A warm camaraderie surfaces in the extreme weather of a Mongolian winter. While its still there in summer, the sub-zero temperatures really bring it alive.
Mongolians are all part of one big family, living in one of the world’s harshest climates. I was standing in my local shop the other day when a small boy stumbled in. He wasn’t wearing a hat or gloves and with temperatures of -27C outside his checks were flushed a deep red. Upon seeing him, the young storekeeper rushed over to him, clasped his head to her bosom and covered his ears to warm them. Soon, everyone in the store was huddled around him protectively, muttering in Mongolian, “Silly boy, he forgot his hat and gloves. Look how cold he is.”
Complete strangers lock arms together to help each other cross particularly icy patches of road, offering their balance and support to less able pedestrians. I now understand why Mongolians avoid the inane use of ‘thank-you’ and ‘please,’ so loved by native English speakers. Otherwise, it would be quite exhausting as you bumped and slid your way down the street.
“Ooh, sorry about that.”
“Whoops, my fault. Sorry.”
“Hmmmph. Thanks, still getting my ice legs.”
“Ooooh, I’m so sorry! I’m from Australia. We don’t have ice in Melbourne.”
“Whoops. Did I knock you over?”