Culture Café: Uzbekistan

Still can’t stop smiling and feel happier than ever before? We’re sure your answer is yes, and the main reason of your shining smile is our Culture Café dedicated to friendly and sunny Uzbekistan. Many thanks to our HSE international students Imamkhodjaeva Vasilya, Eugenia Golovkina, Bekzod Karimov, Nina Ladinskayawho have discovered a new country for us and left only unforgettable and enjoyable memories about it.

As usual we started with basic knowledge about the country, such as national flag and national symbol. We continued our spectacular trip by exploring traditions of Uzbekistan. Hospitality is one of the characteristic features of Uzbeks. Welcoming guests is highly valued among all the people in the country. Hosts meet their guests at the gates and greet them: men are generally greeted with handshaking, women, as it accustomed, are greeted with a slight bow, pressing their right hand to the heart. Then the hosts invite guests in the house and put them at the most honorable place at the table. Every meal begins and ends with a tea drinking, of course, with some sweets, pastries, dried fruits, nuts etc. So first snacks are served and only in the end pilaf or another festive food is presented. Making the pilaf is also a tradition for Uzbekistan. One of the oldest and obligatory Uzbek rites is a morning pilaf. The pilaf is intended for several hundred guests and usually prepared for different holidays or special day: the birth of a child, in honor of returning from military service, on the morning before the wedding etc. The day of the morning pilaf is determined in advance, and hosts send invitations to their relatives, friends, colleagues and neighbors.

And how could we skip traditional Uzbek clothes? It doesn’t have any chances to be missed, all because of bright colors and beautiful patterns. The basis of national men's suit is chapan - quilted robe which is tied up with a belt scarf - kiyikcha. The traditional headdress is a skullcap. Kuylak, an undershirt of straight cut, is put on the body, and ishton are very wide trousers that taper to the bottom. Traditional Uzbek women’s costume consists of a tunic-like han-atlas dress, as well as bloomers. Satin fabric and splendid gold embroidery are used in festive clothes. The women's headdress includes three elements at once: a skullcap, a scarf and a turban.

So now are you interested in visiting beautiful Uzbekistan? We will help you to plan your trip to the country with the breathtaking views of the unforgettable landscapes and modern eastern cities. We have good news for you: 30-day visa is free for most of the countries and for ex-soviet countries there is opportunity to explore the country without visa for 3 months! However, some countries need to execute visa procedures, but don’t be afraid, it’s not that difficult, firstly, you should check your country in a special list, and if you have to execute, then just pay 20 USD and wait 2-3 working days. There are two options for you to reach Uzbekistan: by plane or by train. You can find plenty of direct flights from Moscow to the different cities: from Tashkent to Karshi. Or maybe you want to enjoy magnificent nature from the window of our train, then there is a variant for you - train from Moscow to Tashkent. By arriving to nice Uzbekistan you need to exchange currency and buy SIM-card, so you can start your adventure and get to the center of the city you’ve chosen. The most popular is, certainly, the capital of Uzbekistan - Tashkent. If you want to see beautiful mosques and become closer to Uzbekistan history, then your destination is Samarqand, Bukhara or Khiva.

 And the most interesting part for you and your friends or relatives as well - souvenirs. You have a wide variation of what to bring back home: food for every taste, native clothes, and even ceramic plates. We’ve already mentioned that Uzbeks love eating dried fruits and nuts. If you also like it, you can take some  supply with you. Perhaps, you can’t live without honey, if this statement is about you, then you’re the lucky one - Uzbekistan is really good at producing tasty honey. Now you’re fed enough and can try some clothes or take it as a present for your dearest.

 The next stop of our Culture Café was moving forward to learning the language. We tried our best to pronounce and remember some words and phrases which can make life of Uzbekistan tourists easier. Let’s remember the most important. Whether you want to greet or welcome somebody, just say «salom», or «assalomu aleykum» if this is more official and formal meeting. During acquaintance these phrases will be useful: «ismingiz nima?» - to find out a name of your new friend and «mening ismim» - for telling your name.

 You can hear «Navro’z muborak!» from Uzbeks during their traditional holiday Novruz, it means «Happy Novruz!». This holiday is devoted to spring, just as important as New Year for Europeans. This time is associated with high hopes and promises, so on this day everybody forgets about any offenses, don’t quarrel and help each other. In Uzbekistan this holiday takes place on March 21, it’s accompanied with plentiful table.

Another entertaining event is international music festival which performance area is Samarqand. «Shark Taronalari» has been held in Samarkand since 1997 on the initiative of President of Uzbekistan I. A. Karimov. It is organized on a regular basis, once every two years. The stated goals of the music forum are to popularize, preserve and develop the best achievements of the national music art; fostering the younger generation in the spirit of continuity of national traditions; further widening of international creative connections. The competition is supported by UNESCO.

The last, but the most favorite part of our students - national cuisine. We’ve tasted amazing pilaf and traditional sweets. Now we are aware of the diversity of Uzbek food. We highly recommend you to try several nutritious dishes. For instance, basma - stew with onions and other vegetables, prepared in a cauldron, covered with a bowl on top. Another delicious dish - samsa - basically triangle-shaped pies with different kinds of filling (meat, chicken, potato, vegetables etc.). Undoubtedly, our favorite is the pilaf, we won’t stop talking how tasty and extremely appetizing it is. If you haven’t tried it yet then your time has come. It deserves all your attention!

 We are still impressed by this Culture Café, hope you all have the same feelings. Our adventure was so extraordinary and full of positive emotions. We admire every trip you have with us because it’s the biggest pleasure for us to explore new countries and find new friends, new teammates with whom opening new sides of the world is way more interesting. As always we’re waiting for you at our next Culture Café, we guarantee you won’t forget it!

 Author: Svetlana Dzhafarova