There is only one month left of our time in Mongolia and we are yet to get to the Gobi Desert. We have spent far too much time in Ulaanbaatar this time, I think. It has been interesting to get to know the place a little better, but at the same time there is only so much broken pavement we need to experience. To dampen our spirits a little after a lovely day of hair cutting celebrations with wonderful friends we were spat at from a passing caR as we were attempting to cross the road. This is now the second affront we have experienced in a couple of days. The first being the assault in the Ger town and this just near the Ghenggis Khan hotel.I suppose Mervyn and I were alone and not in the company of our Mongolian friends. We have heard that everything has changed and that we are not the flavor of the month anymore. It’s people from our Nations that are coming into Mongolian to rape and pillage minerals and the amount of change that is visible in the building of apartments is staggering.
It is customary for the children’s hair cutting ceremony to take place around the time of Children’s Day in Mongolia. Today we we’re invited to two separate families having their childns hair cutting day. At 11.00am ikhama and Tugi invited us to take part in the first cut and eat a feast with them. This is an honor for us to attend one of the most significant days in a child’s lie, the first hair cut. It was explained to me the boy, also Tugsoo has turned four, but from the mothers position he is a lady five because of the time spent in her womb. Iklama and Tugi’s family were present and a lovely table with food had been prepared.
We had taken a taxi part of the way and walked along the river wall where we were able to view the development of the town and the river. We looked down on many new outrages double story stand alone houses in the ritzy edge of town. A family was harvesting seeds from the wild trees growing along the river banks. We had to pick our way through fences and rubble to find a path in the general directn of where Tugsoo thought Tugi and Iklama’s apartment is. We did eventually find it, a new apartment in a new development on the sixth floor, no lifts.
The ceremony took place much as I have previously described. Firstly the child and then the first cutter takes a sip of special milk from a silver bowl and is handed the scissors with a blue silk tie. The first cuts of hair by the family are tied into another blue silk tie to be kept for a hand over ceremony when the cod reaches a good teenage age, say 18. When each person has cut aiece of hair and handed over gifts of money and presents there are more speeches and well wishes for the child’s destiny. Snuff bottles of tobacco like snuff and also shared as is vodka and wine.
Food keeps on coming all day.
We three left to then attend another ceremony of hair cutting across town. This time it was tugsoos relative. The house in in the ger district. Tugsoos sister is also a pasted at the local evangelical church and the congregation have. Built a simple timber structure next to their house. This is a coles area of houses and gers, lane ways, to fences and a multistory apartment building built out of slabs of second hand concrete. I don
T know how they can get away with this. Unench says it has been under construction the past five years and the give away was the multi-colored walls or mixed wallpapers that Alcorn the structure that we thought was being Demolished!
After our lovely day in the countryside yesterday we have today spent a very quiet Saturday mostly in our apartment with some time out with Tugsoo and her family to celebrate a belated Children’s Day.
In our part of town district 11 there are no organized curbs or gutters for water. They exist, but in isolation. The drainage system appears, at least from our perspective to be just as chaotic as the traffic. Apartment buildings have down pipes, but they seem to go nowhere; fountains of water gush from the bottom of the downpipes and make great water pools in the street. The combination of broken roads, pavement and lumps of concrete in the streets make for an interesting path to walk. It is all taken in the stride of the people. The city appears to spend money on monuments, new parks with sculpture and rows of fancy blue street lights but we would ask perhaps some more infrastructure on the ground for the people would be good.
We have also lost our free Wifi and have no idea if it will come back on again, hence back perhaps to frequenting wifi cafes and restaurants to work and upload posts and check email.
Thinking of the countryside And the how the dry earth will be appreciating and absorbing the soaking rain. More rain forecast in the next few days.
Tomorrow we have two more children celebrations. Both for hair cutting ceremonies. We have been invited by two families to help in the family celebrations of the childrens first hair cuts. It is custom to not cut a child’s hair until age two for female and four for male child. The first hair cut is a ceremony of gifts and money for the child and in return the guest takes the scissors and cuts a little piece of the hair to keep while giving great wishes for a good life to the child. When the guests have taken their piece of hair the child is shaved by the family elder, perhaps the grandfather or paternal father. This tradition has been taking place for centuries.