Good Advice is Rarer Than Rubies – Summary

Good Advice is Rarer than Rubies by Salman Rushdie, is based on the exploitation of such women who are in need of their visa to go to foreign lands and so fall a prey into the hands of the advice givers; and how finally a lady changes the concept of true advice and makes everyone realize the essence of authentic guidance.


Good Advice is Rarer than Rubies is a moralistic tale centring around the meaning of freedom, the story embarks interaction between Miss Rehana, a woman applying to leave her country for England, and Muhammad Ali, a swindling ‘advice-giver‘ who offers to help women like Rehana in their appeals for a price. A chilling touch of British colonization prevails in the story when the shanty, outside the British consulate, that houses quite a large number of natives is hinted at. The congregation mainly comprises of the ‘Tuesday women‘ who visit the consulate with their desperate aim of emigrating to England, a country that is considered to possess greater economic opportunity and freedom. The main desire of these women is to somehow leave their country in the hope of a better tomorrow in an alien land and for this they are even willing to part with their monetary reserves. At such crucial moments men like Muhammad Ali come to their rescue with various ideas and advices and lure the women to fall in their trap of counselling and make a fortune out of their anxiety and distress. These men know the tricks of capturing the ladies by promising them ways of swindling the system that allows only few to exit.

Miss Rehana is an exception in the world where Rushdie mainly composes individuals with similar fundamental aims, as instead of a recipient she becomes the advice giver to Muhammad Ali. It is with her demeanour and her physical beauty that attracts special attention and a different behaviour from all those who encounter her. Everyone is fascinated towards her not just for her charm and beauty but also for the politeness and courtesy that she ensured. As she steps down from the bus Muhammad Ali is entangled in her beauty and his first expression reveals his exclusive judgement – ‘Miss Rehana‘s eyes were large and black and bright enough not to need the help of antimony, and when the advice expert Muhammad Ali saw them he felt himself becoming young again.” Beauty is captivating and Muhammad Ali understands that he has fallen a prey to it. It is not just him who experiences the pull and he realizes that every man present there from the bus driver to the guard, who is usually rude to the Consulate‘s Tuesday women‘, is caught in the whirlwind. The men fail to ignore her self-assured beauty that seems to be coming out as a radiation from her inner enigma.

Like other Tuesday women, Rehana does not share the appearance of nervousness and panic and it is her tranquillity that intrigues and demands special attention. Salman Rushdie portrays Miss Rehana with a magical appeal – the power, dictating but naive, of a sorceress. Muhammad Ali is gripped into the enchanting surrounding of Rehana and he adjusts himself immediately to act upon his initial response with her. He thinks in himself how to break through the facade of her composed self with his experienced advisory words. After so much of preparation before facing her, he is completely shocked and surprised by the words that actually come out of his mouth. He finds himself offering Miss Rehana with free advice and even, eventually and strangely enough, accepts to provide her with the treasure of a secured passport. He feels drawn to propose these things complimentary to Miss Rehana against his ‘own violation‘. It is his concern for her immature character that forces him to offer such a reward to her, even though it is not in his statuesque. His apprehension for the lady forces him to guard her somehow from facing the situation inside the Consulate. But to his dismay he finds her not at all alarmed by her lack of preparation or knowledge that is usually required at such a moment. Somehow he tries to unnerve her by sharing his awareness of the persistent questioning that occurs inside the walls of the Consulate. But she maintains her usual calmness and concentrates more on the pakora that she buys for herself and even offers it to Muhammad Ali.

When finally the time for his usual swindling arrives, he even goes to the extent of offering her the passport which she instantly and forcefully refuses, feeling insulted by his suggestion of asking her to be dishonest. She leaves him hurriedly, without looking back for any further assistance and Muhammad Ali yells after her the perception of the world that they share: ‘It is a curse of our people,‘ he yelled. ̳ ‘We are poor, we are ignorant, and we completely refuse to learn.‘ This is the actual truth that he feels persists beneath the superficial charm that people pretend. But to the surprise of Muhammad Ali, Miss Rehana speaks a language of cliché that in fact corresponds to his. When offered free advice, she responds, ‘When Fate sends a gift, one receives good fortune.‘

But after she returns from the so called grilling at the Consulate she seems so happy that Muhammad Ali believes that she has been granted the passage to England. And it is then that she discloses to him her story which very well justifies the reason behind her serenity. She has not been granted with what he thinks could have been the reason of happiness for all; instead she actually does not want to leave the country for somewhere very alien to her – she would rather prefer to live the life she knows than to escape to an arranged marriage. She seeks to lead her life according to her own will rather than the ways of tradition and culture and the force of her parents dumped upon her. Very emphatically she proves Muhammad Ali‘s scepticism wrong, explaining through the particulars of her own individual story that she is no fool in desiring to stay and live and lead her own personal life. She is bold enough to come back to Muhammad Ali and tell him the reason behind her behaviour. She prefers rejecting the societal pressure of joining her husband who had, after marriage, left her long ago for a different destination altogether. At this juncture of her life she wishes to continue her life as an independent, single, working lady, rejecting the interference of anyone beyond herself.

Her story and her revelation is an eye-opener for those ladies who feel the pressure of society and sacrifice their life for the sake of something very shallow. The story even rejects the perception that England is a preferable place for everyone who belongs to the other side of the globe. There is also a critical approach to the traditional practice of arranged marriage and also the expectation that usually prevails that all women, after marriage, must live with their husbands according to the demands of the husbands. Strangulating their own wishes the women have always to appreciate the decision of their husbands and follow them wherever and whenever they desire. Miss Rehana‘s disclosure of her story implies that others could be less desperate if they really wanted to be. Her final advice to Muhammad Ali that he should not be sad for her, transforms him completely: ‘Her last smile which he watched from the compound until the bus concealed it in a dust- cloud, was the happiest thing he had ever seen in his long, hot, hard, unloving life.‘ Miss Rehana disappears in the dust cloud, her beauty veiled with her departure as it was during her arrival, but it was much clearer to those who will heed her advice and Muhammad Ali is one of those who takes in her advice with warm acceptance.

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