Weather in UB

Monday, March 31, 2008

If yer gonna steal from me, do it right!

Today I had an experience that made me so mad that I’m using my blog as an outlet to vent. I went to a bookstore to see what they had and I ended up buying a Mongolian magazine to send to a friend in the states. I was on my way to buy some food at the market so I had my backpack with me. I put the magazine in my otherwise empty backpack and went outside. Because there was virtually nothing in the backpack, I put it on my back. If there had been something valuable in it, I would have been wearing it on my front. I got stuck in between traffic and this 18 (Maybe 19) year old young man, tried to unzip my bag. Being aware, I felt it, broke through traffic, he followed and I turned around. Then I yelled and berated him in Mongolian (he was shocked). Luckily, he didn’t get anything as the only thing there was to get was a Cosmopolitan-esque Mongolian magazine. It just really pissed me off. This is the first time (this year) someone has tried to steal from me (that I know of). For me, it calls everything into question. I reminded myself not to let one failed mugging attempt effect me so drastically…The rest of my shopping experience went off without a hitch. I just hate to think of myself as a target just because I'm foreign, a woman, or wearing a backpack. Ugh!


Meg said...


I'm happy you're OK and sorry you were on the end of that negative experience. I think that the elements you identified contribute to why you might be a target: female, foreign, backpack behind your field of vision. That said, those things make you a target anywhere, particularly major cities in the world. It's hard to have your space invaded / lines crossed. It's good that you were in a position to defend yourself - physically and verbally. Such experiences make us question how we live / interact in another culture (and our own, too) I think.

Anyway, again - I'm happy you're alright.

Love you,


Dr. Red Pants said...

Sorry that they tried to steal from you again. It got me thinking back to the time when those kids tried to steal your bright orange mittens. You got all school teacher on their asses.

Ulaana said...

Red pants, the orange mittens!! I just told my roommate that story. Remember when the thieves sliced yer pants open at the market? That was insane! At least these guys didn't get anything!

John said...

Keep your chin up, Rear. Something similar happen to me in a market in Osh, and I lost a fist full of Uzbek Sum from my backback. Luckily, it was about 7 dollars worth, but the loot was secondary. I was livid at the average joes that saw it happened and said zip. Chalk it up as lesson learned and keep smiling.

Anyhow, Sending over a taser.

Love John

Tsenguun said...

r u sure that u were not being paranoid? sounds to me like a racist comment (Sorry,true feeling).
I've been robbed and assaulted many times in the USA,just because I was a foreign,female and wearig backpack.
I think, overall, Moingolia is much safer for foreeigners and women than the USA.

Ulaana said...

Interesting comment. I'm sure per capita and crime, Mongolia is a MUCH safer place than the USA. Just out of curiosity, which part did you feel was racist?
I was re-telling a story that happened to me. I am a foreigner. The guy was Mongolian. That's not racist, it's fact. I didn't say anything derogatory about Mongolians.
Additionally, I think your experience in Mongolia, as a Mongolian, is different than that of a foreigner. I would never claim to know what it's like to be you or call you a racist because of the assaults and robberies you were victim to in the USA.
So again, not having said anything negative about Mongolians, and recounting a TRUE event, I'm still questioning where exactly you felt I was being racist?

Bob said...

Some older people here might have seen the movie "Breaking Away" in the 70's. The main character, "David Stoler", loved cycling and loved Italy (because this was in the pre-Lance Armstrong era) to the point that he pretended to be Italian, spoke Italian, and sang that silly Italian song to pick up the fraternity girl. Later in a bike race he saw "The Italians" of Cinzano close up. Previously he only saw them from a distance in a magazine. They were not everything he fantasized about and he saw a darker side, when they put a bike pump in his front wheel as he flipped over the handlebars off the road.

I think most of us wouldn't be browsing here if we didn't love Mongolia and appreciate even the quirky things, might want to speak Mongolian or impress a Mongolian cutey perhaps with nice duu like Altain Hangain Magtaal. We just don't want to be jaded by one real event and say bluntly, "I am Dave Stoler" without an accent. Ever consider that we might like MGL because we're here in the USA, maybe tired a little and it might be like an ethereal other world?

Points well taken. Keep posting Ulaana.

Natso said...

hmm. I've read the other comments.

I also feel sorry for this incident.

Not only it hardened your negative experience about Mongolia, but also your post has moldened many people's impressions about my country.

Darn that guy!

Note about tsenguun's comment: I don't see any racist comment either. He or she is, I think, being paranoid after all.

Ulaana said...

Maybe I should be clear, just for the record. This was one incident, and I came out ok!
Not all Mongolians are thieves!
If I hated Mongolia or Mongolians, I wouldn't stay here. I've enjoyed my experiences in Mongolia. But like any experience, there are downsides and tough spots. I'm not going to let this one incident color my perception of Mongolia or the Mongolian people as a whole.
I'm also VERY excited that so many ex-pat Mongols are reading my blog. KEEP READING!

Anonymous said...

Because u said being a foreigner was a cause of what happened, in other words it suggests the idea that Mongolians are more likely to rob foreigners. It also hints your idea feeling yourself being totally different from Mongolians because you're a foreigner (a better human being or something)
You may not be a racist, but what u say or do express some unconscious attitutes.

Ulaana said...

Actually that's not what I said at all. I questioned whether I was a target because I am a "a foreigner, a woman, or wearing a backpack".
I think you have TOTALLY misread and mis-interpreted what I wrote. I merely retold a story, a TRUE story, of something that happened to me, a woman, and a foreigner, in UB.
I didn't say that Mongolians are more likely to rob foreigners. You assumed that. I have plenty of Mongolian friends who get pick pocketed too. Does that make it better? It shouldn't.
I don't think I was expressing anything "unconsciously". I was quite consciously expressing the anger and frustration of being victimized.

Anonymous said...

Just kick him in the balls the next time. hehe j/k. Sorry you had a hard time. We might all be getting together for beers and singing tonight. I'll let you know. Take care.

Bob said...

When I returned from UB, people asked me if it was dangerous, and I explained that I wasn't there for long and anything can happen, but probably more than half of Chicago has the perception of being more dangerous. west side, garfield park, much of the south side have the perception of being much more dangerous than any ger district. One guy who asked me lives in Lincoln Park (yuppie neighborhood), though his apartment was broken into. Last night a MGL American warned me not to go to the black market, because pick pockets are everywhere, and he explained the slicing open technique or someone's stolen passport. One MGL girl explained how her aunt is in Colorado on her other relative's passport.

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." Proverbs 14:34

Anonymous said...

Robbery does not have a race but it has the same meaning in every culture. That foreigners feel insecure in a foreign country is a nature. And, for a thief, everyone is a target. Ulaana, he wanted to rob you because you had your backpack on your back. If you were a man, you’d have to pass thru the same experience if that thief was standing behind you. I think that your being foreign also played a role unless he thought that you were Russian. Wherever you go as a tourist, everyone tries to sell you something for a higher price than a regular. It is like a major rule of hospitality industry in all continents of the world. So, thieves may have the same agenda regarding foreigners as well.

Tsnenguun, I think that you are insecure with your race. Also, you can not be assaulted MANY times just because you were a foreign woman wearing backpack in the US.

denise garro said...

I always thought the front packers were strange, now I know it is because of theives....I actually did learn that yrs ago. but it is something you don't know unless you travel. it is a sad reality that people as a mass are bad. good we are who we are and not one of them......D