Nasruddin teaches the wise men

Here's a Nasruddin story from a Bulgarian source:

Nasruddin Hodja was a shepherd at one point. One day a couple of wise men were passing by. They asked him for something to eat. The Hodja poured them a bowl of sheep yogurt, then gave each a spoon two meters long. 

"Hodja, thank you for the yogurt, but how do you expect us to eat it?"

"I thought you were the wise men! You feed each other, of course."

This is a variant of the story of the difference between heaven and hell, or the allegory of the long spoons. A man died and went to hell. He was ushered in to the dining hall, where the table was piled high with delicious food. The people around the table looked miserable, as they had long chopsticks  splinted to their arms and couldn't get a bite of the food. Then he went to heaven, where there was also a table piled high with delicious food. Once again, the people had long chopsticks splinted to their arms, but they were happy, as they were feeding each other. 

By the way, I love sheep yogurt when it isn't too, well, sheepy. I think it might be when the ram is in with the ewes that it gets a gamy flavor. When I lived in Sofia in 1983-84, I would go to a little hole-in-the-wall shop where they served sheep yogurt in season and biurek, a delicious pastry. The line was usually out the door when they had sheep yogurt for sale. 

Nasruddin and the lost ring

Here's an old favorite from Turkey. I think I heard it first in Bulgaria as a joke. Was it the same joke-telling session where I heard about the inebriated fellow who was trying to spear an slippery olive on his fork? He chased it all around the plate and finally gave up. His friend picked up the fork and decisively stabbed the olive. The first man muttered, "Hmmph. I tired it out."

Nasruddin Hodja and the lost ring

One evening, a man noticed Nasruddin Hodja searching the ground under a street lamp. 

"Hodja, what are you looking for?"

"A ring, my son, I lost a ring." 

The man stopped to help the Hodja look. After several minutes, he said, "Hodja, are you sure you lost it here?"

"Here? I didn't lose it here. I lost it over by the house."

"Why are you looking here, then?"

"The light under this street lamp is much better than by the house." 

The ring in this picture was a present from a family friend who had lived in Turkey. It's a puzzle ring, formed by four linked rings that only fit together one way. 

Nasruddin and the sheep's head

Here's another story about the trickster Nasruddin Hodja. Or Nasreddin. Or Nastradin Odzha. Or Saradin. Or Hoca Nasrudin. Or Mullah Nasredin. Or Juha. There are lots of variations on the name, as well as lots of variations on the stories. Try putting the stress on the -din, not on on the -ru-. This one is from Croatia.

Nasruddin and the sheep's head 

When he was a little boy, Nasrudin's father gave him some money to buy a roast sheep's head.  On his way home, Nasrudin ate the whole thing.  He arrived with just the skullbone.
"What is that head, my son?"
"It's a sheep's head."
"Where are the ears, then?"
"The poor thing, it was deaf."
"Where are its eyes?"
"Unfortunately, it was blind."
"Where is the tongue?"
"The miserable animal had none."
"There's no meat on its face."
"It was very skinny, had the mange."
"Well, why on earth did you buy it?"
"It has good teeth."
"And so do you!" said his father.

How many donkeys?

Many years ago, I translated stories I'd found about Nasruddin Hodja, the Turkish trickster, from Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian, Croatian and French sources. I've begun playing with these folktales again, reworking them for performance. My idea is to put one up here on the blog every now and then.  I've only done one all-Hodja show but I'm considering doing more. If you tell them, it would be great if you give credit.

This one is from Bulgaria, the home of Clever Peter (Khitur Petur), who is the wise fool of that country. I especially like the stories in which the two tricksters appear together. Because the Ottoman Empire ruled in Bulgaria for 500 years, it's understandable that Clever Peter always gets the better of Nasruddin Hodja.  I've heard this story in other versions; this one was retold by Angel Karaliichev. Here's my take on it:

How many donkeys?

The Hodja was taking his five donkeys to market. He counted them to make sure he had them all. Good, five. He got tired of walking and climbed up to ride on one. After a bit he counted them again. Only four! He must have lost one. He got off the one he was riding, looked on the side of the road, in the ditches, in the trees, then looked back and counted once 

more. Whew! Five. After a while, he got tired again and rode for a while. When he counted, he only found four again. He got down, looked around, counted and found all five. This happened over and over.

His friend Clever Peter came along. "Clever Peter, can you help me? I keep losing one of my donkeys. When I'm riding, I have four, when get down and look back, I have all five. Would you count my donkeys?" Clever Peter counted, "One, two, three, four, five...six! One of them has only two legs."