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Flags and Veils

July 30, 2011
Tajikistan is home to the world’s tallest flag-pole. Or it was for a few weeks until another small, inconsequential country’s dictator began suffering from Napoleon complex and started work on the world’s newest tallest flag-pole.

And the cost of this prestige? A mere $3.5 mill. USD, not TJS. This is a jaw-dropping sum for a country to spend on a flag-pole, particularly when you have the UN’s World Food Program operating in your country along with a slew of other public and privately funded NGOs. But this post is not about political economy (entirely). It is a brief account of the fun we had at my co-worker, Hakim’s, son’s wedding.

The youth employment specialist in our Shaartuz office, Hakim, hosted a wedding for his son, and the whole office turned out to help celebrate.The whole Tajik wedding had been hyped to us, and we have witnessed brief glimpses of wedding parties, cruising the streets in be-dazzled Benzs and limos. Hence, we three interns were curious to experience our first Tajik-wedding. ANd it did not disappoint.  There was singing, dancing, a cornucopia of food, and an overall good time, and most importantly, free booze. Unlike an American wedding, there was a time limit to the festivities. Weddings here have been capped at 3 hours by government mandate. Otherwise something vauguely sinister (a “fine”) will hapen to you, depending on how poorly the police in your district are paid by the government. This measure was deemed necessary to encourage savings, and discourage the social arms race that weddings have become here.

Tajik Wedding Food

It was really a pity in this case because I was ready to dance forever. Cara and I got traditional dresses, cortas, made for the occasion, and were busy getting down to the live Tajik band. I even got to dance battle with someone’s grandma. Or at least that’s what it felt like (see “Step Up” for dance battle clarification). And don’t worry, she totally won. Everyone was really ramping into dance mode when the band had to pull the plug and we were all abruptly ushered out of the reception area due to the aforementioned 3-hour rule. Pity, really.

As an “economist” I find this “wedding cap” absolutely fascinating (and I know I am the only one). And as a believer in freedom of choice I find it absolutely repulsive. And soooo passé-communiste. On one hand, by restricting the amount a family can spend on one of its largest expenditures, it allows for more income to be used other ways (presumably saving). On the other hand, it limits people’s choices and their right to party. This is a cardinal sin in my book. At the risk of sounding cliché, “You gotta fight, for your right, to paartay”!

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 5, 2011 18:06

    That sounds like so much fun!! Sorry your pants off dance off with grandma tajik was cut short!


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