Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Menu in Bayankhongor...


Mashed potatoes (variety)
vegie salad

Oatmeal cookies
Pumpkin pie

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How to teach the Hokey Pokey

So this week has been a relentlessly busy one so far. Besides the regular class load I helped teach a seminar to fourth grade English teachers meaning I sang songs for and extra four hours this week. In other teaching news I offered to teach my second year English class outside today. They took me up on the offer and we headed outdoors bundled in a minimum of four layers. This seemed like a perfect time to teach the requisite English song: the Hokey Pokey. At first they were a little embarrassed to be singing in front of the school building in the cold (especially when "you put your left hip in and you shake it all about..."), but it eventually reached the silly level at which point they started to enjoy the song and dance.

We started taking the comparative/superlative quiz with the students sitting on the non-functioning fountain when one of the students asked, "Tysen bagsh (teacher) are you cold?" Not wanting to look weak I decided that the best reply would be, "No, of course not" but then, at the spur of the moment I decided to follow up on the response with another question, the famous, "...are you?" Being Mongolians I assumed that the -9 degree Celsius weather felt a bit balmy (people still aren't wearing hats here... I usually wear two on top of each other). But how wrong I was! Haha! They wanted to go back inside to finish class! I win!

Or not...this winter will be telling. It's really not bad until the wind picks up, at which point it doesn't seem to matter how many layers you are wearing...

Bathing has become less entertaining of late. Let me explain (the youth of America are advised to avert their attention away from this blog for the next few moments...). The process of taking a tumpin bath is a complicated one. At least it is for Tysen. You see, a tumpin is a giant Tupperware, maybe two feet in diameter.

Step one: make a huge, and I mean huge fire in your stove. I recommend stuffing the thing with so much wood and coal that you can barely get the cover put on...

Step two: turn on your Peace Corps issued heater. On high. But not too high less you blow your ger's fuse (again...).

Step three (actually performed simultaneously with steps one and two): boil water in your tea kettle. You won't need much.

Step four: pour one scoop (maybe 4 cups) of cold water into your tumpin (you could use more if you are less frugal about your water supply, meaning you don't sleep through the morning delivery every time you run out...). Add a little of your boiled water. WATCH OUT! Do not put too much boiling water into the tumpin. Your tumpin will not melt but your head will not soon forgive you...

Step five: tip the tumpin towards you and bob your hair into the pooled water. You will need to splash some water around since you are not using much (remember your Peace Corps budget friends!). Apply shampoo and rinse. At this point many people get new water to wash their body. Take a wild guess about whether or not Tysen does this...

Step six: wash yourself. Start with your top half kneeling over your tumpin. Then stand/squat in your tumpin and wash your lower half.

Step seven: reach for your towel and dry yourself in the tumpin (don't get your ger carpet wet, it is hard enough to clean the way it is...). GET DRESSED QUICKLY LEST YOU DIE A QUICK BUT PAINFUL DEATH.

Mash sain baina! You have just taken your first (and most likely last tumpin bath, if it is not your last, please seek counseling). Most Mongolians use the shower houses here and find tumpin bathing Peace Corps Volunteers a bit odd and provincial. But, hey, you know what, I don't have a good response to that one yet...

I should mention things political. Or not...

Enjoy the weather!
Peace out from Mongolia
(7:27 PM on Wednesday, November 12).

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Their was an existentialist...and Camus was his name-oh!

That's right friends, I did a little Bingo remix while doing laundry at Leslie and Nathan's today. They then made me pancakes. Yeah. Then, at one o'clock some of my students made me tsuivan. Yeah squared. Now I am full, but need to plan lessons, prepare for a seminar, and try not to let my German fall into the abyss that my Ancient Greek is lying in... Yana!

Other news, it seems that my ger can be at one of two temperatures: cold or super hot. I am working on the correct in between. Neither extreme really bothers me but guests spend about half the time telling me either "Wow, it's really cold in here!" or, "Wow, that's a really warm fire...". Discovery of the day: a TV makes entertaining guests about 1,000,000 times easier than trying to keep up a conversation. And, one can always ask silly questions about the show. Like the reality TV show about city kids working on a farm. My first three comments went like this:

1) There was a shot of some kids putting potatoes in bags. No talking, no music, just kids putting potatoes in bags. "What are those?" I asked. I wonder...

2) Next, after the break, some people on the show were waking up. "Wow, they look tired!"

3) Finally, after another 10 minutes of this amzingness, I ask what seems to be a pertinent question, "Do Mongolians watch this show?" Followed quickly by, "Why?"

Getting ready to have an awesome nerd fest in UB with Oyuntugs! We made a list of museums to visit and are working on a list of books to buy and scholars to bother! Yahoo!

In important news I played piano for the closing ceremony of the aimag's Olympics. This performance led to the realization that, while I am beyond excited to have access to a piano and do a concert with Leslie! (yahoo!) I made the right move to leave that career choice behind. I think.

Other important news: the snow has melted. We need snow to cover the dirt. Which puts me in a precarious position of hoping. Please let it snow which indirectly calls for colder weather, which indirectly asks for me to be very cold on my 20-30 minute walk to and from work as I still do not have a winter coat ("Buy it in UB, not here, there are no good ones here...all from China." Hmmm.).

Currently the weather is ok, enjoying the chilliness. Below freezing in the mornings but not below 0 F yet...

Made pudding for students today. It was deemed "goe" (tasty). Thanks pudding senders!