Shane has a really nice post up on his blog about our trip to the Tajik State Circus last week. He exactly describes the vibe as we found our seats in the faux-futuristic spaceship of the circus arena:
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.
Our fears were misplaced. As Shane points out, watching this circus transported us, jaded Westerners, back to the 1940s, or earlier. There were lots of simple sight gags and simple tight rope routines, and nothing with glitz or gloss. Yet the Tajiks loved it and we found it oddly endearing.
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.
It was the sort of event that would have bored the average American kid to tears and which would have left me disappointed at home. No lions or elephants? No super-dangerous high wire flips? No funny jokes, just a succession of broad slapstick from the clowns? Only one midget? No, no, no, that would not do in a world of Gameboys and ADHD. But here in Dushanbe, well, that was a different story.
Just coincidentally, us housemates watched the 29th Monte Carlo Circus Festival on the Polish television station TV Puls last night (which raised a few questions: when did Princess Stephanie get so old looking? why are they showing dubbed circus festivals from 2005 in 2010? would they ever show anything like this on American TV nowadays?), and that performance highlighted all the technical deficiencies of the show in Dushanbe. But the show we saw last week made up for it in a commodity we don’t always value in the go-go West: charm.
(Photo from Suratgirak’s photo stream on Flickr. Unfortunately, my camera is not working for some reason, so no photos from the circus by me.)