Monday, November 2, 2009

Hug Trees, Not Swine!...October 23ed's Thoughts

This weekend there's going to be a big environmental rally in the square and then Ultimate Frisbee and Soccer down by the river. That should be fun. Next week we have a fall holiday so I get the week off. Normally the break would be a few weeks later but the swine flu is getting so bad in Mongolia that they have decided to bump the break up and hopefully stop the spreading by not letting kids cough on each other in class. I don't think any cases have been found in Hovd. And not to let an occasion pass uncelebrated, the international crew here has decided to have a swine flu party with a contest for the best decorated mask. I think I'm going to do a rapper's grill in tin foil on the front of mine. We'll see...But so far everyone I know is healthy and if it were really serious I have every confidence that Peace Corps would fly us into UB and vaccinate us. At this point I'm just glad to have a week off.

On Wednesday night I went to a karaoke competition. This wasn't you normal bunch of tipsy people sitting on couches singing off tune. It was a huge event with a cash prize, fully televised in a big hall-type venue. The library staff was one team, as was the local insurance company, Xaah bank and secondary school teachers- even the police force had their own karaoke squad in full uniform. It was serious business. The vodka flowed freely (although I try not to drink it- I've discovered the unfortunate repercussions, a hangover that's brutal and totally not worth it) and the library director was clearly feeling pretty good. It was so funny to see all these adults in costumes (everyone had on pretty crazy costumes- one group looked like Barbie goes to Prom, our team was dressed vaguely like flight attendants and the MC wore a shiny gold vest under an orange and yellow suit complete with a sparkly bow tie that reached past his coat lapels- it was incredible) taking karaoke so seriously. The songs were all Mongolian folk songs and everyone sounded vaguely the same so I couldn't figure out why the police team won, aside from the fact that it is probably a good idea to let the police win any local competitions so as not to suffer the consequences. It was a pretty surreal experience.

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