Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nasreddin Hodja at the Bath House (Hoca at the Hamam)

My favorite Nasreddin Hodja story was told to me by my father who was an Armenian born in Kumbet, Marash, Ottoman Empire. The story goes like this.
Popular image of Nasreddin Hodja riding backwards on his donkey
One day, Nasreddin Hodja went to the bath house (hamam); after his bath and his lunch, he went to stretch out and nap on one of the cots.  As he looked around the room at the other men stretched out after their bath (sans clothing), he noticed that everyone in the room looked the same -- black hair, black beard, etc., etc.  What shall I do? Nasreddin asked himself.  If I fall asleep, when I wake up, how will I know which one is me?  I have an idea, he said.  I'll tie this little eggplant to my big toe.  That way, waking up, when I look around and see the eggplant tied to my toe, I'll know that that's me.  Comforted by this thought, Hodja proceeded to tie the eggplant to his big toe, and stretching out, he fell asleep.  While he was sleeping, his friends decided to play a joke on him.  Careful not to awaken Hodja, they untied the eggplant from Hodja's toe, and tied the eggplant onto the big toe of the fellow stretched out on the next cot. 

When Hodja woke up, he looked around for the eggplant, and seeing it on the toe of the man stretched out on the cot next to him, he pointed to the man  and said, "Now, I know that that's me, but then who am I?"

N.B. Although when my father told this story, Nasreddin Hodja tied the eggplant onto his big toe, I suspect the original story may have had Hodja tying the eggplant elsewhere on his anatomy.


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