Great news; my good friend Gazankhan is back and doing his thing again. So in his honour I’m posting a little anecdote of my own here which I have a feeling he will enjoy.
Those of you who are familiar with my father(the great Farokh Saramad)’s books, know that he is, to put it politely, rather liberal with his use of (what some people may consider) bad language and that he also likes a good laugh and a joke. Those of you who are not familiar with his books, well you’re just going to have to take my word for it.
One day my father came up to my two cousins and me and took great pleasure in telling us this joke.
Two old Ghazvini men are sitting outside a café, talking about their youth. One turns to the other and says (this anecdote relies very heavily on the Ghazvini accent, so if you know it, great. If you don’t, I’m going to try and guide you through it somehow), ‘Jafar-khan, (pronounced, Dsjafar-khaan (yeah good luck with that!) onsal keh to Ghazvin kon (tkon) arzan bood che (tche) saali bood?’
‘Jafar-khan, which was that year when kon was very low-cost in Ghazvin?’
‘Haa (long nostalgic sigh) jang-meynolmelal avval rah migi?’
‘Aah, are you talking about the great First World War?’
‘Haaa (an even more stretched out, longing sigh) digeh jang-meynolmelal avval namishah?’
‘Ah yes, isn’t the great First World War ever going to come back again?’
Here the joke ended and we laughed along with my father. Although unlike him, we three had no idea what we were laughing at. Sure we had liked the accent that he had done but our ages only being, nine, seven and six; we for example had absolutely no idea about the fact that Ghazvinis were world famous for their liking for young, good-looking men. Also our unfamiliarity with the Ghazvini accent meant that we had failed to recognise the word ‘kon’ as being the same as ‘koon’ (bum).
‘Amoo (uncle)’ my youngest cousin asked very innocently a few minutes later, ‘what is Kon?’
My father sat in front of us and while trying to hide a very mischievous smile (that kept trying to break out from the corners of his mouth) began to give us the meaning for the word Kon. This seemed to amuse him even more than the joke itself and so I for one knew straight away that he was not to be trusted with that explanation. I still had no idea what this word meant but I was pretty sure by then that it was rude. And as if we had all silently agreed on this together, the word kon mysteriously vanished from this joke and from that moment on, it always began with, ‘Jafar-khan, onsal cheh saali bood?’ (Jafar-khan, what was that year?)
This became a little inside joke between us four. When we wanted my father to come and hangout with us or if we wanted to cheer him up, we would go up to him and say, ‘Jafar-khan, onsal cheh saali bood?’ and watch his face break out into a smile. Or if people were having a discussion about when a certain event had taken place, we would whisper to each other, ‘Jang-meynolmelal avval rah migi?’ (Are you talking about the great First World War?)
Some time later, my same two cousins and I were at our grandmother’s house one night in the company of our lovely and very elegant grandmother and her equally graceful and sophisticated friend. After dinner we were all sitting around the table, telling jokes. When it was my youngest cousin’s turn, he very coolly started to tell the complete version of the story of Jafar-khan and his old friend.
My older cousin and I watched the expressions on the faces of our grandmother and her friend intently as they went from affectionate to horrified to a simple wide-eyed and wide-jawed. This last expression was the one that they carried on with until about ten seconds after the joke had ended. And then quite suddenly they broke out into a very coordinated hysterical laugh which went on for about two minutes.
When after numerous failed attempts our grandmother finally managed to calm herself down, she turned to my little cousin and asked, ‘Azizeh delam (my darling) do you know what Kon means?’
My little cousin’s eyes twinkled with pleasure as he said, ‘Of course I do Mamanjoon’ and then proceeded to repeat the (when I think about it not so out of place) explanation that my father had given him, ‘Kon is a sort of sweet dish that is very popular in Ghazvin. It is made form a mixture of nuts (like, walnuts, pistachio nuts, almonds and peanuts) raisons and dates. These are all mashed up together into a pulp and sold either like that or some water and icing sugar is added to them and they are made into little ball shapes.’
As an old relative of ours once said at the end of an anecdote that had completely appalled her (with some little changes), ‘Vaay bar on pesar, vaay bar on Ghazvini va vaay ham bar on Amoo.’ ‘Shame on that boy, shame on that Ghazvini and what's more shame on that uncle.’