October 17, 2009Genghis Khan, the Mongolian ruler who in the 13th century conquered most of the known world of the time, from Asian to the Middle East and into Europe. We also learned about Mongolian culture, and this morning, I learned why, as a child, I was classified as "Mongoloid" -- and why that term had its origins in Genghis Khan's time but now has an offensive connotation. What sparked so much learning? The opening of an exhibit, "Genghis Khan," at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and a gala event we were fortunate enough to attend last night. Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper was there to welcome dignitaries from the Mongolian government including Ambassador Khasbazaryn Bekhbat; speeches were made, diploamtic gifts exchanged, and then attendees had a buffet catered by the museum that featured mostly Mongolian or Asian themed food (except for the salmon in pastry shells and the table of veggies and dip), such as Mongolian noodle bowls, a stiry-fried variant of Mongolian barbecue without the piles of meat, and generic Chinese chicken dumplings (the brand sold by Costco, I bet) that were boiled then pan-fried and not so bad). While dining, we chatted, networked and schmoozed while a stream of performers entertained the crowds -- most unfamiliar with any of the riches of Mongolian culture -- with traditional music and dancing, as well as the esoteric art of Tsam masks (giant scary-looking masks worn by "dancers" who move slowly to ominous music) and the more modern flashiness of a contortionist.