So Mona, being the sweetheart that she is, has been sharing her counterparts with me. She has about 7 female English teachers whom she works with on a regular basis- observing their classes, giving them solicited advice on life, love and English, team teaching with them and socializing with all of them. I, however, only have 1 counterpart who, though sweet as she can be, isn't very involved in my work and is normally busy, nowhere to be found in the library. So Mona has invited me to share her gaggle of English teachers as surrogate Mongolian mothers and real friends. Previously I had bonded with these women over a rather debaucherious night celebrating a teacher getting her masters, followed by an after party at a club and an after after party at Mona's apartment- quite an evening. Thursday was a rather different affair. On Thursday, becasue there is no school due to H1N1 and the women were interested, Mona had all of her counterparts over to her house to teach them how to make spaghetti and asked me to come over to share the experience. When I told Jake (another PCV in Hovd) about this he laughed and told me that surely the women knew how to boil pasta and open a jar of sauce. Actually, they didn't. Cooking spaghetti was rather foreign to them, though pasta and marinara sauce populate the local grocery store. We made sauce from scratch, using onions, garlic, cherry tomatoes, spices, tomato paste and meat which effectively blew minds. When it came time to put the pasta into the water, all of them crowded around, craning for a look at the magic of spaghetti as if it were baby Jesus in the manger. While Mona headed up the spaghetti effort, I taught them how to make garlic bread in the living room. They had never made garlic bread, or indeed ever heard of the stuff and were quite enthused by the whole process. It was a really great feeling to teach these women sometime new, something they were excited about. And the relationship that developed over our carb fest wasn't one of student to teacher but peer to peer. It was nice to get to know these women, they were so interesting and interested in me. They are all so sweet and real, ranging from a soft spoken mother of one of my Access students to a feisty recent abortion patient whose greeting was grabbing me and reporting that I "have a nice shape ass." At the end of the 2 hour cooking ordeal, when we sat down to eat, they were visibly very pleased with their efforts, certainly a reward for me, and I can safely say that this might have been the first time spaghetti was so heartily enjoyed with milk tea (the first woman who arrived taught Mona and I how to make it before everyone else showed up). Over bites of pasta and garlic bread, they grilled Mona and I about America and more specifically American women. No subject is taboo here so the questions ranged from college tuition money to religion (one of the women told me that she was convinced all "pure Americans" were Christian and was candidly surprised when I explained to her that I didn't prescribe to the belief), from teaching to marriage and having children. They were so intrigued by life across the sea and told us that they honestly didn't see much of a different between Mongolian women and American women from our descriptions. I was sorry to have to leave at 2:30, far passed the time I should have been back at work. With real reluctance I departed this giggling group, heading for my cold chair at the library which was made all the warmer by the memories of my lovely lunch.