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!Ã¢?Â So he did. Suddenly his wife said “Who is it?” and he said “Stay seated IÃ¢??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!)