Simplicity will not attract anybody towards you.
A great Urdu poet, Ghalib, was invited to a dinner by the emperor. Many other people were invited, almost five hundred. Ghalib was a poor man; it is very difficult for a poet to be rich – rich in the eyes of others.
Friends suggested, “Ghalib, you can borrow clothes, shoes, a good umbrella…because your umbrella is so rotten, your coat is faded, almost gone, and with these clothes and these shoes which have so many holes, it won’t look good!”
But Ghalib said, “If I borrow something I will feel very uncomfortable inside, because I have never borrowed from anybody – I have lived on my feet, I have lived in my own way. To break the habit of my whole life just for a dinner is not good.”
So he went to the emperor’s court in his own clothes. When he presented his invitation card to the watchman, the man looked at him, laughed, and said, “From where have you stolen this? Escape from here immediately, otherwise you will be caught!”
Ghalib could not believe it. He said, “I have been invited – go and ask the emperor!”
The watchman said, “Every beggar thinks that he’s been invited. And you are not the first; many others have knocked at the door before. Escape from here! Don’t stand here because the guests will be arriving soon.”
So Ghalib went back. His friends knew that this was going to happen, so they had arranged a coat, some shoes, an umbrella for him – some borrowed things. Then he put on those borrowed things and went back. The watchman bowed down and said, “Come in.”
Ghalib was a very well-known poet and the emperor loved his poetry, so he was allowed to sit just by the side of the emperor. When the feast started Ghalib did a very strange thing, and the emperor thought that he looked a little mad – he started feeding his coat and saying, “My coat, eat it! Because really you have entered, not I.”
The emperor said, “What are you doing, Ghalib? Have you gone mad?”
Ghalib said, “No – I had come before but I was refused entry. Now this coat has come – I’m just with it because the coat couldn’t come alone – otherwise I could not have come!”
But this is happening to everybody: not you but your coat is recognized by others; so you go on embroidering your coat, dressing yourself.
Do not mind anything that anyone tells you about anyone else. Judge everyone and everything for yourself.
– Henry James