Posted by: soupysays | October 29, 2006

Today was a good day.

Often, when I’m feeling restless, I’ll delguur hop. Delguurs are the Mongolian equivalent to American convenience stores. Some have nothing more than junk food and booze, and some have household products and the basics needed to make dinner. Some delguurs are stocked from shipments from UB (the capital), some from
China, some from Russia, and some have mixture of all three. Due to the erratic nature of the stock, it’s always worth browsing every once in a while. On previous adventures, I spotted BBQ sauce, candy canes, oatmeal, and Malibu Rum. Of course, the oatmeal was over twice as expensive as in UB, and the rum was almost 12% of my monthly salary, but I can still say I saw it. The good stuff isn’t always a tease. I did nab some Earl Gray tea yesterday. On occasion, I manage to make friends with the clerk.


Earlier this week, I discovered a delguur near my apartment that I hadn’t yet explored. The stock was nothing that I hadn’t seen a million times before, but after the owner saw me, she called her daughter Dogi to come talk to me. As I expected, her daughter spoke some English, and we exchanged “get to know you info” flopping back and forth between Mongolian and English. Dogi knew the PCV that worked at the hospital four years ago, and her cousin married his friend, a PCV that taught English in Khovd. We exchanged phone numbers, and she joined the other volunteers and I when we went dancing on Friday and Saturday. On her way home last night, she invited me over for lunch today.


I spent three hours with her today. We looked at her family photos, ate fish her father caught, and just talked. We spoke mostly in Mongolian with random smatterings of English. I am quite proud of how much Mongolian I understood, but speaking wise, I still have a way to go forming more complex sentences.


One of the frustrating things about trying to make Mongolian friends, is that is seems that many people simply want to be my friend in order to practice their English, or they want me to teach them English. There are plenty of Mongolians that don’t know any English past “My name is,” but usually the ones that are outgoing are the English speakers. I sympathize because a lot of the English learning material just plain sucks, and in many schools some of the English teachers can barely speak English. However, it gets draining when I feel like I’m just an English dictionary. Plus, I do want to learn Mongolian.


However, today there was no talk of English lessons. We just simply hung out. We got to know each other. Dogi’s husband is in
Sierra Leone with the Mongolian army (part of the UN peacekeeping mission). After she graduates from the teacher’s school in July, she will move to UB. She doesn’t like how the Christian American university teachers are converting students. She has a smart four year old daughter that loves to pose for photos. And the old Khovd PCVs taught her American drinking games.


I am planning on inviting her for dinner at my place later this week.


Yeah, today was a good day.


  1. Nice story reminding me of simple pleasures with folks in Peace Corps land. I was in Namibia 04/05. The least densely populated country in the world…besides Mongolia. Happy New Year!

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