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Out of Turkey's just-pre-Ottoman past comes Nasreddin Hoca, a special amalgamation of the young-at-heart, life-wise, conservative, eccentric -- and naturally good-natured Turk. The Hoca (pronounced Hojah) is the semi-historical figure that reminds us of America's Will Rogers -- who also entertained while he taught. The jokes and stories attributed to the Hoca (which literally means "teacher") go directly to the heart of Turkey's tradition. If you acquaint yourself with the collection of Hoca stories, you become acquainted with the nation.
The Turkish (from Bahâ'î by Veled Çelebi Izbuduk, 1926)... Zevzengin biri Hoca merhuma: 'Hoca Efendi! Demin bir lengerde bir hindi dolmasI gidiyordu,' demis. Hoca: 'Bana ne?' demis. 'Galiba size götürdüler," demis. 'Sana ne?' demis.
One of the town's wealthy citizens came to the dear departed Hoca and said: 'Master Hoca! Just now, I saw they were going by with a delicious, ready to eat, stuffed Turkey.'
'And,' said the mildly irritated Hoca, 'What's that got to do with me?'
'Well, I couldn't be sure, but it looked like they were heading for your place,' came the rich man's reply.
'What's that got to do with you,' the Hoca shot back, and made off in the direction of his home.
The 'unadorned' Turkish... Aksehir'e yabancI bir bilgin gelmis, kentin en bilgili kisisiyle atIsmak istedi
gini söylemis. Nasreddin Hoca'yI ça gIrmIslar... YabancI bilgin, de gnekle yere bir daire çizmis. Hoca de gne gi elinden alIp bu daireyi ikiye bölmüs. Adam Hoca'nIn çizdi gine dik bir çizgi daha çekmis, daire dörde bölünmüs. Hoca dairenin üç bölümünü alIr gibi yapmIs; dördüncü bölümünü karsIsIndakine verir gibi itelemis. YabancI parmaklarInI bir araya getirerek elini yere dogru sallamIs. Hoca, bunun tam tersini yapmIs. KarsIlasma sona erince yabancI bilgin açIklamIs. -Sizin Hoca pek yaman! DünyanIn yuvarlak oldu gunu gösterdim, "ortasInda ekvator var" dedi. Dörde böldüm, "dörtte üçü su, dörtte biri kara'" dedi. "Ya gmur neden ya gar?" dedim, "sular buharlasInca gö ge yukselip bulut olur, sonra da ya gmura dönüsür" cevabInI verdi. Aksehir'liler Hoca'ya da sormuslar bu karsIlasmanIn anlamInI. Hoca sunlarI söylemis: -Obur herif, "bir tepsi baklava olsa" dedi. "Tek basIna yiyemezsin," dedim, "yarIsI benim." "Dörde bölsek n'aparsIn?" dedi, "dörtte üçünü yerim," dedim. "Üstüne ceviz, fIstIk filan eksek" dedi "iyi olur ama, küllü ateste olmaz, harlI ates gerek," dedim. Altolup gitti!
A learned foreign scientist came to Aksehir and said he wanted to challenge the wits of the most knowledgeable person in the city. The townsfolk called for Nasreddin Hoca....
When the Hoca arrived, the foreigner drew a circle in the sand with a stick. The Hoca frowned, took the stick, and divided the circle in two.
The foreigner then drew another line through the circle that divided it into four equal parts. The Hoca pretended to gather three parts toward himself and to push the remaining part toward the foreigner.
The foreigner then raised his arm above his head, and wiggling his extended fingers, he slowly lowered his hand to the ground. The Hoca did exactly the same thing but in the opposite direction -- moving his hand from the ground to a height above his head.
And, that completed the foreigner's tests -- which he explained privately to the city council..."Your Hoca is very clever man," he began, "I showed him that the world is round -- and he confirmed it but indicated that 'it also has an equator'. And when I divided the world into 4 parts, he indicated that it is '3 parts water and 1 part land', which I can't deny. Finally, I asked what is the origin of rain? He answered quite rightly that 'water rises as steam to the sky, makes cloud, and later returns to earth as rain.'"
When they got him alone, the ordinary townsfolk asked the Hoca what the challenge was all about? The Hoca said, "Well, that other fellow first asked, 'Suppose we have this round tray of baklava [a Turkish dessert]? So, I said, 'You can't eat it all by yourself, you know. So, I'll take half.' Then he got a little rude, saying, 'What will you do if I cut it into 4 parts?' That upset me, so I said, 'In that case, I'll take three of the parts and only leave you one!' That softened him up, I think, because then, with the motion of his hand, he said, 'Well, I suppose I could add some walnuts and pistachio nuts on top of the baklava.' I cooled down too and said, 'That's fine with me, but you'll need to cook it under full flame, because an ash fire just won't be hot enough'. When I said that, he knew I was right, and gave up the game..."
The 'simplified' Turkish... Bir gùn iki adam, geceyarIsI Hoca'nin kapIsInIn önünde kavga ederler. Hoca sesleri duyunca, kafasInI kaldIrIp dinlemeye koyulur. KarIsI: "Yatmana bak efendi, sana ne." dediyse de dinletemez. Hoca kalkar, gecedir serinlikte üsümeyeyim diye sIrtIna yorganI da alIr, dIsarI çIkar. Söyle seslenir adamlara: "Yahu nedir bu kavga gürültü? Gece yarIsI kapI önünde kavga mI olur?" Adamlardan biri yaklasarak Hoca'nin sIrtIndan yorganI çekip alIr ve kaçmaya baslar. Nereye filan demeden yitip gider. Öteki de saskInlIktan baska bir yana kaçIp gözden uzaklasIr. Üzgün ve so
guktan titremekte olan Hoca eve girince karIsI sorar: "Efendi neymis kavganIn aslI?" Hoca düsünceli, düsünceli cevap verir: "Ne olacak bizim yorganmIs kavganIn sebebi. Yorgan gitti, kavga bitti..."
One late night around midnight, two men stopped in front of the Hoca's home and began quarreling loudly at his doorstep.
Hearing their voices, the Hoca got up and began listening from the bedroom window. His wife saw him and urged, "Come back to bed, m'lord, it's no business of yours," and buried her head in her pillow.
But the Hoca was curious. So he threw his fine quilt across his shoulders (to protect himself from the coolness of the night) and went out to confront the two men.
"Hey! What's going on with all this damned noise? Is midnight a good time to be brawling on my doorstep?" he reproached.
With that, one of the men drew near, grabbed the Hoca's fine quilt and ran off with it into the darkness. Seeing this, the other one took off in the opposite direction and also disappeared.
Upset and trembling from the cold, the Hoca reentered his home, where he ran into his alarmed wife -- just coming down the stairs.
"What in the world was all that fighting about?" she asked with bulging eyes.
The Hoca stopped, thought once, and twice, and finally replied, "Well, believe it or not, it was about my fine quilt. Because...now that the quilt is gone, the fight's over."
One day in the city of Aksehir, Nasreddin Hoca mounted his podium and as he was about to address his group of followers, he said, "Attention, my friends! I have a few things I'd like to say to you, and I wonder if you know what they are?"
In unison, the group answered, "No, we don't, dear Hoca."
So the Hoca said, "Well, if you haven't a clue, what can I say to you?" and he dismounted the podium and returned to his home.
A day or so later, he again mounted the podium and repeated the previous question. This time, in order to thwart the Hoca, his followers answered, "Yes, dear Hoca, we all know what you want to talk about."
To this, the Hoca replied, "Since you know it already, why should I tell you again?" and he dismounted the podium and returned to his home.
A few days after that, the Hoca mounted the podium once again and said, "Attention, my friends. There are a few things I'd like to say to you. I wonder if you know what they are?"
This time the savvy group answered, "Dear Hoca, some of us do know and some of us don't know what you mean to say."
With that, the Hoca smiled, clapped his hands and said, "How nice! In that case, the ones who know can tell it to the ones who don't know," and he got down from the podium and went home.
One fine day the Hoca decided to pay a visit to a neighboring city. As he was preparing to set out on his journey, his wife saw him locking up his hatchet in the wall closet.
"Who are you hiding the hatchet from, m'lord?" she asked.
"Well, If you must know," he began, "I'm hiding it from our cat," and finished.
His wife was obviously surprised by his answer. "Uh, excuse me, m'lord...But do you mind telling me what our cat would want with your hatchet?" she asked.
"My dear wife, please...Think, won't you? If our cat gets excited over a piece of liver that's only worth 2 silver ducats, then he would go crazy if he could get his hands on a hatchet worth 40," he sighed impatiently.
The 'simplified' Turkish... Hoca, küçük yasta da beklenmedik sakalar yapar, etrafindakileri sasIrtIrmIs. AnasI terzi çIraklI
gIna vermis onu. Bir, iki yIl derken, kadInca gIz sormus: "O glum neler ö grendin? Anlat da sevineyim." "Olur, anacI gIm." demis Hoca. "Simdilik isin yarIsInI ö grendim. Dikilmis seyleri söküyorum. Ömrüm de yeterse, elbise dikmeyi de tez zamanda ö grenece gim."
From a very early age, the Hoca-to-be was adept at making little jokes -- to the delight and surprise of folks around his town...
There was a time when his mother gave the lad as an apprentice to the village tailor. And after a year or two had passed, the good woman called him to make an accounting of his progress.
"So my son," she said, "you've been working quite a while now with the tailor. I'm dying to hear what you've learned."
"Hmmm, let me think," the boy began...
"Well so far, I've completely learned all the skills I need -- to do half of the Tailor's job. You see, he's taught me how to tear the threads from old garments. And given time, I'm sure I'll quickly learn how to put them back to make a suit," he finished brightly.
The purely fictional Temel comes from the Black Sea coastal region of Turkey and brings with him an endless stream of none-too-subtle, often-off-color gags. No one ever accused Temel of being too smart -- he could have been the model for the film "Dumb and Dumber" -- and he (along his wife, family, and friends) is cast in obvious contrast to the more dignified Nasreddin Hoca.
When Temel got drunk...
King Kong bragging rights...
One of Temel's dimmer moments...
Condom problems, again...
Improves his sexual power...
Drinks too much...
A 'minor' screw up...
The Literal Turkish... Note: The '[ ]' marks below refer to the 'unspoken, assumed' meaning of the sentence."Ah my darling Fadime, drink makes you so beautiful," said Temel.
Temel sarhos olunca... "Ah sevgilim Fadime, içmek seni cok guzellestiriyor," dedi Temel. "Ama ben birsey içmedim ki," diye cevapladI karIsI. "Evet, ama ben yaptim [içtim]," diye salyasInI akIttI [Temel].
For Daily Speech...
Temel sarhos olunca... Temel evde Fadime'ye, "Ah sevgilim, içince cok guzel oluyorsun" demis... Bunu duyan karIsI, "a-a! Ben birsey içmedim ki" deyince, Temel, "Evet, ama ben içtim," demez mi!
Courtesy of FU (5/97)...
The Literal Turkish...Temel King Kong palavralarInI düzeltiyor... Temel, bir FransIz, bir de AmerikalI ile içme yarIsIna girmisti. Üç adam da kafayI bulunca, önce FransIz olan, FransIz King Kong'un boyu ile ilgili palavra sallamaya baslayarak, "Ah, Monser!" diye sulu sulu mIrIldandI, "Görseniz! Bir ayaTemel joins in a drinking bout with a Frenchman and an American. When the trio is very
gI Paris'te iken, digeri Nice'e uzanIr... Tam bir FransIz abidesi!" "Orada kal, amator" deyiverdi AmerikalI, küstahca, "o cüce, bizimkinin eline su dokemez! Bizim King Kong, bir aya gInI New York'a basar, digerini Buenos Aires'e uzatIr; elleri ile de tüm Kainata erisir!!!" Içki masasI arkadaslarInI dinleyen; asIrI rakIdan kipkirmizi kesilmis Temel, kan çana gI gibi gözlerle, kendi yorumunu ekleyerek, "Sevgili AmerikalI dostum... Sizin King Kong'un eristi gi, 'Kainat' falan degildi," diye mIrIldandI ve konuyu kapattI, "o sadece BiZiM King Kong'un sa gtestisiydi!" Courtesy of FU (5/97)...
"Ahh, mon cher," he wheezes greasily, "If you could only see him! Why, with one step he is in Paris -- and with the next he's in Nice. A real French Colossus!"
"Hold on there, Sidewinder," the American blurts obnoxiously, "That dwarf can't hold a candle to ours! Why our King Kong can put one foot in New York, one foot in Buenos Aires -- and with one of his free hands, he can reach up and grasp the Universe!!!"
Temel is bloodshot and bleary-eyed from far too much RakI, but he still manages to regard his drinking companions -- and add his own comment, "My dear American friend...That is not the Universe that your King Kong grasps," he coos. "That is the left testicle of OUR King Kong!" he closes.
The Simplified Turkish...Temel gece yarIsI doktoru telefonla arayIp, "Doktor doktor, çabuk gel! Bebe
gimiz prezervatifimizi yuttu." Doktor, "Hemen geliyorum," der. Biraz sonra doktorun telefonu tekrar çalar. Bu sefer Temel, "Doktora doktor gelmene gerek kalmadI. Ikince prezervatifi bulduk," der.
In a state of high anxiety, Temel telephones the doctor. He can hardly get the words out, "Doctor, doctor...Our baby just swallowed a condom! Come quickly!"
The doctor drops everything and hurriedly readies his instrument case. As he starts running out the door, the phone rings again. Once more it's Temel, but his voice is relaxed and cheerful as he says, "You can take it easy doctor. All's well. You won't have to come. We found another one!"
The Turkish...Bir gün Temel, bir ingiliz ve bir FransIz ile bir tren yolculu
guna çIkmIs. O glen vakti hepsi çantalarIndan sandviçlerini cIkarmIslar. ingiliz, "benim karIm, sandviçimi her zaman özel ingiliz peyniri ile yapar; baska peynir varsa, ben kendimi trenin camIndan atarIm" demis. Sandviçi bir açmIs, içinde Hollanda peyniri var. Kendini camdan dIsarI atmIs. Biraz sonra FransIz acIkmIs. O da, aynI sekilde, "benim karIm hayatta rokfordan baska peynir koymaz, koyduysa ben de kendimi atarIm" demis. Sandviçi bir açmIs ki ne görsun, tuzsuz köy peyniri! O da atmIs tabii kendini. Derken sira Temel'e gelmis. Temel de kendi kendine "bu geri zekalIlar da karIlarInI hic tanImIyorlarmIs. Bizim Fadime hayatta beyaz peynirden baska peynir koymaz. E ger koymussa ben de kendimi atarIm" demis. Ve sandviçi açar açmaz ne görsün: kasar peynirli! AtmIs tabii kendini. KocalarInIn ölümünden dolayI köyde büyük yas tutan kadInlar, sürekli a glayIp dövünmeye baslamIslar YalnIz içlerinden Fadime, ööle durup, kIs kIs gülüyormus. Millet yanIna gelmis, "yahu Fadime, sen deli misin, kocan öldü sen gülüyorsun" demisler. Fadime cevap vermis: "Üzgün olmasIna üzgünüm tabii ama, bizimki biraz pisi pisine gitti....Temel sandviçlerini hep kendisi hazIrlardI..."
One day Temel, an Englishman, and a Frenchman take off on a train journey. And when lunch time rolls around, they all pull out their sandwich bags.
The Englishmen is first to speak. "My wife always puts a very special English cheese in my sandwiches. If this sandwich has any other cheese, I'll throw myself out the window of this speeding train..." he says. With that he opens his sandwich and finds it heaped with very special cheese -- from Holland. And he throws himself out the window of the train to his death.
A little later, the Frenchman gets hungry. And, in the same manner as the Englishman, he says, "In my whole life, my wife never puts anything but Roquefort cheese on my sandwiches. If she put something else on this one, I'll also throw myself out the window." So he opens his sandwich and what does he see...? It's filled with saltless village cheese! And, of course, he too throws himself out the window of the speeding train -- with the same result as the Englishman.
And then it's Temel's turn. And he says to himself, "These mental retards don't know their wives at all. My Fadime, in her whole life, never uses anything but good old Turkish White Cheese on sandwiches. If she did otherwise on this one, I too will throw myself out the window." And when he opens his sandwich? Yup, it's filled with Turkish Kasar Cheese! And yes...he throws himself out the window to his death -- like the others.
In the village, due to the death of the husbands, all the women set to mourning -- with continuous crying and beating of chests.
All except Fadime, that is... who stands off, and laughs silently to herself.
When the crowd see this, they all gather round and one of them says, "Hey, Fadime, have you gone crazy? Your husband is dead, and you stand there laughing...?"
Fadime manages to pull herself together for a moment to answer, "Oh, I'm unhappy, of course...Our men died in a rather bad way...It's just that...Well, Temel always made his own sandwiches..."
The Simplified Turkish... Temel ile Idris tarlada calIsIrlarken yanlarIndan gecen bir araba az ilerde bozulmus. Içinden fIstIk gibi bir hatun çIkmIs. Temel ve Idris'ten yardIm istemis. Bizimkiler, "Tamam," demisler, "yalnIz bize vereceksin." Kadin bakmIs baska yol yok, "Olur," demis, "fakat su prezarvatifleri takIn da hamile kalmayayIm." Neyse olanlar olmus, aradan bir hafta gecmis. Temel ile Idris gene tarlada calIsIrlarken, Temel Idris'e donmus ve demis ki: "Ula, Idrus. Bu karIya ne olursa olsun ben dayanamiyorum, artIk çIkartaca
gIm bu prezarvatifi!"
One day, when Temel and his pal Idris are working the fields, a passing car breaks down -- just a short distance down the road from them. And as they watch in dumbstruck awe, an extremely fine-looking babe pops out of the car to have a look under the hood. But she quickly dispairs, and when she sees our two guys, she turns on a sexy look and slinks over to where they are standing. "How about a little help, boys...?" she purrs...
They can't believe their luck..."Well, sure. We'll be glad to help," they reply in unison.
"But we'll want a little something in return, if you know what I mean," Temel adds, slobbering his chin.
Seeing that she hasn't much choice, the babe says, "Well, OK...but you'll have to keep this condom on -- because I definitely don't want to get pregnant."
The guys agree without hesitation, and so, by turns, they have their way with her -- with Temel finishing last. Afterwards, they fix her car -- so that all parties are satisfied with the bargain -- and the babe powers off in her rejuvenated auto.
The guys return to work, resuming their uneventful daily lives -- as if nothing has happened, except that...Temel gets increasingly agitated with each passing day.
Finally after a week has passed, Temel's bubble bursts. All of a sudden... he grabs up his scythe, breaks it in two, flings it to the ground, and turns furiously to his pal Idris, again.
"Arghhh, Idroo...That's it. I've had it! I can't take it anymore," he shouts. "I don't give a damn if that bloody woman does get pregnant, I'm taking off this freakin' condom, Right NOW!" And he drops his drawers and finally does just that...
The Turkish...Temel LokantacI (Resturant Sahibi)...A man comes into Temel's Restaurant. He orders a steak dinner, eats it, and finishes off his wine. With that he turns angrily to Temel and says, "That meal was terrible. I want to speak to the restaurant owner immediately. Where is he?" Cringing in fear, Temel squeaks out, "He's at the restaurant next store -- having his dinner..."
AdamIn biri Temel'in resturantIna gelir ve bir et yeme
gi Ismarlar. Yeme gini yer ve sarap ile de bitirir. Daha sonra sinirli bir sekilde Temel'e doner ve "Bu et cok kötü idi; ResturantIn sahibi ile hemen görüsmek istiyorum. Nerede kendisi?" der. Bunun üzerine iyice korkan Temel de: "Yandaki resturantta aksam yeme gini yiyor," der. Courtesy of OE (6/97)...
The Simplified Turkish... Temel çok içki içiyor. Içkinin zararInI göstermek için viskinin içine solucan atIyorlar, solucan ölüyor. "Bak Temel, buna ne dersin?" Diyenlere, "Vucudunda kurt varsa viski içmelisin," diyor.Temel is drinking too much. To show him the harm, his friends throw a worm into his glass of whiskey. When the worm dies, one of his friends says, "Look Temel, what can you learn from that?"
Temel exchanges startled looks with the others but within minutes everyone resumes drinking, and normality returns to the bar.
About an hour later, another American crashes through the doors, plops down on the other side of Temel, pulls a gun, and gives the same orders to the bartender. When the bottle is in place, he blows it to smithereens, turns to the disbelieving crowd and announces, "I'm Harry". He too then slumps on his stool and drops off to sleep.
This time the old man can barely contain his trembling and the lookers-on are also bowed in fear and disbelief. But, not Temel!
Emboldened by the additional hour's drinking time, he snatches the pistol of the first American and calls out to the bartender to set the bottle up for a third time. The bartender starts to protest, but when Temel sneers and waves the gun under his nose, the barkeep reluctantly places another full bottle of whiskey on the old man's head. Temel tries to take aim but before he can get set, the gun goes off and the bullet hits the old man squarely between the eyes -- killing him instantly. The lookers-on gasp and draw back in horror, but not Temel...
With the gun smoke still circling round his drooping eyelids, he turns sheepishly to the crowd and bleats out, "I'm Sorry." Then, like the yanks, he slumps on his stool and drops off to sleep.