After spending some time in Mongolia, I’ve come to notice the little cultural quirks that Mongolians share. The big ones we all saw right away, sniffing necks and grabbing babies junk… for instance. But the smaller ones took a while for me to realize were a Mongolian thing, not just individual habits of people who are coincidentally Mongolian.
Today, my old, weathered notebook fell to the floor. This floor had only five minutes before been scrubbed by a janitor. The notebook was obviously dirtier than the floor. But when the Mongolian teacher picked it up for me, she dusted it off. Because if something touches the floor, it is dusted. Bags, food, the side of a shoe- you name it. Another habit I’ve noticed is that people will push the door behind them shut, often even if someone is behind them.
In America, I would be offended if someone closed the door through which I was about to pass. Here, I’ve gotten used to it. It’s just another item on an always expanding list of things that I’m becoming accustomed to. In fact, I often find myself sharing a laugh with the select few who have lived in Mongolia long enough to have seen someone dust off a single noodle that fell to the floor, eat it, and then leave by shutting the door in your face.