Another trip to the dzag

by sumpteretc

People keep asking me how school is going. That’s a tough question to answer. I don’t mind the actual “going to school” part of it. It’s the learning that’s more of an issue. Sometimes I’m sitting there, the teacher is rattling away and my mind is racing trying to keep up. But I don’t have enough grounding in the language to figure out practical uses for everything. One moment, I’m bombarded with new vocabulary; the next, it’s some fine point of pronunciation or a seemingly obscure grammatical rule. I walk out of the classroom wondering how to process the three hours’ worth of information that I just received.

Today, I learned a few pairs of opposite adjectives. I learned a few of the verbal commands that a teacher often gives. We began to talk about the genitive case and the ways that it’s formed. I got some intense drilling on pronunciation. And I learned a few words for part of the body. I’m not sure how much of that I actually “learned” but I heard it all. If I could just immediately go home and work through the material, I might absorb it better but my day is rarely working out that way.

Elijah was going to a playgroup this afternoon, so I wound up making a trip to the dzag, or market. My brother-in-law gave me some boots that are wonderful in cold weather but fit just poorly enough to make a blister on the back of my heel when I have to walk too far. On my way to the dzag, I stopped at a couple of shopping centers to look for a seat for Joel. The only ones I found were a couple of walkers that I had looked at the other day. They had told me then that they weren’t for sale. I at least wanted to find out what they were called, so that I could ask for them at the market. So I asked the owner, “Ter yu bay?” which I think is supposed to be “What is that?” She got a calculator and showed me 16,000. OK! I told her I would go to the market and come back to buy it.

I went on to the market with a list of things Tiffany wanted me to pick up. She also sent a hunk of beef with me to have it ground. I pantomimed to three different people what I was looking for, but I’m apparently not that great at charades (although I did manage to convey spray bottle to another shop owner. You try it.) Finally, the third person sent a man with me to find the makina to grind the beef. He led me downstairs. I didn’t even know this place had a downstairs so I would have been a long time looking for it. I got the meat taken care of and headed back upstairs to finish off the list (minus chicken breasts, eggplant and celery, which I never located).

When I got back to the baby store, the owner started to get down the green walker. I pointed to the blue one. She said I couldn’t have it. She got down the green one and showed me that it was missing some key parts but that I couldn’t have the blue one. I was seriously confused. I decided to buy the green one and worry about the missing parts later. While I was fumbling around with my money, she told me “margaash” (tomorrow). Cynics say that margaash is one of the six most commonly heard words in Mongolia, so I don’t know if things will actually be different tomorrow, or if she just wanted me to leave today. Maybe I’ll try it if I get time.