It’s August. Time is winding down. There are a few things I think I might miss about this place, and several things I think I will not miss.
I noted earlier that I found Mongolians more foreign-looking than other Asians. I think that situation has now reversed itself. Mongolians certainly have some identifiable features. Although some Mongolians look exactly like Chinese or Korean people, most do not, and I think I would conclude that the people of those nations are even more extremized in their features. It might sound oversimplified, but Mongolia shows its place as the real "Middle Country" every time you pass a Mongolian on the street: while clearly Eastern-Asian, they look vastly more similar to Westerners. I’m sure that observation would intensify the farther inland you go.
One of the most bothersome things about this place by far is the people’s seeming inability to control their voice level, such that I wonder whether, rather than mere crassness, they might not have some sort of genetic hearing deficiency. The Mongolians I live with scream into their cell phones at the top of their lungs. Whenever I come online here, I’m nearly driven insane by the frenzied Mongolian youths shouting at their neighbours and pounding at their keyboards as they go for the kill in CounterStrike or DoTA. Even during the quiet of the day, voices and angry car noises rend the peace outside of my apartment, echoing back and forth between the buildings. It’s been very, very, very difficult, almost impossible, to find silence anywhere in this city. Maybe this is why the countryside is so idolized… Maybe they also recognize the problem, though unable to address it by simply closing their mouths.
There’s a bit less smoking here than the other places I’ve been; but then, there are a lot more ladies smoking — nice, well-kept ladies, mothers of infants, sitting calmly outside poisoning their and their children’s lungs. That was kind of new to me.
And then, I just got some saliva coughed on me by the kid next to me. Many people haven’t learned yet some courtesies that are very common in my world.
What have I liked here?
Well, as far as I know, people are slightly less lunatic here. I know of no real crime; people don’t seem interested in hurting each other. I’m sure I could find it if I tried. But anyway, most people seem to treat each other decently. Shopkeepers don’t try very hard to swindle you. And while some people still thoughtlessly stare at white people, I don’t feel nearly so estranged as a foreigner as I did in the other countries. I feel a part of society, in my foreigner kind of way.
Maybe that’s not totally unique to here, but it’s something I’ve appreciated.
And of course, there’s the history… I found a book yesterday with Tibetan, Soyomb, and Pagspa letters (not really comprehensive). There’s the culture, which seems to be persisting nearly a generation longer (depending on how you define the word) than other Asian countries — thank goodness for underdevelopment.
The food, I haven’t really taken to. The breaded things are fine, but the whole-animal stuff kind of doesn’t really agree with my scent glands. Death is not such a distant, imaginary, frightening concept. Animal remains are all around once you’re out of the city centre.
In many ways, helpful and unhelpful, I’ve thought these people much closer to nature than those I’ve seen before. So, in that, the things they do are kind of understandable.
Eh. Anyway. I’ll probably come back. My language could have gone better, and will need more attention.
Thanks for having me, Mongolia. I’ll try to spend some more money here before I go. Not quite three weeks…