Thursday, 17 December 2015
I’m lucky enough to have found a publishing house in India who likes my writing and, earlier this year, they launched a completely new edition of A Glimpse of Eternal Snows. I was so pleased that they took on my memoir and was even more delighted when they expressed interest in the novel that is a sequel to Glimpse. We’re hoping this will be out during the first half of 2016. While I was polishing up the prose to make my novel as good as I could get it, incorporating comments and feedback from the self-published version, I was aware that there were other aspects of the international book trade that I needed to attend to.
I couldn’t put it off any longer and early in September logged on to the Indian e-governance site to apply for a Permanent Account Number from the Income Tax Department. I wasn’t optimistic. UK tax affairs boggle my mind and I was acutely aware that any previous interaction that I’ve had with Indian bureaucracy appeared to have absorbed all that is cumbersome and unnecessary from British red tape and made it ten times worse.
I was relieved, then to discover that the on-line form wasn’t too intimidating or long. As with many on-line forms though I wasn’t allowed to do what I thought I needed to do and mistakenly ticked the resident of India box. As the whole thing needed to be printed out, a photo attached and posted to India, I crossed out resident and hand-wrote non-resident.
A week or so later – remarkably quickly, I thought, I received an automated email telling me I had filled the form in wrongly so needed to reply. I duly did this. A week or so later – remarkably quickly, I thought, I received an automated email telling me that my photo was damaged or unsuitable. I reapplied. A week or so later – remarkably quickly, I thought, I received an automated email telling me my proof of address was unacceptable. Foolishly perhaps although I hadn’t used my authorial double-barrelled name, I had applied using both my given names. I could have, should have applied as plain Jane Wilson, but I hadn’t and my proof of address had to be an official document giving both my address and my full name. It didn’t seem to matter that they had already proof of my full name as it was there on my passport.
What they wanted a separate document mentioning my full name and address, and they wouldn’t accept a document giving my name as Dr J M Wilson or Jane M Wilson but it had to be the name in full. I sent over the next month or so bank statements, bank letters, UK and US tax documents, driving licence, pension statements and reams of official letter but emails kept coming back a week or so later – remarkably quickly, I thought, that none of these would do. My better half suggested giving up and donating my royalties to a local charity. He knows. He’s been doing battle with Afghan tax authorities.
Finally I realised that what they insisted upon was a bank statement with my full name on it. I went into the bank. They were unsurprised. Money laundering regulations are strict everywhere. However my bank was physically unable to supply a bank statement with my full name on it. Snooping through the screen, I could see that my bank records knew I was Jane Margaret Wilson. The nice lady behind the counter spent some considerable time trying to print out what I needed but concluded it wasn’t possible. She wouldn’t let me take a screen shot of her computer. She did, though, provide a statement that she annotated by hand with my full name, a rubber-stamped and signed it and I set this off I the post to the tax office in Pune. A week or so later – remarkably quickly, I thought, I received an automated email telling me that my proof of address was unacceptable because it didn’t bear my full name.
I sent an ever-so-polite pleading email asking for leniency and a day or so later – remarkably quickly, I thought, I received a reply referring me to the detailed requirement of the Tax Office. I looked back over the rules and stipulations which seemed to say that unless I could provide a bank statement in the right format – or Indian identity card – I’d have to travel to London and get a document from the Indian Embassy. Such a trip would cost more than the meagre royalties I hoped to earn. I went back to my bank and explained my predicament. The gentleman behind the desk was also sympathetic and tried a few things but also established that no-one could provide me with the statement in the form required by the Indian tax office. I rent my clothes and tore my hair. Surely a screen shot would be the solution? He brainstormed with his colleagues and finally offered to write me a letter confirming that the bank couldn’t provide a statement in the required format but confirming my full name and address. I posted this off to Pune.
A week or so later – remarkably quickly, I thought, I received an automated email – the sixteenth – telling me that the documents I had submitted nder the name of "kumari" Jane Wilson daughter of shri Joseph Wilson were satisfactory and that my application would be passed to another office. Joy! Though this was muted joy as I had a sneaking feeling the process might be repeated by this new office.
Then a week or so later – remarkably quickly, I thought, but three and a half months after I started my application, I collected a small envelope from the Post Office. Imagine my surprise when I found this very smart card inside, with my late Dad's name on it as well as mine.
Posted: 17/12/2015 14:47:25
| with 0 comments