I've been relatively too busy to post here for the last week, or at least not taking the time to do it given all there is to do and my short time here.

And then too a couple of days laid up and barely able to move from the bed didn't help things either. Hard to know what was the cause, could have been my over-exuberant consumption of Nadaam hushuur, which is a fried dough pie filled with mutton (or, deliciously, filled with kimchi and meat in special moments). Hard to imagine that it was that, since presumedly frying would kill it all. So some other exotic bug I picked up.

Of which there are many here, no doubt. Just yesterday I stepped outside and saw a man crapping behind the building next to my building. Before disappearing into the sewer. Yup, he crawled OUT of the sewer to crap here on the green earth and then deep beneath. So maybe it was areosolized fecal matter that did me in, I don't know. I don't want to know, actually, now that I am feeling a bit better.

Open urination is not uncommon here, it happens absolutely everywhere all over the city, but I haven't seen a lot of the other.

I had read about the problem of kids living in the sewers in Ulaanbaatar but this seemed both abstract and also in a way to be expected--kids do bizarre things in desperate straits, and there are any number of dirty and heartbreaking street kids running around begging aggressively for money. So their living in the sewers kind of made sense even if it was disturbing.

Though let's be honest, kids living in sewers should be the thing that makes us drop whatever meaningless thing we are doing and devote ourselves to bringing it to an end, it is pluperfect madness.

Though it should also be noted that anyone my age or thereabouts has to be thinking of C.H.U.D. right about now. ("Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers," if you are younger than me)

A few days ago I walked back to my place in the late evening. The walk up to my apartment building is a bit sketchy. It gets exponentially so after dark. The first time I came home after midnight I saw a man lying on the ground with his face covered in blood surrounded by some others, I think cops. No telling if they had just come up opr oif they had beaten the guy. I was in a car, thankfully, making a mental note not to come this way alone.

The approach to the apartment is down a dark street (a couple of blocks or so from Lenin and his prostitutes) then through a short tunnel, and then down a dark street that is very abandoned feeling and even has a dirty mattress tucked up against a decaying building. It looks like a flop, and turns out it is. So not an optimal place to be or walk by, unless you have evil doing to do. Actually, after dark is not the only time it is a bit weird. On Monday midday I walked by on my way to Nadaam and some kids threw rocks at me.

Anyway, I was walking to my apartment building at dusk and I noticed a woman holding a tiny newborn baby sitting on some rubble near the dirty mattress. I thought it was a weird place to cradle a baby, but then again there aren't many other places to go right near the apartment building and maybe she wanted to get some fresh air. The weird thing was that right near her was a man sitting at a manhole with his legs dangling into it. I was hard pressed to think of a reason to dangle your legs in a manhole. The thought occurred to me that he must live in the sewers, which seemed altogether weirder than the kids living there even if it is maybe less depressing since he was, after all, an adult. Anyway, I didn't want to think about it too much.

A couple of days I saw the lady again, with the tiny baby, and the man, who this time was sitting on the mattress with an old woman. I walked to the grocery store and as I was returning it was drizzling and the man and woman and baby were gone. The old lady was adjusting the manhole cover. I could hear the cry of the baby from the down inside the manhole. Heartbreaking and completely insane.

I didn't want to take a picture because, quite honestly, it occurred to me that anyone living in a sewer with a baby has absolutely nothing to lose so why potentially agitate them?

But here is the scene as you walk from my apartment building toward the manhole. The family lives in the sewer on the right.

Today a sinkhole opened up in front of the apartment building, it seems kind of fitting.


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