how many mongolians does it take to eat a sheep?
so it snowed last night for the first time and i woke up and looked out my window to see ub covered in a beautiful white blanket. ive been here about two weeks now and am really settling in. after a few panics about what i;m doing out here, things are starting to really fall into place and come together.
i stayed at janas till just before new years, then moved in with a mongolian family. i had two great options to choose from – the first was a family whose father used to be a monk, but is now working for an oil mining company!!! talk about enlightenment!! and the one i chose is a gorgeous family of a mom, dad, one son and a visiting nephew from the countryside (he’s a really shy country boy who is here to study wrestling and has only said about 10 words to me!) the dad (jama) is a retired train driver (duncan, need your help here mate!!), the mom, dosma is a stll working train engineer, and the son, gungaa is 18 at school and into hip hop. he told me he breakdances and i’ve had him beatboxing a bit so its all pretty cool.
i’m taking daily lessons with a cool chick called zaloo – whose husband is training to be a shaman – so my mongolian is slowly improving and am practicing it with the family. i have a pretty sweet deal in that i get free accom and food in return for giving gungaa lessons and helping him out with english. i started new years with the family (lots of potato salad and vodka!!) and then missioned into the main square for about an hours worth of fireworks!!!! deadly fun. i have also caught up with all the people i knew here a few years ago and have been out to miya’s ger – he was the driver intrepid used and he’s my adopted Mongolian father!! he lives in a traditional ger on the outskirts of the city and we went out there and ate meat!
eating meat is about as happy as a mongolian can be. i have been with this family almost a week now, and the have eaten meat at least twice every day. on new years it was chicken, and every other day has been sheep. not those tasty lamb ribs you’re imagining that your aunt cooks up, but mutton. that’s like 20 – 22 year old sheep who can remember the soviet occupation and not to distant ancestors were herded my chingis khan! but at least i’ve been getting some spuds, the odd carrot and a few tomatos with it. i met a guy today from the countryside, and he told me he wasn’t to keen on the wacky diets of these city folk. back on his ranch (2 days drive away by public transport), meals consist of meat, and maybe if theres some whinging vegetarian tourist, some flour, water and salt. get your appetite up fiona, nacho and sal!!
i’ve now met a bunch of people in the hip hop world. a few music producers, a film clip producer, a few others, and a bunch of fans. i am saving most of the interviews for when the rest of the crew arrive to help me out in about three weeks. until then, i;m trying to get my language better, sorting out contacts and getting to understand the scene. i’ve been to three concerts so far, two of which featured hip hop stars and one that was heavy metal. the first big concert was an xmas gala. my mongolian mate, soaza called the venue for me to see if tickets were available, and they said the sunday show was sold out, but there were tickets still available to saturdays matinee kids show!! and so it was that i attended a 1 and a half hour concert (that started 1 and a half hours late!) in a huge concert hall full of screaming kids!! kinda bizarre. each band (about 8) played 2 songs to the seated crowd and there was even a clown, a comedy duo, and santa, all dressed in white and being trailed by his sexy Mongolian swimsuit wearing “little helpers”. the other concert featured both mongolian and korean break dancing groups and girl bands from each country. this was also at the same venue (ub palace), so the crowd was also seated, but the scariest thing was that the crowd hardly moved. no one got out of their chairs, and when the curtain was almost on the stage after the last act (a singalong with all the stars) the place was already nearly emptied. the kids concert was actually more active!! someone told me that its a remnant of their soviet era where people would sit down and observe. that’s it.
kids wise, i;ve met some people working with street kids and disadvantaged slash vunerable kids and am going to visit the ger district next week. i have also started teaching kids at a remand centre (aka prison). there are about 15 kids aged between 16 and 18 who are all there awaiting trail, but the scary thing is that some have been there for over a year. i’ve only been there once so don’t know a load about it yet, but wouldn’t be surprised if they were happy there. a lot of kids move to the streets to get away from abusive parents, so a warm enviromnet that provides food isn’t that bad. we hit it off pretty good and they were all telling me which hip hop bands i should check out and who were phonies (they didn’t actually use the word “phonie” but i got that vibe from them)
got some great footage today fo the monastery in snow so heres hoping some more falls. its beautiful here.
peace and mutton