NRI Survival Guide

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This year I’ll complete six years of being a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) living in the USA, and what a ride it has been! I came here to gain an education and build a life fueled by my passions. I was terrified and excited at the same time by the sheer number of possibilities for my life, and I cannot forget the feeling of everything around me being new.

Education and profession aside, every year of this six-year journey has been a learning experience and has shaped me into the person I am today. Some of my biggest lessons have been in humanity and respect for each other more than anything else. Today I want to share some of my musings in an attempt to define for myself what being an NRI has taught me, and to invite thoughts on your experiences – simply because it’s a topic worth reflecting upon.

We Are All One

One thing that I’ve noticed more than others is that the more you separate yourself from others the more you feel and act that way. This took some time for me to figure out especially because I initially felt lost in this new world that I’d decided to implant myself into. I was uncomfortable about myself and constantly worrying about whether I was saying the right things, offending people without meaning to or worse yet making a fool out of myself. Thankfully, my MBA program had some great mentors who helped me see how even though we all might be physically different, or from different parts of the world there is a binding thread among us all that makes us one, that makes us human.

I think what cemented that for me was also my work with my MBA team mates in which we were encouraged to share honest feedback with each other in a respectful manner. In the process of doing that I learnt how we all have our pain points and triumphs, our insecurities and the things we are proud of, our experiences good and bad, and most of all our different fears. Simply being able to speak about what drove an action/reaction and how it affected another helped us remove all the fluff surrounding our physical identities and look at each other for who we are as individuals. I learnt to respect and meet the other person where they were and that forever changed the way I looked at my NRI experience. I went from feeling like an outsider in an alien land, to being able to connect with people by just genuinely trying to learn where they were coming from and sharing myself with them.

Even today, if I feel a wave of that fear welling up in myself, I remind myself that we’re all one if we choose to look beyond the fluff and try to understand why a person might be behaving the way they are. Regardless of whether that makes a difference to the situation or no, there comes a sense of peace with it that is invaluable. This has made a permanent difference to the way I communicate as an individual as well as a professional and I consider it an important part of my life as an NRI…better yet, as a human.

Life Is A Game, Play It

There have been several highs and lows during these six years, and they’ve taught me resilience. The most difficult lesson for me to learn was to allow things to flow rather than try to control them all – because like the first time you’re playing a video game you never know what’s coming at you. While one day everything might seem great and you’ll feel like you’re in love with everybody and everything in the world, the next day the world might let you know that it doesn’t like you back as much. That used to knock me down in the beginning, I’d think I wasn’t cut out for this whole experience and that I should probably go back home to the safety of my family. But, it took just one time of facing the lows and coming out stronger on the other side to make me a more confident person. I’ve had several chances over these years to exercise the muscle of resilience and today I can say that I can put on my game face anywhere, any time and sail through the difficult times. I’ve taken hits, things that have nearly destroyed my sense of self, but I’ve survived them all and here I am writing this – grateful and blessed.

This is an important part of my NRI life because of the simple reason that my stay here is currently governed by a lot of external factors that I do not have any control over. The only thing I control is how I play this game, and how I make it to the end, standing tall and proud. Going with the flow is now my life strategy.

Be There for Yourself

The decision to remove myself from the familiarity of family and come here also came with a lot of mental challenges. There was no substitute to the emotional safety that came with being around loved ones who’d seen me at my best and my worst and loved me for exactly who I was. I distinctly remember feeling dejected sometimes and having to put on a brave face and get through the day only to find out that I wasn’t feeling dejected or lost anymore. I realized that these feelings are temporary and once acknowledged I can find ways to alleviate them. Friends became my new family and continue to be a blessing in my life. However, what made the biggest difference for me in this journey was learning to be there for myself – all day every day.

NRI life has taught me self-care like nothing else has. I’ve learnt that it is ok to not want to do things, to say no when I’m tired or to go out and have a fun night if that’s what I feel like. I’m no longer burning myself out, I’ve learnt to listen for what I need and give myself that; and that has made a huge difference to what I bring to the table in my relationships as well as at work.

This six-year journey has been defining in several ways. I’m not sure if I would have experienced the same things or with the same intensity if I had chosen a different path, but I can’t be grateful enough for this one. Starting from the time I landed in the USA to today, I’ve been surrounded by loving friends, competent team mates and inspirational co-workers who’ve made everything worth it.

If you recently moved outside India to pursue an education or follow your dreams, remember one thing for the difficult (and the happy) times – Just Keep Swimming.



 Creative writer. Part-time engineer. Marketing professional. Swetha has an MBA from the University at Buffalo. She manages Oxigen’s presence online, providing value to NRIs and driving sales along the way. When not working, she’s usually creating things – either craft, writing or food.

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9 Ways To Buy Organic Food on a Budget

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Please tell me I’m not the only one who skips buying organic avocado just because it’s damn expensive. As much as I love to eat food clean of pesticides and chemicals, I don’t enjoy paying $6 for a pound of Strawberries. Until a few years ago, organic and clean eating were not really a thing. Only recently people started becoming aware of the importance and now almost everyone I know buys organic products. I’m one of those people who started buying organic only in the past few years.

One positive thing is, due to the mass consumption of organic groceries, we are able to find organic products in every single grocery store including Walmart. The more people buy it, the less expensive it becomes. It’s wonderful, isn’t it? At least we don’t have to make special trips to Whole Foods {moment of truth: I spend more time in Whole foods cafe than in the grocery store ? }.

8 years ago, my grocery budget was much less than my current grocery budget. With growing family and inclusion of organic groceries, our budget went up more than what I would like it to be. As I mentioned here, my grocery budget is $600 a month for 3 adults (including my visiting mom) and 2 kids. Once my mom goes back to India, I’m planning to reduce our budget to $500 a month and see if we can survive. Our budget includes produce, toiletries, household products, diaper etc.

Over the years, our grocery budget includes lot more organic products even though I do buy regular products in our diet. I follow the below ideas to eat organic food within the budget. These are easy-to-follow ideas that I use every single time.

Follow the Clean/Dirty Rule:

Do you know you don’t have to buy all Organic? Have you heard of Clean 15/Dirty 12 rule? I follow it almost to the T. I love that I don’t have to pay $7 and buy an Organic cantaloupe when I get the regular one for just $1.5.

EWG updates this list once a year and I share it on Facebook whenever there is an update.

Buy Frozen:

If we want to buy non-seasonal produce (eg. buying fresh berries in winter), we do need to pay a premium price. Because fresh berries are not available in all regions during winter. Instead, try buying frozen produce. They are much cheaper and equally, if not more, nutritious.

Gobble The Groceries:

Not kidding guys! Let’s use every damn thing we bought at the store. Even though I buy a variety of fruits and veggies at the store, my eating habit was more towards the fruits/veggies I like. The rest would sit in the fridge for days until it’s ready to go to the trash. Now I push myself to eat everything until I buy a new set of fruits and veggies.

My rule is to empty the fridge before I go shopping every single time.

Use Coupons:

You’ll probably find more coupons for junk food. But do you know you can find coupons for Organic products as well? Check grocery store apps, brand websites etc to find coupons for Organic products. If you’re buying something repeatedly, it’s better you find coupons for that product to save money consistently.

If you don’t find a coupon for your favorite product, write an email to the brand about how much you love their product and request coupons.

Farmers Market:

Personally, I don’t think Farmers Markets are cheap. They’re equally, if not more, expensive than a regular grocery store. However, there is a trick to save when shopping at Farmers Market. Make sure you shop at the end of the hour before they close. Vendors are ready to sell you excessive produce before they leave home. For example, I got 2 big bunches of Basil for $1 once. She asked me to keep it for free. I didn’t want to take it free, so decided to give her a dollar instead. In the end, both of us were happy. I consider that a good deal.

Mix Your Purchases:

Not all organic products are expensive. For example, you can buy 5 pounds of organic pear for the price of 1 pound of organic Strawberry (check out the picture above). So, don’t just buy one type of expensive organic produce every time. Mix up your purchases to save money.

Buy from Regular Grocery Store:

Stay away from specialty stores such as Whole Foods for organic groceries. Do you know some dollar stores carry organic groceries? My personal favorite is ALDI. If you have one nearby, do check it out. You’ll be surprised to see some wonderful finds in there.

Grow Your Own Food:

Plant your own vegetable garden if you have space to do it. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing where our food comes from. Back when we lived in Austin, I had many more plants than now. I loved going to the backyard to pick up some fresh mint.

Buy Online:

The two websites I use for online grocery purchases are Lucky Vitamin and Amazon. For a lot f items Lucky Vitamin is much cheaper than Amazon. I wait till they have a sale and coupons before I make my purchases.

Do you guys follow any other ideas besides the above to save money on organic grocery shopping? I’d love to know.


Special Offer: Use code BIGBASKET at checkout to get 20% off Big Basket Digital Gift Cards for your family in India – you can help them save on their organic produce shopping too! Offer ends April 30, 2018. Code valid for one use per person.



Uma is a working mom of two little kids, living in New Jersey. She enjoys saving money and writes a lifestyle/personal finance blog called Centsible Indian.






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Kitesurfing Vacation Thoughts: 2017 Highlights & 2018 Outlook

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I hope that you are off to a great start to 2018! I celebrated the new year with a kitesurfing vacation on the island of St. Lucia. The wind was high and the good times were flowing at Coconut Bay Resort where we stayed. After a long day on the ocean practicing my jumps, I wanted to reflect on Oxigen’s highlights during 2017 as well as outline some of the exciting things in store for 2018.

Oxigen Chief Happiness Officer, Amir Alexander Hasson, kitesurfing in St. Lucia

2017 Highlights

2017 began amidst the aftermath of the major demonetization event that occurred in November 2016. Oxigen India and our customers in India experienced short-term challenges as Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were removed from the economy, increasing the value propositions for digital cash and mobile wallets like the Oxigen Wallet. During that time, our digital payments service helped many NRIs transfer value to their loved ones in India without the need for any cash and I’m proud that Oxigen could play a role in helping people through the abrupt transition.

We launched this Oxigen NRI Life blog in 2017 and one of the first articles was about how Oxigen helped retailers navigate through the turmoil that resulted from demonetization. During the year we published several articles on a range of topics relevant to NRIs, including how to save money, Desi fashion secrets, important H1B visa changes, and NRI Diwali tips.

We also launched our exciting digital gift card service, which allows you to instantly send gift cards for major Indian and global brands to your loved ones in India. We were pleasantly surprised with how interested you were in this new service and, as a result, we kept adding more and more instant gift cards with now nearly 50 major brands to choose from. If you haven’t tried this out yet, you should!

Concurrent with the release of Season 7 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, we launched the Game of Happiness, a GoT-themed game consisting of quests that earn you Reward Points for discounts as well as a Reward Point multiplier for advancing to the next “House” of Happiness. Although we knew that many of you were Game of Thrones fans, we were thrilled to see such a huge response to the Game of Happiness from our customers internationally. To thank you for your enthusiasm, we held a Dubsmash contest for a free Halloween GoT costume as well as a full set of the GoT Series DVDs for the first customer to complete all Game of Happiness quests.

We also signed partnerships for our nationwide business and consumer money transfer services, and launched our business money transfer service in partnership with AFEX in August. This exciting new service enables businesses to transfer money to India at superior exchange rates rather than be exploited by banks that charge wire fees and offer low FX rates. Businesses transferring money to India can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year with Oxigen’s service, and can try the service with no risk as the first transfer of $10 is free. We also introduced the business referral program through which you can earn $100 per business you refer!

We made several enhancements to the Oxigen customer experience in 2017. We introduced Internet and special recharge packs for all mobile operators. We added many new electricity and gas operators and now integrate with over 20 operators to provide closer to nationwide coverage. We made our website completely mobile-friendly, designed to look and feel just like a native mobile app in your hands.

We streamlined the registration and login process with Facebook login while also providing guest checkout as an option. We optimized the transaction flow process, removing unnecessary clicks and steps so that you can complete your transactions at blazing speeds. We made enhancements to our security measures and anti-fraud systems with zero accounts hacked in 2017 and less than 0.05% in loss-generating fraudulent transactions. This is one of the main reasons we are able to provide you with the best prices on the market for your transfers to India.

2018 Outlook

I don’t want to spill all the beans, but we do have some very exciting things in store for you this year. Here are a few of the big ones:

  • Consumer money transfers: in the next few months we’ll be launching our nationwide consumer money transfer service! That’s right, it will no longer be limited to New Jersey and Florida residents. Soon anyone in any State will be able to transfer money to India at the highest True Exchange Rate© on the market!
  • Many more billers: Oxigen is one of the few licensed partners of NPCI’s Bharat Bill Pay System in India, which has enabled digital payments to hundreds of new billers, particularly utility operators. This system also enables unique new features such as bill inquiry, allowing you to see how much is currently due on an account. We have some exciting plans for how we’re going to create a revolutionary new experience for you with this capability that we’ll tell you more about in the coming months.
  • Mobile app: although our website is just a good as a mobile app, we know that many of you still prefer mobile apps so we’re in the process of building a killer app for you, stay tuned!
  • Transfers for Oxigen Wallet: Oxigen Wallet is one of the largest and most powerful mobile wallets in India with over 30 million users, growing every day. We’re working with regulators and banks to enable you to transfer money directly to someone’s mobile in India through Oxigen Wallet. This will unleash a whole new level of convenience and speed for transfers as well as flexibility and value for your loved ones in India.

Thanks for taking the time to review our milestones from 2017 and for 2018! If you have any comments or suggestions, I would love to hear them.


Amir is an accomplished entrepreneur with expertise in international business, IT, and telecom. He received his Master’s from MIT Sloan and has started 4 companies impacting the lives of millions globally. Red Herring featured Amir as one of the “Top 25 [Entrepreneurs] Under 35”. Amir enjoys yoga, kitesurfing, and travel.


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I Was Wrong: My 2017 Savings Plan Didn’t Work

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Earlier this year I shared a three-step “foolproof” plan to save money in 2017. Full disclosure – it wasn’t entirely foolproof for me. As embarrassing as that is to admit, I can take some joy in the fact that it worked for a few people who tried it.

While I didn’t save as much as I wanted to, I was able to identify the loopholes in my personal implementation of the plan. Here’s what I learnt:

  1. Make space for the unexpected
    I’ll start with step 1 in my original plan – Setting a Realistic Goal. I used the spreadsheet to budget all my expenses and determine how much I could save this year. However, I now realize that I did not allow space for unforeseen expenses (for example, the pricing of my utilities increased), emergencies, damages/repairs or unexpected travel.My plan was super rigid and, seeing that I’m a go-with-the-flow kind of person, the two didn’t work well together.

Lesson Learnt: Allow enough buffer for life changes. Lifestyle changes — like getting addicted to kickboxing for a workout — certainly impacted my savings.

  1. Savings accounts are good, as long as….
    I created two savings accounts – one with Acorns, an app that automatically withdraws and invests spare change from my expenditures. The other, a savings account with a bank, which was set up for manual transfers. They both worked well for me during the first quarter, but over time I stopped manually transferring money and just allowed the transfers to automatically be deducted from my account.

    Lesson Learnt:
    Automate all savings transfers if you’re a go-with-the-flow kind of person!
  1. Keep the secret sauce a secret!
    The secret sauce to my plan was “NOT” to dip into my savings, and boy did I ignore that rule! Since I had a very rigid plan, I found myself constantly dipping into my savings… almost every month. When I wasn’t doing that, I was blocking all transfers to my savings account so that the money would be available for immediate use. The only upside to all of this was that I wasn’t turning to my credit cards for the extra expenditure and was using the money that I saved.

Lesson Learnt: Forget your passwords, delete those apps, make it difficult to withdraw from your savings… or enroll in the army to cultivate a rigorous level of discipline!

So there it is, everything I’d do differently next time around!

Looking back, I’ve had a great year. I tried a bunch of new things, achieved some personal goals and experienced growth in leaps and bounds. While not everything went as planned, I’m now raring to go back to the drawing board to improve my savings plan for 2018.

How did your year of savings go? Do leave a comment below!

 Creative writer. Part-time engineer. Marketing professional. Swetha has an MBA from the University at Buffalo. She manages Oxigen’s presence online, providing value to NRIs and driving sales along the way. When not working, she’s usually creating things – either craft, writing or food.

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How to Legally Transfer Money to India as a Business & Get Better FX Rates*

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Did you know that certain money transfer services, like Xoom/PayPal, are only for individuals and not businesses where as there are other services, like OFX, which are only for businesses and not individuals? At Oxigen, we give you the best of both worlds and also make sure that your money transfers are 100% legal.

One might say, “But I transfer money from my US bank account to my Indian bank account using a money transfer service for individuals and then make business-related payments from my Indian bank account”. Although you’re not alone – in fact, our market research shows that many NRIs are doing this – we’re pretty sure that this flow of funds is not compliant with law if the money transferred to India is ultimately for business reasons, e.g. paying a software development firm for engineering work or paying a landlord for rent of a commercial property.

One might then say, “But everyone does it, like speeding on the highway. I won’t get caught”. That may be true, however, you could be at risk of penalization in the event that your personal transfers to India are determined to be for business purposes. For example, in the event that you were audited by the IRS after filing your tax return, your transfers to India could be exposed and reported to the Indian government.

“Fair point, but what should I do? Isn’t starting a company a big hassle and expense?”, one may ask. Contrary to popular belief, starting a company in the US is actually quick, easy, and affordable. The government has created a very convenient corporate structure for individuals to have their own one-person companies without requiring a separate tax return, overhead, and professional services: the Limited Liability Corporation or LLC for short. Costs vary by state, but starting an LLC costs less than $1,000 and can be done in a day or two online. provides a good online guide for starting an LLC, where you can just select your state of residence and it tells you how to proceed accordingly. You can interact directly with your state government’s website to form the LLC or, for a fee, you can use a service like or to manage the process for you.

What all can an LLC do for you?

  1. An LLC provides you with a shield for (almost) all liabilities associated with your business activities. For example, let’s say you sell a mobile app online and one of your users claims to have an injury resulting from your app. If you don’t have an LLC (or other corporate structure), then the user sues you as an individual and your personal assets may be at stake; whereas if you have an LLC then the user would sue the LLC and your personal assets should be protected – there are some things that corporate structures do not protect against such as fraud (more on that, here).
  2. You could make use of money transfer companies that only serve businesses, and, in the case of Oxigen, take advantage of our superior business money transfer rate. Today, for instance, Oxigen’s FX rate for individuals is Rs 63.36/$1 whereas for businesses it’s Rs 65.37/$1, a difference of over 2 Rupees per Dollar!
  3. Lastly, and perhaps even more importantly, with an LLC you should not be at risk of legal problems if you are transferring money to India for business reasons as an individual since it would be the LLC transferring the money, not you as an individual.

I have an LLC and have transferred money to India through Oxigen using the business money transfer service – and it works great!

In short, if you transfer money to India for business reasons, you should be doing it through a corporate structure. If you’re not using a corporate structure, you should consider setting up an LLC to not only protect yourself, but also to take advantage of better rates and services offered only to business clients.

Try us out for FREE: Send your first business money transfer to India on us.

* Please note that this article does not provide any legal, tax, or accounting advice and that the author is not liable for any claims, damages, costs, or other factors resulting from a reader’s review of the article. Please consult an attorney or accountant if you would like advice on the subject matter described in the article.


Amir is an accomplished entrepreneur with expertise in international business, IT, and telecom. He received his Master’s from MIT Sloan and has started 4 companies impacting the lives of millions globally. Red Herring featured Amir as one of the “Top 25 [Entrepreneurs] Under 35”. Amir enjoys yoga, kitesurfing, and travel.

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Missing Diwali in India? Celebrate NRI Style!

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Diwali is in a few days and I can’t stop thinking about how the festival has evolved over the years. When I was a child, we used to go to our grandma’s house where our extended family would come together and celebrate the festival. The day would start with Ganga Snanam and prayers to God before we could even touch the sweets. I enjoyed watching crackers more than trying one by myself, but I had enough people around me who loved bursting crackers.

After moving to USA, Diwali had become so mundane and… blah. The first few years were tough especially when the Diwali day was nothing more than just another day. I missed my family more during festival times and Skype calls sometimes just made it worse.

After having kids, I realized that there is a reason why we decided to live in this country and, instead of cribbing, why not make the most of what we have? In the past few years, our Diwali celebrations have improved in such a way that my family was impressed when they visited us during one Diwali. Here are some ways NRIs can celebrate and enjoy this important Festival of Lights:

Send Diwali Cards to Friends and Family:

Receiving physical cards from our loved ones is much more exciting than an getting another email. When I was a child (yikes, am feeling really old when I say this J), I used to write greeting cards to my cousins and friends. I’d go to the store, pick the ones I like, write messages in my own handwriting, put a stamp and send it to friends and family.

People still do it for Christmas over here, right? Why not combine both and recreate the tradition for Diwali now?

Take a family portrait, print a Diwali greeting card with a family portrait and send to friends and family. If you have big kids, involve them in the process and make them write messages to their extended families. Post them ahead of time for them to receive it in time – hurry!

Take the Day Off and Celebrate with Close Friends:

Team Oxigen at a Diwali Celebration

For NRIs, friends are more of a family away from family. Not all of us are blessed with close families living nearby. Use this occasion to meetup with your close friends – even if they’re not Indian, why not introduce them? I still remember one special Diwali celebration couple of years back. One time, we all met at our friend’s house, cooked elaborate meals, played all day long and ended the celebration by watching an Indian movie in a theatre. If you have younger kids, it might be difficult to do all of this in one day, but at least meet with your close friends and celebrate in a way that works for you.

Remind them to Send Treats from India:

My family has been sending Diwali bakshanams (foods) from India and it’s something we look forward to every year. Not that we can’t get these things over here, but when we receive gifts from our loved ones from the homeland, it becomes very special. In my case, my whole family lives in India except me. We all miss each other and this package of clothes and bakshanams is something that makes my festival day brighter. Now even my kiddo looks forward to the package from his paati (nana).

Send Gifts to Family in India:

It goes without saying: send gifts to your immediate family to make their festival of lights even brighter. We all get excited and happy when someone thinks about us and sends gifts. Why not make our family happy by sending Diwali gifts to show them how much we still care?

You can find great deals on Diwali gifts over here: and you can use my discount code, “UMASGIFT”, for a 15% discount on Diwali gifts and instant gift cards!

Diwali Decorations:

In our house, decorations start from October. First Diwali, then Thanksgiving and it ends in Christmas. (Last year, our son wanted to keep the Christmas tree till February. That’s another story for another time.) Personally, I am all about DIY creations and Pinterest has lots of ideas on Diwali DIYs. Even if you don’t have time or patience, you can buy some Diwali themes decorations from ETSY. Even just artificial thorans that we find in Indian stores can give a festive touch to your home.

Nearby Diwali Events:

Diwali Celebrations at Times Square, NY

Nowadays, multiple Diwali events are happening in the city where I live. A regionally-specific one, Diwali Mela (search Diwali under Events section in Facebook) and Temple Mela are some examples. Almost all of the time, they end the celebration with fireworks. And these events are always during weekends. The good thing is, this event is for the whole family and no one gets bored by attending a Diwali mela. My personal favorite is watching dance performances, while my husband’s favorite is hitting all the food stalls 🙂

Although these ideas are not equal to celebrating the festival with all our extended family in India, we still can create some special memories with our own family if we plan ahead and try the above ideas. My first kid is 3 years old and is starting to understand festivals and special occasions now. I can’t wait to create some special memories again during this Diwali!

Wishing you all a wonderful Diwali, no matter where you are!



Uma is a working mom of two little kids, living in New Jersey. She enjoys saving money and writes a lifestyle/personal finance blog called Centsible Indian.

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The Desi Blend

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To me, one of the biggest perks of being Indian-American is the clothing. I love having a wardrobe that consists of ethnic-wear and western-wear. Let’s be honest. One is never enough, but both combined? Perfection.

While I adore the dresses, footwear, and multi-functional tops I get in the States, I have to admit that my wardrobe would feel empty without all the colors, varieties, and prints that ethnic-wear brings. I’m someone who, no matter the occasion, adds a desi twist to my outfits.

Adding unique pieces to your wardrobe will make picking outfits in the morning more fun and compliments all the more regular (and who doesn’t love compliments?). Say goodbye to your standard gray, black, and blue outfits and hello to outfits that pop! I want to show you guys easy ways you can integrate your favorite desi pieces into your everyday wardrobe!

The first and easiest way to start is with some jewelry. Indian costume jewelry is some of the best-designed and most beautiful jewelry in the world. Even though at first I was hesitant to add such bold pieces to my regular outfits, once I started, I realized that I had nothing to worry about. Jhumkas are eye-catching and it’s easy enough to buy one of each color when you’re in India.

Ornate necklaces already have an “in” because they can be worn as fashion-forward statement necklaces (except you won’t have to buy one from J. Crew for over $100). And of course, I cannot forget about churis. The easiest ones to accessorize with are the metallic gold and silver churis, which go with pretty much everything. You can wear three or four at one time or the whole set if you’re feeling bold. I prefer the whole set.

Kurtis and kurtas are great for those days you want to show off your desi side! Kurtis, of course, look great with jeans rolled up to the ankle and some cute ankle-booties. Kurtas, preferably without a slit, are a perfect pair with leggings and black booties. Kurta with khadi print? Even better. Add a little kajal and you are ready to go!

Last, but not least, are scarves! Indian scarves are one of my wardrobe staples. I cannot live without them. Two or three days out of the week I am wearing a scarf I picked up on one of my summer trips to India. My favorite is one from Chandigarh that I take with me wherever I go. Indian scarves have indisputably the prettiest designs and can be paired with any outfit, whether it is jeans and a t-shirt or a dress. When it is cold eight months out of the year, like it is in New England, scarves are a lifesaver! Pro-tip: Get two to four that you can rotate throughout the cold months. These scarves also tend to look great in photos.

When you’re going out, don’t be afraid to try a bold look! Especially if you are going to be wearing a solid-colored dress, accessories will help pull it all together. Big jhumkas or kundan earrings will draw attention to your face. Ornate necklaces also work, although I would recommend them more for a dinner or formal gathering rather than for going out dancing.

What about work-wear?  Don’t be afraid to add an eye-catching scarf to your outfit, especially in a more casual work environment. It pairs great with a sweater or even a button-up if styled correctly. If you work somewhere more formal, a neutral-colored kurti under a blazer with work trousers is definitely appropriate. You can still add some costume jewelry, but aim on the smaller side!

Have fun accessorizing with your desi pieces!

Thanks to Priya, Divya and Pustika for contributing their images. If you would like to add your unique desi blend to this blog, email



Star social media marketer, avid traveler and DIY enthusiast, Aishani holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the Boston University and interned for Oxigen in 2015.

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Game of Happiness

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Game of Happiness

You must have already heard of Game of Thrones – the famous fantasy drama television series from HBO written by George R.R. Martin, where several royal families fight for the Iron Throne and control of Westeros.

So you must be wondering, “What is this Game of Happiness?” Ok, let me tell you. It’s an interactive game themed on the Game of Thrones, especially designed for GoT fans.

Now, your next question might be, “That’s nice, but why should I care?” Well, it has a lot to offer people who transfer money to India! As you complete each quest, you’ll earn Reward Points that you can use for discounts on your transfers to India. And when you become the Lord of a new House, you’ll increase your Reward Points multiplier which is applied to all of your transfers.

“Well, well that sounds fun, but what the heck does this have to do with Game of Thrones?”, you may inquire. Ah! my dear friend there are four houses (so far) in this game based on houses in GoT: House Stark has become House Spark with the words “Rewards are Coming”; House Lannister has become House Laughter with the words “We Always Pay Our Debts”; House Tully has become House Jolly with the words “Family, Duty, Honor” (ultimately, it’s your duty and honor to Send Happiness to your family in India); House Targaryen has become House Champion with the words “Growing Happiness”. Master all of the houses and you can become the king/queen of the Seven Kingdoms of Happiness (or, well, just four in our case – we are still small, na J).

“Ok, please stop building this suspense and just tell me how to play this lovely game?”, you say. Well, that’s again a nice question! You’ll begin at the lower ranks of House Spark and, if you’re ambitious, you can level up to become the Lord of House Champion. We will be adding more houses soon based on your feedback. One more thing, you will have to register to play, which you can do in a few clicks from here.

“Got it, now how did you come up with this crazy game?!” Well, on one fine day when I was walking near my grand and exquisite farmhouse in Shimla in the lap of the Himalayas, this chord of my mind struck and I suddenly realized Game of Happiness! Ah, you believed it? Haha, I was just kidding! It took us a lot more than just a walk to deliver this lovely game to you. Actually, my colleague Swetha from marketing wanted to create a more engaging customer journey. She told me how Dropbox is incentivizing its users for finishing small tasks. I brainstormed on that idea and realized that an incentive-based task program could be packaged as an interactive game. I also wanted to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone, and that’s when I put two and two together and came up with a GoT-inspired game, since I know many of you love GoT.

Hope you will enjoy playing this lovely game, and to hear your feedback on it so we can make it even better and expand upon it. Please send me any thoughts you have after playing (  and Happy Gaming!!


Ankur has a Master’s Degree in Marketing & Finance from IIT Roorkee. He has over 4 years of work experience building world-class products at Oxigen and TCS, and works closely with the CEO to help translate the vision into products. In his free time, Ankur loves to play tennis, pool, and keep an eye on Oxigen’s competitors.

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Sending Gifts to India

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As an employee of Oxigen, I regularly promote our services. Lately I’ve been talking a lot about our instant gift cards because they’ve transformed the way I send gifts (and money) to India. Apart from opening me up to a whole new universe of gifting options, Oxigen made it possible for me to be more spontaneous and personal with my gifts.

Just yesterday, my dad told me about his upcoming trip to Mumbai. He was evaluating different accommodation options based on distance, comfort, and price. I jumped in (online) to help him with his search. Almost instinctively I’d decided to transfer some money to his account to ensure that he doesn’t compromise on convenience or comfort. Before I knew it, several involuntary thoughts plagued my mind – when and how much money would I send? Would it reach him in time to make the reservation? What if the prices increased by the time the money reached him? Would he agree to use the money for the hotel reservation or would he redirect it to my savings account (typical dad!)?

I continued my search for a few minutes until – BOOM – it struck me that Oxigen has MakeMyTrip (MYT) gift cards! I realized I could send one instantly via email without having to worry about time or what the money would be used for. Old habits like transferring money die hard, but in this case an instant gift card was better than money!

It took me about 3 minutes to log into my Oxigen account and send him an MYT gift card that he could use right away. That, ladies and gentlemen, is Oxigen’s instant gift cards service for you!

On a related note, we recently requested the Centsible Indian to try out Oxigen’s instant gift cards service and write about it. Read about her experience here: If you’ve already sent a gift card, we welcome any feedback you might have for us. Please comment below.


 Creative writer. Part-time engineer. Marketing professional. Swetha has an MBA from the University at Buffalo. She manages Oxigen’s presence online, providing value to NRIs and driving sales along the way. When not working, she’s usually creating things – either craft, writing or food.

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H-1Bs in the New Administration: Fact v. Fiction

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Here we are, mid-April already, and business immigration attorneys all over the United States are breathing a sigh of relief that another H-1B cap season has come and gone. Meanwhile, for the hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals who are the potential beneficiaries of the congressionally-mandated 85,000 total available H-1B visas, the wait has just begun.

Given the amount of media attention the H-1B program has received as of late, it is important for foreign nationals, especially those on H-1Bs or waiting for H-1Bs, to stay informed and separate factual information from the fictional rumors and speculation that seem to be circulating. To learn more about the government’s recent announcements regarding the H-1B program and how it may affect you, read on!

Despite some of the recent negative press regarding the H-1B visa program, U.S. employers are still filing in huge numbers for this sought-after immigration benefit. In fact, on April 7, 2017, just four short days after the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) began accepting H-1B filings, USCIS announced that it had reached the 85,000 H-1B visa cap for fiscal year 2018. To-date it is unclear if there will again be a lottery this year, or if USCIS stopped accepting filings once the available visa numbers were reached. However, it is likely that USCIS will clarify this point within the next few weeks.

The H-1B visa program has been thrust into the spotlight due to the current administration’s hardline stance on immigration and the overall political climate in the United States. The media has taken a renewed interest in the program and the H-1B has become a hotly contested issue in the nationwide debate on immigration. Is the H-1B visa program taking jobs from American workers? Is there widespread fraud and abuse of the H-1B visa program like some suggest? These are all valid questions posed by politicians and the media and as such, there is an overwhelming amount of information currently circulating regarding potential changes to the H-1B visa program — some of it true and a lot of it false.

The current administration seems to have realized its limits and as far as the H-1B program goes, and, instead of focusing on creating new law, the administration seems to be targeting existing regulations and utilizing the laws already in place in order to more strictly construe and enforce the H-1B visa program. This is evidenced by the string of recently released alerts, memos, and policy guidance from USCIS.

Below is a timeline of factual updates to the H-1B visa program since the new administration took office that offers some insight into how the current administration is addressing changes to the program.

  1. Fact: H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act is Introduced to Congress

There have been multiple bills introduced into Congress regarding reforms to the H-1B visa program but the most well-known is the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act introduced by Senators Grassly and Durban on January 20, 2017. The H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act includes some changes to the H-1B program but these changed mainly effect H-1B dependent employers (those who employ large numbers of H-1B employees). Additionally, the Act suggests giving preference to foreign students already studying in the U.S. in an effort to retain high-level education and talent that would ultimately benefit the U.S. economy. For more information on the proposed Bill or to read the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act in its entirety please use the link below.

  1. Fact: Temporary Suspension of Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions

On March 3, 2017, USCIS announced that it would temporarily be suspending premium processing for all H-1B petitions effective April 3, 2017, including H-1B Cap cases. The suspension is meant to reduce the overall H-1B processing times, allow USCIS to process long-pending petitions, and to prioritize the adjudication of H-1B extensions of status that are nearing the 240-day mark. USCIS did not offer a specific date for when the suspension may be lifted but instead said it may remain in place for up to six months.

This is not the first time USCIS has temporarily suspended premium processing service and it is not anything out of the ordinary.

3. Fact: Computer Programmer Positions for H-1Bs to be Scrutinized

On March 31, 2017 USCIS issued a Policy Memorandum specifically rescinding a 16-year-old Memo that provided guidance on H-1B computer related positions, specifically the occupation of Computer Programmer.

The March 31, 2017 Memorandum is effective immediately and provides USCIS Officers with new guidance regarding the adjudication of H-1B petitions for Computer Programmers and more specifically, states that the occupation of Computer Programmers should not generally be considered a specialty occupation for purpose of an H-1B.

It is important to note that more complex or senior-level Computer Programmers may still qualify as a specialty occupation for H-1B purposes, however, the burden is on the employer to provide evidence that the particular role qualifies as a specialty occupation pursuant to 8 CFR § 214.2(h)(4)(ii).

The occupation of Computer Programmer has long received scrutiny from USCIS so this new Policy Memorandum is simply clarifying USCIS’s current view on the occupation. For more information, please see the link below.

  1. Fact: USCIS Announces Further Measures to Detect H-1B Fraud and Abuse

On April 3, 2017 USCIS released a news alert titled, “Putting American Workers First: USICS Announces Further Measures to Detect H-1B Visa Fraud and Abuse.” This news alert simply states that USCIS will be utilizing the regulations already in place to take a more targeted approach to detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse. Moving forward, USCIS will focus resources on H-1B employers whose basic business information cannot be validated through available data; H-1B dependent employers; and H-1B employers petitioning for workers who will be placed off-site at another company or organization’s location.

USCIS also announced that they would be making additional site visits to employers who fall into any of the above mentioned categories and will continue to make random unannounced site visits nationwide, as they always have (emphasis added).

The facts above summarize the only official actions regarding the H-1B visa program. Anything else is rumor or speculation at this point. Yes, the H-1B visa program has come under political and media scrutiny since the new administration has taken office and this frightens people. However, there are well-established laws and policy in place and any substantial changes to the H-1B visa program will take time. Simply put, just because a Bill is introduced to Congress does not mean it is going to become law. And as we have seen with some of the recent Executive Orders, simply because the President signs it, does not mean the United States Judicial System will allow it to be enforced.

Further, as evidenced by the facts above, the current administration seems focused on using the laws already in place to enhance scrutiny and increase the resources used to investigate fraud or abuse of the H-1B visa program, which is a good thing. If employers taking advantage of the program are eliminated, this will open more doors for employers looking to play by the rules.

These are certainly interesting times for foreign nationals in the United States on an H-1B or other non-immigrant visa. Never before has a non-immigrant visa program been thrust into the political and media spotlight quite like this and because of this newfound interest by the masses, it is important that the immigration community stays informed and shares only reputable information.

Any new policy changes, guidance, or executive orders will be announced and made public as they happen and it is extremely important to verify the source of your information before relying it. Government websites or the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) website are reputable places to research information and stay informed. Message boards, foreign news, and immigration forums are not the best places to look for information and often provide visitors with misleading or false information.

Should you have a particular concern about your case, it is always advisable to contact an experienced immigration attorney.


Boston Immigration Lawyer Chiara St. Pierre has worked with business clients all over the world including large multi-national companies and individual entrepreneurs looking to expand their business into the United States. She specializes in employment-based immigration and has over seven years of experience with both immigrant and non-immigrant visas. Attorney St. Pierre currently practices with Trupti N. Patel & Associates where she manages business
integration for corporate clients.

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