Tag Archives: aparajita

weird

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. 😉

actually, now that i come to think about it

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! 😉

201012 HPOI
201012 HPOI

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.

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… 😒

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. 😉

Ă,-PĂ,-RĀ’-JĬ,-TĂ,

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.

aparajita! 👍

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. 😒

aparajita update

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.

whew?

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.

incense

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. 😒

aparajita

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… 😒

elephant

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!“. πŸ‘Ώ now i just have to figure out what to put it on… or, more acurately, what NOT to put it on… πŸ‘Ώ

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.

apara-squeeeeeeEEEEE-ta!!

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. πŸ˜€

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…

squeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! 😎

customers are actually good for something other than income…

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. 😎

ooh! aparajita… AGAIN!

aparajita from sri satyanarayana parimala
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.

aparajita… +1

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.