Farewell to qualms – Or how beggars can be choosers

Forget about the blue-eyed boys or boss’s pets. Or people who network better than you, look smarter than you, or have superior social skills. What I have seen is that most of the times we fare worse than some of our peers who are more or less in the same boat as us.

We start off at the same rung in the corporate ladder, make similar moves, are butt of miming in office parties, and are always the last ones to be picked up in any offsite team tasks. Yet we see the guy on the right side of the bell-curve in increments, though bunged in the same executive band. He may share the same designation as us, but his perks are always a tad bit higher than ours.

I couldn’t fathom the reason-why till a while ago. Now I am an enlightened soul. Here’s why.

Once when Mulla Nasruddin emerged from the mosque after prayers, he tumbled upon a beggar sitting on the steps soliciting alms. The beggar looked supremely overconfident with an air of superiority bordering on insolence about him. He neither lifted his begging bowl, nor thrust forth an upturned palm. He merely glanced at MN and turned his eyes studying his bowl. He seemed well fed and as far as the eye could make out was pleasantly clothed.

MN’s curiosity was tickled and he proceeded to hold the following conversation with him:

MN: Are you extravagant?

Supremely overconfident beggar (SOB): Yes, MN

MN: Do you like sitting around drinking coffee and smoking?

SOB: Yes, frequently.

MN: I suppose you like to spend on pampering yourself with regular baths, maybe amuse yourself, even, by drinking with friends.

SOB: Yes I like all those things.

MN reached into his pocket, fished out a gold coin and dropping it carefully in the SOB’s bowl moved on, his pious deed for the day done.

A few steps further down, he practically stumbled on another mendicant, flea-infested one with disheveled hair, a personification of meek dejection and abject surrender. What a study in contrast!

A similar but substantively different conversation followed between the two.

Study in contrast (SIC): “Good day to you sir, may god shower his blessings from heaven unto you and may you and your family prosper for generations to come”.

MN: Are you extravagant?

SIC: No, sir

MN: Do you like sitting around drinking coffee and smoking?

SIC: No, Sir, I have no such vices.

MN: I suppose you like to spend on pampering yourself with regular baths, maybe amuse yourself, even, by drinking with friends.

SIC: No, Sir, I want to only live meagerly and to pray and lead a life of piety.

MN tossed a small copper coin into the largely empty bowl of the SIC.

“But why”, wailed the pitiful soul, “do you give me, an economical and pious man, a penny, when you give that extravagant fellow a sovereign?”

“Ah my friend”, replied MN, “his needs are greater than yours”.


I don’t know what you gathered from the story, but it sure did open my eyes.

Stock phrases like “Job satisfaction, challenges, learning opportunities, great organization, and terrific boss” will push one into the realms of pious and economical living.

Anybody who has it in them to dole out largesse, and hear those coming from you will see your needs as basic in nature. A mere sustenance pay-package should do the trick for you, they infer to your detriment.

On the other hand, if you look, act and spend like a million bucks, then its incumbent upon the donor to help you keep up with your lifestyle. Even more so, if the donor himself is into such extravagant lifestyle, he knows better than to deprive you of such essentials in life.

Now that the realization has dawned upon me, I am saving every bit of copper that comes my way to be able to afford a good barber’s service, a refreshing bath and a hearty meal. For, now that I know what it takes, I am determined to live life king-size and choose the denomination that comes my way.

So here’s to a new beg-inning.


30 Comments Add yours

  1. Meenakshi says:

    That is so well said. I like the stories that you narrate to make a point. A little hope, optimism and yearning to lead a better life is so important to keep one going. But that is so different from the ideal, the values that we are taught – that one is supposed to be contended with what one has!

    1. ivak99 says:

      Thank you Meenakshi. Ideal = I+Deal – selfish and business like; and that’s the ideal for most of the people; not bad in itself, till it starts hurting others. Till the point that one’s actions, though self-serving, wont screw round with another person’s life/career; I am ok with it!

  2. Shiv Muttoo says:

    Another hard hitting, thought provoking insight from the House of Vemuri! I liked the characterization of the two beggars – SOB and SIC – very inventive! Through your posts, you have hammered in such a wealth of ideas and thoughts which, humor apart, could really help in career improvement. This is really the stuff that differentiates success from failure. Carry on with the good work!

  3. Deepavali says:

    Hi Arun,
    I like your sense of reasoning and agree with you.
    However beg to differ on a more practical note…
    When I was in India.. I was an Indian beggar…I was your beggar no. 1…and i spent extravagantly all that i had..
    i am beggar no2 now.. i am in an alien land and can relate myself to being more beggar no. 2.
    I am not extravagant…and iam trying to save all that i can..
    the opportunities however i feel are all situational and mindset is that changes time to time….
    presentation does matter big time…and for that we still need to get our attitide right..
    But its a lovely reading to realise maybe even I started looking like a real second beggar..

  4. M P Shyni says:

    Arun, a vry Practical & Timely Article… I hv started applying it in ma Life as wel… I ws mor/ less a “SIC” bt aftr going thru Ua Blog hv strtd Leading a Life f “SOB”… & Trust me I see a lot f Changes in & around me… Tnx Yaar… 🙂

  5. Hi Arun

    Appraisals are around the corner. Reading your blog forces me to live life king size

    once again a great entry

    Keep it going

    Vivek Miranda

  6. Manjeet Singh says:

    You said it !

    Your life is what you think it is. If you think you are rich, successful & deserve the best things in life – the whole universe works towards fulfilling it. And, it’s a well known fact that complacency is a drag.

    At the same time I must add that you may be better off materialistically by being demanding but unlikely to be happy.

  7. gomathi says:

    hello Arun,

    A wonderful and practical truth. this happens everywhere, may be a person can neither be sob or sic A person can take time to understand that what he wants out of life?
    Is it happiness or material benefit or position which makes his life going…..by rendering some satisfaction to himself and others to a reasonable level like sic example.
    Though it is difficult to digest the sob’s by sic ‘s, but that is apart from one’s way of reacting to practical things that happens around them

  8. Sumita says:

    Your writing attach us to the real corporate world…..
    But this culture has been created by our seniors. The way they look at things…the way they want it to happen… and they expect the same from their juniors..

    What if we start looking those things differently?

    Cannot it be change?

    Can we who are leaders or who will become the future leader change it?

  9. Kishore Parthasarathy says:

    Great perspective of looking at things. As usual awesome blog.

  10. Hareesh Bhargavan says:

    This one is so true, so much I could relate to it. But the lurking doubt remains, how many out there are as wise as MN, may be when I try out to be the SOB, boss would turn out to be a real SOB.

    1. M P Shyni says:

      Hareesh, U mean so True wn said, “I try out to b d SOB, boss wud turn out 2 b a Real SOB”…!!! 🙂

  11. Pinky says:

    Wow Arun, this is really true in life.
    Alot of times, when it comes to job seeking, i normally underprice myself vs other colleagues that does the same thing yet get paid higher and with better perks.

    Well since that now I am earning what I have aspired to earn a year ago, i am thankful that I am able and capable to take care of myself, of course, i hope to do better to save up more, have a safety fund, complete my education and, and eventually, with my education upgrade, i can BEG for more, to satisfy my hunger for travel and materials 😀

  12. Vidushi Gupta says:

    Hey Arun…ahain you are back with a bang..!!!

    It was again…amazing read…as always…!!
    Its so true…the more you shout/ask..the more you get..but its not worth ast times i believe..

    But yes as per the funda of secret says…focus on what you want..and it will menifest..was visible in your story(though it didn’t work for me)..:(

    So true in present situation…my team members used to shout about the work they used to do(be it big..be it worthless)..they made a point to bring it to the notice if everybody..boss specially…and they no doubt they gained so much…thru bonus…appraisals…and what not…!!

    To be true..i feel pity of such people who need to scream for their every sinlge act..but that is the bitter truth..only these are noticed…

    You write too good Arun…learning alot from you..

    Thank You..

  13. adrienne williams says:

    Another lesson learned….I have heard a story similar in nature with an American twist and I smile at the truth of the words. I, for one, want to live the life of the SOB – the only problem is that looking for an employer to agree is difficult…

    But my other question is, “is enough ever enough?”

    Thanks, as always.

  14. Vlasta says:

    Once again Arun thank you for inspiring blog. I shall keep your story in mind when at the next contract negotiations.

  15. Lisa Johnson says:

    I have a mixed reaction to this. On one hand, I am offended by the first beggar and pity the second. On the other, I see your point. If we tell humanity and the Universe what we want, we stand a chance to get it. It reminds me of what I read long ago in Shakti Gawain’s book “Creative Visualization” which, to me, is the thesis of “The Secret.” If you see it in your mind’s eye and focus on this, it will be manifested.

    I had this exact experience in New York City when I wanted to become a copywriter. Everyone told me that I couldn’t start there. I thought, “Oh, yeah? Watch me.” And I got job after job at places that I intentionally focused upon. They just seemed to appear.

    Certainly, it doesn’t happen all the time. But in those days, it did.

    Cheers to imagining and focusing on our heart’s desires!

  16. pavan says:

    Beautiful story. Most of us must have experienced this type of a situation in real life, but probably did not ponder deep enough to realize a simple truth as this. But it takes an enlightened man like MN to realize this.

  17. Gale Force says:

    Thanks again for a great blog 🙂

    The story gets towards the repeatedly-validated truth that the value we place on ourselves is the value that others place on us.

    Research shows that people get an idea of one’s self esteem within about 6 seconds of a meeting.

    Essentially it is useful for me to know what you are worth.
    Who knows what you are worth?

    You do.

    I can sense that within seconds – you can’t hide it.
    You can’t fake it.
    Then I will know how to treat you – can I trust you? Should I treat you with honor and respect (do you honor and respect yourself? Are you trustworthy? You should know!)

    Confidence (real confidence, true belief in your self worth) is the best predictor of happiness and success.

    Check out the statistics.

    The only question is why anyone with confidence would be a beggar. Be an entrepreneur! It’s much more fun.


  18. Anupama says:

    Great one! I was just planning to completely redo my wardrobe. Going from SIC(k) to SOB 🙂

  19. anita noronha says:

    Yes Arun…cheers to a new beginning for you! Hope u look & earn a million bucks
    As they say ‘birds of a feather flock together’…Lets all hope to be SOBs soon!

  20. Jyoti Navel says:

    Dear Mr. Arun,

    It was very inspiring to read this as well as other blogs of urs.

    I truly belive in presentation.even if we do not possess enough knowledge but have a different way of presentation……that’s surely makes a difference in front of others…….and it truly work in workplace.

    Luking forward for such inspiring and interesting articles from u…



  21. Fantastic; sorry couldn’t comment for Frog in well last week busy busy.

    This story to set expectation and show off is very true; You need to show off and get ahead as the tamil saying “Azutha Pillaikuthan Paal kidaikum” (The child cries get milk).

    Keep flowing.

  22. Shirin Ara says:

    Hey Arun,

    “Farewell to Qualms”, a perfect phrase for the current situation in the work places 🙂

    It was an enlightening article and very nice to read 🙂

    Though personally i might not be for this “ART”, but to grow professionally, its an essential thing…M in the learning phase though:)

    Looking forward for more of such informative & helpful Articles Arun…Keep writing…U R the best at it :)!!!!


    – Shirin Ara

  23. Revathy PG says:

    Good one Arun…
    Its always delight reading ur blog…:)

    I too truly agree on this….its all abt how u present urself…..the more confident and exigent you are, the more u get noticed.…

    We too come across many ppl who, don’t contain much knowledge or aptitude in real life but the way they portrait themselves ..is really amazing. …And on the contrary if the person knows e’thing and don’t know how to showcase his ability then he is lost in the race….

    Good thought indeed !!!! Need to learn few tactics to get all the attention and appreciation 🙂


  24. lavender says:

    Vaks, You have just elevated and extolled the truth of the old Indian saying. I guess it translates literally to – “the one who cries does the milk be poured forth for” or something to the effect. In plain good ‘ol Hin-glish, it would be like – “dude, the guy who makes the most noise gets the most/best/wants/needs…what ever …fulfilled”
    To get to the point ( i do realise I am rambling..as often your writing makes me do) yeah U show u are worth it and u will get it.Mebbe its time I too started wearing the Prada 🙂

    Keep writing ….lemmme run to grab the Gucci

  25. Meenal says:

    If you don’t need it, then no point in giving it to you…..makes sense….most promotions and increments in the corporate world also happen in a similar way…..

  26. Vijaya Shendarkar says:

    Great !!!

    Absolutely ture.. and it was great reading Arun.



    This one is so true….

    It is only those who ”portray” a certain style and class of living, and who confidently show they are knowledgeable,who actually walk away with a much larger booty….both in life and in a corporate set up…

    I guess the moral of the story is….fool yourself and the world…and live happily ever after
    Having said this, I am sure such a person would always live in the constant fear of being ”exposed” as compared to the simple straightforward person, who is just about happy with life’s necessities….and strives towards getting them.

    This one made a great reading Arun….keep penning!!

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