Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Tak Toi!
No, that's not Klingon, it's a Mongolian drinking toast. And I learned it from my new Mongolian friends over a shot of Mongolian vodka this evening.

But first: I took my Uighur friend shopping today, and we ended up at Hunt Valley Town Center looking for shoes. Afterwards, she asked me if I would mind stopping at the grocery store to pick up a few items since she does not drive or have access to a car. I took her to Wegmans. Imagine taking a person from far Western China to the largest food store in America. Talk about shock and awe. After about 1/2 hour of filling her cart, she actually asked to leave because it was just too overwhelming for her. Hell, it's too overwhelming for me most times, so we left. And JUST in time - the storm hit as we put the last bag of groceries in the car. High winds, hail, sideways rain, tree branches flying everywhere - it was a very scary drive home, and her power was out when we got there. The outdoor temp plummeted from 56' to 36' in less than 15 minutes.

That was the first part of the day.

This evening, my Uighur friend invited me to a party hosted by the Humphrey Fellows for Hopkins. The Fellows from Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Bahrain, and Mongolia were hosting an evening of food and drink from their countries, wearing traditional costumes and gave a short slide presentation on each country. I was very honored to be invited.

The food was nothing short of amazing. These people must have cooked for three days straight to produce all the food, and it was all amazing. Rice dishes, noodle dishes, lamb, chicken, shrimp, pastries stuffed with meat and vegetables - the table just groaned under the weight of it all.

It was a very wholesome evening of cultural exchange, food and music. The vodka toast came at the very end when the father of one of the Fellows, a huge bear of a man in an outfit right out of a Genghis Khan movie, who is visiting the US for the first time and doesn't speak a word of English, got up and gave a toast. His daughter translated for him, and it was very moving. He's only been in the US for three days so far, and he was so touched by the outpouring of affection and reception that he's had - he was very impressed. This is a man who lives in a yurt and lives a nomadic existence on the Mongolian steppes. His daughter is a physician, selected by a very competitive process to represent her country for a year at Johns Hopkins. He has every reason to be very proud indeed.

And I was very proud to have been part of the evening. It's a good thing I'm going to a spa for four days tomorrow - I'm stuffed.

Tak Toi!
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:28 PM  
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