176. Today in 1920s Turkey: 17 January 1927 (Nasrettin Hodja Learns a Valuable Lesson)
(Cartoon, Nasrettin Hoca, 17 January 1927, no. 4, pages 2 and 3.)
İstanbul’daki Büyük Tramvay Kazasından, Yaralanan Zavallılardan Hoca İbret Alıyor
Karısı: Hoca durup orada ne yapıyorsun; merkebin nalına bakmak nereden aklına esti?
Hoca: Ben zaten Uzun Kulak’ın nalını muayene etmeden binmezdim ama artık hergün bir kere gözden geçireceğim. Allah tramvay kumpanyası mı, halkın belası mı nedir, ona da biraz insaf verse de yüzlerce ümmet-i Muhammedi kazadan kazaya atmamak için tramvay arabalarını sık sık muayene etse.
The Hodja Draws a Lesson from the Big Trolley Accident in Istanbul, (and) from Its Poor Victims
His Wife: What are you doing over there; why have you suddenly decided to check the donkey’s hooves?
The Hodja: I would never ride Long Ears before examining his hooves anyway, but from now on I am going to check them at least once a day. Could God take pity on the trolley company (or whatever it is—a menace to the people) and frequently inspect the trolley cars so that hundreds of Muslims are not tossed about from one accident to another.
A recent trolley accident is the inspiration for this cartoon and its message. Increasing traffic and machine-on-man accidents brought a new level of tragedy and suffering to the streets of Istanbul. As such, gruesome displays of human suffering became a regular occurrence in daily city life. With the sudden rise of motorized vehicles, public transportation, and urbanization, Istanbul’s narrow streets quickly became inundated with fast-moving machines competing for the right-of-way with an ever-growing population of defenseless, soft-bodied pedestrians.
1920s Istanbul constituted the Wild Wild West of transportation. Many fatal accidents were the products of a lethal combination of bad driving, inadequate roads, lack of traffic rules, and a swelling population of people with little experience navigating the increasingly dangerous roads. Today’s cartoon adds another problem to the mix: poorly managed and maintained machinery. As the Hodja points out, the cause for the recent accident was a malfunctioning trolley. As a public transportation vehicle, its faulty wheels affected an even greater amount of people because it was carrying dozens of passengers. But because there are no strict guidelines or procedures for inspecting such high-risk machinery, human lives are the main victims of such neglect. The Hodja suggests a common-sense solution: regularly check your equipment before operating it!
(Dual pages, Nasrettin Hoca, 17 January 1927, no. 4, pages 2 and 3. Hakkı Tarık Us Collection, Istanbul.)