Narrator:  The Mulla Nasrudin was in his house one day when there was a knock on the door. It was his neighbour.

Nasrudin:  Hello neighbour. What do you want?

Neighbour:  Nasrudin, I’m going on holiday for two weeks. Can you look after my 9 chickens for me?

Nasrudin: 9? 9? What is 9?

Neighbour: You know, 9. The number 9. 9 chickens.

Nasrudin:  I am no good with numbers. I don’t understand maths. Don’t say 9.

Neighbour: Let me just leave chickens then.

Nasrudin:  Bring them over.

Narrator:  The neighbour brought the nine chickens over.

The chickens are led over. Nasrudin receives them.

Narrator:  After 2 weeks the neighbour came back from his holiday and came to Nasrudin for his chickens.

Neighbour:  Hello Nasrudin, I’ve come for my chickens.

Nasrudin:  Here they are then.

Neighbour: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8;

Hold it, that’s not right.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8;

Nasrudin? Where is my ninth chicken? There should be 9 but there’s only 8.

Nasrudin:  I’m not good at numbers and I’m no good at maths. Stop talking about 8 and 9. You left chickens, you got chickens back.

Neighbour:  Right, I’m taking you to the judge! And the chickens too!

They all go off to the judge.

Neighbour:  Judge. I left 9 chickens with Nasrudin for him to look after. But he’s only given me 8 back.

Judge:  Is that right, Nasrudin?

Nasrudin:  I don’t understand numbers or maths. He left chickens with me, he got chickens back.

Judge:  But that is one less, Nasrudin

Nasrudin:  ‘Less’ is maths. I don’t understand ‘less’.

Judge:  How can I explain?… (thinks)

I know.

I need 9 volunteers from the audience.

Put your hand up if you can help us.

The judge chooses 9 and waits for silence in court. Then he counts the people:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Nasrudin, let me explain. There are nine people here.

And there are 8 chickens here

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

When I say go, I want each of these volunteers to catch a chicken.

Are you ready?


All the helpers except one catch a chicken.

Now, look Nasrudin. All the chickens have been caught. But one person has no chicken.

Why has this person not got a chicken?

Nasrudin:  Aaah, that is easy!

Judge:  Go on, Nasrudin…

Nasrudin:  Because he wasn’t fast enough!

I did this a while back for ten year olds to perform to younger children. I was lucky with the casting and had a hilarious Nasrudin. The chickens all made chicken hats and insisted on singing a chicken song as they marched in!



  1. AKK said

    I didn’t know this one! I will have to ask my friend Marios if he does. As a game it reminds a bit of the ‘musical chairs’ or the other ‘who will dance with the broom’ game. My wife plays these games with her pupils and it’s always a success. But the lawyer in me loves the argumentation : Why has this person not got a chicken? Because he wasn’t fast enough!” Bye-bye arithmetics!..

    What’s the matter with everybody, btw? My friend ‘alien’ Eleni
    just posted ‘Dr Knowall’ a German tale. The introduction is about Einstein and his love for tales.

  2. AKK said

    The moral of the tale according to ‘from_anotherplanet’is in Greek so you may not understand it. It means “You are what you declare” or “You are what you want other to believe you are”. This is a famous statement in the mouths of everybody in Greece. It was first stated by a great artist in a moment of despair when he realized that no matter how many masterpieces he painted, other lesser artists but with better public relations than him got more recognition.

  3. Simon G said

    funny to read that one – I know it through the book I mentioned in my last entry as The cobbler who became an astrologer – a persian tale –

  4. Simon G said

    So the moral is “Image” or “Spin”?
    Yes, I needed the translation!

    (I guess you know, spin = the story you can overlay things with, rather than the reality, a thing politicians in the UK are regularly accused of; spin rather than action)

    But somehow I sympathise with the main character – and yet if he is just like the lesser artists getting the better PR, I shouldn’t. There is an innocence about him, yes like Kosinsky / Sellers’ “Being There’. And more good comes out of his pretence than you’d think. It doesn’t quite fit…

  5. Simon G said

    What is the ‘who will dance with the broom’ game? It’s like musical chairs, is it? I wonder if I know it by a different name? If it’s always a success I want to know.

  6. Simon G said

    There’s something about the argumentation in the Nasrudin story I like too. We naturally have an over simple picture of causality. But the volunteer’s lack of a chicken is both 100% due to arithmetic, and due to him not being fast enough. Not that I ever mentioned that thought to my kids of course – actually the theme of the show was maths.

  7. vixen said

    If I was given 9 chicken to keep, the accountant in me would say “When you return I shall give you back 8 chicken. I will keep one chicken as yardage fee”. But the owner wouldn’t give me his chicken then, would he? And there would be no joke too!

    I hear this “I can’t understand Maths” very often in my work. But they insist on checking my calculations and try if possible to find mistakes!

    Simon you don’t know the ‘who dance with the broom’?
    When a ball/ party/ festival is hot and everybody is dancing (dances like tango and walz) and the number of boys and girls is unequal (as it usually is) or there is an odd number of dancers (boys can dance with boys and girls with girls), the surplus boy or girl has a chance to find a partner as long as he/she stays on the dancing floor and dances with a broom. The situation is ridiculous but the boy or girl has to make the best of it. He/she must dance the broom artfully and passionately to show that he/she deserves a human partner at the next switch of partners. When this happens somebody else has to take the broom etc.
    Do you undestand? The bet is to see who is going to dance with the broom the shortest. It’s a game of dancing skill, funny antics and hmmm… popularity and personal charm!

  8. Simon G said

    Thanks Nana. No, I didn’t know it. It sounds like a good idea, though I think I would be the one ‘who dances to the broom cupboard’.

    Oh, and I don’t believe you strike such a hard bargain when it comes to looking after chickens.

  9. Simon G said

    People really should know better than to let him look after things anyway.

    There was the time when he asked to borrow a couple of his neighbour’s cooking pots for a big meal he was arranging. When he took them back he presented the neighbour with an extra little pan as a present.
    ‘What’s this?’ the neighbour asked.
    ‘They had a baby while they were with me,’ Nasrudin answered.
    The neighbour thanked Nasrudin and said if he ever needed the pots agian, go ahead.
    A lot later he did come and borrow the couple of pots again.
    This time though he only returned one.
    The neighbour was concerned.
    ‘It’s agreed that pots can be born,’ said Nasrudin gravely. ‘You must have realised that they can die too.’

  10. isl_gr said

    Hello there. I am conducting a discreet investigation to find out if there was some influence from the blog-o-sphere that made our friend Nana go nuts and want to sing in a cabaret. ‘To finance hers plans’ she declares. Apparently this idea didn’t come from here. I will have to look elsewhere.

  11. Simon G said

    ooh, no – but I knew nothing about it. She always seemed so, you know, quiet – never even sung – I had no idea that she was leading a double life –

  12. vixen said

    A double life? Hardly. Every young genius nerd can fantasize and go nuts once in a while, can’t she?
    Is there a tale about this? There should be. If not, we should invent it!

  13. Simon G said

    I have been thinking about this, but haven’t come up with anything yet (of course you already have the Esor Rairb myth)…
    There really ought to be a Nasrudin story about this, as he likes to fantasize and go nuts a lot…

  14. Anonymous said

    What about Salome? If she had been an accountant, she would fit perfectly.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: