Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Feast of Love for the Ladies

Despite its bizarre poster precursor, Woman's Day, which was yesterday, was actually quite lovely. In fact, I firmly believe there should be more days like it: a holiday your counterpart tells you about the day before so you get a surprise day off to be showered with love via texts and vittles all day. Perfect holiday? I do believe so.

Woman's Day started the night before with an opening for a local branch of the Mongolian chain World Wines. I was glad to be leaving work; I had been fighting for over two hours to be heard teaching above the din of drunk librarians singing. I set off at 6:00 for the fancy, new restaurant in town where my Mongolian friend had invited me to her gala-esque opening of World Wines. It's incredible how fast Mongolia is growing and changing. When I first got here there's no way there would be a wine store in town, and with so many people in attendance. Though I was late, once I reached the venue it was a lovely evening. Rather impressive with lots of wine-food pairings (who knew huushuur went so well with a robust red?), there was dancing, a wine lecture and even a recognition of all the mothers present after some pot-bellied fellow decided to sing a song for his mom. A little blushed and very happy, I took up dancing with a group of emes and we boogied until the party closed down.

The next morning was a slow one. At noon-ish I finally got around to making whole wheat buttermilk pancakes with walnuts topped with cinnamon-peach compote alongside a big ole mug of fresh coffee for myself and a friend who was starved after early morning ice skating. Then all the foreigners met up for a walk out to the river. It was a beautiful day, albeit a bit cold with the wind blowing off the steppe. The wind rippled the little rivulets flowing over the frozen river which made for a beautiful site. The sun warmed my face, reflecting off the ice, slush and snow and I welcomed its rays with my chin lifted upwards. My friends and I played on the ice, tossed the frisbee around and lounged on the little foot bridge in the sun. It's moments like those, ones when I am among friends with the sun warming my skin and surrounded by breathtaking scenery, that I know I will miss Mongolia dearly. Those moments don't exist anywhere else. But though the sun is warm again, it still sets early and the boys had plans for the night. Next, us ladies reclined and joked while our male homies bustled about cooking dinner for us. We went to Tserenkhlam's house where all the male PCV's, our Swiss dudes and Tserenkhlam's sons labored over a feast of spaghetti, tuna pasta salad, homemade bread and a green salad accompanied by appetizers, fancy wine, cupcakes and brownies to honor the ladies. Half ironically and half in earnest, the boys didn't let us lift a single finger, eagerly filling our glasses and serving us first. I even managed to finagle an end-of-the-night belly rub out of Ned. And even though a typical Mongolian stir-fry with potatoes and cabbage was the base of our spaghetti sauce, it was a truly wonderful meal cooked with love.

Compared to it's American equivalent Mother's Day, Woman's Day has relatively low requirements as to who gets accolades. But I'm ok with that. I put relatively little effort into being a woman here, certainly much less time and energy than I put into being lady-like in America, but it was wonderful to be honored anyway. I got texts literally all day from friends and students and went to bed feeling really special after starting out the holiday somewhat skeptical. So happy Woman's Day, ladies. Embrace it! I hope you have wonderful men in your life to make you 6 different kinds of carbs and rub your belly after you've eaten them all.

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