Unexpected Visitors

"Who's there?"
“Who’s there?”

It’s not uncommon to host people who randomly show up on your doorstep in Mongolia. My guess is that this hospitality evolved from the herder life and harsh weather: If you were traveling about in the winter, you certainly would want someone to take you in, especially if they were the only shelter for miles. Thus, you always bring them in, offer them sustenance, and so forth.

In the city, in apartments, it’s evolved somewhat differently. Yes, people will stop by from time to time, but it’s not as common as ger visitors. I’ve had my share of visitors. Let’s revisit some, shall we?

One was a woman and her small child. I asked who it was, and she replied with her name, expecting me to know who it was. Unsure, I opened the door. She saw that I was not Mongolian and her face went pale. She apologized and explained that she was trying to find a friends house so that her daughter could play. They quickly shuffled away.

There was also 3AM man. Like his name implies, he came in at 3AM and began knocking vigorously at my door. I figured he had the wrong place and tried to go back to sleep. He kept knocking. I figured I would be able to wait him out. Little did I know of his persistence, because he kept knocking for a good 40 minutes. I got aggravated, and screamed “Who is it?!” He said his name, I opened the door, and he stared at me, face turning ashen, just like the woman with the little girl. He asked if his friend was there. I stared at him with a “what do you think?” look and closed the door. He realized his mistake and went away. He was completely sober; it looked as though he had just got into town from a long ride.

Then there are those who may have been drunk, but I’ll never know. One man knocked, and I asked who it was. He was standing outside of the view of my peep hole, so I slowly opened the door. He grabbed the door and tried to force it wide open. I resisted. He asked if someone was there. That someone most assuredly was not, so I told him so. He nodded and went away. Another similar situation occurred with a man in a wide-brimmed hat. He looked incredibly confused at the sight of a non-Mongolian before him. His question was asked, I answered, and I closed the door. I looked out the peep hole and saw him continuing to stand there, quite bewildered, for a few minutes before heading back downstairs.

I’m sure volunteers in gers in the countryside have many more visitors (some more pleasant and some definitely not pleasant at all), but considering my living setup, I’m surprised I’ve had this many.

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Access (Poetry)

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