Today is an important day here in Bayankhongor: my vegan birthday cake came from UB! The local vegetarian restaurant ordered it for me and is keeping it in their freezer until Saturday (at which time it will be served with kimchi huushuur!). Since going vegetarian last September I have been frequenting this little restaurant often. Often here means nearly every day. For under a dollar I can get 4 huushuur or 6 buuz which usually fills me up! The viability of such an establishment in such a meat friendly place is mostly explained by Miss Ching Hai. Her new age-ish religious movement has spun off a number of businesses including our local little restaurant. Recent additions to the Bayankhongor restaurant are: chick peas, hummus recipe sharing, a variety of beans and tofu, and vegan sausage! Exotic items for such a small isolated place. The restaurant also offers weekly meditation, literature about how being vegetarian is going to put a stop to global warming (?), and mint candies that look like livers...have yet to try those.
So it is almost mid-April, right? Let's explain the following situation: snowfall today, with wind, snowfall two days ago, only 5 days of "the awesome hat" wearing weather. What is wrong!? We are undergoing an oddly long, cold winter called a zud. I think I am capable of enjoying this winter extension. Been having those days when every face with the backdrop of Nomgon mountain or the worn out downtown buildings makes me sentimental and reminds me that my time left here is short...
Was hanging out with Nyamtaivan (of "Send Nyamtaivan to the States" fame) this afternoon, correcting some tests she is working on. She helped me buy some cat meat then asked if she could hear the pieces I am working on for the upcoming concert. I naturally obliged. The f sharp key comes clean off the piano at the theater. Someone super glued it back into place. Surprisingly, that didn't remedy the situation! Result: two Joplins rags, a Mozart sonata, and two traditional Mongolian pieces with randomly flying f sharps.
Was talking to a good friend here the other day about such things: f sharps, two hour long bank "line" waits, "roads", etc. At this point such "disturbances" are frustrating, yes, but will shortly be nothing more than delightful vignettes and memories.
Lesson planned the rest of my college classes this week and it hit me: things are winding down. Reminded me that I have wanted to make a few lists ever since me sister Nikki came to visit last June. Here they finally are!
Things I will miss about Mongolia:
Aida, my cat (who is officially going to live with my landlady when I leave!)
my piano students: in a country with almost zero pianos some of them still manage to knock my socks off at their lessons
playing Phillip Glass pieces on a keyboard with settings number 33 (Strings II) and Drum Set Kit #5 (shame on me)
the smell of vodka and cigarettes in the Children's Theater practice room
practicing piano at the Shuren family ger
Dogoo (my landlady) and her tea visits
everything being within walking distance
random French rapping on TV after a long day of hitting people over the head with English
Nomgon mountain, Tui River, Eurol River, Selenge province...
finding extreme answers while correcting tests ("I am wearing apple.")
the feeling a warming sun after 6 months of winter
my little brother's sketching, painting, and card playing visits
my amazing site mates: couldn't have asked for a better PC family
musing over the supply and demand of fresh tofu in this city
making a 102 degree fire in January and enjoying it with some hot chocolate
people singing on the street, at the store, and at work
the veggie restaurant lady's smile
drinking the camel milk that a student gave to a fellow teacher in hopes of not receiving a failing grade