Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Big Crush, A Small World

Ok lovely readers, uncross your legs and take off those Depends now. Here's the story. I apologize for the wait, but I had a bit of traveling and Thai jungle trekking and cobra- and tiger-avoiding to do. More on that later. It starts about a month ago, at a little place called Oasis. We went there frequently because the company owns it. It was kind of our hangout spot. One day we went and there was a new waitress there. She was very cute. I said "That new waitress is very cute." Little did I know what this innocent comment would get me into.

So my friend Lhagva said, "Let me handle this." And he wrote on a napkin (in Mongolian), "My friend thinks you're cute. He's the one with the glasses. Here's his number: ..." And gave it to her. Then Monday morning, I got a text message from her! It said (in Mongolian) "Hi, I'm the waitress from Oasis. My name's Otgo." And I was all like whoa! So I had my friend Matt who knows Mongolian text her back because she didn't know English and they went back and forth a few times and it was all good. So we went to Oasis again the next weekend, and my boss was making a big deal about it, so I went up and talked to her with a translator, and she said my texts were boring! And that angered me. So I sent her a more exciting text asking her to see a movie. And she said she'd love to! But then 15 minutes before we were supposed to meet, she canceled on me. Stood me up. So that was bogus, but probably for the best. It may have been an incredibly awkward date, considering we couldn't communicate with each other. Like, "Sain baina uu?" "Sain. Sain baina uu?" Point to movie you want to see. Go watch movie. "Bayartai." Bayartai." And leave. Like maybe the most awkward date ever. After that I figured she probably wasn't interested, and even if she was, we couldn't talk to each other, so I gave up. Yes, dear reader, I threw in the towel.

I saw her a few times after that and said hello and she gave me a radiant smile and I lamented my poor language abilities and all that, but that was about it. But here's the kicker, my wonderful reader, what you've been waiting for for a week, what's been keeping you awake all those long nights, what's been haunting your thoughts all this time. Do you remember that lovely family that I lived with for five days? Those 13 people that I ate and slurped and slept and peed with for five days? They were HER family. Those little kids that I pushed around in rusty hand carts and slid down gravel slides and threw cow dung around with? HER little cousins. Tsitsgee Ikhchee, the nice lady who cooked for me and made my bed? HER aunt. Those two guys listening to terrible pop music on their cellphones all the time? HER other cousins. That guy with the impeccable fashion sense (Adidas sweatpants + blazer) who laughed at me when he asked me if I spoke Mongolian and I replied in Mongolian: "I don't know." HER FATHER.

How did I find all this out? Well, some of my coworkers came to pick me up on their way home from that company picnic. And right as they were pulling up, Otgo came running up to the ger with a lovely smile, yelling "Johnny Johnny!" and jabbering away. And I had no idea what was going on, and thought she must have come with them on the way home, since she too was at the company picnic. So I was like hey and kind of confused. And I got in the car, but realized there was no space left, and the little kids grabbed her and pulled her into the ger. And my coworkers informed me that, no, she hadn't driven with them, that her father picked her up. And I realized that the guy with sweatpants and blazer had borrowed my phone earlier to make a call, and sure enough, I checked my phone and he had called her. So she must have been very confused answering my phone call and talking to her dad. And they said, yes, this was her family. So I laughed at what a small country it was.

Now how does this twisted story end? The next day, my last in Mongolia, I had a lot of business to take care of, including paying a visit to Gandan Temple to thank the sky gods for a successful journey and ask for a safe trip home. But just as I was about to head up to the temple, I got a call saying "Otgo has the evening off work. She wants to see you. Do you want to have dinner with her?" I think the little kids put in a good word for me. Those little kids loved me. But what could I say? The temple, or my waitress, finally arrived on my doorstep after all that time? I ditched the sky gods and went to dinner, a double date with Matt, who had texted for me earlier, and another Mongolian girl who didn't speak English. We went to a nice Indian restaurant. And they did most of the talking and I was kind of lost. She told me some of what her family said about me. I think I mad a good impression. Afterward we went to see my buddies The Lemons play. Odnoo came over and sat with us, and I think that impressed her. But alas, the sky gods were not pleased with my choice of some silly dinner over them, and they turned that very dinner against me in the worst way. I won't go into details, but let's just say multiple bodily functions were at work. Five days of eating food cooked over cow poop without washing my hands and I'm fine, but then I go to one of the nicer restaurants in UB and get deathly ill. It's quite clear to me there was some divine intervention going on there. So I took my leave from Otgo. We had a long and passionate farewell, and there was much wailing and gnashing of the teeth and rending of the clothes and tearing of the hair. She said "see ya" and I said "see ya." She promised to learn English and I Mongolian. And I went home and became closer acquaintances with my toilet on my last night in Mongolia. And that's the story of the waitress.

I figured it was a bad idea to have the sky gods angry with me before flying through their domain, so I paid an early morning visit to a little shrine and apologized to the sky gods for choosing some trampy woman over them, and promised to go to a proper temple in Thailand, if only they'd heal me and grant me a safe journey. And with the combined forces of the sky gods and some powerful antibiotics, I dried up, and got on the plane to meet my lovely sister and her charming boyfriend in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where I am now, having more adventures and culture shock. It's hot and colorful and my diet contains vitamins and there are plants in the city. I visited a temple my first day here, and a few more since, and I think the sky gods are appeased. I'll spare you the details of how I know that. I'll probably write some more stuff, but you can also follow Phil and Julia's blog at and they'll probably cover most things we're doing.

Until next time, dear reader.


  1. Oh to be young and in lust. I changed my Depends and am anxiously awaiting the next episode. Play the are in rare territory with your coincidences. Stay Well.

  2. See what those cubes of lard in broth will do, gentle writer? Stick with brats and cheese.

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