Mulla Nasiruddin Modern Tales- 4

Nasruddin was taking a stroll in the streets of Konya. A few hundred meters from the Mevlana Muzesi, he spotted a neat row of dead telephone booths. He picked up a receiver gingerly to his ear, a strain of nay (an end-blown flute that figures prominently in Middle Eastern music) filled his ear. Curious, a passer-by picked up another receiver, and looked at him in real surprise, visibly amused. Both smiled warmly at each other.

Nasruddin took out a Turkish Lira from his robe pocket and paid for a Simit (a circular Turkish bread resembling a bagel). He saw an elderly gentleman, with very distinguished look of a learned man in a linen robe and a large khaki turban buying a couple of Simits and placing them in his pockets. The man paid for the Simits and started walking towards the Muzesi, he was walking fast considering his age. The man resembled some sketches, Nasruddin had seen them somewhere, and he looked faintly familiar. Nasruddin started following him to the lane where almost lost him. There were a couple of small hotels, mostly vacant during the month of March. The hotel business gets an extra fillip during December & January, this was most certainly a lean month. The Old man took out a Simit from his robe and a stray dog came running to him, she had four pups behind her wagging their tails. The old man knelt down before them, kept feeding the dog family small pieces of bread until they were full.

Nasruddin knelt down before the man, kissed his hand and mumbled, ‘Hazreti Mevlana!’ The man smiled with his eyes and signaled him to shush with a finger on his lips. He slowly walked inside a hotel next to the pavement, Nasruddin couldn’t help but notice the name of the hotel, ‘Hich.’

Nasruddin started walking towards the main market, passed a souvenir shop owned by a gentleman who also conducted educational tours in Konya. The shop owner crossed his hands on chest, seeing him. Nasruddin returned the gesture. He walked past the butcher’s shop or the ‘Kasab’ in local language, where the master butcher himself was busy dissuading a middle aged Indian man. Nasruddin heard the conversation while the ‘kasab’ was saying, ‘Hindistani Misafirs don’t buy beef’ and saw him passing on a kg of boneless lamb cubes to the buyer in a paper bag. Nasruddin entered the neighborhood store and bought a pack of Ayran (the butter milk) and placed next to his Simit. He was happy with his dinner plan in the evening, touching the bread and butter milk inside his robe’s pocket.

He had a wealthy friend in Istanbul who had booked him in a plush hotel, a km away from the Muzesi with his frequent stay reward points. Nasruddin was seriously low on cash after a whirlwind trip to India. The hotel booking had complimentary breakfast included in the stay. Nasruddin checked into his room, hungrily devoured the Simit and sipped the Ayran and crashed out in the large, white bed.

Next morning once he woke up, he took a long, hot shower and a hearty breakfast. He walked till he reached the hotel where he saw the gentlemen last. And there he was, standing in a first floor balcony, sipping chai. Unmistakably the same man. He approached the receptionist describing the man. He shared a room number and asked for an identity proof, Nasruddin smiled at the mirrored wall next to the reception and said, ‘oh that’s very much me, Nasredin Hodja’. Nasiruddin had forgotten his passport in the hotel room. The receptionist wasn’t amused and told him a little rudely as if to stop him from an entry to the elevator next door, extending his hand. ‘He is not in the room, he went out an hour back and is yet to return.’ Nasiruddin smiled and told the young man, ‘at least tell him not to leave his lookalike, sipping tea in the balcony of his hotel room.’

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