Thursday, February 3, 2011



Here is one of my favourite Mulla Nasrudin stories:

Nasrudin the smuggler was leading a donkey loaded with bundles of straw on its back.

An experienced customs inspector newly posted on that border check-post spotted Nasrudin and his donkey crossing the border.

“Halt,” the customs inspector said, “Who are you? What is your business here?”

“I am an honest smuggler!” replied Nasrudin.

“Oh, really?” said the customs inspector, “Well, let me search those straw bundles. If I find something in them, then you will have to pay customs duty.”

“Do as you wish, “Nasrudin replied, “but you will not find anything in those bundles.”

The inspector intensively searched and took apart the bundles, but could not find a single thing in them. He had no choice but to say embarrassingly to Nasrudin, “You may pass the border.” 

Nasrudin crossed the border with his donkey while the curious and annoyed customs inspector looked on.

The very next day, Nasrudin once again came to the border with a straw-carrying donkey.

The inspector saw Nasrudin coming and thought, “I’ll catch him for sure this time.” 

He checked the bundles of straw again, and then searched through Nasrudin’s clothing, and even went through the donkey’s harness. But once again he came up empty handed and had to let Nasrudin pass. 

This same pattern continued every day for several years, and every day Nasrudin wore more and more extravagant clothing and jewellery that indicated he was getting wealthier.

Eventually, the customs inspector retired from his job after several years of service, but even in retirement he still wondered about the man with the straw-carrying donkey. 

“I should have checked that donkey’s mouth more extensively,” he thought to himself, “Or maybe he hid something in the donkey’s rectum.”

Then one day he spotted Nasrudin’s face in a crowd. “Hey,” the inspector said, “I know you! You are that man who came to my border check-post everyday for all those years with a straw-carrying donkey. Please, sir, I must talk to you.”

Nasrudin came towards him and the retired customs inspector continued talking. “My friend, I always wondered what you were smuggling past my border everyday. Just between you and me, you must tell me. I am retired now but I must know just to satisfy my curiosity. Please tell me what you smuggling were for all those years under my very nose?”

“Donkeys,” Nasrudin said triumphantly, “I was smuggling donkeys!”

It’s true, isn’t it – sometimes our thinking is coloured by our “mental maps” and “cognitive biases”. 
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2011
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
 © vikram karve., all rights reserved.
VIKRAM KARVE educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale, and Bishop's School Pune, is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, a Human Resource Manager and Trainer by occupation, a Teacher by vocation, a Creative Writer by inclination and a Foodie by passion. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. He has written a foodie book Appetite For A Stroll and a book of Fiction Short Stories which is being published soon and is busy writing his first novel.and with his teaching assignments. Vikram lives in Pune with his family and pet Doberman girl Sherry, with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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