Good Manners in Central Asia: At the Table
MIR’s Director of Operations Jake Smith has lived and worked in several Central Asian countries, observing – and learning by experience – the art of what can be complex and confounding good manners in this part of the world. Here Jake offers his “best behavior at the table” tips in two of his favorite countries: Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Whenever visiting friends or going out to a restaurant in Tajikistan or Uzbekistan, there would inevitably be a short period of awkwardness before the meal where hosts and invitees alike would debate over who should sit where, with everyone being as polite as possible by trying to bestow the honor of head-of-the-table on another. I quickly learned to ignore the commands instructing me, as a foreign guest, to take the honored spot. As a younger person my place was further down the ranks.
Before this rule was thoroughly explained to me, and even after, when I was being forgetful, my host-mother in Tashkent had a penchant for lightly smacking the back of my hand whenever I left my bread the wrong side up.
The amount of tea you serve someone also has meaning. A full, brimming cup is a sign that the recipient may have overstayed his or her welcome, whereas a very small pour is an indication of respect.
Travel to Central Asia with MIR
MIR has over 30 years of travel experience in Central Asia and has an affiliate office in Uzbekistan. We have a roster of contacts that can take you to places that you didn’t even know you wanted to go. Our full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’slist of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”
- Small Group Tours
- Rail Journeys by Private Train
- The Silk Route by Private Train (Westbound)
- Essence of the Silk Road by Private Train (Eastbound)
- Essence of the Silk Road & Beyond by Private Train
- Jewels of Persia & The Silk Route by Private Train (Eastbound / Westbound)
- Iran & The ‘Stans by Private Train (Eastbound / Westbound)
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- Custom Private Journeys
- If you have specific interests or destinations in Uzbekistan you’d like to explore, MIR can work with you to create a custom, private journey based on your ideas and timeline. You can also travel on one of MIR’s handcrafted private independent travel itineraries, Essential Uzbekistan or Essential Central Asia.
Chat with a MIR destination specialist about travel to Uzbekistan by phone (1-800-424-7289) or email today. We would love to take your ideas and weave them into a trip tailored especially for you.
(Top photo credit: Jake Smith. Here Jake and his wife dine with his host family in Tashkent, Uzbekistan; notice that neither one sat at the head of the table.)
PUBLISHED: July 15, 2014