The first died 12 days after he was born, she said. With Mongolian hospitals it is hard. It was from an injection. It’s an infection that comes very quickly and the infant dies very quickly, she says. We lost our two babies. It was a long time ago, so now I can talk about it. She shows me the pristine apartment and the vacant room of their only child, a daughter, who is away studying at art history at a liberal arts college in the US. She opens the balcony and lets in Vasya, who hunts the mice that eat her mother’s flowers in the country in the summertime. He has a loud motor purr.
At one point they are telling stories about J, the host. One time when he was in the US for his MBA he tried cooking and ended up putting 7-11 burgers in the microwave for 45 minutes. P, his wife, had been standing with her hands on either side of the back of his chair, and she pipes up about some ski pants J put on once in the states. She addresses the group but then leans down in a soft and high voice to ask J a question. --Mistake, he says in English, in answer to her question. Yes, he made a mistake with the ski pants, she tells us. He put on a woman’s pants and they were very tight, and he looked so sexual.
I like it even better than snowboarding, R says. Riding horse on the steppes. I only tried it just now. R spent fifteen years in the states, his ecologist father got a job there. He has been back for two months. He is here to invest and do business because there is such a lot of it happening at the moment but he is reticent to say more on the subject. He is trying to get his buddy to stay, saying, come on, man, $300 a month salary is good around here.
I did a lot of Indian law, says the gentleman across the table from me. He also got the Presidential Medal for peace and friendship by spearheading the sister city thing between Ulaanbaatar and Denver. The Mongolian government was the first to call the US on 9/11, he says. And the Mongolians in the Denver community called me that very day, the day of 9/11, to say they were raising money and wanted to know where to send it.