The other night it was -33C.
There was a very thick, heavy fog hanging in the air, weighing everything down.
The roads – icy and hectic at the best of times – were bedlam. Traffic was banked up for blocks in both directions. Exhaust clouds from the stationary cars worsening the already limited visibility.
Cars were detouring the wrong way up streets to avoid the gridlock… bouncing along footpaths and trying to dodge frozen pedestrians. It was every man for himself.
Inching along the road in a taxi it felt like we were stuck in a slow motion horserace, competitors only moving forward every minute or so.
Our car would inch forward. The one next door inched forward a bit further.
Then, as suddenly as slow motion will allow, “HONK, HONK! Someone’s coming up from behind. Look out! Don’t let him get past us! Bastard! Toot your horn! Flash your lights!”
It was just like a midwinter Naadam, on tarmac.
There were many competitors, all jostling for the lead. There was chaos. There was anarchy. There were clouds of steam belching from the cars like the hot, heavy breath of horses. And there were Mongolians yelling – unpronounceable and possibly unrepeatable – things to one another.
Yes, it was just like a Naadam.
(*Naadam = Traditional Mongolian festival held in summer, featuring the three manly sports of horseriding, archery and wrestling.)