By Neil Pederson
Ok, picture is worth 1000 words, correct? Time between trips is short, so I’ll come up with at least 10k words pictorially. It was a great trip, though it started with a strong cold, a head injury, an impending winter storm that threatened to shut down the country that morphed into an alteration of plans, getting lost for a bit from all the ninja roads [illegal miners] and then a stuck truck [see pix below]. However, traditional medicine for the head injury, incredible hospitality from Sanaa’s family again [this pic is from Summer 2009], some wet feet, but no snow storm, Eternal Blue Sky, old-growth forest with some incredible fire scars, mission accomplished, a healthier head and sinus system, a scenic ride back to the capitol and the best pizza in Mongolia in Darkhan? Really?
I have a post in mind based on Emerging, but no time for that at this time.
So, two quick great Mongolian interactions from today:
– at my favorite breakfast joint and free wireless location [where I am posting this – Café Amsterdam], the waitress tried to play a small joke on me. Obviously having been there almost every day when in town and trying to say hello, thank you and goodbye in Mongolian each time possible helped create this situation, but the experience was a bit unusual for interaction with a Mongolian ‘stranger’ [Mongolians are much like New Englanders, short, cool and helpful only as needed at first then, when they trust/like you, very, very warm]. When I went to pay, she said, “tomato soup, pastry, coke and a milkshake?” I said, “teem”. Then I said the Mongolian version of ‘yeah’, “tcho” [blowing air out stiffly] and then stated I even knew the subtleties of Mongolian and proceeded to say the 3-4 ways you can say yes & yeah. She adds up the bill, holds it to her chest and says, “Arav hoyle tao’ick”, though I am not sure of the spelling of anything save Arav. I tried to backpedal and say that I knew little Mongolian to which she replied, “Arav hoyle tao’ick” and smiled. Smiling by a Mongolian you do not know is a bit unusual, as you will see in the posed photos of Mongolian children below. Mongolians can be so stoic and expressionless at times it borders on nervy. I then asked her to repeat it, which she did. I then started thinking and almost figured it out. I asked her to repeat again, which she did more slowly. I then stuttered, “twelve-thousand, five hundred” to which she replied with wide eyes, a wider smile and nodding head and then sped off. When she returned, she apologized, “ooch la raa, it was 11,500”, to which I replied, “oh, I was right and you were wrong!!” The wait staff smiled and laughed and we all said goodbye, me in Mongolian, they in English as we left.
– we went for a late dinner tonight at the Great Khan Irish Pub. As we were finishing up, we asked if there would be a band tonight; we saw a drum kit on stage. The waiter said yes. So, we decided to stick around to see the band called The Lemons. They set up quickly and launched into their set. It was interesting – sounded like poppy, British/American rock from this decade. The guitarist/singer has a good voice like one of these newer poppy rock bands. The rhythms were very familiar. The rhythm guitarist wore a corduroy sports coat, jeans and glasses close to horned rim. The bassist stood in the back corner, came out to utter some background vocals and scurried to back to his corner; he laid down some tasty bass lines, though. The singer was short, skinny, had a speckled, silver guitar and wore full-on sunglasses [“I wear my sunglasses at night”].
Ashley commented he was the skinniest Mongolian she had seen yet. I then launched into my “you know why skinny white boys play the guitar or pick up two turntables and a microphone, right?” lecture from a few classes I’ve taught. Well, you know why, right? A guitar or two turntables and a microphone are simply male plumage. Apparently it is completely universal – see here, here, here and here. Continue reading