Sunday, August 5, 2007

Quotations from *The Last Disco in Outer Mongolia*, 2 of 6
Nick Middleton

Her eyes wandered back to the screen of a television set on the other side of the landing. It was surrounded by a dozen or so students, all in track suits and all from North Korea. They were engrossed in what I assumed to be a comedy programme, judging from the laughter and chuckles coming from their ranks. I followed the floor hostess’s gaze and looked at the TV set. The programme was showing graphic footage of a seal cull in the Arctic.
Nick Middleton, The Last Disco in Outer Mongolia

‘Listen to this for a reasoned explanation of why the socialists did away with the Mongolian alphabet: “In the final analysis, life demonstrated the expediency of using the Russian alphabet.”

‘Life demonstrated the expediency?’ I repeated.

‘Sure,’ replied Bulcsu. ‘What he means is that if you didn’t change to Cyrillic they shot you. Really very simple.’

We both laughed but Bulcsu had not been joking.
Nick Middleton, The Last Disco in Outer Mongolia

We chatted in English about the Russian influence in Mongolia. Norbu told us he could take us to see the Russian military camp, tucked away up a side valley, and there was a gold mine on the outskirts of Ulan Bator from which the refined gold was flown out to the Soviet Union every night on a special jet.
Nick Middleton, The Last Disco in Outer Mongolia

To say that Mongolian Buddhism has taken a bit of a pasting in the years after the Revolution is an understatement: it was almost totally annihilated.
Nick Middleton, The Last Disco in Outer Mongolia

‘...The march of time would sort everything out. Once the Revolution had taken place, once Communist parties were in power, once collectivisation had been accomplished, once the means of production were in the hands of the self-appointed representatives of the people, then religion would disappear of its own accord. The fact that this train of events simply didn’t happen threw the Communists into disarray. Their reaction to the obvious failure of their ideology was predictable. They couldn’t admit failure, so they resorted to violence.’

‘Reach for the revolver,’ I chipped in.

‘Well, reach for the armoured cars, the high explosives and the entire Soviet Army if necessary, more like,’ Bulcsu replied. ‘Of course the Mongolians never acted without good advice from Moscow, but the ultimate fate of Buddhism in Mongolia was sealed because the theory that said it would disappear was wrong, and yet it had to be proved right.’
Nick Middleton, The Last Disco in Outer Mongolia

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