September 19, 2006

Lake Made Famous By " Nasreddin Hodja " Is No More

(17.09.2006; Turkish Daily News)

The lake made famous by the 13th century Anatolian humorist Nasreddin Hodja in one of his "tall tales" has all but dried up. While there is little biographical data on the itinerant folklorist, it is believed that Nasreddin Hodja lived in the town of Akshehir, in the central Anatolian province of Konya.

In the story that made the local lake famous, Nasreddin is standing on its shore, gazing intently into its blue waters. When a group of curious onlookers ask what exactly he's doing the Hodja replies, " I put some yogurt into the lake. I'm waiting for it to ferment so that the entire lake turns into yogurt." They start laughing when hearing this and proceed to explain the impossibility of such a thing to happen. To which Nasreddin Hodja retorts," Ah...but what if it does."

This story ( which sounds much funnier in the original vernacular), is a euphemism to describe attempting something impossible and to remain ever the optimist. People from far and wide flocked to the region to see where this story originated and to gaze into the lake themselves.

Today, they can no longer do so. Over the years, illegal wells, dams, unregulated irrigation and other man-made structures, have choked the lake to the extent that only a small area of swamp remains. The mayor of nearby Golcayir laments the fact that the town is no longer considered a tourist attraction.

There are initiatives on the table to designate 2008 " The Year Of Nasreddin Hodja" in commemoration of his 800th birthday. A proposal to bring the waters back will soon be submitted to UNESCO.


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