So this past weekend we opted to stay in UB…a little downtime in our new home. Friday a group of us treated ourselves to a delicious Indian dinner at the restaurant by our apartment, then Chris went out with a few friends and I headed home for a quiet night and some skyping. Saturday morning started out leisurely…Chris had basketball, and I went to meet up with a friend for coffee at the French bakery in town. My walk home from there is where things turn interesting.
I’m walking down Peace Avenue, the main road through town, and a young girl stops me and asks if she can ask me some questions for her English school. I begrudgingly say sure, and we proceed through a long list of my favorite color, my siblings, my favorite singer (somehow she decided to write Justin Bieber down for that one – I hadn’t said a word), and other assorted favorites. We finish, she asks where I am going, and I respond that I am going to meet Chris for lunch. Ahh, lunch, she responds…and starts to walk alongside me. She keeps motioning something about a picture, and I keep saying, sure, do you have a camera? Yes, of course…camera…and we keep walking. Well we make it to Sukhbattar Square, and I attempt to carry on my way, but no, she is telling me that I must follow her to the camera. Oh brother. I try to explain that I must go, she explains that it will be “quickly” and finally I relent…let’s go take a picture…but where…but how? Then she starts yelling, which if my Mongolian was better would sound like “Photographer! Photographer!” but to me simply sounds like yelling. Anyways, Photographer turns around, we snap a photo with Chinggis behind us, and then awkwardly part ways. Kidnapping number one of the day has come to an end.
I carry on with my walk home and meet Chris along the way. We stop by the store and head upstairs to cook up a feast – we’re starving – but no sooner do I begin cooking than his phone is ringing and his basketball teammate is telling him to hurry, come quick, the game starts in ten minutes. So he leaves, headed off for the big game, and I finish up cooking the feast and doing the dishes. No sooner am I washing the last dish than the electricity shuts off. The heck with this, I think, and head out the door to find the basketball tournament.
Just when I think I find the place, I hear a couple of Chris’s coworkers hollering my name, so I cross the street to chat. They take me by the arm and say, come on, we’re going out for food, you come with us. I stutter and stammer and try to say, but wait, where’s Chris? To which they reply, oh he’s coming too…come on, let’s go! So there I go, kidnapped for the second time that day.
Well we wind up sitting at a big long table, me next to the Vice Principal of course because who else would I sit by (they cleared room for me). There are about thirty Mongolians…and us. Recall I had just completed cooking and eating a feast, so now I sit, eating a second feast in two hours time. Mutton is filling. And not delicious.
Anyways, Saturday night we go out to a party thrown by Chris’s coworker. It’s uneventful for the most part aside from us drinking more than our share of beers and not going to bed until 3:30 in the morning. Poor choice, but it seems like a good one at the time…it always does.
Sunday…sleeping in, relaxing, cooking breakfast…oops, it’s time for basketball. Off we go again, to the tournament. Much to Chris’s dismay, he plays in all three games of the day…the only white boy, the only English speaking player in the place.
Here he is looking dapper in his warm ups, thrilled to be having his photo taken:
And now, tossing up some beautiful foul shots:
And here, in action (he’s number 15, the white boy):
Needless to say, by the end of the day he was one tired guy (and still thrilled to be having photos taken).
Now we’re back to work for the week…at this point the week is half done. I’ve lost my interpreter on account of his school schedule being such that the could rarely work during the workday. That’s a big bummer because now I sit in an office of Mongolians, and our conversation is limited to the few phrases I have picked up in the past two months. My proudest moment yet was learning to ask for the bathroom key:
Me: “Jorlomgeen toolkhur han been ooh?”
Them: “Be medexgui been.”
Oh, you don’t know? Damnit. I guess I’ll hold it…again.
That’s usually how it goes at least.
On that note, off I go for now…to look for the bathroom key.