Monday, August 28, 2006

You know you're in Mongolia when...

Abi in front of our apartment building

So, I've been living in this country 8 and a half years. While I've adapted to the Mongolian culture in most areas, I still see things that make me shake my head and say, "Only in Mongolia!". These are the types of things that just couldn't be described any other way. You almost have to have experienced it to understand exactly what I'm talking about. Amanda, this one's for you!

You know you're in Mongolia when... walk down the street and the litle kids playing on the corner fireball all of their English vocabulary at you in one breath. You don't understand a word. take your kids out for a late afternoon walk on a lovely Summer evening and are blinded by the glare of the sun reflecting off the crushed glass covering the ground.

...the doorman (jijuur) at the local culture center holds almost as much power as the president and he's drunk with it.

...the lady at the post office rings to tell you there's a package but when you go to pick it up you find out they made a boo boo and confused your name with someone else whose name is nothing like yours! go to pay your light bill and there's not a computer in the place--just file box upon file box packed with thousands of little scraps of paper with people's names and addresses and the amount they have to pay written on them. leave your house in search of Russian ice cream and are prepared to pay an arm and a leg for it. (But you justify it because you can buy a kilo of root vegetables for about 25 cents this time of year. ) elder smells you (elder as in 'old person', not the mormons! There are lots of mormons here. In fact Hetee and I play a game--spot an odd number of mormons--1,3,5... and win!)

...grown men prance around in their underwear in front of a crowd and slap each other on the bottom. They call it traditional wrestling. walk out of your apartment and you see a full-size pool table set up on the side of the street and nobody thinks it's odd but you.

But you absolutely know without a doubt you're in Mongolia when you can go to a restaurant and order pizza with pickles, peas, boiled eggs and well, pretty much anything you can't find on a pizza in America. Then you get up to go and pay and see the sign that they accept MasterCard so you get your card out and pass it to the clerk only to have him tell you that he doesn't know how to hook the machine up so your husband (being the nerd he is) offers to help out and then swipes his card only to find out that the network is down so you dig into your pocket and pull out your mutton-smelling cash and pay. But then I guess that could happen anywhere, right?


mandkhai said...

I am very homesick for Mongolia and being in Paris,TX for 4 years without any pics of Mongolia, it is a treat to see a glimpse of dirty little building and river. Mel, you brought my childhood back when you described the crushed glasses. I used to collect them shiny things thinking, they might turn into gems in my pocket just to have my grandmother throw them away at night.

darkhan said...

I feel you hate MGL?