Hi these are some advices useful for travelers wishing to visit Uzbekistan.
Lunch or Dinner
If you are invited for lunch or dinner, please accept the invitation and arrive on time. When visiting a local family it is acceptable to bring a bottle of good wine or other drink and some kind of gifts such as chocolates, pens, books, records, videocassettes, etc. which will be enjoyed by the host's family. The greeting "ceremony" takes a long time. Handshaking is usually done by men only and with women if they are the first to offer their hand. For people who are sitting further away, gesture of greeting is made by putting your right hand on your heart, making a slight bow with your head. During the greeting "ceremony", questions are asked about the host's relatives, health, work, home, and just about everything else concerning him and his household.
Traditionally, the shoes are left when entering the house. If the meal is served in the garden, everyone sits on a low supa (it looks like a double bed), covered with flat mattresses called korpas. In that case, you should better to take off your shoes and sit down as pointed by the host. The further you sit from the entrance to the room or garden, the more honored you are. You may stretch your legs under the table and support yourself with cushions behind you and under your elbow.
The traditional respect for elderly people and the superiority of men is obvious. In rural areas, when entertaining guests, women do not usually share the table with men or take part in their conversation. They have a separate table. The larger cities are, however, more liberal. If you are going to visit within your girlfriend, she could sit next to you at the men's table, and the host will invite his wife to join this table as well.
First the candies and tea will be served. Then, not before long, the table will be covered with various hot dishes, vegetables, fruit and a variety of cool drinks, and sometimes alcohol. The most popular Uzbek dish is Pilav. Pilav is served on a large dish (lagan) placed in the center of the table. Usually everybody eats from one dish, since eating from one dish is considered to make people feel intimate, like one big family. You will not offend anyone, however, if you serve some pilav onto your plate from the nearest dish. Sometimes pilav is eaten with the right hand, but eating with a spoon or fork is common.
Be prepared to eat a lot of food! It will be very tasty, since Uzbek food developed during the time of the Great Silk Road and has combined the best ancient tastes of Asia.
During the meal a special round bread, called non, is served. There are many traditions connected to Uzbek bread. It is never cut with a knife. At the start of the meal, it is broken into pieces by hand and placed on the table near each place setting. Try not to place bread upside down (with its flat side up), by placing it the right way up will earn you the respect of the host and those around you. Uzbek people consider bread to be holy and greatly respected.
While being at the table, you may smoke under the host's permission or if he starts to smoke first. Smoking is usually done outside. There is a rule to thank the host for tasty meal, nice party and kind regards within his guests.
Drinking strong alcoholic drinks is accompanied by toasts to friendship between people, mutually beneficial cooperation, the host, and his family's health. After the spoken toast, you need to drink your glass or piola (Uzbek tea cup) with all the guests and drink to the end, especially if you are the person raising the toast. If there are a number of guests present, you may drink your glass only with those around you.
Another feature of Uzbek people is their appreciation of humor. Most Uzbeks appreciate a good joke; they also enjoy it if you combine a funny story with your toast. You will be served tea throughout the meal (coffee is not very popular in Uzbekistan, though it may be served if you request it). The host fills your piola (Uzbek tea cup) by himself for only one-third. The fewer is tea, the sooner it cools down. This is also a sign of respect in the hot Asian climate. Always take you piola from the host with your right hand, with your left hand on your heart and thank him with the key word "rakhmat" - "thank you".
Foreigners are usually fascinated by the tea ceremony. The host first pours the tea into the piola and then, back into the teapot. It is done by 3-4 times. The reason is to stir the tea leaves, making the tea stronger. Then the host fills each piola, serving every guest with the greatest respect one at a time. Be prepared to be offered mountains of food, midnight will come and go unnoticed around an Uzbek dinner table. Uzbek people will always accompany you (where possible) to your home or try and persuade you to spend the night. This is part of Uzbek hospitality. If you need to leave early, you need to ask the host giving him a plausible excuse so as not to offend him. Don't be in too much of a hurry to leave the table. Before leaving the table, the host, usually the oldest man at the table, will say a prayer for the success of future cooperation, peace and friendship. Sometimes a prayer is also said at the beginning of a meal. If you are the oldest guest at the table, you could offer, or you might be requested to offer up a prayer yourself.
I you want to read more about travel tips, for example morning pilav and uzbek wedding visit -snip- amd click travel tips. Or you can ask questions here!
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