Trans Eurasia travel

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Habits & Customs

There are a few social conventions that you should try to follow. Devout Muslims consider the left hand unclean, and handling food with it at the table, especially in a private home and with communal dishes, can be off-putting. At a minimum, no one raises food to the lips with the left hand.

Try to accept cups and plates of food only with the right hand. Bread is considered sacred in Central Asia. Don’t put it on the ground, turn it upside down or throw it away (leave it on the table or floor cloth). If someone offers you tea in passing and you don’t have time for it, they may offer you bread instead. It is polite to break off a piece and eat it, followed by the amin (see the boxed text, below). If you arrive with nan at a table, break it up into several pieces for everyone to share.

The dastarkhan is the central cloth laid on the floor, which acts as the dining table. Never put your foot on or step on this. Try to walk behind, not in front of people when leaving your place at the dastarkhan and don’t step over any part of someone’s body. Try not to point the sole of your shoe or foot at anyone as you sit on the floor. Don’t eat after the amin. This signals thanks for and an end to the meal.