At the end of last week I felt I was starting to communicate well with the man teaching me to build the ger door. Unfortunately, the first thing he told me on Monday morning was that he had a cold and would not be at the workshop that week. This close to the end, and looking forward to living in this ger this summer, I decided to take matters into my own hands. That meant I was going to start working on my own and I would have to accept a few mistakes. At the same time, I was confident that all the essential structural components were in check and ultimately the safety of the ger would not be compromised. So I worked the way they’ve been showing me for the last 2 months keeping the mistakes as minor as possible. The good thing about building without a coach is that you can let your imagination run wild and try new ideas without anyone to limit you. The bad thing about working alone is that nobody is there to remind you that some ideas are better kept in your imagination! Without too many questionable decisions, I completed the door and the painting could begin.
I started painting and it was a complete change of vibe, I entered a world ruled by women. Not only do they paint but they also take turns to do the cooking. If a woman is cooking for the whole team one day, it doesn’t mean she won’t paint, she will do her part at the end of the day. Their work ethics are very impressive but the most amazing part has to be their positive attitude through it all. An older woman will spend a good chunk of her day singing or humming traditional Mongolian songs. A younger woman on the other hand blasts Mongolian hip hop and pop songs from her cell phone. Either way making a nice change from the loud drills and saws from the previous work stations. There seems to exist a strong, almost sacred, connection here between the people and their music, maybe that’s their trick to keeping their smile. I have not yet learned to sing the way they do but I am still just applying the base coat so there is time!