Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar

Went to the U.S. embassy today on an errand. At the gate, I told the Anglophone Mongolian guard whom I was there to see. “Do you have identification?” he asked, and added, “Are you an American citizen?”

“Yes,” I said quickly and without thinking, and surprised myself with the answer. I think I had forgotten that I hold U.S. citizenship. I have not identified myself that way for a long time.

Walking back to my apartment, in a glance, I saw a unkempt man eating something from a bowl with a spoon. As I walked past him, I looked again. He did not hold a bowl, but the hairless, discolored, weathered skull of a dog, and with a tiny metal teaspoon, he was spooning out and eating the remnants of the interior of the skull.

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