Legend – Turkey

Ye Kurkum Ye – Nasrettin Hoca Hikayeleri (Eat My Fur Eat – The Stories of Nasrettin Hoca)

“This guy Nasrettin Hoca goes to a dinner party and he’s dressed in these old, ratty clothes and basically looks like a hobo.  The people there refuse to give him food or a table so then he leaves and goes home.  He changes into really nice clothes and goes back to the party where he’s given the best table and the best food.  He takes off his nice jacket and puts it in his food, and says my clothes can eat!”

Hande said that she learned this Turkish legend about a man named Nasrettin Hoca from her parents when she was a small child and living in Turkey at the time.  She said that she remembers going to a restaurant with her parents and her younger brother and, “like a little brat,” loudly expressing disgust at a stranger who was dressed in worn-down clothes and also waiting for a table.  At the restaurant, her mother and father immediately scolded her and took her outside to reprimand her not to act that way in public.  Then, once the family returned home, Hande and her brother were made to listen to their parents tell the legend of Nasrettin Hoca.  So for Hande, the legend served as an important tool for her parents to teach her about acceptable behavior in public, good manners, as well as the concept of looking underneath the surface and not judging other people from their appearances.

Thinking back, Hande said that for all she knew, the man at the restaurant could have had a million reasons to look the way he did, and that she still feels embarrassed when she thinks about what she did.  Just as the other guests at the dinner party in the legend must have learned from Hoca’s actions, so Hande must have learned from her own actions and her parents’ passing down of their folklore.  The legend of Hoca and the idea that a change in appearance inevitably brings about different reactions in other people was certainly relevant to real life and Hande’s in particular.  Though legends may or may not be true and invite discussions about belief, they can absolutely still be relatable and important to one’s own life and times.