About 2500 years ago, in a small town in southern Mesopotamia, Jasmin looked worriedly over the books of her hotel. The Sandy Springs Inn have reached half occupancy for the month, but the succeeding period were much lower than usual. She needs to find a way to increase their earnings or they won't be able remain in business.
Her musings were interrupted when she heard the bell in the reception desk. Jasmin walked over quickly and saw a modest middle-aged man and his aide standing by the counter. With a gentle voice, he asked her, "Two rooms please and a place for our camels in the stables."
"Certainly sir, and would you like the standard rooms or the larger premium rooms?", asked Jasmin cheerfully, her worries momentarily leaving her.
"The standard rooms would be just fine, thank you."
In the blink of an eye, Jasmin was standing behind them pointing the way. "This way sir", she said as she led the way. "My name is Jasmin, and your rooms are down the hall. I shall also give your camels the best stalls, they might no longer want to leave."
"Thank you very much."
After getting settled in his room, the man went down to the eating house for an early supper.
Not ten minutes into his plain meal of roasted fowl and potatoes, a big-eyed burly man loudly called him, "Yehann?!? Is that you?!?"
"Baraz! My friend, it is good to see you again.", replied Yehann. "What brings you to this part of the valley?"
"It is a wonderful coincidence meeting you here, I just came from the gulf examining ships for an expedition to the eastern islands." Baraz explained enthusiastically, his stout cheeks flushing. "Perchance, might I ask for your infallible financial wisdom on this promising venture?"
"Certainly, I will be glad to share the wisdom I have learned from the elders".
Baraz smiled and started explaining. "A friend has invited me to invest on a ship to collect rare gems from the east. He says we can quadruple our coins in just 3 months. I do not have the requisite gold coins to join in the investment, so I am thinking of borrowing from the moneylender using my house as collateral." Baraz's eyes twinkled as if seeing gold flash before his eyes. ka ching..
Yehann waited for his friend to finish and then replied amiably.
"The elders speak of a few immutable laws of gold. Abide by them and gold shall come to you freely, disobey them, and gold shall flee from you just as quickly. One of the laws is very simple, yet many dismiss it as too elementary. The law is thus: Spend less than you earn."
Yehann continued, "It sounds like you do not have enough coins saved that you have to borrow. Consider if you can wait until you have sufficient savings so that you do not risk putting up your house for collateral. Moreover, be very careful that such investment will actually bear fruit and you are trusting people who are wise in the ways of such trade."
For a few moments Baraz stared at the ceiling, still as a rock. It gave Yehann time to finish his meal.
Several minutes passed, and Baraz was still frozen, gazing at a spot on the ceiling. When Yehann was about to depart, he gently tapped the big man on the shoulder, partly concerned if he was still breathing.
Baraz suddenly bounced up, "Thank you Yehann!!!" he exclaimed a little too loudly. "I shall think about your advice, no doubt you carry the wisdom of the richest people in Babylon".
The nearby patrons in the eating house were now listening. A bearded man spoke up, "Kind sir from the famed wealth of Babylon, may I also ask for your advice?"
Another one followed, "I too have a question if you can spare the time, please."
Yehann looked at the small crowd now gathering close by, "Very well, meet me at noon at this very spot tomorrow and we shall discuss these matters. For tonight, consider the law I described." Yehann summarized it quickly. "Remember to spend less than you earn".
Jasmin instantly appeared out of nowhere causing Yehann to almost jump in surprise.
"That is very gracious of you sir", she said with a huge smile. "I shall make the preparations for the forum at noon tomorrow."
"Oh.. thank you."
Jasmin had an idea. What if their famed guest endorses them by posing for a portrait "photo-op", it might help them gain the influx of new guests she needs. Jasmin made arrangements for a painter to come with haste.
The following day, at a quarter before noon, Yehann approached the eating house.
A big red banner was erected at the front, "Welcome to The Forum at the Sandy Springs!" it read.
Yehann tried to take a deep breath, but before he can inhale fully, a now familiar voice greeted him. "Good day, Mr. Yehann!". Jasmin exclaimed vibrantly.
"We are almost ready for your talk. The last of the invited guests have just taken their seats."
Yehann peeked thru the arched entrance and saw about 50 people seated in rugs arranged in a semi-circle. A raised dais was in the middle. For a second he was tempted to cancel the talk and head for the reassuring presence of his camels. There is little he feared, having faced extreme poverty before, but he remained terrified of public speaking.
As if sensing his hesitation, Jasmin spoke in a much softer voice, "It was our idea to honor you with such decorations. But I would sooner just keep it simple if you prefer."
She continued, "Tell you what, we'll say there are more guests coming and I'll have the dais removed to make way for more rugs."
Yehann smiled and before he can thank her, Jasmin was already signaling to the housekeeping attendant who seemed to also instantly materialize beside them.
How do they do that? Yehann wondered.
In what seemed like a minute, the dining area was transformed and Yehann was ushered into the hall.