The Albanian Nastradin Hoxha
When I was a young lad and began to “stretch the truth” after my mother would ask where I had been or why I was late getting home, she invariably shook her finger at me and called me in the Albanian language: "Nastradini!" She had recognized that I was, sometimes, a teller of tall tales. But, it wasn't until I became much older that I realized what it was she meant by calling me "Nastradini."
The fictional Albanian "Nastradini" or "Nastradin Hoxha" folktales stem from the real life character of Nostradamus, a 16th century French apothecary and reputed soothsayer, who published collections of prophesies that have since become famous worldwide. As his legend grew, Nostradamus metamorphised into a legendary, satirical figure known under a variety of names throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. He was eventually brought to Europe as Nasreddin Hodja by the Ottoman Empire and became well remembered for his amusing anectdotes. Much of Nasreddin's actions have been described as illogical yet logical, simple yet profound. The messages of Nastradin Hoxha can be best described as conveyed by a method of profound simplicity. Here’s an example:
Once, a philosopher had an appointment
to match his wits with Nastradini
to see who was the master.
He prepared himself single-mindedly
the way one does - for this encounter;
and he was all set; but of all things,
when he came to call, he found no one home.
In supreme high dudgeon,
he pulled a big chalk from his pocket
and marked Budalla!
on the door, and stalked off.
When Nastradini came home and saw
What the philosopher had done,
he hurried off to his house.
“I ask your forgiveness,”
said Nastradini to the philosopher,
“for not finding me at home when
you came to see me.
I had forgotten our appointment
until I saw you had written your name
on my door.”