Crowded Train


I went to Mongolia with some friends from Beijing and we taught English for a week at a university in the capital city, Ulan Bator. I ended up going back there and living there for 10 months.

One time, I was riding on a train with 23 people in a car meant for 9. At least that was what the sign said. We were headed north. At each train stop, people are lined up on a cement platform waiting for the train. There’s no building, just a platform. They get on and the train just keeps filling up as you go. I don’t know if there is a limit but I decided to count the people in my car which is how I found out there were 23. One lady got on with a baby in her arms. She looked around and handed me the baby. She went out of the cabin maybe to go pay for her ticket. I don’t know. She came back after a while and took a look at me and her baby, seemed satisfied, and found a seat in another cabin.

Mongolians expect every adult to care for their children the same as they would. In the US, if you look too long at a kid, the parents get kind of nervous and think maybe you want to kidnap the kid and hold them for ransom or something. But there, adults expect other adults to take care of children. All children.

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