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The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including RummuserThe Old FossilMaxi,, Shackman and Ashok, have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I try to blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I otherwise wouldn't have done so.  This week's topic Personal Debt is the contribution of  Rummuser, that amazing blogger from Pune.

Now when it comes to debt and loans, I find myself on very shaky ground indeed.  I like the Shakespearean line 'Never a borrower nor a lender be'.  We're talking money here.  I also like a saying I picked up along the way.  'Never lend anyone money unless you're prepared to say goodbye to it.'  

If someone is poor and needs money, why would I keep it?  I'd rather just give it away and never look for it again.  But the truth is that generally speaking, no working or  middle class person has money to spare.  At the same time, lending money can create tension in a relationship.  If someone borrowed a substantial amount from me and then is slow paying it back, that can really hurt.  Especially when the need for my money arises and I just don't have it, because I lent it to someone else.  So my feeling is that when someone, including myself, needs an injection of cash, the best bet is to go to reputed bank or credit union and do an official deal, with a repayment plan. It is better to keep loans etc. out of relationships.

One astonishing aspect of life in India which I have found is the phenomenon of people who just don't pay back money.  They take a loan, they promise to pay and then they just, like, forget about it. In my opinion, they actually think they are entitled to the money and just ask for a loan for formality's sake.  Then they just forget about it.

It's not hard to find people to whom to lend money in north India where I live.  A friend of our family, Ashok, a university lecturer, was telling me, the other day about an incident which made my blood boil.  There is a woman, Kanti, who works in his office as an ayah.  She keeps the office clean, goes for messages, makes sure everyone has glasses of water, cups of tea when they need it and makes sure  the lunches are delivered from the canteen.  She does a pretty good job and is honest.  A couple of years ago, this woman was in great distress. She is a widow with two daughters and the elder one was getting married.  As a great deal of money is required in India at the time of a daughter's marriage and for the want of ten thousand rupees (about two hundred dollars), she was going to have to go to a moneylender and probably have to pay huge interest. Ashok's heart went out to the woman.  He has children of his own and he felt for her.  So he gave three thousand rupees as a gift and lent her the other seven thousand rupees.  She kissed his hands and wept with joy and promised from the core of her heart to repay the loan at the earliest possible opportunity.

Two years went by and Ashok never asked her for the money back, assuming that she would pay it when she was ready.  Then, one day, she approached Ashok respectfully and said she had to speak to him about a personal matter. He thought she was about to return his money.  She wasn't.  She was asking 'Sahib' (Lord) to bless her with another ten thousand rupees as her younger daughter was now getting married.  When he questioned her, it appeared that she had completely forgotten that she owed him seven thousand rupees.

Ashok's wife Aarti is furious over this.  The fact is that Ashok and Aarti are struggling to survive, with mortgage repayments and private school fees and ailing relatives who need medical treatment. The loss of seven thousand rupees won't kill them, but Aarti is livid because Ashok is extremely miserly in giving her money to run the house and buy clothes, questioning her closely regarding every rupee spent.  "He's never given me seven thousand rupees," she says, through gritted teeth.  

But Kanti just feels she's entitled to forget about the loan because she's poor.  Very poor thinking indeed.  It's nice to help others, but an incident like this would put anyone off.

So like I said earlier, it's better not to lend money unless one is prepared to say goodbye to it.

BTW, one of my Indian blogger friends Datta Ghosh, on reading this post, commented on Facebook, "I think it is the general trend in humans to forget any favour done to them irrespective of when they are from."  Datta is right.  Human nature is one and the same throughout the universe, lest my post sound as if I have it in for a certain nationality.  Thanks for the reality check, Datta.  

Special thanks to freedigitalphotos.net  for the above image.





Comments

  1. Your facebook friend is wise. And if at all you are obliged to give someone money, not to expect it back even if it is nominally a loan, is a prudent strategy. The ayah story is so typical that the less said the better about our value systems!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm wondering if Ashok consulted with his wife Aarti, before furnishing the original gift and loan?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm not sure I agree that it is human nature to just take the money and run but there are indeed selfish people in every culture

    ReplyDelete
  4. I know of several cases amongst my family and friends where lending money has pushed people apart. I agree that it might be better to give it as a gift rather than a loan if you can spare it and politely explain if you can't.

    ReplyDelete
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