Tuesday, October 28, 2008

When a random man stops your friend on the street and tells him to bring all the Americans over at 6:40... This is the result...

No lie. That's what happened today. I got a text from Peder that read: "Some important looking dude invited s somewhere at 640. You guys down?" So we met at Leslie and Nathan's and decided that this would be the perfect setting for a horror movie. It was dark, we were supposed to meet him outside the bank. So we meander over to the bank and meet the fellow, heavy set but wearing a suit.

"My name is T---. What is your name?" Some brief introductions followed by, "Come this way." Wander through some alley looking thing, through a back door, and into... a new internet cafe. Yes, this man has developed a sense of good business unparalleled in this city. Who will use my new internet cafe? How about the odd foreigners who are always in the internet cafe at the post office? Indeed sir, indeed. He wanted us to use his new computers for free that night. On him. "No tax."

Guess where I am posting this from...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The snowball fight.

Hey there! So in the latest environmental news from Mongolia Tysen and Mamu moved his pile of coal from the driveway to between two of many sheds in the hasha. I like to think of this lovely black pile as my little piece of global warming. After the shoveling (a blast of a time I assure you), I decided that Mamu needed to be hit with a snowball (as he had mentioned in tutoring the week before that, and I quote "I like to have snowball fights in the winter.") This quickly escalated into a all out snow war with Tysen and the four under 10 children pitted against Mamu. We definitely had the last laugh when I instructed two of my comrades to grab Mamu's legs while I put him in a head lock. The other two kids proceeded to smash about 5 bazillion snowballs into his face. I should note that this was our only successful battle of the war: I was wrestled to the ground about, oh I don't know, 7 times. Each time Mamu thought that both snow and dirt should get into my mouth...

In other news school is CRAZY busy, but in a good way so far. I've decided that I will start some silly Mongolian translation projects like translating Yesterday into Mongolian and some Mongolian lyrics into English. I will keep you posted. I also hope to revive my 501 Mongolian verbs plan (like the famous 501 German verbs, French verbs, etc). Amazingly, no one has written the Mongolian one yet...

Stay warm and take care!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Za, za, za

Ah, the infamous three za's! (ok, ok, ok). This, my friends, is what you say when you run out of Mongolian vocabulary and have already stumbled through all the grammar you "learned" this summer. Or, it is what your visitors say to you after they have finished their obligatory cup of tea and are done attempting to stoop to your linguistic level. Friends, a good day to you all!

Monday, October 20, 2008


Snow fell this morning! Wonderful to see. Nathan and I were chatting on the way over to the Internet cafe and we decided that what Bayankhongor needs is a good coat of snow. Can't wait! Electricity is out right now in my part of town but it's not terribly difficult to get around: made a big pot of soup at Leslie and Nathan's and had it for dinner last night, lunch today, and supper again tonight no doubt. Tasty stuff: turnips, carrots, rice, onions, garlic, bouillon cubes. You can't screw up soup (unless your name is Quinn and you burn it...), and it hits the tummy just right on chilly days like these so it looks like my future will contain more of this grand liquid/solid ambiguity.

Work continues to go well: I've discovered that centering the lessons around ideas makes life more interesting that focusing on individual competencies. So for example: I look in the book to find out what the content is, then think about what interesting topic could be discussed using this content and then make some activities. Working so far...

Halloween celebrations coming up at school. The new English Club will be sponsoring the event which will include costumes, dancing, and candy (naturally). Should be a good time.

Is it time for a new Mongolian recipe? How about making some Huushuur (pronounced Hoe-shore)? First, decide if you are in the mood for meat. If yes, get some ground meat. Make mashed potatoes with lots of great spices (thus making my recipe not Mongolian...). Boil some carrots and turnips with those taters if you feel so inclined. Use plenty of garlic and onions! Ok! Now make some dough: just flour and water is fine, a little salt too is a good idea. Roll out your dough nice and thin and make smallish circles (about 6 inches in diameter). Put your mashed concoction on your dough circle and then fold the dough in half and pinch it shut. Now fry that sucker in some oil. Let it turn light brown so it's crispy. Yahoo! You have huushuur! Good stuff but it might kill you if you eat it too frequently...

I found out where the local cemetery is, and learned some burial customs (the body isn't always buried for example). Peder and I might check it out with Mamu sometime soon (but not at night, says Mamu...).

Climbed another mountain last weekend: better view of Bayankhongor than the mountain the weekend before provided but alas I forgot my camera at school, will get more pictures sometime in the future.

I forgot my list of blog topics at school...so there shall be more soon.

Take care and enjoy the weather!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sustainable Christmas Lyrics

Yes, friends, it has begun. My students are demanding that we study songs: Christmas songs. In October. And here is their list: Last Christmas and My Love by Westlife. Right. One of those isn't a Christmas song. No problem.

Got some packages in the mail yesterday (thank you thank you thank you!) and one contained my most eagerly anticipated read: Also Sprach Zarathustra. Yahoo! Started digging into it today when I woke up at 4 AM to the sound of a small rodent racing on my sleeping bag. I failed to get back to bed. But, no worries, I had an early morning friend eagerly waiting for my attention. Good ol' Nietzsche!

What else is new? Tutoring Mamu (my hasha little brother) regularely now. He incidently also demanded that we study My Love ("Why!?...."). Really it isn't so bad when you ignore the inane lyrics. My hasha family mentions at least twice a day that I need to make a fire. "Can you make a fire?" "Did you make a fire last night/ this morning?" "Did you study fire-making?" (That last one is my favorite). I assure them that I am not cold and can indeed make a fire. They take good care of me.

Some people (Fahd...) are heading to UB sometime soon (I forget exactly when). As a result the lists of things to get for those of us not going are piling up outside his apartment door. This list includes the following items: cocoa, cornmeal, beans (any and every kind of bean seen by the UB visitor), brown sugar, powdered sugar, Business English books, good Mongolian dictionaries, and sundry other items. I imagine that life in the States will seem strikingly easy for a while when I first get back. "What!? You mean I can buy vanilla extract and make cookies right now!?" Shall be interesting...

Weather still pleasantly fall-like here. Hope is lasts. Thought the snow covered mountains are supposed to be a step up from the dust blanket that currently covers beautiful Bayankhongor. We shall see.

Peace out, take care and take it easy!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Making Tsuivan: for those who are curious...

Here is the recipie:

Fry vegetables (of any variety) and meat (of any variety) together until a little fried. Use plenty of oil (I also add garlic and salt and pepper, use whatever spices suit your fancy). Next add water as if you were making soup. Let this meat and veggie mix simmer…

Prepare some dough for the noodles: I use just flour, water, and a pinch of salt. Knead and add flour until the dough isn't sticky. Roll the dough out into a few circles (like pizza crust but very thin). Now just barely fry each of your dough circles (even less than a tortilla). Cut your circles into quarters and stack them on top of each other. Now cut into very thin slices to make your noodles.

Now! I use a wok to cook here so I steam my noodles over the top of my simmering meat/veggie mix. You can steam the noodles or boil them (either by themselves or in the meat/veggie mix, in either case add some oil to the mix to keep the noodles from sticking to each other). If you cook them together or steam them in a wok it will take about 15-20 minutes. Then you need to stir up your tsuivan and serve with ketchup perhaps.

A lovely Autumn Day... pingtai...

The biggest news first. I was sitting in my ger today making poories (really a strange adaptation of poories with dried fruit and plenty of sugar and honey...yum...), when Dogoo and Mamu (my hasha mom and hasha little brother respectively) come into my ger with a TV! They cleaned off my avter (clothing container) and set it up and showed me their favorite channels. "Mash ikh bayarlalaa!" Thank you very much was the reply of the flabbergasted PCV...

Then about fifteen minutes later then come in again with, a giant rug! Yahoo. Warm, and cozy looking. In other ger news, I got my "ping" yesterday. A ping: little house thing in front of a ger for storing wood and keeping out the cold. Also chopped some wood with Mamu. And by chop some wood with Mamu I mean, tried to chop wood and Mamu laughed at me. I resorted to hauling the chopped wood to my ping. A new challenge. Seems doable. I will have to practice secretly...

Teaching is going well and I've discovered a new way to learn more Mongolian. I am trying to make sure that I know how to say everything I am teaching my students in Mongolian. Also need to learn more songs. Speaking of which, Leslie and I are going to record her song "Mongolia" some time soon and they will post it on their blog. Very cool. More pictures also coming soon. I took some of Bayankhongor and my camel coat.

Leslie and Nathan had a party yesterday night. We had our Mongolian counterparts over. There was a conspicuous lack of alcohol which resulted in Mongolians leaving the party early. Live and learn friends, live and learn.

Check out the Chamberlain's blog for information on how their apartment was pillaged and then restored within a 24 hour period... Yikes.

Currently reading: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Good read. I hear that if one likes the movie then the book will be amazing. So far, true. Looking forward to reading some Sartre, Derrida, Heidegger, Niezsche, and I hear that I NEED to read The Picture of Dorian Grey. Should be in the PC library in UB so I will pick it up in December.

Oh! Speaking of December, we found out that we will be in UB for training from December 16-19. So, Peder and I will make the trek to Javkhlant after training is over and stay with our host families from this summer. Christmas in Javkhlant! Awesome.

More sometime later, internet is proving to be a fickle thing to come by: the school's internet is often occupied by the 300+ students and my friends internet is intemittant and obviously primarily theirs... But, there is the post office.

One last thing. Yesterday Peder, Mamu and I climbed one of the mountains near Bayankhongor. Beautiful view. Ate some dried fruit and nuts. Answered some cell phone calls (pleasantly odd), and then treked back down. On the way back some kids playing by the river caught me some fish. So I have some pets in my ger. Living in an empty licorice container. Three of them. Any name suggestions? Do let me know, preferably before they die...

All the best!