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Aida, I am telling you this as your BFF- just ignore this hater. If this diplomat talked shit about my royal Russian wedding, I would be soooo pissed! Obvs he is jealous. I mean, he didn't even mention your gorgeous dress OR your bejeweled hair. OK, sit down. I'm going to read you the worst ones and then we are burning this computer and getting a new one made out of pure gold.

~ ~ ~

Gadzhi Makhachev's son married a classmate.

The bride and groom themselves are little more than showpieces.

Gadzhi gave us a lift in the Rolls once in Moscow, but the legroom was somewhat constricted by the presence of a Kalashnikov carbine at our feet.

Gadzhi's brother, an artist from St. Petersburg, ordered as a wedding gift a life-sized statue of Imam Shamil.

Connection with Shamil makes for nobility among Avars today. Gadzhi often mentions that he is a descendant on his mother's side of Gair-Bek, one of Shamil's deputies.

Gadzhi's Kaspiysk summer house is an enormous structure on the shore of the Caspian, essentially a huge circular reception room -- much like a large restaurant.

Another group of Gadzhi's boyhood friends from Khasavyurt was led by a man who looked like Shamil Basayev on his day off.

Basayev had had no interest in wealth; he may have been a religious fanatic, but he was a "normal" person.

Gadzhi's two chefs kept a wide variety of unusual dishes in circulation (in addition to the omnipresent boiled meat and fatty bouillon).

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 music sounds like an undifferentiated wall of sound. 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.

The Dagestani milieu appears to be one in which the highly educated and the gun-toting can mix easily -- often in the same person.

Dalgat and Aida got out of the Rolls and were serenaded into the hall by a boys' chorus lining both sides of the red carpet, dressed in costumes aping medieval Dagestani armor with little shields and swords.

As the bands played, the marriageable girls came out to dance the lezginka in what looked like a slowly revolving conga line.

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).

Some stupendously fat guests were displaying their lezginkas for the benefit of the two visiting Russian women.

Ramzan Kadyrov, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, looking shorter and less muscular than in his photos, and with a somewhat cock-eyed expression on his face.

Ramzan danced clumsily with his gold-plated automatic stuck down in the back of his jeans.

An Avar FSB colonel sitting next to us, dead drunk, was highly insulted that we would not allow him to add "cognac" to our wine. 

~ ~ ~

Aida? AIDA! Stop crying. I set the computer on fire. Now, let's forget about this douche-lomat and go try on all of our fur hats!

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