The man’s bulk was only over-shadowed by his bouquet. He staggered, swayed, wafted. Alcohol and unwashed human perfumed the tent. The man muttered to himself at times raising the volume to mutter at us. This was our first up close meeting with the Mongolian Arickchin. In Mongolian one can add the word “Chin” to the end of certain other words, changing the meaning to signify one’s occupation. For example, “Mal” means livestock, “Malchin” means herder. “Arick” is the word for alcohol, add “Chin” and you have a drunk. This man was obviously very good at his job. In fact if the Guinness Book of Records held a ″How much vodka can you drink?” competition this guy would win for sure.
A loud ″Oi!” rang out across the valley. ″Oi!” The Arickchin cried, suddenly grabbing Tim, who had stood up and gone to the tent entrance with the Bone Setter. The Arickchin grasped Tim’s shoulders and planted a wet, sloppy, drunken kiss on his left cheek, breathing vodka fumes into his face. Tim shuddered and the Arickchin staggered off his motorbike. ″How the heck did he even manage to ride it here?” Tim wondered aloud. The Arickchin wobbled his way nearer to the inside of the tent and fell over, righting himself to a sitting position. He was so drunk we could not understand a lot of what he was saying.
″Come my house. Meat. Eat meat.”
Tim replied, so as not to be rude, ″Okay. Tomorrow.”
″Come today. Meat. Eat meat.”
The Arickchin moved abruptly, lunging for the Bone Setter’s head with his dirty paws and stared into his eyes. ″Stop.” The Bone Setter asked. The Arickchin did and proceeded to ask us question after question, all undecipherable. To prevent frustration building up by both parties the Bone Setter placed himself behind the drunk and mimed what he was asking so we could attempt to answer or answered for us.
The Bone Setter suggested to the drunk, ″Let us go outside” noticing that my cramps had increased in severity with the stress of the new arrival.
″Come on. We can talk outside.”
″No. Come to my house and eat meat.”
The Bone Setter turned to me, ″Rub your hands together quickly and place them on your stomach when they are warm.” I did so but the pain continued.
Tim turned to me and said, ″Stop acting up.” Thinking it was a ploy to get rid of the drunk.
The Bone Setter got up and moved to the tent entrance, sitting outside the tent hoping to lure the drunk away from us. The drunk fell forward onto his hands and knees and crawled, giggling to himself, out of the tent a little towards the Bone Setter. ″Oi!” He cried out to no-one in particular. ″Let us go to your house.” The Bone Setter said. The Bone Setter walked over to his horse and mounted the gelding as the drunk found his balance and stood up. He staggered first left, then right eventually finding his motorbike and dragging his left leg over the bike stabilizing it between his legs. He tried to start it but it would not jump into life. ″Good, come on let’s go to your house.” The Bone Setter threw encouragement the Arickchin’s way, turning his horse around and riding, in a walk, off towards his Ger. As the Bone Setter left us and our hopes of the Arickchin going left with him, another horse and rider approached. A young man in his thirties from the nearby Ger Tim had approached when we first got here stopped and dismounted his horse.
″Hello.” We replied.
″Hello.” He said to the drunk.
″Oi!” He replied.
The young herder briefly chatted to Tim and then turned his attention to the drunk. ″Is there a problem?”
″The bike won’t start.” Tim supplied. He tried to get the bike going as did Tim, all of us keen to move the drunk on but no-one could do it.
The Arickhin clumsily tipped his bike and fell to the ground with one leg under the bike and the other flaying about like a maggot warmed by the sun. ″English people.” He mumbled, ″My house, eat meat.” Everyone attempted to suppress a giggle, failing badly. Tim and the herder picked up the motorbike and offered a hand to the Arickchin. He waved them away, happy wallowing in the muddy grass.
The herder told him, “Take my horse home.”
″No! No! I want my horse.”
″This horse is good. Take him.” Still no joy. ″I have many horses at my home. I will get you another.”
″No! No! I want my horse.”
The Arickchin, content rolling about outside our tent, continued to mutter and lounge about in the mud. The young herder rode off leaving the three of us alone. Tim walked to the riverbank and filled a bucket, taking one to each of the four horses for them to drink. Mongol Morris snorted loudly, spinning away scared of the red bucket. Tim left it near him and the horse tentatively sniffed it but declined to drink from it. I walked to Mongol Morris and took off the wound dressing from his cut. It was still infected so I cleaned it gently and dropped iodine into it. The flies had receded into the night so I left the wound open to the air.
The Arickchin had passed out flat on the ground, his loud snores punctuated by drunken rumblings, ″English people,” ″Khovsgol,” ″Horses.” I felt too ill to eat and went to bed on an empty stomach. Tim ate arrul and boov not wanting to cook in case the Arickchin awoke. Eventually Tim and I slept for an hour but woke up about 3 am as the Arickchin rose up and started lumbering about, his huge shadow visible though the tent wall. ″Where’s my bike?” he called. ″English people! My house, eat meat!” We held our breath and stayed still, ready to pounce if the tent zip was touched. Earlier that night Tim had worked out why the motorbike would not start; it was in gear. Tim had taken it out of gear and moved the bike away from our tent, facing towards the Arickchin’s Ger. ″Bike!” He roared, more coherent than when we first met but still with the sound of alcohol on the breath. ″Tim.” I whispered, ″You should go and show him where his bike is and that it works. He might come in here otherwise.” Tim breathed deeply, ″Okay, give me a moment.” A large shadow loomed at the door of our tent and veered off to the right. We heard the motorbike being started but the Arickchin was too drunk to get it working. The Arickchin faintly grumbled but we could not make out what he said as his voice faded away from us moving towards the riverbank. Without warning the looming Arickchin shadow reappeared by the side of our tent. ″Can ride horse. English people have horse.” The tent zip began to open prompting a still fully clothed Tim to leap from his sleeping bag to the door. Tim opened the tent and stepped outside, closing it behind him.
″Hello, English friend.” The Arickchin had sobered up enough for us to understand most of what he said. ″Can you help me with my bike?”
″It will not work.”
″I can help. It is okay.” Tim led them both away from the tent to the bike and started it first time. ″Yes!” I whispered under my breath and as suddenly as he swooped on us, the Arickchin was gone.