Cultural Connections

Musings about my experiences, art, and life in Mongolia and beyond.

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Location: Ulaanbaatar, Tuv aimag, Mongolia

Native Chicagoan currently teaching in Mongolia.

Friday, August 07, 2009

My Welcome Back to Mongolia

About a week after I arrived back in Mongolia, my boyfriend took me to his older brother's apt. to meet his daughter who won a green card in the US lottery and his step daughter who is studying for an MBA near Washington, DC. The daughter who won the green card is going with her family to live in Seattle. That's a whole other story! Unfortunately, they are under the impression the US has granted them some grand prize and that they will be getting jobs, an apt. and allowance for their 3 children. If that's the case, I want a green card!

It was 9 pm on a Friday night and we had been waiting for 3 hours for him to call and tell us when to come over. We got the call and I nearly passed out from walking up the 4 flights to their apt. in an old concrete Russian style apt. building. When I entered the door, I nearly fell into a whole dead sheep being de-fleshed in my honor by 2 guys. I quickly turned around and started gagging. Everyone laughed and Altay's sister-in-law kindly took my hand and walked me around it. So there we were, sitting in a tiny 2 room apt. while a sheep was being butchered on half of the apt. room floor - Welcome to Mongolia!

Then there was the customary presenting and drinking of fermented mare's milk, toasting each other with shots of whiskey, eating dried cheese, pickles, then slices of boiled sheep liver wrapped in a thin piece of fat (being guest of honor, his brother presented me with the first pieces of meat) then boiled blood and then dumplings filled with chopped meat and some fat. Basically my worst nightmare! Something I have more or less managed to avoid - especially the dead sheep. And hey, I suddenly realize the young step daughter from DC has conveniently disappeared….did she know something I didn’t know?

Someone recently told me I could write my own “Eat, Pray, Love” book. I said, “Yes, it would be called – Mutton, Mutton, and More Mutton!”
(NOTE: The illustration above is taken from the traditional painting, "One Day in Mongolia. The woman at the bottom of the illustration sums up my reaction from the evening.)



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