Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I am studying sayings in the Mongolian language—"she comes from the other kidney of the earth" is a way to describe some foreigner from far off; "young as a flower," "heart as pure as milk," "heart as hard as a stone," "she's slim as a snake," "slow as a turtle," "gentle as a lamb"—and they lay bare the relationships traditional Mongolian nomads had/have with animals and with the earth, and how the very words they use harkened back to and reified that relationship through metaphor. Everything was understood in terms of animals and the earth. I suppose this could be said of any place, but here, where I saw in the same day a man in full nomad garb the high hat, the robe, down to the ornate pointed boots, in an office for a business meeting, and a young couple outside the central post office having a screaming fight in their trendy jeans and bleached hair…it's not something I automatically brand as bad, this journey or departure. It's just all so vivid here and yet I am used to it, used to this city which only recently came to host half the country's population yet which isn't a city by Beijing's or Hong Hong's standards…

To mean unpleasant Mongolians say "with bad ideas," which when I think about it is a much more compassionate way to put it.

1 comment:

samraat said...