Every time Nasruddin spoke, the scholar mocked him. "I've never heard such atrocious language. Didn't you study grammar in school?"
Nasruddin shook his head.
"Well," said the scholar, "I'd say you've wasted your life."
The ship was then caught in a storm.
"Abandon ship!" shouted the captain.
Nasruddin then turned to the scholar and asked, "Didn't you study swimming in school?"
The terrified scholar shook his head.
"Well," said Nasruddin, "I'd say you've wasted your life."
Nasruddin then jumped into the water and swam safely to shore.
Inspired by: The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin by Idries Shah, free to read online at the Idries Shah Foundation.
Notes: This is story 3 in the book. This story also appears in Rumi's Mathnawi. There is also a wonderful version by Ramakrishna in Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishna, story 41, where the pundit on the boat boasts about knowing the Vedanta, Sankhya, Patanjala, etc., and the punchline is: "I don't know Sankhya or the Patanjala, but I can swim!"