Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar

Went to the Steppe Inne, the British embassy’s Friday night social hour, last night. I’ve been one other time this year. I think I went once last year.

Friday night is the worst time for flagging a taxi. Everyone’s going somewhere, and they line the sides of Peace Avenue, arms pointing into the street, a few meters from each other.

But last night wasn’t bad; I didn’t wait long. An old car pulled over, I got in the front seat, said hello to the old guy, and remembered that I had forgotten how to say “embassy.”

“To the British ‘posolstvo,’” I said, using the Russian word.

“Medekhgui,” he said. I don’t know.

“Zaa, zaa, just go straight.” I dug into my satchel and pulled out my pocket dictionary and looked up “embassy.”

“To the British elchin saidin yaam,” I said.

He laughed. “Medekhgui. Where’s the British embassy?”

“Zaa, zaa, just go straight.”

Playing on the radio was a rap-rock song in Mongolian, with an accordion squeezing out a rhythm in the background. After two verses, a voice broke over the tune and drawled in accented English:

“Khi everyone, you’re listening to Tatar’s new shit. This song is called ‘Message.’ Check it out.”

There were eight people at the Steppe Inne; ten including the two bartenders.