The other day an article appeared in the New York Times about ethnic jokes in Dagestan. I am not sure how accurate a portrayal this was of life in Dagestan but some of the jokes were very funny.
An Avar is driving through Makhachkala with a Lakh in the passenger seat. Spotting a red light, he pumps the accelerator and speeds through it. “You just ran a red light!” the Lakh says. “Avars don’t stop for red lights,” the Avar explains, and speeds through another. In a few minutes, they come to a green light, and the Avar stops. “Why did you stop?” the Lakh asks. “You can’t be too careful,” his friend says, “an Avar might be coming the other way.”
And this anecdote:
One anecdote has a guy approaching his neighbor Gitya, an Avar. He says, “Gitya, I heard a great joke the other day, but it’s about Avars. I don’t want to offend you, so I’ll tell it about Azeris.” He tells the joke, and Gitya laughs so hard that tears stream down his face. “Man,” Gitya gasps, catching his breath. “Those Azeris sure are idiots!”
I was also intrigued by the mention of a place called Tsovkra "the village of tight-rope walkers". (I wonder how people cross the street).
One of the authorities on Dagestani humour is quoted is a "Mr. Magomedkhanov, whose scholarly works include "Tattoed Mountain Women and Spoon Boxes of Dagestan".
I have since learnt that there are complex connections between mountain women's tattoos and the decorations on spoonboxes, but at first sight it seemed like an interestingly disjointed title, which made me think of trying to write "Bears and Cafeterias of the Himalayas" or "Hair driers and Porfolio Management ", so I searched for it and I landed on its page on Amazon.co.uk. It was there that I came across a tribe of books I hadn't previously suspected the existence of: on Amazon pages there is a line entitled "Customers who bought this item also bought", and the books shown included:
and the wonderful
which has the following product information:
Despite the ubiquity of stray shopping carts, little effort has been made to comprehend the complex relationship between cart and landscape. This is, in no small part, due to the fact that we have until now lacked a formalised language to describe these wayward carts in systematic detail. That is, until now. In "The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification", a layperson is able to identify and classify their own cart spottings based on the situation in which they were found. In five handy chapters, Montague leads the reader through his identification system, covering such bucolically littered locations as the Niagara River Gorge (where many a cart has been pushed to its untimely death) and mundane sites that look suspiciously like a suburb near you.
Taking another step into the jungle, people who bought "Stray Shopping Carts" also bought:
Now that I have pointed the way, you can conduct your own explorations in this hitherto little-known Amazon territory. I have a big order to make.