Copenhagen gets stormed

Yesterday was really a windy day !! With wind speeds recorded upto 190 kph, things were really blowing outside the windows. It was the left-over storm which was headed towards the Danish coast from UK. I was not aware that a storm was going to hit Copenhagen. I had left for work at the University without knowing that the storm clouds were already on their way. I came to know about the storm when it actually hit. Everything was swirling outside the windows and the wind was howling with rage. It was 5 in the evening. It was a bit scary to see the windows clatter. The intensity reduced around 7 and I decided to make a run for it. I took my bike and went to Svanemollen station at 7. With announcements only in Danish about cancelled trains and hardly anyone around, I hung around there for 30 mins (and rejseplanen claimed there would be a S train at 7-30) and finally I left to make my way back to the University to put back my bike and look for buses to come back home. The bike journeys were exciting and scary at the same time. The wind was blowing in gusts and there were uprooted trees and and other objects. I was biking looking all around hoping to not land up in a hospital bed. I made my way back to the University, put my bike back and then made it to the bus stop. I waited at the bus stop for an hour before the bus 184 turned up. And then after a 45 minute bus ride, I was finally home at 10. It was an experience which was exciting, stressful and tiring at the same time. It blows into focus the fact how are lives are completely at the whims and fancies of nature.

And the storm winds were here

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Danish postage, VAT and sanity

Just the other day, I got a package from my parents containing some stuff that I could not bring when I took the flight from India. Most of it was used personal stuff and a lot of cookies. I was actually surprised to see a letter asking me to pickup my 14 kg package instead of the customary yellow around the fringes slip from the post-office. I was shocked to see that I had to pay VAT on the goods of around 335 DKK of which around 150 DKK was the assessment charge (you have to pay for the work they did to put the VAT). It seemed a bit strange to me since the entire value of the goods in the package was less than 200 DKK. And I wanted to know how they had fixed up the charges. I searched frantically online but could not get anything about the rules for sending international non-commercial postage. I could dig up some rules and regulations on what one can send and how it can be assessed but it seemed fairly academic missing a lot of practical questions.

I did find a lot of posts saying how people found the postage system here ridiculous because of the international posting guidelines and how everyone in the post-office is apathetic about it. I had a 14 day window in which I had to pick up the package else it will be sent back. I talked to the customs department in the post-office and they told me that a student does not have to pay any taxes on his stuff if it does not have high commercial value. The problem with my package was they could not infer that it belonged to a student and my parents had not filled the customs declaration very clearly about the used stuff and its value. So, he raised a case for me and told me I have to wait until they free my package off taxes. 5 days went by and I had only 5 days remaining before the package was sent back. No news of my case. I called up and my case was assigned topmost priority. After furnishing a scan of my student card my package was freed of taxes and I could pickup the package next day.

Overall, my experiences with the Danish Postal system has always been topnotch. In this case, although I was perplexed over the taxation initially (I am not going into a debate of its fairness), but eventually everybody at the postal office was very helpful in resolving the case amicably. The next time I eat one of cookies which my mother sent I won’t crib about how costly it was. Yay to the sane and friendly Danish Postal system !! Don’t be afraid to poke the right people. More often than not you will have a satisfactory and sane resolution. We live in reasonable times, don’t we ? That’s a topic for another day.

And I received a happy mail