First Impressions Of Tajikistan: Four Fights In 10 Minutes?!?

Filed Under: Travel

We just wrapped up several days in Uzbekistan and are now in Tajikistan. Uzbekistan was fascinating. What stood out to me most was how friendly the people were, and how safe it felt. Uzbekistan is apparently one of the safest countries in the world, and I really felt that.

The flight from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, covered a distance of under 200 miles. Now, I realize just because places are geographically close to one another doesn’t mean they’re culturally similar, though I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed anything quite like our arrival in Dushanbe. At the airport we witnessed four “fights” over the course of about 10 minutes.

Don’t worry, no one got knocked out, but rather it seemed more like an attempted display of hyper-masculinity. And I’m not gonna lie, we found it sort of hilarious.

In the immigration hall there were two airport employees collecting luggage carts. One shoved the other, and then they got in each other’s faces. At first I thought they were just friends joking around, but it quickly became apparent that they weren’t.

Then there was a customs check where you had to have your bags scanned to exit the arrivals hall. One of the immigration officers got in the face of one of the other airport employees. Their faces must have been an inch apart and they kept shoving one another. Another immigration officer had to come to break them up. But they kept going. Then someone else showed up.

They did this thing where they’d get right in each other’s faces, then walk away for a second and circle around, before returning again and doing the same thing over again. This lasted for several minutes.

Then in the arrivals hall we had several people approach us offering a taxi ride. We ended up going with one guy, but another guy followed along, and he and the driver we chose started fighting over who would get the fare. There was shoving, there was standing inches apart trying to intimidate one another, etc.

And then as we drove off we saw two people in the parking lot doing the same.

I’m not sure if we’ve just had really bad luck, or if Tajikistan is just the most hyper-masculine place on earth? I think that’s really the only way I can describe it. I got the sense that the people engaged in these fights weren’t actually going to throw punches, but there was shoving, intimidation, screaming, arm-flailing.

In all my travels I’ve never seen anything quite like this before. Now I’m excited to sit in a coffeeshop somewhere in the city and see if this is a constant thing.

For those who have been to Tajikistan, did we just have really bad (or good?) luck, or is this a “thing” here?

  1. Women love it.

    “Don’t worry, no one got knocked out, but rather it seemed more like an attempted display of hyper-masculinity. And I’m not gonna lie, we found it sort of hilarious.”

    Guys are peacocks tending to their feathers. They don’t do it for themselves. Women are the Steve Bannon to Donald Trump for guys.

  2. Typo: “They did thing thing where they’d get right in each other’s faces, then walk away for a second and circle around, before returning again and doing the same thing over again.”

    Very interested to here more of your thoughts on Dushanbe as it seems a very interesting place to visit

  3. I liked my time in Dushanbe and other parts of Tajikistan, north and south…but the airport arrivals is chaotic…”tis true. You will find the people very kind and hospitable.

  4. I mentally wish I could toss a ruler at them, let them sort out the winner and loser in private, and then get on with life.

  5. I didn’t witness any fights when I was there a few years ago. However, if you thing the arrivals hall was interesting I can assure you that the process for departing DYU is much more hectic and something you have to experience to be able to explain. I highly suggest visiting the mountains out near Varzob as they are gorgeous. I am curious though where you were able to find a fast enough internet connection to post this though?

  6. Initially I thought your headline was that you saw “Four FLIGHTS” in 10 minutes so was expecting an article about the pace of take-offs at the airport! LOL

  7. The good news is Lucky won’t need other entertainment in the country. All he needs is a room with a window facing the courtyard 🙂

  8. keep in mind that you are visiting a region with weird blend of post-communist regime and middle eastern culture, e.g. well accepted heavy drinking in a Muslim state

  9. @debit
    That was deep. Hahahahahahaha…..

    Wonder if matt would have the same fascination or just confused or even don’t care at all…

  10. You went with one of the people offering you a taxi ride in the arrivals hall? Isn’t that a thing one should NEVER do when traveling??

  11. Uzbekistan is clearly not one of the safest countries in the world – have a quick look at how the government handles internal opposition.

  12. @willoughby
    But most probably safer than the land of freedom where democracy ruled, the beloved US of A…. lol

  13. I thought you said “flights” and was like wow, but fights…that’s pretty ordinary for there.

  14. Hm, I am planning a trip to Dushanbe next spring. Perhaps I should pack my boxing gloves…..

  15. Sounds pretty standard. Have you been to the lake/beach area behind the Hyatt yet, there you will see a lot of ‘masculinity’ on display.

    Also when you leave Dushanbe leave for the airport early it took me an hour and a half to get through all of the security check points and check-in.

  16. Tajikistan has a horrible history. As you state there are many different cultures. If you move out of Dushanbe you realise how distinct these are. Many have different dielects and will not speak Tajik at all. This behaviour is often caused through these communities coming to blow.

  17. Dont forget to try uzbeki bread and pulau….theyre famous for it. Even the Afghans will admit that heheh

  18. Hey Lucky! I just returned from spending two months in Dushanbe studying the Tajiki language, and I can definitely say that as amazing as the people are in Tajikistan, violence and hyper-masculinity is SUCH a big deal. Whenever I’d tell my host family about a problem I had with someone (even if the problematic person was also an American), all four of my host brothers would offer to beat the hell out of whoever offended me! Man I love that country though, it’s such a beautiful and exciting place.

  19. Having been there recently too, no I did not witness these kinds of fights but my colleague did get shaken down for a bribe at the airport when we were leaving!! And the previous time he went no one was manning the security screening equipment at the airport, so everyone was just walking freely into the airport departure area. He said it was like they all just got up and walked away like they were getting coffee, no big deal. It is a different world but I am glad I saw it!

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