Good Advice Is Rarer than Rubies

by Salman Rushdie

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Where is Miss Rehana from in "Good Advice Is Rarer than Rubies"?

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Miss Rehana comes from Lahore, where her father had orchestrated an arranged marriage for her years earlier. She both loves Lahore and rejects the notion that she should comply with a marriage to a man who is "like a stranger" to her.

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Miss Rehana arrives at the British consulate to obtain the needed documentation and approval to meet her fiancée in London. Muhammad Ali spots her and is immediately captivated by her appearance, as are the other men in the office. Miss Rehana presents herself as a strong and confident woman from the beginning, listening carefully to Muhammad Ali's advice and then choosing her own path. As he begs her to accept the "help" of a friend who can secure a British passport for her, Miss Rehana inquires whether he is asking her to commit a crime and then abruptly leaves.

When she later emerges from the Consulate office, Miss Rehana is visibly happy about how things have gone. Muhammad Ali buys her a pakora, and they sit to chat before she heads back home. Muhammad Ali is shocked to learn that Miss Rehana has taken his advice about how to answer the questions at the Consulate's office to intentionally be denied a permit for travelling. She conveys that her father had arranged this marriage to a much older man when she was very young; she has no interest in joining him in London because he is "like a stranger" to her. She much prefers the life she has built for herself in Lahore and plans to return to her job there; she is an ayah (or nanny) to three boys and is excited to return to this "great house."

Miss Rehana's choice reflects a rejection of Western culture; the prospect of living in London isn't as appealing to her as remaining in her native Pakistan. It also presents the portrait of a woman who rejects the common belief that all women should marry, particularly in the acceptance of arranged marriages, or that living as a wife is innately more satisfying than choosing to remain a single woman. The setting is crucial in this story to present a complex portrait of traditional Eastern cultures.

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