Monday, April 28, 2008


Today I met with a VIP about funding opportunities. Ostensibly the reason was to find funding to stay in Mongolia a couple months past the luce to September or October and translate literature. Since for my Luce period I am bogged in PEN stuff and wolf story editing and have another bad-english-translation-rescue-project to do after this one, and plus I will know Mongolian better by then. I am learning the traditional script now—beautiful, like drawing a picture, and Mongols say it's saying yes because yu move your head/eyes up and down to read it instead of side to side, wagging no.

Anyway he said lets meet at Veranda over email so I went to Veranda and the power was out. It was out all over Peace Street. And so they told me, sorry it is not possible. I said, I am meting someone. They said, I am sorry it is not possible. So I waited in the foyer and he came in looking very brusque and businessmanny and I said, they won't let us sit down, and he said, oh sure they will.

And they did. And the table was reserved for us, and we never had to pur our own wine, and they upgraded our candle from silver to red with a tutu at the bottom. Everybody's a whore, was one thing he said. Not about me , but in general. And another: that Mongolians don't know basic courtesy and are what we would consider rude because they "don't know any better". Which is either really fucked up or really true.

I guess too much has been going on to even write about, in a way. I got through the winter and my bruised tailbone almost doesn't hurt anymore. Because I had a warm coat and a warm bed, winter was just another spectacle. If your basic needs are met the surroundings are metaphor.


Christian said...

A friend of mine once told me a quote (I don't remember who by, I'm terrible with the citations today!) by a 1920s Russian emigre who lamented the murder of politeness and courtesy in Russia at the hands of the Communist Party. The literary version is Bulgakov's Heart of a Dog. I think that may have happened in Mongolia too.

The nomads/herders here do know better, I think. It's the "modern" "cultured" city-folk who don't. The herders welcome you into their homes, share everything they have and, as far as I know, aren't generally in the habit of trying to deceive people to cover up their own faults. The city folk are more often suspicious, unwilling to help, and every so often will seriously try to rip you off or otherwise deceive you. Thank you development (and Communism). Of course, that's not anywhere close to all city people, but it happens often enough that it's noticeable and frustrating.

samraat said...