Last Tuesday I got a call from one of my students: “Teacher, are you home?” As anyone who has ever worked in Mongolia can tell you, this is not the most thrilling of calls to get, as it’s generally followed up with, “I will come to your home and you will teach me English now,” or “You will come to my home and teach me English now,” or “We will come to your home and have party now.” And you have to respond with “No, sorry, I’m in the middle of cooking dinner,” or “No, sorry, I’m tutoring right now,” or “No, sorry, it’s 2 in the morning, why are you even awake?” So it was with some trepidation that I replied, “Yes, I’m home. What’s up?”
“Teacher, we found a Swiss Man, we bring him to you now.” You found a what? I was half-expecting a body they’d pulled out of the river, but no, they’d found a Swiss Man who had turned up in town and decided he needed to be brought to me. Turns out my students are like cats, except instead of dead mice, they bring me gifts of unfamiliar white people.
Swiss Man, as it so happened, used to have my job several years ago and returned to visit. In addition to being an all-around cool guy, he’s also got the in on some of Khovd University’s best-kept secrets…like that they have an entire closet of ice skates that get used exactly never. So when he turned up at my door with two pairs and said “Wanna go?” I was like, “Is that even a question?”
The skates were bad but the ice, thanks to the unnaturally warm weather we’ve been having lately, was impressively horrible. In the States or Europe, there would have been signs all over the place warning us to stay off the thin ice and rethink our life choices, but here in Mongolia, it’s Tuesday, and on Tuesdays, we take our lives into our own hands.
To no one’s surprise, I am about as much of an elegant swan at ice skating as I am at everything else.
But Swiss Man, being Swiss and therefore having a Ph.D in Winter, was really good.
Putting me to shame as I hesitantly spun in small circles and tried to remember which parts of the river would mean going swimming.
Whatever, points for style.
At some point we skated (or, in my case, inched) our way over the bridge and played under that.
Eventually the too-small skates got the best of me and we called it a day, but here, have this bonus shot of a child of a horse.
Thanks, Swiss Man, for a) being awesome, b) taking me ice skating, and c) letting me shamelessly steal all of your pictures and post them on my blog!