Arranged marriages for young ones are commonplace in the secular, predominately Islamic country, but no-one wants to arrange marriages for the divorced, so Shuhrat Ayomov stepped in to take care of that demographic. He took over a failed, bankrupt matchmaking company, and turned it around. Yusuf and Zulaikha is doing gangbusters business arranging love matches for a mere $4.00 a pop, plus commission if the match turns into a marriage.
"We have received more than 200 applications from men and women looking for a potential spouse, and the number is growing as more people are hearing about our service," Ayomov says. "So far, eight people we introduced to each other have gotten married."An electrical technician and nursery-school teacher, both divorced, were the first to get hitched a few weeks after their first date. Firdavs and the unveiled Nigora both have a child from their previous marriages.
"In our traditional society you don't go out and socialize with the opposite sex when you're a divorced man in your mid-30s," Firdavs says.
It was Firdavs's grandmother who "heard some gossip about a matchmaking agency in the neighborhood" and encouraged him to check it out. "I didn't know what to expect and it didn't seem like a good idea at first," says Firdavs, speaking outside the electronics repair shop where he works in downtown Khujand.As for the requirements for those looking for permanent love:
"We have three major requirements," Ayomov says. "An applicant has to be physically and mentally healthy. If they have some kind of disease, we tell them to get medical treatment first. We don't accept people affiliated with illegal extremist groups. And we don't accept applications from married men looking for a second wife, because polygamy is illegal."
But that's not the only requirement.
Clients are required to attend workshops on how to manage a household budget and how to deal with in-laws, and female applicants are offered cooking and sewing classes. "Most of our male clients are looking for a fairly good-looking, intelligent woman who is a good homemaker and has strong moral values," Ayomov says. "Female customers as a rule want a good husband who is financially capable of looking after his family."Ayomov has four employees. He predicts matchmaking will become the norm throughout Tajikistan, but no mention of taking it to the Internet.