Lindsay Myron
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Boots with the Fur at the Mongol Rummage Sale

September 26, 2009 @ 4:05 AM | Permalink

While watching an old karaoke program on our black and white satellite television I thought the last few hours with my Khuvsgul countryside host family would be fairly quiet.  The yaks had been milked, a fresh batch of aaruul had been made and our herd of goats and sheep had just been let out to pasture.  In my family’s daily routine, the mid-afternoon often harbored time to sew or catch a few winks and I had expected nothing different. 

My father was stretched out on the bed in his herding deel (pronounced dell) and boots, my mother was kneeling near the stove cutting some kindling and my oldest sister was cutting fabric for a new deel.  An engine puttered up next to our ger and a few moments later a man ducked in through the doorway.  I offered him the miniature, orange stool I had been sitting on and my mother brought him a bowl of milk tea.  They bantered back and forth about herding and the weather, but when the man stood to go leave my entire family followed him outside. 

I thought it was to talk about his engine, as a couple had stopped by earlier that morning to jumpstart their motorcycle.  I stayed inside to watch a jolly woman sing “Mongo” (or “Money”) on the karaoke program, but when three songs had passed and my family hadn’t returned to the ger I started to wonder what could possibly have plagued this man’s engine. 

When I opened the door and ducked my head outside I was surprised to see my family encircled by piles and piles of clothes.  A Mongolian portable rummage sale!  The man that had stopped in for tea was now busy digging through the back of his forest green jeep tossing out old burlap sacks through the back door. 

While his wife was opening the sacks of used boots, pants, sweaters, blankets and fabrics my mother grabbed me by the hand to look at the pairs of boots she had picked out.  A blue leather boot on her right foot and a faux-fur boot on her left she pointed down to her toes and asked me to pick which one I liked best.  “The blue ones,” I told her. 

Perhaps I gave her the wrong answer as she removed the blue boot, replaced it with its furry mate and started pacing the yard.  My sister was running in and out of the ger trying on several pairs of pants until she settled on a pair of white corduroys.  My father was yelling across the field to let the neighboring family know the van was here and they hurriedly ran over with wallet and children in hand to buy some new shoes. 

My family bargained out two blankets, five pairs of shoes, two pairs of pants and a few meters of floral fabric for forty thousand togrog and five kilos of fresh butter.  As fast as he had arrived and unpacked the man stuffed everything back into the jeep and drove off across the valley, I'm sure to the next grouping of gers.


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Lindsay, Enjoyed the woven threads of humanity in the family lesson on telling time. Thanks for sharing. TIm

Tim Matthews on Nomads Give New Meaning to the Cuckoo Clock 2009-11-03

Ouch. Not a fun way to finish off the semester. Get well soon and safe travels; look forward to seeing you back on the hill next month!

Matthew Hintsa on I've Never Been More Afraid of Pigs 2009-12-06

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