Don’t Trust the Experts or Else You Will Be Naked

rashinkar

I’m naked and walking around New York City and its not one of those dreams where you wake up sweating because you’re naked and everyone in your dream street is staring at your penis and you can’t cover up.

I bought these tailor made pants in India. I’ve been bragging to everyone: guess how much my pants cost? Come on, look at them and guess. Tailor  made, the tailor came down and measured everything and then they sewed these pants right up.

People look the pants up and down, sort of squinting like they are experts and to make sure they don’t stare at my inseam too much (the groin, the loins, the genitals, anything that can make out a shape there, if there is one).

$150? One person said? $200? Where’d you get them, another person asked.

I don’t answer any questions. This isn’t Jeopardy. This is my life!

Eight dollars! I shout. And I got 14 of them! And guess what? These shirts? Guess how much they cost? Six dollars! I got 12 of them!

And now I’m naked, or almost naked.

I bought the pants in India. I went to the finest tailor. [See, How I Humiliated Myself Doing Yoga] Every American was recommending this tailor. Rashinkar! I put an exclamation point there because when I am walking around my house by myself or in the shower, rather than singing a song like many people do I often just shout, Rashinkar!

(An American at the Rashinkar Emporium)

The wall was destroyed in his place. And there were flies everywhere. They were doing construction apparently. While I waited, a woman walked me up three flights of stairs so I could sit sandwiched between fabrics and books. In every store in India it seems there are books about Shiva and Yoga and Buddha and Gandhi, etc etc. So I start thumbing through the books, waiting my turn because the tailor is very busy. He is the most highly recommended tailor in this part of the world. If I lean back on my chair I would fall three stories down to the cow shit in the sidewalks because there is no wall.

Rashinkar!

Try it, it feels good. Pretend you are yelling at someone. He’s about 5’2” and has a heavy scar on one side of his face. A birthmark. Or a leftover burn from childhood. He’s got glasses. Very nice man. He got his guy to do all the measurements.

The measurements for the waist came back 2 inches wider than I’ve ever worn a pair of pants.

Rashinkar!

(Claudia took the photo. The books on the third floor of the Rashinkar Emporium)

That’s impossible, I said. Do you think I am obese!? He said, “look”. And he wrapped the measuring thing (tape? flexible ruler? number paper?) around my waist and it came up with the number. “How could it be wrong?”

“Hmmm, something seems weird though. That’s a full two inches more than I’ve ever worn a pair of pants.”

“But ok,” I said, “you guys are the experts. You guys are the ones who ship these things to Brooks Brothers who then mark it up to $300 so whatever you say goes. I trust you with the size of my waist.” I picked out 14 different fabrics. And for about $100 and change I bought 14 pairs of pants. I went home to the US of A and six weeks later my pants followed.

The other day I’m walking around NYC. My ipad in one hand, a suitcase in the other.

And my pants fall down.  I’m walking around NYC, right outside Grand Central in my underwear, trying to hail a cab. I refuse to pick the pants up. Why should I! Rashinkar measured them. They should not be on the ground right now!

Rashinkar!

It’s like that joke about economists: What does an economist do when he sees a dollar on the sidewalk? He ignores it because in an efficient market it would never be there.

A cab stops for me. I throw my suitcase in and climb in. “You know your pants are down,” the cab driver says.

“Yes,” I said, “I had a bad experience with a tailor.” And the cab driver laughed. What else is he going to do?  I’m pure money for him. That meter is already ticking up. It cost me $2.50 cents just to say that sentence before he pulled off to my destination. By the time we’re three blocks away the cab ride has already cost more than these pants hanging down by my shoes.

I listened to the experts. Just like I listen to my divorce lawyer when he speaks. Just like I listen to my therapist when she speaks. Just like I listen to the CEOs of companies when they speak. The experts know everything. Just like I listen to a doctor, or my kid’s teachers. You get the idea. I trust the experts. Sometimes I’m an expert. Sometimes I’m even on TV. 

And now I’m naked.

– – –

Follow me on Twitter. You should. I’m an expert.

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  • Anonymous

    James I think we were in Mysore the exact same time, in December and January.  I am sorry to have missed meeting you.  We visited Rashinkar! for the books upstairs and had to negotiate the destruction and tumbling stairs to reach them.   Seeing that I found your blog thanks to the story about never buying a house… it is a small world.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Thats funny! What were you doing in Mysore? Claudia set up Mysorepedia.com if you ever go back. 

      • Anonymous

        We were studying with Sheshadri in Krishnamurthypuram.  Perhaps a good example of the wisdom of this post as I remain barely able to touch my toes. 

        From there we went south to Kerala then up to Delhi where we rented a Royal Enfield for a trip around Rajasthan… absolutely nuts… and eventually into Nepal.  We’re now in Thailand. 

        Yes I saw Claudia’s Mysore info.  Great stuff!  It was challenging to get a footing in there as there was very little information. 

  • Pradeep G.

    Nice story James. 

    Is  this is your clever way of saying that you have lost some weight since you came back from India? :)

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Ha, no, just that I should’ve trusted my own “gut” instinct. 

      • Kevin M

        Maybe you just didn’t have the stomach to tell him he was wrong.

  • Venusbarak

    I am from and live in India…I get what you are saying…there is method in madness and madness in method…you have to take it all in or else it drives you nuts. With the pants…I think instead of listening to your american friends ..You should have asked an Indian guy. …Beware of  anything touristy…not just in developing but developed world that’s what my experience says…

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Good advice.

    • Phoenix

      That’s one of those, ‘ Must Remember ‘s that a lot of us actually do know, but seem to forget when required as a Good Idea to have in fore thought !!

  • Dana Robinson

    If you haven’t read it, you might want to give this a read.  It’s a great book.

    http://www.amazon.com/Wrong-us—Scientists-relationship-consultants/dp/B005DI6QAM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313072470&sr=8-1

  • Dana Robinson

    If you haven’t read it, you might want to give this a read.  It’s a great book.

    http://www.amazon.com/Wrong-us—Scientists-relationship-consultants/dp/B005DI6QAM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313072470&sr=8-1

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FVAXY5OZTYZ2D35XXYJLNEJVBI Bullocks

    I’m crying, I’m laughing so hard

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FVAXY5OZTYZ2D35XXYJLNEJVBI Bullocks

    I’m crying, I’m laughing so hard

  • Edm325

    I’m not sure I should trust this story…. but I do understand your point.

  • Edm325

    I’m not sure I should trust this story…. but I do understand your point.

  • Tim

    James,

    It’s absolutely true. You have to check and question everything.  I have always said that competence follows a bell curve. There’s a big bucket of mediocre people in that middle section. When you add complacency in there, see what you get?  Crappy service.

    I had a similar experience years ago in Hong Kong. I bought three great suits at a cheap price. When they arrived, they were too small and the cost to alter them wiped out the savings.

    WTF!

    Enjoyed the blog though, I guess you need a good belt.  I know a guy in Hong Kong!

    Regards
    Tim

  • http://manonthestreet.com manonthestreet

    invest in a belt….Rashinkar!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I don’t like belts. I usually wear my shirt out and I feel the belt looks oddly bulky then. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I don’t like belts. I usually wear my shirt out and I feel the belt looks oddly bulky then. 

  • http://twitter.com/fzeng96 Feng Z

    nice post again, you sure he was not trying to sell you more fabrics?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      He definitely kept throwing more and more fabrics at me. Finally I had to yell, “Rashinkar! Stop!”

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      He definitely kept throwing more and more fabrics at me. Finally I had to yell, “Rashinkar! Stop!”

  • http://twitter.com/fzeng96 Feng Z

    nice post again, you sure he was not trying to sell you more fabrics?

  • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

    I stopped trusting “the experts” (and especially doctors) after they mistook a brain tumor as “stress.” It took a year of me fighting with experts to get the proper tests done that finally diagnosed the real problem. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I hate to generalize but doctors are the worst. I hope you are doing ok. I hope I never have to go to one. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I hate to generalize but doctors are the worst. I hope you are doing ok. I hope I never have to go to one. 

      • http://twitter.com/fzeng96 Feng Z

        I am sorry to hear what you had to go through Brooke. I absolutely agree, doctors are the worst,  ‘experts’ always seem to care more about themselves than anybody else.

        • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

          And the insurance companies who pay them. Especially if you are in an HMO. I had Kaiser at the time. 

        • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

          And the insurance companies who pay them. Especially if you are in an HMO. I had Kaiser at the time. 

        • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

          And the insurance companies who pay them. Especially if you are in an HMO. I had Kaiser at the time. 

        • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

          And the insurance companies who pay them. Especially if you are in an HMO. I had Kaiser at the time. 

        • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

          And the insurance companies who pay them. Especially if you are in an HMO. I had Kaiser at the time. 

        • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

          And the insurance companies who pay them. Especially if you are in an HMO. I had Kaiser at the time. 

      • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

        I’m doing perfectly fine. It was removed just over ten years ago now. 

      • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

        I’m doing perfectly fine. It was removed just over ten years ago now. 

      • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

        I’m doing perfectly fine. It was removed just over ten years ago now. 

  • http://twitter.com/sandman_va Dave Sandrowitz

    Sounds like a bonus to me.  14 pairs pf pants, but he made one of your “dreams” come true at no additional cost.

  • http://twitter.com/sandman_va Dave Sandrowitz

    Sounds like a bonus to me.  14 pairs pf pants, but he made one of your “dreams” come true at no additional cost.

  • Rolf Norfolk

    You should eat more when you’re back in NY.

  • http://www.feed.us RacerRick

    I just yelled Rashinkar in this cafe.  Everyone looked at me.  Should I pull my pants down? Because they fit perfectly.

  • Vijay314159

    If you think American tourists are the experts on tailors in India no doubt you believe Indian tourists are the experts on the best corned beef sandwich in New York

    • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

      I have a feeling he thought the tailor was the expert on pants size…

  • http://www.facebook.com/joehenriod Joe Henriod

    This blog is getting funnier!

  • TripleB

    James, you forgot to read your own “Stop Bullshitting Yourself!”  (my favorite of all your blogposts)

  • David

    James ! This is too good for just a comic book, I need to turn your blog into a T.V. show, now !

  • firstbase613

    Experts! I opine that most experts are like most people, average give or take a bit. Don’t we all have dental problems due to fillings done imperfectly? Crowns needing to be redone? Lawyers? Do you really think your will has you covered? If you find an expert consider yourself a lucky person. If only a more expensive expert meant a more competent expert.  Buyer beware.

    • Phoenix

      Only a Real Expert will say, ” I am not sure, You need to talk to someone with more knowledge “,  etc.   I believe it was my hero, A. Einstein that said, ” I am too humble to admit how humble I am”.  I love that dude !!

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/derekdodds Derek Dodds

    Fun post, I love that you left your pants down.

  • JohnnyJ808

    What is the morale of the story? Don’t buy pants in India?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      No.

    • http://sickofthegrind.com/ A-ron

      The moral is: don’t go to india and buy pants, or something like that. Maybe I’m wrong.

  • pjc

    Man that was “laugh out loud blow coffee  on the monitor funny”. Thanks James,

  • http://twitter.com/kamalravikant Kamal Ravikant

    Burst out laughing several times while reading this.  Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/DeepakDas Deepak Das

    Well actually the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your pants and shirts = (RT Airfare + RT Taxi to Airport + Opportunity cost of time spent in India + Other incidental expenses that occurred while in India + cost of pants & shirts)!! Next time – buy dockers at sears.
    Rashinkar!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000228699838 Michael Morse

    do the pants look good even though they don’t fit? do you wear baggy shirts? consider using 2 safety pins/bobby pins on both sides to pinch the waist line.you can start a new fad.(or bring back the old one).

  • Douglas Armey

    James:

    Great post in a week filled with experts blowing up the financial markets world wide.  I needed a good laugh.  And we’ve all been there.

    Rashinkar!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yves-Saint-LeRon/100002438441768 Yves Saint LeRon

    You, sir, are a man of retarded proportions.

    Gold is just a rock, huh? LOL. You fruit cup.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yves-Saint-LeRon/100002438441768 Yves Saint LeRon

    Fuck you, you shill!

    • leron squasher

      you have nine friends, james has thousands. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yves-Saint-LeRon/100002438441768 Yves Saint LeRon

    FUCK you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yves-Saint-LeRon/100002438441768 Yves Saint LeRon

    YOU DOUCHEMONKEY

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yves-Saint-LeRon/100002438441768 Yves Saint LeRon

    YOUR BLOG SUCKS

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yves-Saint-LeRon/100002438441768 Yves Saint LeRon

    WHAT VIJAY SAYS IS RIGHT. YOU’RE A DUMBASS!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yves-Saint-LeRon/100002438441768 Yves Saint LeRon

    WHERE DID YOU GET EDUCATED?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yves-Saint-LeRon/100002438441768 Yves Saint LeRon

    FUCK YOU!

  • blm

    Next time you’re in Mongolia- Look up Sukhbattaar- he’s great at alterations. (BTW his name means “Hero with an axe” so try not to tick him off)

  • kumar vivek

    Hey may be you lost a couple of inches, Maybe the yoga is working for you !!!

  • casper

    Why do these kind of interesting things keep happening to you only ?  Is it because destiny knows you are one day going to write these to the world and enrich us ?
    PS : invest in a belt, actual body measurements go +/- x  of  pants over time. is it not.

  • mousketeer

    I swear you should do standup comedy.  This is always some of the funniest shit I ever read.  ALTUCHER! 
    I put an exclamation point there because now when I am happy, I yell……….ALTUCHER!

    And when things don’t go right…ALTUCHER!

    And when it is my fault….ALTUCHER!

    And when I am foaming at the mouth about to kill the competition again….

    ALTUCHER!  ALTUCHER!  ALTUCHER!

  • Roman

    Great job on CNBC at the “It’s way too early and I should be sleeping” time in the morning.

  • http://twitter.com/andrislag Andris Lagsdin

    James, you mean Rashinkee!

    This story made my morning!

    • Kristers

      Hey Andris! Could it be you have some Latvian roots?

      • http://twitter.com/andrislag Andris Lagsdin

        Yes, my dad was born in Riga.   And you?

        • Kristers

          Im reading Jame’s blog here from Riga, Latvia. 
          Nice to know that there’s a latvian everywhere ;)

  • Sharmeen rafique

    Hilarious!

  • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

    Take a look at all the various REAL problems in the world, and you can clearly see no one is an expert of anything. I wish REAL experts actually existed.  And I wish they would use their expertise to help people.

    I’ve grown so tired of money/power grabbing know-it-alls, self proclaimed experts, that add nothing of value to society.  Enough already.

    http://736hundred.tumblr.com/day/2011/08/09

  • Chris Wilson

    Things get especially dicey when the “experts” are so-called intellectuals.  Listen to them at your peril…

    Here’s a quick summary of Thomas Sowell’s book, Intellectuals and Society.  It pretty much explains why intellectuals are usually the last people you should be listening to.

    http://enlightenedcaveman.com/2010/02/10/book_review_intellectuals_society_sowell/

  • kristers

    James! Although I’m living in a country far away, this blog is my daily dosis of happiness… im still young (24), trying to build a career in finance (on monday ill start my day as a jr. quant at staedal hanseatic), and try to maintain the connection and relatioships to the real world

  • Kevin M

    Not sure whether to yell Rashinkar! or Mission Accomplished!
    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  • doug graves

    Here in upstate New Zealand we have a guru who advises only drinking three ounces of your first morning piss.  Unfortunately, I am restricted by an enlarged prostate that would have me taking microshots until lunchtime to equal 3 ounces.

  • Jeff

    Whenever I hear an “expert” on TV, I always think, “why he is telling me this?” What is his motivation. If I had a strong opinion would I tell the world? If I had the golden goose, would I tell the world? Or would I act on it in silence, make a killing, hopefully, and count my cash? Or do I need to tell the world so it reacts in a way to make my view work. Conflict of interest, in my view, is a major problem when getting “expert” opinions.  … Finally, the beauty of You Tube can’t be overstated. I enjoying going back and replaying “expert” opinions from years ago. How did what they say turnout? It isn’t a pretty sight,in most cases.  In fact, had you gone the reverse of what was touted, that is where the money was. Check it out. Just because someone is on TV doesn’t mean they know what the heck they are talking about. It just means they are on TV.

    • Phoenix

      I am so glad I taught my kids about all you wrote.   They all still remember our chats about so many things and they have helped them.  I am pleased. 

  • http://twitter.com/zburt Zachary Burt

    From one penguin to another

    How can you be the emperor if I am the emperor?

  • Sooz

    There are so few people that I trust when it comes to the market. You, my kind friend, are one of the few. I can’t imagine being in this ugly game without you..pants or no pants!! 

    • Sooz

      humility is a very good thing..:))

  • http://twitter.com/TheAcsMan George Acs

    I came back to your blog entry to show my son this article, since he’s headed to India next week and was planning on coming back with ” a shitload of clothes”.

    But since you asked, it was a case of whether a child with a neurolgical disorder could devleop enough chewing force to crack open a sustained release cardiac medication capsule, thereby resulting in her coding and sustaining (further) brain damage.

    But getting back to original reason for my being here, your blog artcle is being passed from generation to generation.

  • http://twitter.com/TheAcsMan George Acs

    I came back to your blog entry to show my son this article, since he’s headed to India next week and was planning on coming back with ” a shitload of clothes”.

    But since you asked, it was a case of whether a child with a neurolgical disorder could devleop enough chewing force to crack open a sustained release cardiac medication capsule, thereby resulting in her coding and sustaining (further) brain damage.

    But getting back to original reason for my being here, your blog artcle is being passed from generation to generation.

  • Dgarber906

    Isn’t it scary how little qualification that is required in some fields to be an expert?

    Personally, I tend to agree with the earlier post that the best thing to do is to find points where all the experts agree and see if there isn’t some fatal flaw in their argument. Then I bet the other way.

    I have always loved the story about Joe Kennedy selling his stocks after receiving a stock tip from a shoeshine person in ’29. -Conventional wisdom often gets you dismal results…

    I am a big believer in the theory that it is a good idea not to enter, or to exit, a market when it becomes TV fodder and appears on the cover of USA Today. Flipping houses, dot-com, Enron, etc…

    Right now, I have several things that interest me because I can’t get away from their commercials. I don’t want to offend anyone, but does everyone need to hoard gold and silver? Is this really the best time to buy property/refinance? These things interest me because ‘everybody knows.’ What about the reverse mortgages?

    I know that probably makes me a dummy in some people’s eyes, but these pitches are coming with a regularity that rivals the, ‘buy property for 10% down and it will appreciate,’ craze. I feel this enormous vacuum trying to suck in everybody’s money and it engages my contrarian instincts. At some point in the cycle, the big money exits and the little guy gets stuck with the tab.

    People are investing their life savings into these theories and the claims keep going up. Gold at $5000? Silver at $1200? Given the current interest rate climate, are the mortgage originators just trying to generate fees or have the rates really bottomed and realty prices stabilized? I see the bait and wonder where the hook is…

    James, I am no expert but I sense that a lot of people are about to get fleeced. What do you think?

  • eric obrien

    why no pics of the pants?

  • Voluntarist

    Did anyone ever tell you that you write articles like the kid on this site: http://www.ninjapirate.com.

  • http://twitter.com/adamk0310 Adam Kaningher

    I’ve been reading the archives since you were featured in BusinessWeek, and this blog has really gotten good.

  • kcastagnaro

    Oh my gosh! I needed this laugh! MAHALO!!!!

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