A foreign scholar and his entourage were passing through Akşehir. The scholar asked to speak with the town’s most knowledgeable person. Of course, the townsfolk immediately called Nasreddin Hodja. The foreign savant didn’t speak Turkish and our Hodja didn’t speak any foreign languages, so the two wise men had to communicate with signs, while the others looked on with fascination.
The foreigner, using a stick, drew a large circle in the sand. Nasreddin Hodja took the stick and divided the circle into two. This time the foreigner drew a line perpendicular to the one Hodja had drawn, and the circle was now split into four. He motioned to indicate first the three-quarters of the circle, then the remaining quarter. To this, the Hodja made a swirling motion with the stick over the four quarters. Then the foreigner cupped his hands, palms up, and wiggled his fingers. Nasreddin Hodja responded by wiggling his fingers too but his hands were cupped palm down.
When the meeting was over, the members of the foreign scientist’s entourage asked him what they have talked about.
“Nasreddin Hodja is really a learned man,” he said. “I told him that the earth is round, and he said that the equator indicated the division of the north and south hemispheres. I told him that three-quarters of the earth is water and that only a quarter island. He said that there are undercurrents and winds. I told him that the waters warm up, vaporize and move towards the sky, he replied that they cool off and come down like rain.”
The people of Akşehir were also curious about how the encounter went. They gathered around the Hodja.
“This stranger has good taste,” the Hodja started to explain. “He said that he wished there was a large tray of baklava. I said that he could only have half of it. He said that the syrup should be made with three-parts sugar and one-part honey. I agreed and said that they all had to mix well. Next, he suggested that we should cook it on a blazing fire. And I added that we should pour crushed walnuts on top of it.”