NASREDDIN HOCA STORIES
Eray Ozbek - Turkey
Three Questions (One of them: Center of the Earth)
In olden times some learned men would travel around extensively in search of
facts or ideas to support their newly-formed theories. Three such men one day
arrived in Aksehir, and calling on the governor, asked him to request the most
learned man of the district to be present at the market place the next day, so
that they would see whether they could profit by his ideas.
As the most learned man of Aksehir Nasreddin Hoca was duly informed and the next day he was there and ready for, what proved to be, a battle of wits.
Quite a crowd had gathered for the occasion.
One the learned men stepped forward and put the following question to the Hoca:
"Could you tell us the exact location of the centre of the world?"
"Yes, I can," replied the Hoca. "It is just under the left hind of my donkey."
"Well, maybe! But do you have any proof?"
"If you doubt my word, just measure and see."
There was nothing more to be said, so the learned man withdrew.
"Let me ask you this," said the second learned man, stepping forward.
"Can you tell us how many stars there are in the heavens?"
"As many as the hairs on my donkey's mane," was the ready reply.
"What proof have you in support of this statement?"
"If you doubt my word, you can count and find out."
"Come now, Hoca Effendi!" admonished the second learned man. "How can anyone count the hairs on your donkey's mane?"
"Well, when it comes to that, how can anyone count the stars in the skies?"
This silenced the second learned man, upon whose withdrawal the third one stepped forward.
"Since you seem so well acquainted with your donkey," said he sarcastically,
"can you tell us how many hairs there are on the tail of the beast?"
"Certainly," replied the Hoca, "as many as the hairs in your beard."
"And how can you prove that?"
"Very easily, if you have no objection! I can pull one hair from your beard for each hair you can pull out of my donkey's tail. If both hairs are not exhausted at the same time, then I will admit to have been mistaken."
Needless to say the third learned man had no desire to try the experiment, and the Hoca was cheered and hailed as the champion of the day's encounter.
Panayotis Giokas - Greece
Riding the donkey backwards
One day Nasreddin Hodja got on his donkey the wrong way, facing towards the
- Hodja the people said, you are sitting on your donkey backwards!
- No, he replied. It's not that I am sitting on the donkey backwards, the donkeys facing the wrong way.
What if it should!
One day Hodja was washing his yogurt pot and pouring yoghurt remained in it
into lake. Some people wanted to make fun of him when they saw him,
- Hodja, what are you doing?" One of them asked.
- I am turning the lake into yogurt" Hodja replied.
- Can a little bit of yeast ferment the great lake? The man asked while others laughed at Hodja.
- You never know perhaps it might, Hodja replied, but what if it should!
One of his friends asks Hodja:
-Hodja, how many meters is the world?
At the same time, people were carrying a coffin with a death man inside toward the cemetery. Hodja, by pointing the coffin, said
-Ask him! Look, he had measured, calculated and he is going now!..
A man brought a letter to the Hodja:
- Hodja, could you read this letter?
Hodja looked at the letter which was all in arabic. He was unable to read and give it back to man.
- Take this to someone else, i couldn't read. said the Hodja.
- How come? you are wearing the turban of a learned man yet you can't read a letter...
The Hodja took off his turban and placed it in front of the man
- Ok, if it is skill of a turban, put it on and read your letter yourself!
My word or the word of my donkey
One day the Hodja answered a knock at his door and found that it was one of
his neighbours, whom disliked particularly.
-Hodja Effendi, can I borrow your donkey for the day?
he wanted to know.
-Sorry, neigbour, replied the Hodja. Of course you could borrow it, if I had it here, but it is not in, just now.
Just then the donkey started to bray!
-I am surprised at you, Hodja Effendi! I can hear your
donkey bray, just when you say it's not in!.
-I am the one who is surprised; yes, and outraged too!
shouted the Hodja. ' A neigbour like you I'd rather not have, disbelieving my word, but believing that of my donkey!'.
How to spread flour on a rope?
One day a neighbour, whom he did not like, asked the Hodja for the loan of
his rope. The Hodja went into the house and after a time came back and said:
"Sorry, the rope is not available. My wife is spreading flour on it."
"What do you mean?" asked the surprised man. "How can flour be spread on a rope? You must be making fun of me!"
"No, I'm quite serious," replied the Hodja. "When I do
not wish to lend anybody my rope, flour can easily be spread on it."
Adrian Dragomirescu - Romania
The pot that gave birth
Hoca borrowed a large pot from his neighbor. Days and weeks went by and he
did not return the pot. One day the neighbor stopped by and asked if he could
have his pot back. Hoca apologized,
"I am sorry, I forgot to return it. But I have good news for you, while in my possesion your pot gave birth to a smaller pot".
So, he sent the happy neighbor home with two pots. Few weeks later Hoca knocked at his neighbor's door and asked if he could again borrow that large pot. The neighbor,after his recent gainful experience, was more than happy to lend his pot to Hoca. When days and weeks went by without a word from Hoca about the pot, the neighbor decided that he'd better go and see about his pot. When Hoca opened the door, the neighbor asked if hecould have his pot back. Hoca with a very sad face informed the man that while in his possesion, the large pot passed away. Shocked by Hoca's audacity, the man got angry and said:
"What do you think I am, an idiot to belive that the pot died?"
"Why my good man" replied Hoca with a smile, "You had no trouble believing that your pot gave birth?".
If we don't cry, who will?
Tamerlane was an ugly man, blind in one eye and limped on one leg. One day,
while Hodja was with him, Tamerlane scratched his hair, wanted to cut it and
shouted the people
-call the barber!
The barber comes in,cuts his hair and as always the same, gives a mirror to his hand. Tamerlane looking in the mirror sees himself and finds out ugly one. He starts crying. Hodja cries too with him. So they cry together for some hours. People near Tamerlane try to calm him down by telling comic stories. His crying stops, but not Hodja's. At last,
-Listen! says Tamerlane to Hodja. I looked in mirror, found out myself ugly one, became sad; because I am not only the king, but also rich, I have many women. I am ugly, this was the reason why I cried. But what about you? Why
did you cry and keep crying still?"
-You looked in the mirror just once, saw yourself and cried since you couldn't resist. But what shall we, people who have to see your face all the days and nights,do? If we do not cry, who will? This is the reason why I am crying! replies Hodja.
The Ways of God
One hot day, the Hodja was taking it easy in the shade of a walnut tree.
After a time, he started eyeing speculatively, the huge pumkins growing on vines
and the small walnuts growing on a majestic tree.
"Sometimes I just can't understand the ways of God!" he mused. "Just fancy letting tinny walnuts grow on so majestic a tree and huge pumkins on the
Just then a walnut snapped off and fell smack on the Hodja's bald head. He got up at once and lifting up his hands and face to heavens in supplication,
"Oh, my God! Forgive my questioning your ways! You are all-wise. Where would I have been now, if pumpkins grew on trees!"
Try it yourselves
While working on the roof of his house Hoca had a dizzy spell and suddenly
found himself on the ground. The neighbours came running concerned and began to
-What happened, Hoca?
-Did you hurt yourself?
-You should have paid attention...
-How do you feel, Hoca?
-Instead of standing around pestering me, you should climb onto my roof and roll over the ledge head first, then you would have all your answers.
Who is guilty?
Hoca's donkey was stolen. His friends whom he hoped to hear good
words in this difficult stiuation begun to talk:
-You should have locked the door of stable...
-Didn't you hear even a clinking noise?
-You probably didn't tie the donkey well...
Hoca listened them for minutes and hours, finally
-Enough is enough, he said, you all accused me by justifying all guilt is because of me. Be fair a little, was the thief guiltless?!
One day Molla Nasreddin was sprinkling some powder on the ground around his
-Molla, what are you doing? a neighbor asked.
-I want to keep the tigers away.
-But there are no tigers within hundreds of miles.
-Effective, isn't it? Molla replied
Nasreddin and the Beggar
One day, Nasreddin was up on the roof of his house, mending a hole in the
tiles. He had nearly finished, and he was pleased with his work. Suddenly, he
heard a voice below call "Hello!" When he looked down, Nasreddin saw an old man
in dirty clothes standing below.
-What do you want? asked Nasreddin.
-Come down and I'll tell you, called the man.
Nasreddin was annoyed, but he was a polite man, so he put down his tools. Carefully, he climbed all the way down to the ground.
-What do you want? he asked, when he reached the ground.
-Could you spare a little money for an old beggar? asked the old man. Nasreddin thought for a minute.
Then he said, "Come with me." He began climbing the ladder again. The old man followed him all the way to the top. When they were both sitting on the roof, Nasreddin turned to the beggar.
-No, he said.
The Moon or the Sun?
People ask Hoca;
-Hoca, is the moon or the sun more useful?
-Of course the Moon, replies Hoca. "While the sun enlightens the earth during daytimes, the moon enlightens during the nights. "
The Sex Of The Dove From Noah's Ark
One day the Hodja was sunning himself outside the village coffee shop and
sipping his coffee with relish. Some of his friends, having apparently nothing
more serious to occupy their mind, were having a controversy about the sex of
the dove that had brought the olive twig to Noah's Ark.
After a while, the Hodja decided to bring the silly controversy to an end.
-That's the simplest question in the world to answer, he intervened. "There can be not the slightest doubt that it was a male bird. Just imagine any female keeping her mouth shut for any length of time!"
Timur turns one of his male elephants over to the people of Aksehir ordering
them to take care of it. In addition to wreaking havoc in the town, the elephant
becoems a terrible burden on the people who are too poor to get decent food for
themselves. A group of them visits Hodja with a request:
-Please ask Tamurlane to take the monster back.
-Form a committee. Let's all go together. I'll serve as your spokesman.
A committee is formed of about fifteen prominent citizens of Aksehir. Hodja joins them, they set out, but since these people are terrified of Timur, they vanish one by one. Each one has an excuse:
-I've got to pass water, I've forgotten my tobacco-box at home, etc.
Assuming that the committee is right behind him, Hodja briskly walks into Timur's tent and begins to make his plea:
-Sir, the people of our town...
He turns his back a little to point them out and suddenly realizes that not one of them came into the tent. Since he had started making his plea, he continues:
-The people of our town are so happy with the male elephant...They are happy beyond words, but there is a slight problem: The animal is lonesome and unhappy. We would like your Majesty to consider giving the people of the town a female elephant as a companion for him.
Timur is overjoyed to hear this plea.
-All right, he says. I shall do what the people wish, as soon as possible.
Hodja goes back to town. People gather around him asking him anxiously:
-Please tell us, Hodja, what happened?
-I have great news for you, beams Hodja. To keep the male calamity company, a female calamity will soon arrive. Now you can rejoice.
-Hodja, what does the marriage mean?
-During the days double snarling at each other, during the nights double snoring together!
The Minaret - Old full moons
Someone asked the Hodja by pointing the minaret:
-What is this?
-It was a well before. Now, its inside is taken out and then placed under the sun for drying.
Someone, who was curious of disappeared full moons, asked:
-Hodja! What do they do with the old full moons?
-They cut them up into small pieces and make the stars!
Nasreddin Hodja opened the door for his old creditor who knocked his door
many times to ask for paying his money back.
-Soon, said the Hodja, "I will pay your money back soon."
-When? asked the man.
-Listen...I sowed the thorn seeds in the street, along our wall.
-And the seed will flourish and we shall have plenty of thorns in the spring.
-Yes, no doubt! Then?
-Many flocks of sheep pass along this street. In passing, they will leave some of their wool on the thorns. I will collect the wool and my wife will spin it into yarn. Then, the rest is easy! I will sell
the yarn on the market and pay your money back.
The man burst into laughter at this ridiculous plan. Then Hodja said:
-Now that you have felt the ready cash in your hand you can afford to laugh, can't you, you rascal!
Priceless and Worthless
One day his friends asked the Hodja:
-You are a wise man, Hodja Efendi. Can you tell us what you consider to be most precious in the world?
-Easily, said the Hodja, "I consider advice to be priceless."
His friends thought about this for some time, then asked again:
-Well, what do you consider to be worthless?
-I would say advice is the most worthless thing in the world.
-Come now, Hodja Effendi! objected his audience. "How can something be priceless and then again worthless? You must be making a mistake! "
-No, my friends. I know what I am talking about. An advice taken may be priceless, but consider how worthless it becomes when it's unwheeded!
So long as you are not inside ...
Again one day, one of
Everybody stopped working
And went for the funeral.
Meanwhile a man,
Came near Nasreddin
Said: "I'll ask a question,
to you My Hodja again!
We are much sad,
However must be patient!
But while carrying the coffin,
Which side must we walk?"
Hodja replied: "Certainly,
this is the end of all people!
So long as you are not inside
No matter, be wherever you want!"
Cutting off the branch you are riding on
One day the Hodja was up a tree cutting fire wood. Somebody passing by, noticed he was busily hacking at the very branch he was riding on.
-Be carefull, Hodja Effendi! he warned. It is the branch you are riding on that you are trying to cut off. Unless you stop at once, you will certainly come a crop-per.
The Hodja didn't bother to answer the man. Busy-bodies were everywhere. Never doing anything useful themselves, they kept telling you what to do, or not to do. While his mind was on this train of thought, down came the Hodja together with the branch he had just managed to severe.
His opinion of the man was immediately reversed. Surely this was a man not to be trifled with. In fact, he might be the wisest man he would ever meet in his life. As soon as he got himself disentangled, he ran after the man, but he was too late, for the man had disappeared.
Probably that was just as well. Because what he had had in mind was to ask the sage to tell him exactly when he was due to die.
Nasreddin the Saz player
Someones asked Hodja if he knows how to play Saz (a Turkish musical
-Yes, answered the Hodja
And they give a Saz to the Hodja to prove.
He began to play.
Same note, same string, over and over.
After a few minutes, people stopped Hodja's playing,
-Hodja, this is not the correct way of playing the saz, you play the same note. The saz players move their fingers up and down, play on different strings!
-Well, I know why they go up and down and try all different strings.
-Why is that?
-They're looking for *this* note that I allready found...
The criticism of men
Hodja and his son went on a journey once. Hodja preferred that his son ride the donkey and that he himself go on foot. On the way they met some people who said:
-Look at that healthy young boy! That is today's youth for you. They have no respect for elders. He rides on the donkey and makes his poor father walk!
When they had passed by these people the boy felt very ashamed and insisted that he walk and his father ride the donkey. So Hodja mounted the donkey and the boy walked at his side. A little later they met some other people who said:
-Well, look at that! That poor little boy has to walk while his father rides the donkey.
After they had passed by these people, Hodja told his son:
-The best thing to do is for both of us to walk. Then no one can complain.
So they continued on their journey, both of them walking. A little ways down the road they met some others who said:
-Just take a look at those fools. Both of them are walking under this hot sun and neither of them are riding the donkey!
Hodja turned to his son and said:
-That just goes to show how hard it is to escape the opinions of men.