For a month starting Aug 29th, we simply logged out of all social media – Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and even Whatsapp. It was a month of digital detox as we celebrated our Silver Anniversary. In fact, it was fun to keep the location of our getaway secret all this while. Ofcourse both our mothers knew as did Nachi, Kousalya and Dhanush, but we didn’t tell anyone else. The closest that somebody came to finding out, was Rajesh as I blurted out the time of our flight exactly the day we left.
So, we spent the last month in our probable forefather’s country, amidst herders, drinking “Su Te Che” .. Milk tea with salt, tasting Airag (fermented Mare’s milk), hogging “Urum” (fresh butter that tastes heavenly) and the best breads we have tasted in a long time. Yes, we are in love – with the people we met here, the country and our probable forefather. The country boasts of a 97% literacy and women are better educated than men, earn better, and manage the home finances. I suspect mothers give birth on horses because everyone knows how to ride one. The freshwater pristine lake in the North of the country supplies 2% of the world’s freshwater supplies and served as the most stunning backdrop for our re-marriage on Sept 7th. The pictures will take your breath away !! Just as they took ours away when we went for a boat ride.
Our new family sang songs and wished us with all their heart. We even visited an extinct volcano and lived for 20 days in “Gers”. Krishnan swam in icy cold water of this freshwater lake … Well, it freezes over during winters and is used to drive trucks across. I had to photograph him so I stayed on the shore. Krishnan and I got all the benefits of hot springs by soaking in them… The transition from lakes and hot springs to flat desert land was equally stunning. We traded horse watching for camel watching. The country is home to 30% of Bactrian camels (double humped) … They are gentle giants, but just as tall and scared the living day lights out of me when I got onto one.
We listened to artists that sang the long and short songs, used the horse-headed fiddle and did throat singing and our friends need to brace themselves for Krishnan’s “throat singing” fetish. I have learnt to bake bread on a stove, make fresh flat noodles and introduced “Indian tea”, “Tomato Pickle” and “Tamarind rice” to many people here. Especially our guide and driver. We also adopted their practise of bathing in the evening as soon as we realised that the water was the hottest in the evening !!
Would you handover a SIM card to one of your guests at the hotel/hostel you run ? Even if they had Indian names ? Well, the hostel we came and stayed at “Zaya’s hostel” owners, Amar and Anand did just that. Their names are Indian, they are not and they haven’t been to India yet. And they even forgot about the SIM :). Our new family started with them. They run the cleanest and most efficient hostel in the capital city and its all heart, not money that matters to these brothers. Our next family was “Goyo Travels” and Goyo and Olly ensured we had an incredible time here. Their wedding arrangements left us overwhelmed. They sent Nara and Amaraa to be our guide and driver … Well, now both of them want “tomato pickle” with every meal and we miss meeting them everyday. Amaraa does the exercises that Krishnan taught him for his back and Nara is planning her trip to India. 🙂
Tomorrow we leave from here and return to India …. Oh, I am so not ready to come back. I wish I could walk down Peace Avenue for a few more days at any time without fear and a friendly “Namaste” sometimes, go to the State Departmental Store, re-visit the dinosaur museum, watch the city from the Zaisan memorial and be back at the Ar Davhar camp to eat Nara senior’s “Urum” and look at the bluest sky and the most brilliant stars at night.
Wish the Mongolian month was longer :):):). Shalini, Amit … Now, you know.
P.s we got written about on the Gogo news website – here’s the link Unique Anniversary, Unique Location