There's a fascinating article in today's WSJ that gives new meaning to the story recorded in Ketubot 67b. That is the story about the poor man who comes before Raba and asks for luxuries and delicacies- a fattened chicken and aged wine. Raba is amazed; how can this man possibly think it's okay to ask for such rich foods when he's a beggar? The man answers with a biblical verse, citing that the food belongs to God and God apportions "in his time." Sure enough, Raba's sister stops by with a fattened chicken and aged wine. The idea is that we must treat people according to the way in which they were accustomed to living- a beggar who was once a rich man must be provided for in that manner as opposed to someone who has always been poor and never tasted of such delicacies. (See Hirhurim's "Laws of Charity" post for more details.)
Here's the link to this fascinating WSJ article, though unfortunately you can only read the full article if you are a subscriber.
The article is about Mr. Kishore Biyani, a man who initially tried to implement US methods in his retail stores in India and failed. He then reverted to the style of supermarket Indians were accustomed to and succeeded. Quote:
- Americans and Europeans might like to shop in pristine and quiet stores where products are carefully arranged. But when Mr. Biyani tried that in Western-style supermarkets he opened in India six years ago, too many customers walked down the wide aisles, past neatly stocked shelves and out the door without buying.
Mr. Biyani says he soon figured out what he was doing wrong. Shopping in such a sterile environment didn't appeal to the lower middle-class shoppers he was targeting. They were more comfortable in the tiny, cramped stores -- often filled with haggling customers -- that typify Indian shopping. Most Indians buy their fresh produce from vendors who keep vegetables under burlap sacks. Even the dirty, black-spotted onions serve a function. For the average Indian, dusty and dirty produce means fresh from the farm, he says.
(Hat Tip: Daddy!)