CHARLOTTE – I wonder what Nasreddin Hoca would say

I wonder what Nasreddin Hoca would sayI often wonder how anyone ever managed without any radio, television, cell phone or computer Believe it or not, people did! Local indigenous storytellers in cultures everywhere preserved oral tales and entertained people for hours at a time. Turkey has a rich oral storytelling tradition of its own.

No doubt about it, the tales and final results of the presidential election will be discussed on every domestic and some international talk and news shows on radio and television for days to come, maybe even longer Some will be saying “gemiI olsun” (Get well soon, or literally, “may it pass quickly”) while others will be telling one another “Tebrikler!” (Congratulations).On Sunday, Aug.

10, Turks voted in the first ever Turkish presidential election by popular vote. I wonder what Nasreddin Hoca would have had to say during the campaigning or about the results.

No doubt he would have brought some humor, poking a bit of fun at candidates and probably worked a moral or two into a story to reflect the importance of integrity and unity.Here are a few of my favorites that could be applicable to present day life:“The Donkey” — The hoca saved up his money and bought a donkey.

His neighbor wanted to borrow it. The neighbor came to the hoca’s house and said, “I would be very grateful if you could lend me your donkey.

” The hoca replied: “I would be happy to let you borrow my donkey, but I have already lent it to someone else.” Just as the neighbor was going home he heard the braying of the donkey.

He asked: “Hoca, why did you lie to me? Your donkey is in the garden.” The hoca exclaimed: “You idiot! What sort of man are you? Do you believe me or the donkey?”“Hoca’s Gift to Tamerlane” — Everyone was frightened of Tamerlane, but Nasreddin Hoca was friendly with him One day, the hoca set out to gather some beetroots as a gift for him On the way he met an old man who aised him that beetroots were not a good gift.

He suggested that Nasreddin Hoca should take figs instead. The hoca changed the beetroots for figs and hurried to see Tamerlane.

The great leader and warrior Tamerlane liked gifts of gold and silver, so he was not happy with the simple gift. He ordered his soldiers to throw the figs at the hoca They threw the figs at his face, head and shoulders.

As the hoca tried to get away he thanked God, “God be praised!” he said. Tamerlane was surprised by the hoca’s behavior and asked his men to stop.

He asked the hoca why he was thanking God. The hoca replied, “Thank goodness I did not bring beetroots!”Stories of Nasreddin Hoca, the man who sat facing backward on his donkey and wore the “kavuk,” an Indian turban and long robe and had a long white beard, have been around for centuries and very popular with the young and old throughout the Middle East.

The two stories above are from the book, “Reading about Turkey” by Linda Tetik published in 1997 by Orient Press. It is believed that Nasreddin Hoca lived in AkIehir, not far from Ankara Hoca (teacher) is a term of respect.

It is believed that Nasreddin Hoca (1208-1284) knew the Quran well and I’d say he understood human nature. He has a way of hitting the nail on the head but with some humor to soften the blow.

Here is my very favorite hoca story:Once Nasreddin was invited to deliver a sermon. When he got on the pulpit, he asked, “Do you know what I am going to say?” The audience replied “no,” so he announced, “I have no desire to speak to people who don’t even know what I will be talking about!” and left.

People felt embarrassed, called him back again the next day. This time, when he asked the same question, they replied yes.

Nasreddin said, “Well, since you already know what I am going to say, I won’t waste any more of your time!” and left. Now the people were really perplexed.

They decided to try once again. The hoca asked the same question, “Do you know what I am going to say?” Now the people were prepared and so half of them answered “yes” while the other half replied “no.

” So Nasreddin said, “Let the half who know what I am going to say, tell it to the half who don’t,” and left.What is your favorite Hoca story? You can visit his mausoleum in AkIehir.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman