Saturday, September 22, 2007
As the previously ample-sounding five weeks' Mongolian language classes drew to an end, I was appreciating how slowly things progress. The previous weekend's exercise of making Khuushur from a whole sheep by cutting the meat gradually down into 1mm pieces while sharpening the knife on the base of a bowl (and attepting to converse) reminded me of the importance of ritual.
Waiting for a plumber to arrive on Wednesday, I had to remember this. After the morning passed without an appearance (I missed my lesson as I was ill) I then took the laundry to the city but in the as always densely crowded bus I later discovered with incredulity that my pouch/pockets had been relieved of telephone and camera. The loss of the now phone made the exercise of recontacting the plumber in the evening difficult, but I returned by the appointed time at 7pm and he rang at the apartment door at 8.30; then restoring the hot water magically within twenty minutes. Soberingly I was reminded by our friend, who came to interpret, that most of our neighbours in the suburbs opposite have to walk to the well for water.
To conclude our language course we travelled to Maidriin Tokhoi and joined other students to ride horses and talk Mongolian and English. The brilliant landscape and weather added to the experience of fulfilling a long held ambition for me in Mongolia, and I will be feeling the effects in various ways, muscular and spiritual, for some time yet. I must interrupt my first proper work day on Monday with a visit to the police international relations officer, who previously briefed us on security and pickpocketing, and who will no doubt chastise me...