Jul 27, 2013

Support me to fight world hunger with the Google Fast-a-Thon?

Dear Friends and Family,

I am excited to let you know that I am participating in a Fast-a-Thon at Google on August 6, 2013. We are raising money for world hunger relief through Action Against Hunger (a top charity with a four-star rating from Charity Navigator). Last year, we were able to raise over $230,000 through the fundraising and pledges to fast of 1,200 Google employees, and with the support of Google's Social Responsibility team.

To provide some context, we are currently in the Islamic month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast (abstaining from both food and drink) every day from sunrise to sunset for 30 days. Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians, and people of other religious traditions fast as an act of submission, solidarity, and remembrance. One of the primary reasons for fasting is to call attention to those who go hungry every day, not as an exercise of religious expression, but as a fact of life.

If you have any interest in philanthropy, you should look into Action Against Hunger because they focus on the long-term. There are a lot of organizations that dig wells, but if that’s all you’re doing you’re only helping for as long as the well is maintained. When Action Against Hunger digs a well, they also form citizen committees who look after the well and collect token fees to pay for its upkeep. This also helps fosters a sense of ownership among the people who use the well.

How you can help

I’d love for you to support my fast by making a donation of any amount to this charity on my personal fundraising page, where you can donate directly to the charity OR send me the money directly if you want Google to match your donation (Google will match 100% of all donations above $50 USD that are donated by a Google employee). I have a goal to raise $100 by August 30. Please help me meet it!
  • To take advantage of the gift match program and maximize your contribution, please do not click on the “donate” button on my fundraising page. Instead, let me know how you would like to send the money to me (i.e. cash, check, bank transfer, Paypal, etc.). I will then make your donation to Action Against Hunger and process the Google matching. 
You can get in touch with me via Google+ or leave a comment here.

It costs just $50 to save a life by providing a malnourished child with treatment. Thanks in advance for your support!


Saptak Mohanta

Jan 30, 2013

How to get a Google Nexus 4 in India from US!

Yes, Nexus 4. We all know all about it. We all badly want it! And we also know we can't lay our hands on it! Going by the market reports and rumours, LG isn't launching Nexus 4 in India any time soon. Even if it does, do you know what's it's price gonna be? Not Rs. 20k my dear ... going by the trend of Nexus 7 ($199 in US & Rs. 19,999 in India), one can safely assume it's going to be somewhere around ~ Rs. 28-30k for the 8 GB model and ~ Rs. 31-33k for the 16 GB version. So the question remains - why would wait for it endlessly and then pay a huge premium to buy it?

Here's a solution. Get it from the US and get it shipped to India using mail forwarding services. Only thing you'll be missing out on is the India warranty, but end up saving around Rs. 10k.

Update: My sincere apologies but Google hired me to prevent exactly this kind of abuse of its accounts and I can only explain the mail forwarding (shipping from US to India) part!

Selecting a shipping method:
There are many methods availabl
e. The basic concept is these international mail forwarding services provide you with an US address along with an unique identifier. So, whenever a package arrives with that identifier, they send you a notification along with payment options. As soon as you pay them, your product is on its way to India. Some of these also offer free storage and compilation option where you can ship 2-3 packets together and save on shipping charges. 

I've updated a list originally made by an user called iamvarkey in the Nexus 4 Indian Thread at XDA Developers. Here is a comparison of the total cost for a Nexus 4 (16 GB) through different forwarding services.

Assuming USD to INR @ Rs. 54 + 3.5% Foreign Transaction charges + 12.36% service tax on Foreign Transaction charges. 

  • Nexus 4 (16 GB) - $395 (Incl NY Tax) 
  • Shipping + customs for 2lbs - Rs 2,400 (Can be insured only up to $200)  
  • Total : Rs 24,400 

  • Nexus 4 (16 GB) - $363 (no taxes here - their address is a tax free state!) 
  • Shipping 0.5 kg - $25 (CG)/ $23 (HSG) incl insurance, fuel surcharge etc. for Standard shipping (HopShopGo is offering 10% discount for PayPal customers!) 
  • Customs - Rs. 2000 incl FedEx handling fees
  • Total : Rs 23,900 (CG) / Rs 23,700 (HSG) 

  • Nexus 4 (16 GB) - $388 (Incl OH Tax)
  • Shipping + customs - $77 (Customs is prepaid and you need to pay the complete amount to Borderlinx along with the shipping cost and includes insurance)
  • Total : Rs 26,100 

Local (Known!) Issues:
  • Maharashtra: 5.5% Octroi charges extra apart from customs
  • Delhi: Customs are being charged at higher rate (2% CVD + 4% SAD), irrespective of whether FedEx or DHL!
  • Bangalore: Extremely slow customs processing, 3-4 business days

Note that during customs they might open your phone and check. So don't be surprised if you receive an unsealed box. Just make sure it's working all right and there are no damages. That's why insurance is so important.

If you select HSG, their only accepted payment method is via PayPal. So go ahead and sign up for it. It's safe and secure. Note that it takes about 4-5 days to get your PayPal account verified, among which the most time consuming is PAN card verification.

Shipping to India:
Once your Nexus reaches your US address, your shipping/ forwarding service will give you shipping options. Select the option that suits you most. They'll again provide tracking details as it leaves its facility. Customs charges (unless it's prepaid in package - i.e. for Borderlinx) will be notified to you by email and/ or SMS. You've to pay these charges in cash once your Nexus reaches. 

Note that it's important to check the package contents for damage or missing components since your shipping provider's insurance covers these and this should be done during accepting the delivery.

And DONE! You're a proud owner of a brand new Nexus! Enjoy!

Review: I'm in some serious love with this phone!! :D Here's my two pence for new buyers:

1. The phone is s#!t awesome - worth every penny and effort! Go buy it!
2. ... unless you're a rough user! Mind it, it's not a Nokia, not even an Xperia Go, or not even an S3 that it'd survive falls all the time! She's a princess and you need to treat her like one!!
3. And do order a 16 GB, or you might be regretting with ~5 GB user accessible memory (for 8 GB model) for the next 2 years!!
4. Battery isn't great - but then again most of the high end smartphones barely take you through the day with moderate data usage. Use battery saver apps and all to control data flow and save battery.
5. Don't order accessories from US. Why do you want to take such a huge risk of paying huge customs (it's 16% for accessories against 2% for mobiles and often when there are products with diff customs rates, they apply the higher rate overall!!) when you can get decent cases and screen guards from eBay India! Plus - with only phone, you'll have to pay for shipping of 0.5 kg while it'll be 1 kg for with accessories.
6. Go with HSG Standard if you don't mind an unsealed box. It's the cheapest option out there. For me, from phone being delivered to HSG to phone at my doorsteps = 1 week in Standard (FedEx) shipping!! Mind it, you need PayPal for HSG and PayPal account verification takes 4-5 working days, otherwise head to comGateway which the same but you don't need PayPal - cost is only ~ $3 more.
7. PPOBox is faster (2-3 days sooner?), and boxes are mostly left often unopened, but it's more expensive since you end up paying $33 NY taxes extra!! Moreover, their insurance cover is up to $200 only!

For further information or discussions, you can head to the Nexus 4 Indian Thread at XDA Developers.