A Trip Back to the Mongolian Countryside


After meeting at nine in the morning, our small, but growing crew of students, teachers, and a few people just along for the ride finally left Ulaanbaatar’s city limits around eleven. We immediately pulled over and my advisor, who was orchestrating the whole trip, prepared some slices of Mongolian-style bologna and brought out a bottle of vodka. He blessed the day by making a circular motion around the rim of the cup, then gathering a drop of vodka on his ring finger and flicking it towards the sky. He then offered me the cup of vodka. My friend and translator explained, “Since it’s the first one you have to drink the whole thing”, which was followed by, “Since a woman is giving it to you, you have to drink the whole thing”, which was followed by a monk handing me another shot and, “He is thanking you for coming to his monastery and wishes you good luck”. You don’t turn down a drink from a monk. It was as if in writing, rewriting, and finally polishing my Fulbright essays over the course of two years, I had started to convince myself that I actually knew what I was doing. There was nothing like three consecutive shots of vodka to wipe an oversimplified “expect the unexpected” attitude from my mind. I was buzzed by 11:30 a.m.
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Wednesday, November 18th, 2015 Thoughts, Video No Comments

Gagá, Sibelius, and Dancers on the Ceiling: Santo Domingo’s Music Scene

Palabra del día: Hormigas
Translation: Ants

Explanation: After much frustration, I finally got rid of all of the ants in my kitchen! Well, maybe not all the ants, but at least 90 percent. The trick? Boric acid and sugar dissolved in water, left out as a trap overnight. Worked like a charm.

Comida del día: Empanadas
I walk by two empanada stands on my way to work, but for some reason I waited three months to try one. I finally stopped at one today, and it turns out that deep fried dough enveloping an egg and covered in ketchup is seriously tasty. Perhaps Dominican food is growing on me?

Foto del día:

Cabarete beach
An impending storm over Cabarete beach. Hopefully the rain will stay away for the jazz festival there this weekend!

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Monday, November 16th, 2015 Audio, Thoughts, Video 7 Comments

Hello from Belgrade, Serbia


Zdravo – Hello from Belgrade, Serbia.

At this point, I’ve not been in Belgrade very long but I have already come to fall in love with Kalemegdan Park and the views from the Belgrade Fortress. At the center of the city, where the Danube and Sava rivers meet, the fortress is the oldest part of Belgrade, originally dating back to 1st century AD. Throughout its history, it has been attacked, rebuilt, and ruled by many groups including the Romans, Huns, Ottomans, and many more. The city has a very rich, complicated history between the east and the west which I am just beginning to learn.
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Wednesday, November 11th, 2015 Thoughts No Comments

Introductions: Who is Dimitri and what is Mongol Music Archive?


My name is Dimitri Staszewski.

I consider myself a recording engineer, producer, and adventurer. I will be spending the next nine months recording herders performing traditional music in Mongolia and adding those recordings to my website as part of my Fulbright mtvU fellowship.

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Friday, November 6th, 2015 Thoughts, Video No Comments

If You Get Invited to Someone’s House, Always Go

Palabra del día: Tapón
Translation: Traffic jam

Explanation: Though the DR’s capital Santo Domingo has a lot going for it, traffic control is not one of those things. On a recent trip there, I was stuck in a traffic jam for two hours, on what should have been a 20 minute drive. On the plus side, I now know the word “tapón!”

Foto del día:

This photo is from a recent gig at a super fancy resort in the nearby town of Puerto Plata. Scroll down for a video of our performance and to read about all of the juicy details.

recent gig

Photo from Juan Guivin

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Thursday, October 8th, 2015 Audio, Thoughts, Video 2 Comments

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