the a,-pa,-rā’-ji,-tā, has arrived! 🥳🎉
go nuts, incense fanatics! 😉
they SAID they were going to deliver HPO Aparajita on friday, but, friday came and went with the shipment leaving east midlands airport (UK) at 21:45…
saturday, i was awoken at 07:41 in the morning with a text message saying that additional shipping fees were due, and they would ship the items back to india in 5 days if it wasn’t paid. 😒
they never said anything about “additional shipping fees” when they sent me the shipping information, last week… 🙄
but they were only $42, so i paid them, which updated their web site to say that “payment is received and recorded for shipment related fees”, at 07:47, but nothing since then…
apparently DHL shuts down, completely, on the weekends… nobody is available at customer service, their “chat bot” is limited in what it can do, packages don’t get delivered, packages don’t get transferred… if it’s in the air at 23:59 on saturday, there’s a crew to land the airplane, but it’s my impression that there isn’t a crew to unload the airplane until monday morning. 🙄
since then, i have gotten three different answers from their “chat bot”, which include “your shipment label has been created, but the shipment has not been turned over to DHL yet”, and “your shipment is on hold in cincinnati, awaiting payment of shipment related fees”… which are contradictory, and, most likely, completely untrue… 😒
and i can’t talk to an actual human about this until monday, which won’t do me any good because, at that point, i’ll be able to get updates from the web site. 😒
according to the web site, it cleared customs at 03:13 in cincinnati, and it was placed on hold in seattle, which, hopefully means that i will get my aparajita early on monday… 😒
and the guy said he was going to send it this way, this time, so that there wouldn’t be such a hassle, like there was the last time i ordered incense from him… 😒
i just got a text message from DHL, saying that two cartons of aparajita are set to arrive at my house on friday! 😉👍👍
i just sold 10 boxes of Aparajita — an incense which, as far as i’ve been able to tell, is available NOWHERE ELSE in north america, and possibly the western hemisphere — to the Govinda Gallery in washington DC… which is the place that Astrid Kirchherr and Donovan exhibit their work…
i got 2 orders for one box of aparajita, each, yesterday.
i got 2 more orders for one or two boxes of aparajita last night. they both came from the U.S. (most of the time, when i get orders overnight, they’re from countries in the eastern hemisphere).
i didn’t take the first two to ship out because i wanted to fill the other two, and i had to go to my circus class this morning.
while i was at my circus class, i got another order, for one box of aparajita, and one other item.
ETA: while i was putting together the three new orders i got, i got ANOTHER order for two boxes of aparajita. 😕
as far as i’ve been able to tell, there’s no way of telling where people heard about Hybrid Elephant, short of asking them at check out, and there’s no way to guarantee that they’ll answer at all, much less answer correctly.
i find it very weird that i can go along for months with one order per week, or less, and then, suddenly, i’ll get 5 orders within 12 hours, and they’ll ALL be for one box of aparajita. 😕
the only thing i can figure out is that someone must have mentioned Hybrid Elephant, or aparajita, on their podcast — and i’m still not completely sure i understand what a podcast is, or how it gets distributed, so i have, literally, no idea whether or not i’m even CLOSE to correct. 😒
although i won’t argue with the money, that’s for sure. 😉
i ended the last post with “i will never figure out these people”, and, after looking, half-heartedly, at the other options on the web for aparajita, i think part of what may be motivating people like kent is the box, and not the incense itself.
the old box is very distinctive, and it was used in, basically, the same form (they changed the colours, slightly, some time between the 1960s and the 1980s) pretty much ever since they started producing incense in boxes… the company has existed since the 1920s, so it’s a very distinctive and recognisable brand…
the new box is just a design change. the incense is exactly the same.
i had a customer a few years ago (who am i kidding, i haven’t heard from him in 15 years), who bought aparajita from me. he was a guitar player from new york, who had actually played with george harrison and ravi shankar, and he bought it from me because i was the only agarbathiwala who carried “the authentic” aparajita. it was through him that i learned about ALL the knock-off, “look-alike” brands of NOT aparajita that were out there. i learned a lot more, once i knew what to look for, and i’ve actually got a collection of “not aparajita” boxes. when mavana changed the box design, he was intensely frustrated, because he said the incense was different. as with everything from india, they have a very strict recipe that they follow to the letter… most of the time, ganesha willing… so the end product is 99.5% reliable… but that other .5% can be REALLY out there.
personally, i have NEVER noticed a big difference between the incense in the old box (yes, i still have several old boxes, and some of the “look-alike” boxes, for comparison) and the incense in the new box…
but, for some people, “aparajita” apparently stopped existing when they changed the box. i found at least two web sites where aparajita was listed, along with pictures of the old box, that said something along the lines of “out of stock, discontinued”…
but, look, people… i’ve got loads of it, right here! 😉
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.
which is only exacerbated by the fact that he says, if it can’t be a “wholesale” order, he’ll just mark up my price (which is really reasonable, given what i had to go through to get it), rather than buying at a “wholesale discount”… 😒
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… 😒
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.
no order, no more phone calls, or texts… nothing.
i will never figure out these people. 😖
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″
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.
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.
now i’ve got a web site to update. 😉
part of what i am worried about is the ISF, which nobody told me about last time, which resulted in my having to pay a $400 fine for “importing without filing an ISF”… but, apparently, the ISF is only needed for ocean cargo… and, if it is needed for air freight, nobody has told me about it yet… but nobody told me about having a “broker” or a “continuous bond” last time, either, and i ended up having to get one at the last minute, at extra, added expense…
but, i paid the money this morning… i initiated an international wire transfer to india, so they’ve got my money, now, and if they don’t actually send me incese, at this point, i will be extremely pissed off.
the latest is that i send them $1,000 and they send me 48 dozen boxes of aparajita, by air freight.
i have to wait until tomorrow to wire them the money. i tried today, but international money transfers have to be done on the same day, and, apparently, that day ends at 1300 hours, PDT, so i have to try again tomorrow.
this appears to be A LOT easier than the HPOI that i ordered two years ago… and a lot less expensive… but i seem to recall that a lot of the charges the last time around were ones that were added on by freight companies, intermediaries, and the federal government, so it’s not over yet. 😒
i got prices from arun this morning. it looks like around $300.00 USD plus shipping for 40 dozen units (which works out to around $1.75 retail per unit, before shipping). why they didn’t send me the shipping charges is still a mystery, but it probably has something to do with COVID19, as that is the excuse for just about everything, these days.
at this point, i’m going to assume that the shipping (air freight from bangalore) is going to be TERRIFICALLY expensive, possibly amounting to more than the total cost of the incense itself. if that is the case, i may want to get more incense, to even things out a little.
i should also get in touch with the three or four other incense sellers that have contacted me, recently, and see if they’re willing to front some money for some rare, desirable incense, at which point i could, theoretically, purchase more than 40 dozen.
they are still making aparajita! i can order directly from the manufacturer!
APARAJITA WILL BE BACK!🎉🎊🎈🎊🎉
the latest about aparajita:
no good news, i’m afraid. i’m down to my last two boxes of aparajita, and then i am COMPLETELY OUT… for retail sale.
(my “personal stash”, of around a kilo, is the exception, of course.) 😉
HOWEVER, i am cautiously optimistic. an email i sent on 12th april has JUST been responded to by mavana’s representative in india, a guy named arun, with whom i have dealt extensively, in the past… 15 to 20 years ago…
he didn’t respond to any of my direct questions regarding aparajita, he asked how i was getting along in these times of global pandemic…
the global pandemic is fine, and all that, but I WANT MY APARAJITA, GODDAMNIT!
and it’s not JUST for me: i’ve got two other retailers who are breathing down my neck for it, and, just a couple of months ago, i had to PREVENT some unknown
miscreant person from swooping in and buying ALL my remaining stock, just prior to ravi shankar’s birthday celebration — the only reason he wasn’t successful is that the first of his two credit cards was declined, which gave me the chance to go in to the web site and make the changes necessary to prevent him from doing so again — so i KNOW the demand is out there.
since monday, 200608, i have gotten SEVENTEEN new incense orders, which works out to 3.4 new orders a day, in 5 days. 🤨
under ordinary circumstances, i get 3 or 4 new orders A MONTH. 😖
someone must have mentioned my web site on their podcast, or something.
also, it may be that someone mentioned my web site on a podcast about ravi shankar or the beatles, because by far and away the most incense i have sold since 200608, has been aparajita. now there are approximately 35 boxes left before i run completely out. 😒
ravi shankar’s 100th birthday was the 7th of april.
ravi shankar’s favourite incense was aparajita.
at this point, i believe i am responsible for THE ONLY retail store in the united states which sells aparajita, online.
i am aware of several local retail stores which sell aparajita in their store, but not online. i’m fairly sure that there are others, in other cities. i am also aware of at least two retail stores (i won’t give them the satisfaction of a link) who say that they sell aparajita online, but they’re either perennially “out of stock”, or flat out rip people off, and hope that nobody notices. i have no doubt that there are others of that sort out there, as well.
recently, i had to prevent a guy from los angeles from buying ALL of my aparajita. he said he was working with ravi shankar’s family and the ravi shankar foundation on a special 100th birthday celebration. problem was, his credit card failed stripe, and the order was automatically cancelled… and then i learned how to set an item limit, so that people like him can’t just swoop in and buy all of my stock…
i’ve actually had this happen before: a few years ago, i stocked an incense that was made for the theosophical society by shroff agarbathies, that shroff called “Adyar Meditation Incense”, but the theosophical people called it “Leadbeater Incense”, and it was fantastic, rose, agar, and sandalwood, and i was the ONLY agarbathiwala outside of the theosophical society that carried it… but then the government of india put some sort of restrictions on the export of sandalwood, and shroff stopped making it. i found out about it when someone from florida (i suspect a theosophist, actually) bought TWO KILOS of adyar meditation incense, in 100 gram packages, and when i tried to order more, i couldn’t.
fortunately, i held back some for my own, personal “stash”, but since then i have been very wary of people who buy a huge quantity of one particular incense.
and, the fact is, i’ve been having some trouble locating a supplier of aparajita… AGAIN… 😒
my contact at mavana stopped responding to my emails, the mavana web site died, both of the suppliers (one in florida, one in new york) that carried it have gone out of business, and all of the other suppliers i’ve talked to say that they won’t carry it because aparajita smells too “medicinal”, whatever that means… 😟
my only hope is the fact that, in india, it is still popular enough that it’s being “copied” by at least two incense manufacturers… they haven’t got the recipe for the incense, but their labeling and package artwork is a direct rip-off of the authentic aparajita.
so, i guess i may have to actually travel to india eventually… 😒
i got my annual enormous shipment of incense today, and turned around and got half of the shipment i received, ready to ship out again… it came from maspeth, new york, and is being shipped to minneapolis, minnesota, by way of seattle…
weird, but whatever works…
also, i got the latest Operation Mindfuck element today, which is a sticker that says “WARNING! This object does NOT exist!“. 👿 now i just have to figure out what to put it on… or, more acurately, what NOT to put it on… 👿
i shipped out a devotional statue to basel, switzerland, after going back and forth with the guy in email since saturday. first he didn’t read the we DO ship internationally, BUT…” page and then he took his time when it actually came to making the extra payment, but it all worked itself out in the end, and his statue shipped out today.
so, about this time last year, or thereabouts, i got an order for aparajita from a customer who wanted to resell it. i made a deal to sell half of my existing stock to them at cost, but that left me with a quickly diminishing stock, and, because of the fact that i had bought the aparajita (in the “old” box) from a दस्यु who sent me 170 boxes of a 240-box order, and then vanished into the ethernet, leaving no forwarding address or any other way of contacting him, i was, once again, DESPERATELY searching for a new supplier of my best-selling incense.
shortly after that, i found one(!!), and ordered more aparajita at a cost that allowed me to reduce my price from $7.00 a box to $4.00 a box. 😀
fast forward to yesterday.
i decided, because of the fact that i was down to 4 dozen boxes, that it was time to order more aparajita. i figured i would duplicate my previous order, because, while aparajita is my best-seller, i don’t have any indication that it’s becoming more popular — i did have a supplier tell me that they didn’t carry aparajita any longer, because it has a “too medicinal” smell that “people don’t like”…
so i ordered 7 dozen boxes, and figured that would be good enough…
then, this morning, i got another email from the lady who originally wrote me back in the first sentance of this post, and she wants to order 50 boxes, like last time…
so i wrote her back with the good news about the new supplier, and she changed her order from 50 boxes (a little more than 4 dozen) to 100 boxes (around 8 dozen)…
which meant that i, then, had to call the supplier(!!) and change my order from 7 dozen to 15 dozen…
now i REALLY have motivation to work out the problems with the new web site! 8)
what do you know? 😎
i got a phone call this morning from someone who (judging solely by the way he spoke) was from india, although he told me that he was calling from new jersey, and his phone number is in western new york…
and, naturally, he was inquiring about aparajita — these days, when someone calls me from the web site, it’s guaranteed that they either want to talk about aparajita, or they’re wondering where they can get Spice…
what i told him satisfied him that the aparajita i was selling was the authentic stuff, and he said he would place an order (which hasn’t arrived yet, but i’m sure it will), but the interesting part comes next.
he said that he knew the people who owned Sri Satyanarayana Parimala Factory, in Mysore, so i told him about my search for “The Real” aparajita, which included my finding out about Cauvery, and he said that Sri Satyanarayana Parimala Factory actually manufactures incense that is sold by Cauvery. he also says that he knows all of the incense manufacturers in mysore, and is available by phone if i have any questions about with whom to do business.
what i came away with, from that conversation, was that Cauvery, which i suspected was making erzatz aparajita, is actually re-packaging legitimate aparajita in “old style” boxes (which immediately disproves the 2 complaints that i have gotten in the past 5 years, that the aparajita i was selling “smelled wrong” or had a “moth-ball”-like smell), AND that the most recent purchase i made is ALSO “The Real” aparajita, and, as i said before, i will be able to sell it for significantly LESS than i am currently selling it…
and the only difference is that it will be in the “new” box. 😎
i just made my first order from the distributor for sri satyanarayana parimala factory!! it’s gonna ship tomorrow! i’ll have real aparajita by next week, and i’ll be able to sell it for a lot less! 😀
i just talked to a guy on the phone, who is in the united states, who RELIABLY (or so it seems) imports Aparajita Special Herbal Durbar direct from the manufacturer in india, and will sell it to me for a per-box price that means that i can actually reduce the price… and, presumably, is not the दस्युः i ordered from last time…
the real, authentic Aparajita Special Herbal Durbar, made by Sri Satyanarayana Parimala Factory
so i finally got in touch with someone from mavana regarding where to obtain authentic aparajita on this side of the world. they wrote me back and directed me to Wonder India (they have a couple of different URIs, but nothing is there), and they sent me a bunch of samples, including, most significantly, a box of AUTHENTIC aparajita special herbal durbar manufactured by mavana, doing business as the Sri Satyanarayana Parimala Factory in mysore.
notably, they are NOT cauvery, and have nothing to do with them… which makes me really wonder what is the situation with intellectual property in india, because the incense i got from mavana, today, is, substantially, the same incense that is produced with the same name by cauvery as well… 😐
however, and this is the big difference, this company is located in the united states, and has a relationship with mavana/sri satyanarayana parimala, and they CAN get, essentially, unlimited quantities of real, authentic aparajita!
and they are a lot less likely to rip me off, send me less product than i ordered, talk in some weird, foreign language, and all that other stuff that has frustrated me so much in the past.
well, i haven’t heard anything from sri dhall in india, which leads me to believe that the probability that i’m going to hear from him again is remote… दस्यु 😐
i’ve got some new leads, however, so all is not completely lost.
so the guy from india (is name is sugam dhall) hasn’t responded to my email message concerning the discrepancy in quantity between what i ordered and what i was delivered, so i stripped out the domain name from his email address and plopped it into my browser… and it didn’t work. 😐
if the domain doesn’t work, there’s a really good probability that the email server doesn’t work either, which could explain why i haven’t heard anything from sri dhall in almost a month…
so, i went to the console, and typed in whois and got another email address for him (and, oddly, discovered that his domain name expires on my birthday), so i wrote to that one as well… we’ll see how that one works out… of course i probably won’t hear from him until monday, considering how 11:30 am friday, here, is 1:00 am saturday, there…
170 boxes of aparajita arrived today… but i ordered 240, and i haven’t heard anything from the guy in india since he said he would send me the tracking number three weeks ago… which he never did… 😐
at this point, i’m satisfied that the incense i’m getting is the authentic aparajita, but if the guy in india starts jerking me around with quantities, i’m not gonna be very happy…
after the panto ended for 2011 (it starts again on saturday, and runs for two weeks. get yer tickets now ’cause they’re selling out fast!) i got started making some hobo nickels. they’re not classic hobo nickels, of course, but they’re in a similar vein… and, hey… they’re only a nickel… and, as long as you don’t try to use the result as “currency”, they’re perfectly legal. 8) i broke most of my jewelers’ saw blades on the first couple of them, getting the technique right and re-adjusting my fingers. i went out to tacoma screw, to get more jewelers’ saw blades, and they didn’t know what i was talking about. i went to rockler, and they had them, but i’m not sure they’re the right ones, because they say they’re only for wood… and they’re 28 teeth per inch, and i’m pretty sure that the ones i need are more like 35 to 50 teeth per inch… i’m pretty sure that if i made the trip to hardwick’s, in seattle, that i’d be able to walk in and say i needed extra-fine jewelers’ saw-blades and they’d point me towards a bin of ’em… i went in there one time, and i said i was looking for a vice, and the guy asked me if i had considered smoking… 😉 i made nickels like this A LOT, between 1986 (when i got out of the tech school, and realised that i could make them) until 1994, when i started having to limit my workshop space because of where i was living. they just kind of faded into past memory, and were only re-realised a few weeks ago.
i put in the order for another 20 dozen aparajita on the 15th. i still haven’t heard anything, but they are making the incense to order (SQUEEEEE!!!) so i’m not being as paranoid about it… i’m still being paranoid (after all, it’s sort of a natural state of existence for me), just not as much. i’m probably going to email again on friday if i still haven’t heard anything by then.
i got this good-luck token in the mail the other day. it’s a little bit bigger than a US quarter, or a little smaller than a US half-dollar. i didn’t remember where it came from, at first, and because of the fact that i bid on it at ebay, it didn’t come from anybody i knew, or from an address with which i was familiar, which was pretty exciting, until i remembered where it came from.
after having gone to meet her, i figured out where the lady who knew who i am knows me from: she knows me because i am associated with Howlin’ Hobbit… although she was really disappointed when i didn’t drive up in my elaborately-painted art-car she was just as happy to take a picture of me wearing my hippy-hat
we spent christmas eve driving: we got up around 5:00 or so, and drove to salem, oregon, then we drove north and stopped just south of portland, then we drove into portland and visited a couple of different places before heading back, around 7:30 pm… by the time we got home, i had had about as much driving as i could stand for a while, so i spent most of the rest of xmas at home, being a hermit-crab. we took our annual trip to double-bluff off-leash dog-park on new-years’ day, and got there just as a polar-bear swim was getting over, which was kind of odd, because normally we are the only ones there on new years, and this year there were huge crowds of people, and music blaring… and an ambulance…
the second order of aparajita is in process. i may actually be able to lower the price by $1, which everyone should like… 8)
okay, i’ve been REALLY busy over the past week, ending with a snake suspenderz gig and four panto performances in the past three days… which, oddly enough, has already resulted in my having, in my hot little hands at this very moment (well, not this very moment, because i’m typing – and that rather badly, because of the fact that my hands are cold – but you get the idea) cash and checks amounting to more than $250… and i’ve got another $100 being transferred to my bank account from paypal…
today i took an order from Rev. Mary, who called me on the phone this morning inquiring about aparajita… she didn’t say who she was, but she was raving about how much she likes it, and said that she wanted to buy 5 boxes. we talked for about half an hour about how much incense has changed since the 1960s and the “new trends” in incense. she then said that she would order from the site. when the order came in, it was for 12 boxes, which makes me think that it may be about time to contact that guy in india who has been spamming me with requests for the past year, who i finally convinced to shut up and go away…
anyway, back to rev. mary… i had no idea who she was when she called. i have since (obviously) discovered who she is and where she’s coming from. i’m rather amused that an old-time gospel preacher’s wife has latched onto my incense, but i’m not sure that she could be even more bizarre than i first imagined. she’s an old lady (the picture on her web site was taken at least 20 years ago, judging solely by what she sounds like), and it could very well be that she’s a “reformed” hippy, or, possibly one of those weird cross-breed hippies that took jeezis instead of LSD… or, she could be pre-hippy, a real old-time gospel preacher and just really like quality incense regardless of what religion its maker and seller belongs to, OR she could be really ignorant of everything (although how one could order incense from hybrid elephant and not come away with the impression that i might be hindu is somewhat beyond me, it may be that i am a little too close to the subject to be very objective) and has no idea that i’m not a “christian” as well…
anyway, she ordered 12 boxes, which means that i only have 10 left… and that’s including my “personal” stash…
so, back in june of 2010 i ordered, and received a shipment of aparajita from someone who was not the manufacturer. i figured this was as close as i was ever going to come to actually getting in contact with the manufacturer of aparajita, because i had emailed them pretty consistently over the past 10 years or so, with decreasing results (i.e. first no response, then bounced messages, indicating that the email addresses on their web site were no longer functioning).
however, yesterday i got what appeared to be spam (it was from someone i couldn’t place, to someone else i don’t know at yahoo.com.in – india – and it had a vaguely-holiday-like message), but upon closer inspection (which i do with every spam message that ends up in my inbox) i realised that it was from mavana.com – the manufacturer of aparajita!
anyway, apparently one of the reasons aparajita is so difficult to find in the US is because they don’t have a distributor in the US, and one of the first things that the guy said in his reply to me was that if i were interested, i could be a distributor for them.
!! ☺☺ !!
and not the search engine, thank you very much…
at this point i don’t even care whether or not there’s a demand for it, and i don’t even really care whether or not i actually end up as their distributor in the US (although that would be a perq… 🙂 ) but the mere fact that i have actually gotten in contact with the manufacturer of this incense, which i have been looking for, in wholesale quantities, for twenty years, is just fantastic!!
however, my inquisitiveness is piqued, because the packaging is slightly different from what i would have expected, and it contains some elements that are what i thought to be indications that it was not the “right stuff” after all.
a number of years ago, when i first started searching for aparajita (example B), i came across example A, which was definitely not the right incense: it was a different colour, and smelled distinctly different, both when it was and was not burning. also, example A was one inch shorter than the authentic example B. i distinguished this by saying that it was “Cauvery imitation aparajita” and that was recognised by several of my incense-geek friends as being one of the characteristic differences between the authentic “Tabla Brand” aparajita and any fakes that were floating around.
it was interesting, too, because i found that same, or similar “cauvery” incense in a number of places, and not always with that packaging. it was always more or less the same incense, but it was presented to the public in a variety of ways, including the imitation aparajita package.
the last time i was able to buy “authentic” aparajita incense, it was in the package example C, which was significantly different from example B, but was essentially the same incense, in that it was the same colour and odor as example B.
but i was initially very suspicious when i opened my package and discovered the “Cauvery” logo on the packages inside, example D. however, they are the same colour and odor, both when they are and are not burning, as example B.
of course, because of the fact that they’re manufactured in india, i will probably never know for sure what’s going on with the packaging, and whether or not “Cauvery” is making “authentic” aparajita. but at this point, i’m very happy with the outcome. 😀
supposedly, my 40 pound package from india arrives today. i’m anxious because i don’t know whether or not it’s actually going to be the product that i ordered: the guy sent me a picture of an incense box, but there’s no telling whether or not he actually put boxes that look like that, containing incense that matches the box, in the package that he sent me… which is going to be a real bummer if it turns out that he didn’t, because i have no way to get my money back if the product isn’t what i wanted. i’m also anxious because if it is the product that i wanted, i’m not only going to be able to make a fair amount of money from it almost immediately (i pre-sold half of the orde to a company in chicago) and, if nothing else, i will have a guaranteed supply of this incense for my own, personal, enjoyment for the rest of my life… and i’ll be one of only two companies in the united states (the other one being the company to which i sold the other half of the order) that carries this incense online.
aum ganganapataye namah
ETA: 1:45 pm, it arrived, and it’s the right stuff. more soon.
friday the banda gozona performed at folklife. friday was also the day that my mother-in-law, father-in-law, and his wife came to visit, for the combined holiday, moe’s sheep trial, and my mother-in-law’s 60th birthday. i left at 3:00 and didn’t get home until 9:00, whereupon i discovered one of our doggles loose in the bedroom and the bathroom totally trashed, with ibuprophen tablets spilled all over the place, and what looked like a few chewed ibuprophen tablets among the trashed counter contents that were on the floor.
i’m actually surprised that moe and her relatives aren’t at home – i was unaware of their plans, but i anticipated them being at home, in which case this wouldn’t actually be an emergency, but… i’m not sure, but it looks to me like it could be an “accidental” overdose on the part of the guilty party (paddy), so i call moe, who isn’t answering her phone. i call her father’s cell phone, and he’s not answering either, which i find quite strange, since he is, presumably, in the same general vicinity as moe, and i know for a fact that her sheep trial doesn’t start until tomorrow, but i am faced with a possible overdosing dog and i’m starting to freak out, so i call our good friend micah, who is a veterinarian, and he’s not answering his phone either.
now i’m really freaking out… 🙁
eventually i get hold of moe, who has been out to dinner with her parents, she comes home and vomits the dog, who wasn’t overdosing on anythign except toilet paper (she had eaten almost an entire roll, which was sitting on the counter), and everything was fine, although it left me (and everyone else) totally exhausted.
yesterday, i got an order for postcards, and i spent most of the day going back and forth with a trained, experienced graphic artist who (apparently) can’t differentiate between a file that is 250 dpi and RGB with exactly the same file that is 300 dpi and CMYK. when we finally got that all worked out, i went to a going away party for möppi, rebeccah and diemo, who are moving back to germany next month, and i got home, totally exhausted, at 10:00 or so.
today, i got up at an ungodly hour (8:00 am), feeling nauseous – – but not actually nauseous enough to throw up (which i figured would make the nauseous feeling go away), and made it to folklife for a (relatively) early (1:10 pm) performance of the ballard sedentary sousa band. i didn’t actually get sick, although there were a few touch-and-go moments in the morning before i left, but i wanted to get there fairly early, because, unlike the banda gozona performance, which resulted in my possesion of a parking pass, so that i wouldn’t have to pay, the powers that be apparently figured that the ballard sedentary sousa band only needed two parking passes, which went to the two most senior members of the band, so in order to park, i would have to search out a free spot (practically impossible, given the location and time) or pay $15 to park until 2:30.
i got home at about 3:30, absolutely exhausted, and submitted the order for the postcards.
now, completely bereft of spoons, i’m going to spent the rest of my “holiday” weekend sleeping.
wesak was last thursday. i watched the monks at the buddhist temple down the street putting up decorations, but i totally spaced out mentioning it until now.
the aparajita is supposed to arrive on wednesday or thursday of this week. it’s down to the wire and i still don’t have tracking details from india, but the guy called me(!) to tell me when the shipment was supposed to be here.
Quantity discrimination in salamanders – they can tell the difference, but only when the ratio is 2:1 or greater… but these guys get paid to discover if salamanders can count. i obviously went into the wrong profession…
Man crosses English Channel in chair carried by helium balloons – including “coming down quickly to avoid restricted air space, missing a power line and then bouncing a short distance before coming to a halt” near dunkirk. once again, it appears as though i went into the wrong profession. what was i thinking?
so the guy emailed me this morning and said that he’s shipped out the incense sticks, so it’s just a matter of time at this point. he said that he’d get back to me with tracking details when he gets them, and until then i can’t be 100% sure that he’s acually sent me anything at all… and, of course, i won’t know for sure that he’s actually sent me authentic aparajita or a fake until i actually recieve them, which, according to the schedule, will be ten days from now.
so i sent money to india to get aparajita incense…
wouldn’t you know, right as they were getting ready to ship me the product, a cyclone strikes and no shipping can be done because of inclement weather…
i hope the Remover of Obstacles has His finger on the pulse of things here… 😐
i called maaco, and they said that it would cost around $200 to clear-coat the hood, depending on how the preparation goes. i told the guy that i would hesitate to spend that much on the car if there was something wrong with the engine, and my budget was around $100. he said that i should bring it by tomorrow, which i’m going to do, but i’m not expecting much. it’s possible that rick at edgewood tire has some suggestions, but i haven’t asked him.
i’m probably going to go get my tuba soldered tomorrow afternoon, or some time in the relatively near future.
i sent $500 to india for 20 dozen boxes of aparajita. i got an invoice for it, so i’m a little less suspicious than i would have been otherwise, but i still don’t know for sure that it’s going to be aparajita that the guy sends me. at this point, it’s wait and see, because i’ve already sent the money. there’s another incense retailer that’s going to buy half of the 20 dozen as soon as i get them, which is good, because i don’t have the space to store 20 dozen boxes of incense.
so apparently i can get no less than 20 dozen boxes of aparajita(!!) for a ridiculously cheap price, and get it shipped directly to my door in less than 10 days for $200, or i can get it shipped “the long way” and it would take around a month, and i would have to clear the product at customs, and it will cost about $180.
you can guess which direction i am leaning… 😉
apparently i can also get 50 or 60 dozen boxes, and get the same carton shipped for the same $200 to my door, or $180 with hassles at customs.
quite apart from anything else, i don’t know what i’d do with 60 dozen boxes (720 boxes) of incense. i don’t know where i’d store them. i have just barely enough money to pay for 60 dozen boxes without shipping (i can do 20 dozen, but it will set me back a little). with shipping, however, it puts me well over what i can afford…
on the other hand, i’ve been looking for a reliable supplier of aparajita for 10 years, and have given up hope of finding one more than twice.
ETA: i’ve also got a call into another big time incense geek who may want to split it with me… hope! 8)
it’s raining and blustery today, so i can’t work on my car, which gives me some time to catch up on some other things.
moe and i are getting an african grey parrot named stanley this evening, and i’ve been fixing up a corner of the living room to accommodate him. it’s exciting, but it’s also as though we were getting a 3-year-old child, in terms of intelligence and need for taking proper precautions. moe has been wondering how long it’s going to be until stanley learns how to bark like magick, and conversely, wondering how long it will be until he learns to yell at magick for barking… which, i suppose, is just as valid as me wondering how long it’s going to be before stanley learns to make the jews-harp noise, or the tuba noise, or the flex-a-tone noise, or the glass-marble-in-a-bottle noise, or any one of a number of other noises which usually results in one or more of us yelling at magick to quit barking and be quiet. moe says that parrots are kind of like kids, in that they’ll quiz you to find out what they shouldn’t do, and then focus all their time and ability to doing that very thing. exciting is one way of putting it.
i got a phone call(!) from india(!!) this morning, from a guy who wants me to consider becoming a customer of his enterprise, which is the manufacture and export (from india) of incense, murtis and other hindu/hippie stuff. i’ve gotten a number of email inquiries like this in the past, and while i generally delete them without responding, i perked up when this guy said that he could get aparajita. i still don’t know in what quantities or for what price, but this is a lot closer than i’ve ever gotten before, and if i play my cards right, it could mean a lot more than just aparajita, as he apparently also has lines on narmada shivalingams and rudrakhsha beads. 8)
Briton ‘gets Chinese accent after bad migraine’ – more people having problems with their brain and ending up with problems with their language. i’m beginning to wonder if this is a new problem, or if things like this have been going on all along.
Burials in Tibet – the original headline included the words "not for sensitive souls"… it shows how a different culture chooses to honor those who have died. what’s wrong with that?
i just got another inquiry about aparajita from someone who has bought it from me in the past. maybe i’ll be able to send him some eventually…
also i got my bow today. it was supposed to be delivered on wednesday. shar music is where i bought it.
aparajita is one of the incenses that prompted me to go into the business of being an agarbatthiwala. it is an incense that is characteristically used by devotees of ravi shankar and george harrison. it used to be very common, and places like tenzing-momo and zenith supplies carried it as a matter of course, and even more obscure places carried it, along with a million other, less well known incenses.
that was then, this is now.
you would think that i could contact them through mavana dot com, but the first time i wrote them, about 3 years ago, there was no response from either of the two email addresses listed on their contact page, and the last time i wrote them, the message to one of the addresses bounced almost immediately. the last time i was able to find any aparajita at all, it was through an incense supplier i know in port townsend (who is also an old hippie, and beset by the health of an old hippie, which means that he has spent a large portion of the past 3 years in the hospital, thus making him somewhat unreliable as an incense supplier), who knows a guy in chicago who had a bunch of aparajita that he wanted to get rid of, and i bought all he had, which was 4 dozen boxes.
that was about 6 months ago, and i just sold my last box to a very disappointed customer in marietta, georgia, who had thought that i had more in stock.
to make matters worse, in my search for a reliable source of this smelly gold, i have discovered that there are at least two other indian incense manufacturers who have decided to take advantage of the situation by producing fairly sophisticated knock-off packaging which contains nothing like the authentic aparajita. the following is a picture of the packaging for one of the “knock-offs” which i bought a quarter kilo of before i realised that it was not the same thing:
i have been looking for a reliable source for this incense for around 10 years, and i know that my search is not in vain. i have heard rumours from a couple of different customers that aparajita is apparently still available in india, but the manufacturer doesn’t want to send any less than an 8′ by 8′ shipping container of it outside of india. also, i looked for another variety of incense (amber aromatics “sital flora”, which is largely a neem scent) for 25 years before i found some, whereupon i bought a kilo of it, and still have more than ¾ of it left, so i know that eventually a source will be found.
i just currently don’t know who it is. if any of you get a crazy idea to go shopping in india for incense, let me know and i’ll put in an order.