Karakalpak girls carry drinking water from a well on a trolley to the village Karakoltyk near a former shore of the dried Aral Sea, now water is in 200km. The Republic of Karakalpakstan of Uzbekistan, August 2013.
Part 3 will be a shared post for the twins and Talas. The name Talas was likely inspired by either the Talas River (which runs through Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan) or the Talas Province of Kyrgyzstan. The twins’ names (Laila and Leyli) might’ve been inspired by Leyli o Majnun(“The Madman and Layla” in Persian), a love story that originated as a short, anecdotal poem in ancient Arabia and later significantly expanded and popularized in a literary adaptation by Azerbaijani poet Nizami Ganjavi.
Unlike Amira and Karluk, our secondary characters’ hometowns are named. Talas lives in Karaza. I tried searching for this place on Google, but have not found any information about it. It is possible the romanization is off (as Talas is often translated using the Japanese pronunciation “Taras” or “Tarasu”) or the town could be a fictional one devised by Mori. However, if I had to guess, the town Karaza is likely in Karakalpakstan. Aside from the obvious reason of the area’s name coinciding with Talas’ ethnicity, there are also two other reasons. The Karakalpak language is so close to Kazakh that some claim it is a dialect of it; considering it was Amira that Talas shared her feelings for Mr. Smith with, I think the high mutual intelligibility of their native languages helped Talas to more precisely describe her thoughts about the situation to Amira. Secondly, Mr. Smith later has to go west and cross the Aral Sea to get to Turkey. The Aral Sea is primarily in the Karakalpak region.
The twins are stated to be from the fishing town Mo‘ynoq, also spelled as Muynak and Moynaq. Mo'ynoq is a city in northern Karakalpakstan, meaning Mr. Smith didn’t get too far from Karaza before he met the the twins. The twins are also Tajik, meaning, like Amira and Karluk, they are not a majority group to the area. In fact, mnxmnkmnd.tumblr.com pointed out that Tajiks are not even Turkic, they are Persian! This raises some questions as to what language the twins speak, as there is little to no mutual intelligibility between Tajik and Turkic languages. Judging by the lack of trouble Mr. Smith has communicating with them (compared to the difficulty he has talking with Anis’ husband, who is implied to be Persian), I would say it’s safe to assume the twins communicate in the Turkic language of that region.
It seems Mori prefers to focus on the smaller/less common groups of a region.
Uspan Gorbanbayev, a former fisherman now guards Muynak’s ship cemetery against pilferers. The cemetery is on the former seabed near Muynak, where workers from the fish cannery chop up the towns former fishing boats. They barter the scrap for tin to make cans to hold the now imported fish.