Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Pictures to Words: Kaosia


Part 1: At Home

“The Minister would like to see you Charles“
Charles knew that when Giles entered his office at the ministry without a knock on the door, it was an urgent matter. Charles also remembered the last time when he had to drop everything and help to solve the problem of whether or not to send the Romanov treasure back to Russia because Russia had decided to become Russia again and no longer something Soviet.
“What’s the problem Giles”
“Now come off it, you don’t think the minister fills me in on his grimy little details. You’re the expert for Eastern matters.”
So Charles made his way to the inner sanctum of the ministry. The door was open.
“Come in Charles, we have a problem.”
The minister always came quickly to the point. Last time he said “make sure the Romanov treasure stays here.” Which was easier said than done.
“Well if I can help, sir”
“You will have to help Charles. How do you feel about going on a little trip to one of those small countries that appeared after the Soviet Union became Russia.”
“You mean something like the Ukraine or Georgia Mr. Minister?”
“Not quite Charles, something more in the direction of Mongolia.”
“Good Lord, what business do we have in Mongolia. They only have tents, yaks and horses.” Charles was wondering what would come next.
“Not exactly Mongolia itself, Charles” said the minister, “but one of those smaller countries that have arisen since Russia let its states get on with their own independence, somewhere in the Mongolian region.”
“In which direction, sir, North, South, East or West?” Asked Charles.
“Well not really” said the minister “but quite near”.
This geographical puzzle was becoming a bit too much for the diplomatic side of Charles.
“Sir, Mr. Minister, please tell me where.”
“It’s in the middle of Mongolia. An independent state: It has always been there but no-one really took a lot of notice of it until they decided they wanted their independence. Known as Kaosia and governed by a chieftain and his family, all very civilised so I hear.”
The Minister had once again that look as if to say “do it or you can move your office back to the room between the toilets and the broom cupboard”.
“When do I have to go?” asked Charles. “It is now summer holidays at the public school and I was planning on going to Italy with the wife and the children.”
“Excellent Charles, then take your family with you. It would be ideal – a bit of contact between the two countries. It is very important for our country to be in when things start happening in Kaosia.”
“Sorry, Minister, I think I have lost the thread.”
“Just have a look at this Charles.”
The minister threw some tourist leaflets across the desk in the English language, the first showing the photo of three similing children, obviously oriental origin, with the words “Welcome to Kaosia for family holidays.”
“Well they are three happy beautiful children, but I don’t understand” said Charles “what does this have to do with a diplomatic mission?”
“Well that was just some general information, you can give the leaflets to your wife so that she can get prepared for the holiday. No, between us there is something else, but this is not determined for other ears. Look at this map of Kaosia taken by satellite.”
“Well I can’t see anything interesting. Just one town called Kaosin and a sort of lake coloured almost black.”
“That’s it Charles” the minister was excited “that is not just a lake but the place is swimming on oil, they don’t even have to dig for it. According to our satellites the chemical composition of that black stuff is 100% pure oil. So now do you see what I mean.”

After persuading his wife that the air in Kaosia was perfect for her complexion and telling the children that they would be going for an adventure holiday this year to Kaosia..........

“Where” said Jack age 12 and Jennifer aged 10 “that sucks”. The family were on a flight to Moscow where they would change planes for Ulan Bator, Kaosin being just four hours away by car.

Part 2: Kaosia

Meanwhile in Kaosin the Chieftain was getting ready to receive his guests. Chief Bat had told his wife Uuganaa and three daughters, Hulan, Nomin and Tulya that it was very important to impress their visitors from the United Kingdom.

Charles was surprised at the reception they were given at the airport. Chief Bat met them with a stretch limousine, not the broken down Moskva car that he expected. They were taken to the best hotel in Kaosin, the entrance hall being in Italian marble and the floor being covered with Chinese silk carpets. Charles’ family were very impressed. They were introduced to the Chief’s three daughters who looked remarkably similar to the three children shown on the tourist leaflets, although somewhat older.

“Yes, that’s our picture” said Hulan, the oldest daughter. “That was when we were younger. I sometimes miss the life we had in those days. Her reminiscences came flooding back. We would ride our horses over the hills and sleep in our tents out on the plains. Mother would cook our meals over an open fire and they tasted much better than the food we have today. Life has just become different.”
How different Charles and his family soon found out.

“Hulan” said Chief Bat “perhaps our guest’s children would like to lunch at our Macdonalds restaurant.”
“You have a Macdonalds in Kaosia?” asked Charles quite surprised.
“Oh yes” answered Chief Bat, “our American friends built one for us in the centre of our illustrious capital city. They fly the hamburgers in once a week, frozen of course. The teenagers of Kaosia just love them.”

So Jack and Jenny had lunch at Macdonalds with Chief Bat’s three daughters.
“Hey Jack, I didn’t think they would have a MacDonalds here in this place. Imagined something more like Yak hamburgers”
The three Kaosian sisters started laughing at Jenny’s remark.
“Did you understand what I said” Jenny asked
“Of course we did” answered the youngest daughter Tulya in perfect English. “Since we have oil we have money and our dad decided to modernise the country with the profits and our teacher gives us lessons in English, although I still like to think back to the good days when we were free. Learning other languages is fun, but riding a horse over the plains is better.”
“You have oil?” Jack was astonished
“Oh yes, we have oil” answered Nomin the middle sister. “Dad found a small stream of oil out in the wilderness and decided to dig around it to see how much oil was there. The more he dug the more oil appeared and eventually we have an oil lake”
“So what do you do with it” Jack was getting interested.
“Oh we just left it there, but suddenly dad was getting all these visitors from Moscow and even Washington. It was all about the oil we had.”
“Tell him the rest” said Tulya.
“Well dad was clever and said if they wanted to help with the oil they had to sign contracts as we were then independent from Russia.”
“So I will tell the rest.” Said Hulan “anyhow our country started getting rich. Dad said it was oil money. He used the money to improve our lives he said. Of course it is nice living in town with all the modern stuff.”
“But it’s just not the same fun as we used to have. Riding bareback over the plains, cooking over an open fire in our tent and hearing the stories of the olden days told by the members of our families.”
“That was fun” and Nomin joined in the conversation. “We would all sit around in the evening under the light of our oil lamps and our uncles and aunts would tell of the olden days.”
“Sort of Genghis Khan stuff” Jenny loved history at school.
“Not quite” said Hulan “that belongs to our countries history, something like the Angle Saxons.”
“Do people still live like that” asked Jack
“Outside the town, they do. Would you like to go there?”
“Would I? Definitely more fun than a hamburger in Macdonalds. What do you think Jenny, coming as well.”
“Oh yes” she answered thinking of what she could tell at school when she got back.

So that evening Charles family was invited to Chief Bat’s house for the evening meal and Jack spoke up (as the oldest male amongst the children – he was also the only one).”
“Dad, what do you think. Hulan, Nomin and Tulya said we could visit her family out on the plains. You know where the yaks walk around and you can go riding bareback on horses.”
“But darling, you might break a leg or something. Riding horses in Mongolia, sorry Kaosia, is not the same as in England.”
“Your mother is right you know” Charles felt he should say something, although reminiscing to his boyhood days he would have loved that chance.
Bat spoke “Was that your suggestion Hulan?”
“No it wasn’t sir“ said Jack, “but Hulan and her sisters Nomin and Tulya were reminiscing about the good old days in Kaosin and it seems they still exist.
“And it would be such fun to feed a Yak and eat food from an open fire, as well as hearing the stories of long ago” chipped in Jenny for good measure.
“Well, it seems you certainly had an interesting conversation at lunch.”
“I have an idea” said Bat’s wife, who was longing to see her relations again outside of town. “I will take them tomorrow with the jeep. Charles and his wife will be staying until the end of the week and the children can come with me.”
“Super”, the children said in unison.

Jack and Jenny did not break any bones in that week. Hulan, Nomin and Tulya were so happy to go back to how it used to be for a week and it was a great success. Even Charles’ wife joined them. Her recipe for cooking Buuz became famous at her dinner parties when they once again returned to England. Bat’s sister showed her how to make it from minced mutton wrapped in pastry.

While the families were away on the plains of Kaosia enjoying life as it used to be, Charles and Bat had their discussions on business. The British were promised 30% of the oil produced from the oil lake in Kaosia, meaning that 90% had now been divided amongst the Americans, Russians and British. However as a good will gesture Charles had to promise that David Beckham would train the national football team of Kaosia to prepare them for the next World Football Cup in two years. This was no great problem as Victoria Beckham just loved the luxurious life she could lead in Kaosia. They actually won the World Cup.

Reminiscing over the past, Bat the Chieftain thought of that lucky day when he discovered the leak in the oil pipeline leading from Russia to China. At that time Russia had its own problems with Perestroika and independence and a little leak in a pipeline just went a bit unnoticed. Bat decided to make the leak a little bit bigger and soon Kaosia was “swimming” in oil. What could have been better for the modernisation of the little state in the middle of Mongolia. People still visit the country. A leaflet with three similing faces of the Chieftains daughters still works wonders for the country’s tourism.

Pictures to Words

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