Talking of space, which I was at the end of the last blog post, and livestock (likewise), wealth is still gauged on the Steppe by the amount of livestock that a person may own. So speaks Mr N who has been enlightening me on the ways of the Steppe and those who dwell upon it.
Whilst some may only own a few hundred head of livestock, others may well increase that figure into the thousands. 5000 is not unheard of. And of course, actual cash is derived from the selling of animal products. Massive herds naturally require massive space to roam – hence the agreed, respectful distance between gers touched upon last time. The workload would be proportionately huge and, hopefully, the rewards too.
The lifestyle as described to me is essentially similar to that which has been lived across centuries but in case you envision a medieval existence, then think otherwise. Modern tech does find it’s way in. It could be that phenomena of Mongolisation that M spoke about back in Mongolia by proxy #3; the absorption, remodeling and utilisation of external technology – on Mongolian terms – of external technologies.
There was a time when pulling out a smart-phone would create a “stir”, an unusual amount of interest. These days, they’d pull one out too. As M told me at the time “It may not be the latest model, but they’d probably have one”. Now Mr N is expanding the scenario. Familiar trappings can be found in the form of “TV, Western culture news, much better electricity and cars”.
Empowered (quite literally) on the small scale by solar technology and portable generators, and diesel/petrol for the large; the trappings of modernity is more ubiquitous than you might initially think. But again: flipped, Mongolian style.
In an initially amusing, but heart-warming nod to their own culture they graft treasured iconography and pin it as a badge onto the new. I read of Chinggis Khan beer, airport, vodka and vacuum cleaners! So is this a snatched stamp of approval or a genuine fondness for their culture? I certainly hope for the latter. Some things change, some stay the same.
Until recent times, Mr N explains, camels were utilised in the numerous house-moves around the Steppe; these days it’s cars, jeeps and lorries, and with them the inevitable Mongolisation, the seemingly inherent fix-it wizardry that props the vehicles/utilities up and keeps them running Mongolian style.
As with everywhere else, modern advances enable and speed up the process of living allowing ease of communication, quicker access to the medical centres at the heart of each province and the dissemination of goods, people, newspapers, everything. As long as the machinery can be kept running or repaired. So, better prospects for car owners than mobile phones users from that perspective. Surface-mounted components might be a tricky fix out on the Steppe; timing belts, not so much.
Next time: Trips and Tales (Part 111) Gobi (and Steppe) wanderings #4
[Photo by magical-world]