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With Tashkent being the referred to as an up and coming Bangkok, we thought it would be a nice idea to educate our readers about local Uzbek customs and traditions. So what if most people heading that way are going for reasons that do include experiencing a different culture and ethnology; it’s always better to be well informed than taken by surprise in a foreign land, no?! And strangely, they have a lot of similarities with our very own social and cultural norms.

# “Hospitality is rated higher than courage”, goes an ancient Uzbek saying. To turn somebody down or give them a bad reception at one’s home brings disgrace upon the family and clan. In earlier times, people travelling across the Uzbek terrain were face with rugged terrain and bad weather. The only source of comfort was that they would surely find shelter in any village they came across. Even an isolated nomad’s tent ensured food and warmth. They don’t even turn down their enemies

That does not imply that you will not book any accommodation for your Tashkent trip but rest assured, if you’re lucky enough to be invited to a local’s home, the experience will be unforgettable.

# You must take off your footwear before entering someone’s home. Whether you’re only staying for ten minutes or you’re over for dinner, the footwear must come off. It is considered unclean and disrespectful to wear your footwear inside somebody’s home.

# It is rude to turn up late. But it’s better late than empty handed. It is expected that you bring a gift or, at the very least, a box of sweets when visiting someone, especially if you’ve been invited over for a meal.

# Uzbek families are usually large, with up to three, sometimes generations living under the same roof. Respect towards elders is an essential part of Uzbek culture. This is a patriarchal society; the head of the house is usually male. The head of the family personally seats all guests; the most respected guests are offered the seats furthest from the entrance.

# There is a lot of differentiation between the sexes. The handshake is used as a primary means of greeting but only between two men. A man does not extend a handshake to a woman and vice versa. Greet women with light bow with your right hand over the heart.

# The oldest member of the household reads out a prayer before food. A customary cup of tea is then poured before the actual feast begins.

# The only custom that has significantly evolved over the years is the one that requires men and women to dine at different tables. It is not really followed in the cities but is still prevalent in rural Uzbekistan.

Of course, none of these matter much when you’re eating out in Tashkent, but the authentic dining at a local’s home is totally worth it.

As the newest member of the content team, Shivangi Rajendran comes from the world of professional dancing. With a passion for travel and a flair for writing, the Masters in Mass Communication is just an added advantage. A gypsy at heart, she doesn’t believe in planning and is always ready to pack her bags and leave.

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