The Bittersweetness Of A Tafeeli Joke

So one day a Tafeeli and his wife are joking around when suddenly he throws her out the window. He looks out and sees her on the ground, back broken, moaning, and yells “what’s the matter, you can’t take a joke?”

Every country has a town, or a city, or a region with a people that the rest of the country loves to pick on. The alleged stupidity of these specific people is embodied in legendary jokes. For Americans it tends to be rednecks, for Palestine it’s the Khaleelis (Hebron) and in Jordan it’s those from down south in Tafilah.

Tafeeli jokes are always bittersweet for me because sometimes they’re just plain funny but then you realize at the butt of the joke are a group of people who are probably the most generous and kind-hearted in the entire country. Chances are if you ever pay the area a visit you will run into several people who will not only invite you to have dinner (mansaf) but spend the night as well. And it doesn’t matter if you’re from Amman or from Germany; you’re just as equally foreign to them.

Sometimes Tafeeli jokes include a comparison to foreigners like “a tafeeli, an american and an italian walk in to a bar..” kind of thing. Other times, for a more regional impact, the Tafeelis will be compared to their ‘older brothers’, the Kerakis. For example:

Two Kerakis and a Tafeeli get on a plane for the first time and the stewardess asks them what they would like to eat. So the first Keraki said “asal ya asal” (“i want honey, honey”) and the second Keraki said “sukkar ya sukkar” (“i want sugar, sugar”) and the Tafeeli upon hearing them said “haleeb ya bagara” (“i want milk, you cow”)

Tafeelah is actually a beautiful area. The way you know you’re in Tafeelah is when the mountains become steeper and you see a lot of greenery that is a rarity in Jordan so the contrast will always catch you off guard. The reason for this is because the area has plenty of natural springs, over 300 actually.

In the last decade or so its popularity has grown due to Afra, one of the major hot springs and also because of the Dana Natural Reserve that it hosts. But even its geography can become a joke…

One time a Tafeeli got a job driving a bus but on his first day he got into a huge accident and killed all 22 passengers. “You’re a criminal!” said the inspector “and you must be condemned for killing 22 people”. So the Tafeeli pleaded: “I’m innocent, I swear! And the accident was beyond my control, let me tell you what happened. I was driving about 120 km/h and came upon two donkeys standing in the middle of the street. To my right was a tall mountain and to my left a wadi (valley). So what would you do: hit the two donkeys or tumble into the wadi?” “Hit the donkeys, of course!” said the inspector. “And that’s exactly what I did!!” he said, “…I hit the first donkey and then turned around at high speed to hit the second one and that’s when I flipped over into the wadi…”

So why must they be the butt of the joke?

Most people I know who tell Tafeeli jokes have never been to Tafeela or met a Tafeeli. I wonder if all the people got together in the beginning to decide who would get picked on and the Tafeeli representative just drew the short straw. Everyone in Jordan knows a Tafeeli joke and I’m sure any Jordanian reading this post right now is thinking of a few. A lot of the times people will apologize for the joke before or after telling it; perhaps they’re afraid of running into a Tafeeli one day or perhaps they’ve met one and just realized how wrong the stigma is, but just can’t help telling a good Tafeeli joke. I think it could be the guilt.

Will we one day just feel so bad that all Tafeeli jokes will cease to exist?

A Tafeeli came home really happy one day and his wife was suspicious so she asked “why are you so happy, you’re not your usual self, what’s happened in the world?” and he said “shhh…the people have stopped telling jokes about us!” and she said “alhamdulillah (thank God). Hurry! Knock on wood before you jinx us!â? So he did. Suddenly his wife said “Who is it?” and he said “Stay seated Iâ??ll get the door”.

Will it ever change I wonder? Will the Tafeelis ever revolt and make everyone tell Salti jokes from now on? There’s a famous Tafeeli joke that every one in Jordan knows that describes a similar situation…

One day all the Tafeelis got together to discuss the situation of them being the butt of all these jokes. Angry, they decided to take all the Tafeeli jokes and throw them in the sea. A few moments later all the fish came out to the shore laughing. Except for one fish…he was a Tafeeli.

Ah…the bittersweetness of a Tafeeli joke.

(and they say we don’t have a sense of humor!)


  • I want to delve inside your brain, make myself comforatble, then take a little poke around and figure out HOW you come up with all your post ideas and what else is stored in there. They just keep coming and coming, eh?

    ANYWAY…..How do you know that your apartment building’s caretaker is a Tafilee?
    Easy. You’ll notice him cleaning the elevator at every floor of the building!

    Ooooo….and like you said, Palestine’s Khaleelis and Jordan’s Tafeeliyeh are the ones to take the butt of the joke, and in Syria, it’s the people from HOMS! You’re right…HOW did the get chosen? Interesting…

  • Hal,

    i have been in his brain…its a mixture between a maze and a land mine.

    Nas i have one for ya,

    the Tafeelis get really angry that the rest of Jordan is making fun at them so they go to His Majesty and tell him that they want it to stop. so His Majesty thinks about it and then tells them that he will send a few scholars who will administer an IQ exam to all the people of Tafilah and when they get the answers right then the results can be advertised in the newspapers to show the world how smart they are.

    so the day comes and all the Tafeelis line up and the first one goes into the room and sits down in front of the scholars. the scholars ask him:

    â??what is brow or black, has shoelaces and we were them on our feet”

    The Tafeeli thinks and thinks then answers â??watermelon????”

    The scholars shake their heads and regretfully tell him “no, its a shoe”

    The Tafeeli goes outside and tells all the others in the line that the answer is ‘SHOE’

    Next Tafeeli goes in, gets asked the same question â??what is brow or black, has shoelaces and we were them on our feet” and he answers “shoe” the scholars smile and tell him that he is correct.

    and so it goes all the way down the line until the scholars get to the last man in line and they decide to change the question just so they can report to His Majesty that they asked more than one question.

    so the last guy comes in and sits down and the scholars ask him “what is green on the outside red on the inside and its a big fruit we eat in summer…first letter is watermelon???!!!”

    the last Tafeeli thinks and thinks then he asks “does it have shoelaces?”
    “no” answer the scholars”

    “then its a pair of sandals!!!!” says the Tafeeli

  • Hal, lol yup Fad got it right with that lovely description. it can be an explosive journey 😀

    Fad, loool 😀

    (apologies to all tafeelis)

  • So why did Tafeelis throw their blankets and started to sleep without them?

    Because Fastlink has announced its extensive coverage plans for the Kingdom.

    Sorry couldn’t help it 😀

  • Ha Ha! I’ve been to Tafilah. The landscape around it is sensational but the town itself is awful. Yes, the people we spoke to were nice, but they never told us they were the butt of all Jordanian jokes, and they never told us any jokes, but they did tell us the nearest hotel was 50 kms away.

    Been to Salt too. It was shut.

  • I really have to object to recitation of these Tafeelis jokes. There is the most pronounced thread of anger toward women that runs through them. It’s more than being openly anti-female; its the obvious fact that too many people are thinking about whacking women. And besides: I’m a bubba (male redneck) from mid america and i can assure you that if there’s one thing that bubbas love its a girly bubba. A bubba redneck joke: “You know you’re a redneck if your guest room is that car in your front yard.”

  • I’ve not been to Tafeeleh.
    And have not met many Tafaylieh.

    Now all the people I’ve met from Tafeleeh were well educated, ridiculously rich and influential, so I guess I can’t be objective. Well it’s trivial that Tafeeleh is like any other community, you got the good,the bad and the ugly. They don’t like it at all,being joked at and made fun of.

    Actually here is this real story:
    I’ve been told this story by an old man.
    Anyways, so he was telling me about the time when he went to the US to attend a confrence. What caught his eyes there was the name of an honor speaker and his title (A Big shot from the world bank) . So at the end he approached him.
    Ù?رحباØ? Ø¥Ù?تا عربÙ?Ø?
    Ù?عÙ?Ø? Ù?Ù? اÙ?أردÙ?
    Ù?Ù?ا Ø£Ù?ا Ø­Ù?Ù?ت Ù?بÙ? Ù?Ù? اÙ?عÙ?Ù?Ø©Ø? بس Ù?Ù? Ù?Ù?Ù? اÙ?تÙ?
    اÙ?زÙ?Ù?Ø© ضحÙ? Ù? Ø­Ù?Ù?: Ù?Ù?ا بعÙ?د عÙ?Ù? Ù?Ù? اÙ?طفÙ?Ù?Ø©

    The story is funny! The guy is some big shot, yet he can’t escape it, he’s Tafeeli!

    Tafeeleh city is actually full of many important archeological sights, it used to be an active Christian center connecting Jazereh and Cham.

    So why they are picked on? I think it has to deal with the fact that they are in the “SOUTH”. You know, people from North think they are better than people from the South?ُEast-West.poor rich,Christian-Muslim,Suni-Shiite,blogger-wordpress,(nerds-cool kids, athletic dudes-weak and shy guys,preps-hafartali,ok ok I think you got it

    So this Tafeeli guy goes to propose for some girl he loves.
    He sits down to talk with her dad, the guy asks him to pay a 10000 dinars dowry,frustrated by his request and not knowing what to say, he then exclaimed: Oh really?And why should I pay all this, while I can get a bride from Irbid for a dowry as little as 1500 dinar, and pregnant????!

    Ù?اظ Ù?رة طفÙ?Ù?Ù? راح Ù?خطب Ù?حدةØ? إجا أبÙ?Ù?ا Ø·Ù?ب عشر تÙ?افØ? راح Ø­Ù?اÙ?Ù? اÙ?طفÙ?Ù?Ù?: Ù?ااااااااÙ? Ù?Ù?Ù?Ø´ Ù?Ù?Ù?Ø? Ù?ا Ù?Ù?Ù?Ù? بإربد ب 1500 Ù?Ù?رة Ù? حاÙ?Ù? Ù?Ù?اÙ?!!

  • Yeah it’s so unfair… but Tafaileh proved themselves to everyone when, I don’t know what year it was, maybe 2002 or 2001, a girl from Tafeeleh was ranked first in Tawjihi results, kingdom level

    They can still rub everyone nose in it, I mean everyone telling jokes about them

  • I have no idea why, but for some reason when I was growing up we found it very funny to tell “Polack” jokes. I knew a kid whose father was Polish and his mother was Mexican. The sad thing is, if this kid had been the example of what Poles were like, the jokes would have been true! We didn’t dislike him and we didn’t dislike Polish people. It was just fun to tell Polack jokes.
    I still use some of these, but now I tell them as “Moron” jokes, so as not to target any particular nationality. However, sometimes “national” jokes are funny in spite of themselves.
    I’m part Lithuanian by ancestry and have searched high and low to find any good Lithuanian jokes. The only Lithuanian joke I have, I made up myself.
    Lithuanians are so boring that there aren’t even any jokes about them!
    I didn’t say it was a good joke!

  • hey firas, watch out what you are saying! I don’t mind you joking, but careful! I’m from Irbed, so will you please at least be polite, and gental enough to respect others!
    hope you’ll consider.

  • Once in Amman there was a donkey sitting in the middle of a main street. It brought traffic to a hault. People tried to move the donkey to the sidewalk but they were unsuccessful. The police arrived but also were unable to move the donkey. A Tafeily was standing looking at the crowed trying to move the donkey. The Tafieli told them step aside and let me try. So the Tafeili went to the donkey and whispered in his ear. Two seconds later the donkey moved. Do you know what the Tafeili told the donkey?? “MOVE AND I WILL SIT IN YOUR PLACE”.

  • loool! yep, ive had the experience of telling a Tafeili joke to a Tafeili (unknown to me until he waited for me to finish laughing! lol) quite embarrasing!! But the other Tafeili’s I know, boys and girls, all share fun in the jokes and there is no hard feelings!

  • أربع مستحيلات….. طفيلي ذكي, ربداوي وفي , سلطي خفيف دم , بني حسن كرموش

    مره كركي بيقول لمرته: جميد وعندكي ورز وعندكي ولحمة وعندكي البين يطسكي لويه ما تسويلنا كيك.

    هندي بسأل طفيلي انتوا ليش ما يحرق ميت؟حكاله الطفيلي :احنا ادفن ,ربنا احرق.

    مرة واحد طفيلي راح الحج شاف الناس برمو حجارة الجمرة راح ولع كوشوك وهرب فكرها مظاهرة.

    مره شيخ ازعر وشم على ايده ابريق وضوء

    مرة تنين خلايلة ماشين على دوار لحقهم كلب ضلو يلفو حولين الدوار في واحد منهم قعد في الدوار تعب الا صاحبو بحكيلو دير بالك اجك الكلب, الا هو بحكيلو: لا اتخاف انا سابقو بلفتين

  • I am from the America. I have spent some time in the Middle East and I love the people and the culture. I met a Tafeili at my college in America. I would say he was a little bit more than mejnoon shwia. But we had a so much fun together. I drove him around town and helped him with the American culture, we went to movies together, and ate together (Mansef). He did not seem to be ashamed of the fact that Tafilah was the most made fun of town in Jordan. When things got really crazy was when the FBI got after the guy for saying some crazy stuff. I got a few visits from the FBI and then he got deported after telling an immigration court judge that yes he is a terrorist. Even though he was a completely ligit student with no intentions of terrorism, what could they do. He was deported. I am from Texas which is the butt of many American jokes, so I can relate to the Tafielis. But this guy made certainly introduce the town of Tafielah to our group of friends in the US. That being said, I would love to go to Tafielah and get to know more people there. They seem like lovely people.

Your Two Piasters: