authorities will put a remark into the visa saying that by July you need to get a stamp on the visa proofing that you paid taxes, otherwise you’re not allowed to leave the country come late July. Maybe reasonable (except that I haven’t seen this in any other country I lived so far…). Hmm, me thinks — if I wanted to escape India without paying taxes, would I do so in July or August?

And then, eventually the inevitable moment comes and the diligenty tax-paying expat leaves India for good. Which is unlikely to happen by the time the government declared end of tax-year, I.e. July. But, let’s say the unsuspecting expat leaves in April. Then India lets the foreigner go without any proof since he can’t pay tax yet according to the Indian schedule. Instead, as it seems, India expects the guy to pay taxes once the Indian authorities declare tax-payment season, which is July. When the foreigner is far, far away. Hmm.

Finally, add a bit of (Indian) spice to the equation: Indian banks are only allowed to keep accounts for foreigners as long as they possess a valid visa. And visas are tied to actual employment contracts. In other words, once the foreigner’s employment contract ends, he leaves the country. Obviously. At the same time, his visa ends. And, at the same time, his Indian bank account seizes to exist. Now, back to the original topic, some time later he should pay taxes. By transfering money from his (aha!) Indian bank account to the tax authorities. Hmm, hmm, hmm…

Did any Indian authority ever think this whole thing through? I’m wondering how many expats “evade” taxes in their final year of (partially) being in India. Not out of intention but, well, #OnlyInIndia

I’m planning to leave India in November, btw. And I’m trying to adhere to all regulations. To my best. Let’s see how that works out…

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Ordering food in India…

So we, as we did for plenty times during the last few years, called one of our favourite local restaurants the other day to order some home delivery. The friendly automated lady told us that the called phone is currently out of service and we should try again later. Later as in when the restaurant paid their bill or when the dug-up cable got replaced?

Never mind, Google knew about an alternative number to call. Done deal we thought — called the number, asked “is this restaurant xyz”? “Yes”, it sounded through the line. Hah, done deal! “We’d like to have one order of pepper fry chicken” — “you know the one with curry leaves and chilli”. “Yes, with curry leaves and chilli” it sounded from the other end. “And dal fry and 2 naan”. “2 dal fry?” the called asked. “No, 1 dal fry, 2 naan” we responded to the slightly slow employee of the enterprise. “OK,” he asked; “that’s all? Give me your address”. The address was provided and all seemed good.

Until about 20 mins later when a text message came in, saying: “We are not a restaurant, we are an interior works company”, compete with a pic of their signboard.

I don’t usually do millenium-generation shorts, but WTF feels spot-on for what I felt…

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Residential hardship

So I moved into this residential community in Bangalore recently. Here’s what local people in such upmarket places rant about. This is WAY better than redneck Germany! Guess what I, a large animal, will do again tomorrow morning:

Dear All,

I found dog poop in front of my villa again today morning and this is the 5th time within a month!

I seem to have got better at this and thanks to the pets I know more about poops now! So pet enthusiasts please don’t take the trouble replying to my mail saying that I could have mistaken cat poop for the same. I now know that it is definitely from a big dog or any animal that is larger.

I again request the pet owners to be more sensitive and considerate of your neighbors.

Thanks and regards
–name removed–

The real health benefits of Kimchi

I rather accidentally came across this article in the Korea Herald about the surge of food poisoning in Korea’s schools last year. 80% increase, so it almost doubled from the previous year. Mainly due to contaminated Kimchi. In September, the peak was reached with 1162 kids being hospitalized. Among a population of some 40 Million. Heard of it before? Probably nobody else beyond some government officials ever did.

To put this into perspective. Germany has about double the population. In the same month last year there was a, what government and media considered gigantic outbreak of Norovirus, carried by frozen fruit from China. The story made it to news headlines world-wide for weeks, task forces had been formed, companies shut down. Jurisdiction is now folding things up. In that outbreak, according to the German disease control center, “at least 38 people have been hospitalized”.

Meanwhile, if you visit Korea, go eat more Kimchi. Locals believe that it’s good for your health, it’s believed to prevent you from contracting diseases such as SARS and avian flu — some even fed it to their chicken during the avian flu outbreak a few years back!