Thursday, October 25, 2007

72

My friend Angie started out doing Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan, but that was 2001 so she was shipped out of there shortly after September 11th to Mongolia to complete her peace corps term. “I’m glad I ended up here,” she said. “A lot of the former Soviet Republics bring out their traditional costumes for show but they never actually wear them or practice the culture they have museums of anymore. But in Mongolia, the culture is alive and well.” Indeed, in Xaan Byyz, the fast food restaurant where we were grabbing lunch, there sat more than one older person in a del, the long lambs wool coat traditionally worn by the nomads. Outside the matrix of exhaust that is Ulaanbaatar, and more than occasionally within it, gers exist not as artifacts in a cultural museum but as houses, and often denote the same financial status as a trailer would in the United States. In generalized terms, an city’s “ger district” is pretty much the Mongolian equivalent of “trailer park.” Life in the ger isn’t easy, but people have not stopped living that way, and it might be because of a lack of options , but something about the pride Mongolians have in their traditional culture, and the unique way in which that culture is not just celebrated but alive and well, that there’s at least a smidgeon of something more to it.

1 comment:

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