Category Archives: incense

Ă,-PĂ,-RĀ’-JĬ,-TĀ, agarbathiwalas

i had to go to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for moe. the pharmacy was closed for lunch, so i went across the street to the safeway, to get food. as i was checking out, my phone rang. it was an “unknown caller”, which usually means that it’s a robot/scam call, and i am usually able to tell this within a VERY short period of time after answering the call…

so i answered it.

it was NOT an automated fraud call at all, but i had some considerable difficulty understanding the guy, because of the fact that his phone was cutting in and out like a crazy monkey, not to mention the ambient noise at the checkout stand in safeway, but eventually i worked out that it was kent, from laguna beach, who is an agarbathiwala (he didn’t use that word, but that’s what he is) and he is interested in purchasing wholesale quantities of aparajita, for resale in laguna beach.

wonderful… i think… but… 😒

he can’t figure out how to use my web site. apparently he’s accessing the web site on the same cell phone from which he’s calling me. that, combined with the fact that i don’t use my cell phone for web access most of the time, means that he can’t find the incense he wants, and i can’t direct him, because i don’t know what he’s seeing.

also, i tell him that, as far as wholesale orders go, i already put the word out to a number of agarbathiwalas that i know, who, either, didn’t respond at all, or responded by telling me that boxes of aparajita aren’t available in the US, and the only way to get it is to go to india, buy it in bulk, bring it back, and put it into your own packages.

which is patently false, according to my own, personal, recent experience…

so i get the very strong impression that this guy may be one of those people who want to use me and my years of experience and connections to stock their own stores with exotic incense.

he wants to make an order over the phone — another typical ploy used by these people. i, patiently, tell him that i can’t process credit card payments any way other than the web site, and if he wants to order over the phone, it will involve him snail-mailing me a check or money order, which will have to clear before i will ship out anything.

oh, he says, sounding disappointed…

okay, he says, he’ll check out the web site, and make an order.

i go to the pharmacy, pick up moe’s prescription, and am on the way home, when the phone rings, again. it’s kent, again. he can’t find the incense he’s looking for. also, he wants to know how long it takes me to ship things out, and how i ship things. i explain it as succinctly as i can, and get off the phone, because, well, i’m driving… 😒 but the phone rings again,it’s kent, again and he STILL can’t figure out my web site. 😒

i expect that, by the time i get home, he will have made an order, and called me to ask why i haven’t shipped it out yet… 😒

but…

then he texts me. i’m back at the point i was at when i was checking out at the safeway, with all the ambient noise, but i’m at home, and there’s no ambient noise, there’s just this text message, which is a photo, and nothing else. i know it’s from kent, because it’s the same number that he has been calling me from, but there’s no text, just a photo. the photo is, from all appearances, a photo of a computer screen which has four overlapping photos of a VERY OLD box of aparajita.

by this time, i have gotten home. i text back that the manufacturers of aparajita changed the design on the box a few years ago, and text him a couple of photos, one of the new box, and one of the old box, with the reassurance that it’s exactly the same incense, only the box has changed.

and then…

nothing.

no order, no more phone calls, or texts… nothing.

i will never figure out these people. 😖

sigh…

getting old sucks. 🤬

i got home this afternoon, and took the small doggie outside, and, as i was going down the stairs from the deck, my right foot hit a slippery spot on the third step from the bottom, and i fell, bruising my back and legs, and scraping my right arm, which reached out for support, but reached in the wrong direction, because of my brain injury. 😒

the dog experienced a rather rough landing, but she wandered off without more than an “oof” when she hit the ground. she’s fine.

i lay on the ground for a few minutes, deciding whether or not anything was broken (as far as i can tell, nothing was), and breathing hard, because my back REALLY hurt, while the doggie wandered, obliviously, around the yard.

fortunately, i had my phone, so i called moe, who called the neighbour, who came to help me, but all she actually did was pick up the doggie, because i couldn’t bend over.

at this point, i have taken ibuprophen and applied ice, and i can sit down without too much difficulty, although i can still REALLY feel my lower back, and i probably will be able to do so for the next few days.

in other news, i got my first order for 10 boxes of aparajita today. the guy actually wrote me while i was in the process of updating my web site, and wanted to make a “special order”. my guess is that i’ll have two or three more orders for 10 boxes, before the week is out… at $90 bucks a pop… 👍😉

also, i got a new monitor. the old one is an VGA 17″ flat screen from a few years ago. the new one is a HDMI 24″ flat screen from this year… it’s awesome, how much real estate is in the difference between 17″ and 24″

the end of (this) saga

okay, as i reported here, the HPOI arrived on friday, at 1730. i went to WFS, but was informed that i had to get the shipment cleared through US customs, before i could pick it up.

customs operates under “normal” business hours, i.e. 9-to-5, M thru F, so i figured i was going to have to wait until monday.

the “carrier certificate” that WFS gave me said that i had to pay an ISC fee, which worked out to $89 if i paid it online, or $125 if i paid it in person, so, while i was waiting — saturday and sunday — i took the opportunity to pay it online, so that i would have yet another impediment taken care of before monday.

the “carrier certificate” also, CLEARLY said that the date that storage charges started accruing was 201012, which was further impetus to get things rolling as quickly as possible.

note, that THIS ENTIRE TIME i have been getting EXTREMELY CONFLICTED messages about whether or not i would need a broker. at this point, everything i have heard leads me to believe that i would NOT need a broker to pick up my shipment of incense.

this morning, i contacted customs, got their new address (because they just moved, and nobody at WFS knew where), and went down to clear my shipment.

when i got there, i talked with a US customs agent, who told me that, because my MAWB said that the value of the shipment was more than $800, but less than $1,000, i would have to have a broker clear the shipment.

way back when i was arranging all of this, i specifically remember (backed up by email from 200824) arun giving me precise numbers: “USD 7.45 PER DOZENS”, which amounts to $357.60 for 48 dozen boxes. i also specifically remember (backed up by a different email from 200824), arun telling me “Please note Air freight is additional.”, so when he sent me a proforma invoice that said $986.40, i presumed that it meant “$357.60 for the incense, and $628.80 for shipping”… but it wasn’t itemised, and i overlooked that point.

i SHOULD HAVE gotten an itemised MAWB, but i didn’t.

so, i spent some time on the phone, talking with brokers, who quoted me around $400 just to get my foot in the door, and then i connected with lisa, from Frontier North America — a very nice, helpful lady who is going to get my business the next time around — who assured me that, because i was actually paying more for shipping than i was for the actual product, that she would clear my shipment, and provide a surety bond, for $182.22, so i said go for it, and half an hour later, my shipment was cleared through customs.

miracle. 😒

then, i went back to the airport, to WFS, who informed me, because i didn’t have a broker, who could clear my shipment on friday, after business hours (despite the fact that customs was CLOSED for “normal people” like me), that i had to pay a $110 storage fee — which was EXACTLY the thing that i was trying to AVOID by picking up the paperwork on friday, after normal business hours — and then they had a problem charging me the storage fee, because i had already paid the ISC fee, and they couldn’t charge me as a “guest” because the computer wouldn’t let them create two different accounts with the same MAWB number. finally, they told me that their web site wasn’t meant for people with iphones, which meant that i would have to go home to use my computer at home to “set up an account” so that they could charge me a storage fee, before i could pick up a shipment that i was already there to pick up… 😒

 

 

 

 

 

 

fortunately, after talking to two other managers, i finally talked the third manager into waiving the $110 storage fee, and, after scanning my drivers’ license (because my passport wouldn’t fit in their automatic scanning device 😒) they “gave me permission” to pick up my HPOI.

and i managed to get through the whole thing without swearing, losing my temper, or stomping out of various offices, as good as it would have felt.

201012 HPOI paperwork
201012 HPOI paperwork
201012 HPOI
201012 HPOI
201012 HPOI
201012 HPOI
201012 HPOI
201012 HPOI
201012 HPOI
201012 HPOI

now i’ve got a web site to update. 😉

second to last HPOI post for 2020

the HPOI arrived yesterday.

according to the people at Worldwide Flight Services (which is the umbrella company that handles British Airways Cargo in seattle), i have to pick up documentation, take it to customs, so that it can be cleared, pay an ISC fee (Importer Service Charge, which is, basically, their way of “legally” taking a cut of my action), and then they can release the shipment to me.

customs is closed over the weekend. also, they just moved, and nobody at WFS knows what their new address is… 😒

and, because of the fact that WFS doesn’t accept credit cards, i would have had to pay $125 for the ISC fee, if it weren’t for the fact that i actually went down to the airport last night to pick up the documentation (so that i don’t have to go through that step on monday, when customs is open), the guy pointed out that i can pay the ISC fee online, and it will only cost $89… so i did that.

the “documentation” they gave me is, basically a “carrier certificate” which is a receipt for services rendered by the carrier (which is what i pay the ISC fee for), four copies (out of at least seven, total) of the MAWB, one for the destination airport, one for “my agent” (which is me), one for the consignee (which is also me), and one “extra copy”, a “MAWB/CBV Acceptance Statement”, which basically, says that the shipment isn’t anything vague or illegal, is being shipped by a legitimate shipper who is not a criminal, and is being received by a person who is not a criminal, and a MYSTERY ENVELOPE which is stapled shut, THREE TIMES ON BOTH ENDS, which, from indications of the writing on the outside, was stapled shut in india, when the shipment was loaded, and i have NO CLUE what it contains…

now, all that’s left is for me to wait until monday, contact customs, find out what their address is (i think it’s in burien, but i’m not sure), go down and get the documentation stamped, and then go back to the airport to…

PICK UP HPOI!!!‼‼‼😀😎👍👍👍

whew…

okay, this is an interesting development…

i got a phone call, yesterday, from suni, at CEVA Logistics, whose first language is english, and who doesn’t pepper her communications with bizarre, multi-letter acronyms that i don’t understand…

and, what she told me was, essentially, that arun has been right all along — which makes me VERY glad i didn’t send that email that i felt like sending him a few days ago…

basically, they’ve shipped out today, at 0700 bangalore time, on BA118, there’s a stop over at london heathrow, and then it’s on to seattle, on BA49, and i should have 31kg (68.34lb) of incense by friday at 1730. someone at the airline is supposed to contact me immediately upon arrival — although how is still somewhat of a question… they don’t have my phone number, and if they have my email address, it’s not on the MAWB. the only address that IS on the MAWB is my street address, so, theoretically, they could snail-mail me, but that would take longer than it took for the incense to get here, so i don’t think that’s a viable option… and i still don’t know exactly how they are supposed to contact me, but i suppose i’ll find that out on friday…

and a WHOLE BUNCH of my customers are going to be extremely happy. i guess this is probably as close to being a “drug dealer” as i will ever get… 😉

okay, that last bit is a lie… i actually was a drug dealer, for a while, about 30 years ago. i sold weed and acid to a few friends for about 6 months, until the supply dried up… but it’s that sort of feeling. 🤣