Yesterday morning I was suffering from man flu, and in my fuzzy head I had already drafted another derisory Tajik put down; the dismissive adjectives and the derogatory quips were pencilled on the page. All that remained was my attendance at the event.
However, a spoonful of comedy at the Tajik State Circus left me thinking the Tajik culture has plenty to offer if you only opened yourself to the experience.
An austere building potentially more suited to a state funeral than the home of Tajik entertainment, is located in the people’s part of the city, the atmosphere is noticeably lighter, there is a nominal police presence, and balloon’s float across the street.
Inside a smiling rotund lady in a purple overcoat guides us to our grooved seats. We sit amongst the buzz of excitement and balloon-dogs, the masses are anticipating a comedy, and the three westerners are expecting a tragedy.
The two hosts, in astonishing white sparkly suits step out onto the blood red carpet, it was reminiscent of ‘Running Man’, like 60’s game show hosts they bellowed into ageing microphones and when the first performer bounced into the ring wearing a fluorescent rubber wetsuit, the crowd were at fever pitch. We gazed around in dumbfounded disbelief.
Tight rope-walkers, jugglers, clowns, and acrobats entertained the crowd, nails up the nostrils, pythons, and kicking a drawf, bemused the masses. The audience were as supportive as the back room staff who chased around after the performers. This wasn’t a clean clinically finished show. This was inside street theatre. There were no explosions, laser shows, or ultra amazing feats but two hours of unbridled innocent fun. There were no boos and hisses when the microphone failed or the juggler dropped his club, just acceptance and encouragement.
You could do nothing other than be taken in by a level of humour our grandparents appreciated. Sat on my left a Tajik father burst into uncontrollable laughter as a coin, miraculously discovered behind a small boys ear, bounced into a tin. His laughter was infectious.
The circus provided a safe place for the Tajiks to openly express themselves; it was the first truly family event I had attended that was not predisposed to formal tradition or protocol. It was a pity that the New Year celebrations did not capture the atmosphere of the circus.
Stitching our sides back together we left feeling upbeat and optimistic about our extended stay in Tajikistan. The flu had temporarily subsided proving the old adage, that laughter is the best medicine (Boom Boom).
As you may have realised I have now absconded from the world of volunteering and what it entails. I am now generally begging for paid work to beef up the imaginary pension fund and resurrect my high profile career.
The content of the blog is a distorted and off the cuff review of my time in Tajikistan whilst volunteering.Hopefully, it will entice you to sample the country for yourself and build up your own repertoire of arm chair stories.
Any comments, notes, or general abuse are always welcome.
*these are all my comments and not the views held by VSO.