Sunday, 27 July 2008

Hodja Nasrudin and the Pilgrim

About a year ago, I delved into the stories of the Hodja Nasreddin, which I found a useful source of material for First Day (Sunday) School lessons. I've had one of them floating around in my head all week, so I'm going to share it here, even though it has nothing to do with food. It sure has a lot to do with my week.

Hodja Nasreddin was a folk character - or maybe he really existed - in middle-eastern mythology, who was a fool and a buffoon - or maybe he was wise and crafty - who lived the simple life of a peasant in a village, although he found time to consult to kings as well. At any rate, the stories and jokes that surround his life are short, simple, pithy and pointed - although amazingly rich and complex in meaning. There are thousands of them, and they are still being made today.

Here is the story of the Hodja and the Pilgrim:

The Hodja* was returning home from Mecca, when he met another pilgrim coming along the road, who was going to Mecca. They stopped to chat, as fellow pilgrims will. The other pilgrim asked the Hodja, "What are the people like in the next town? How can I expect that they will treat me?"

The Hodja scratched his beard. "Hmm, tell me - what were the people like in the last town you were in?"

"Oh, Hodja, they were horrible!" replied the pilgrim. "They were dishonest and cruel. They cared nothing that I was on pilgrimmage. In fact, they were so bad that I was lucky to escape them with my life!".

"Alas!" said the Hodja sadly. "I'm afraid you will find that in the other town they are exactly the same!"

* In fact, that's what Hodja means; it's a title given to one who has made the pilgrimmage, although "The" Hodja seems to be this fellow Nasrudin. (Yes, there are several different spellings.)

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