As I boarded the plane en route from Moscow to Dushanbe, I immediately felt glad I had packed so light. The plane was full and nearly all passengers were young Tajik men, clearly going home on a break from their jobs in Russia, laden with hefty bags. The plane landed in Dushanbe at 3:20am and as soon as the wheels touched the tarmac, the sleepy tranquility vanished. Despite muted protests from air hostesses, several passengers were already on their feet and retrieving their bags from the overhead compartments. Once inside the dimly-lit terminal, excitement turned to agitation and what initially was a small orderly queue at passport control soon transformed into a disorderly crowd. I would see the same pattern time and again during my stay in Dushanbe.