Is this diplomatic cable from Russian Ambassador William Burns, about a raucous three-day Dagestani wedding. It's 3,000+ words long, and well-written: dramatic, informative, and funny. Like when describes the male attendees to one reception as "pols and oligarchs of all sorts -- the slick to the Jurassic; wizened brown peasants from Burtunay; and Dagestan's sports and cultural celebrities." Among the notable details are the many appearances of Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyron, who dances with a gold-plated automatic stuck in his jeans; showers dancing children with $100 bills along with Gadzhi, the groom's father and clan honcho host; and then drives home because "Ramzan never spends the night anywhere."
I love the idea of the Ambassador sitting down at his desk and carefully polishing his wry dispatch of his long weekend in the North Caucauses, which he seems to have done, as it reads so well, often in long passages, such as:
Though Gadzhi's house was not the venue for the main wedding reception, he ensured that all his guests were constantly plied with food and drink. The cooks seemed to keep whole sheep and whole cows boiling in a cauldron somewhere day and night, dumping disjointed fragments of the carcass on the tables whenever someone entered the room. Gadzhi's two chefs kept a wide variety of unusual dishes in circulation (in addition to the omnipresent boiled meat and fatty bouillon). The alcohol consumption before, during and after this Muslim wedding was stupendous. Amidst an alcohol shortage, Gadzhi had flown in from the Urals thousands of bottles of Beluga Export vodka ("Best consumed with caviar"). There was also entertainment, beginning even that day, with the big-name performers appearing both at the wedding hall and at Gadzhi's summer house. Gadzhi's main act, a Syrian-born singer named Avraam Russo, could not make it because he was shot a few days before the wedding, but there was a "gypsy" troupe from St. Petersburg, a couple of Azeri pop stars, and from Moscow, Benya the Accordion King with his family of singers. A host of local bands, singing in Avar and Dargin, rounded out the entertainment, which was constant and extremely amplified.
The main activity of the day was eating and drinking -- starting from 4 p.m., about eight hours worth, all told -- punctuated, when all were laden with food and sodden with drink, with a bout of jet skiing in the Caspian. After dinner, though, the first band started an informal performance -- drums, accordion and clarinet playing the lezginka, the universal dance of the Caucasus. To the uninitiated Westerner, the music sounds like an undifferentiated wall of sound. This was a signal for dancing: one by one, each of the dramatically paunchy men (there were no women present) would enter the arena and exhibit his personal lezginka for the limit of his duration, usually 30 seconds to a minute. Each ethnic group's lezginka was different -- the Dagestani lezginka the most energetic, the Chechen the most aggressive and belligerent, and the Ingush smoother.
And, my favorite:
The 120 toasts he estimated he drank would have killed anyone, hardened drinker or not, but Gadzhi had his Afghan waiter Khan following him around to pour his drinks from a special vodka bottle containing water. Still, he was much the worse for wear by evening's end. At one point we caught up with him dancing with two scantily clad Russian women who looked far from home. One, it turned out was a Moscow poet (later she recited an incomprehensible poem in Gadzhi's honor) who was in town with a film director to write the screenplay for a film immortalizing Gadzhi's defense of Dagestan against Shamil Basayev. By 6 p.m. most of the houseguests had returned to Gadzhi's seaside home for more swimming and more jet-skiing-under-the-influence.