Tserendeijid


Basic information
Interviewee ID: 990904
Name: Tserendeijid
Parent's name: Sharavjamts
Ovog: [blank]
Sex: f
Year of Birth:
Ethnicity: [unknown]

Additional Information
Education: [unknown]
Notes on education:
Work:
Belief:
Born in: Lün sum, Arhangai aimag
Lives in: sum (or part of UB), Ulaanbaatar aimag
Mother's profession:
Father's profession:


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Translation:



The Oral History of Twentieth Century Mongolia

Byambajav -

Well, I thank you very much for accepting my invitation and giving me the interview.

Tserendejid -

Yes.

Byambajav -

Well, before starting the interview there are two issues on which I would like to receive your permission.

Tserendejid -

Hn.

Byambajav -

If you wish you may conceal your name. Aa you may as well leave it without concealing.

Tserendejid -

It doesn’t matter.

Byambajav -

Will we proceed with using the name?

Tserendejid -

Proceed with using the name.

Byambajav -

One more question, all information contained in your interview after some years will be used by researchers of history as scientific material as well they may be used on TV, Radio broadcasts and in newspapers as reference material. Will you give the permission to those people?

Tserendejid -

If they consider it possible they may.

Byambajav -

Well, thank you, let’s now start the interview. So first of all will you introduce yourself and tell me extensively about your childhood, about your mother and father, in general about the society of that given time, the memories you have of those days.

Tserendejid -

Yes, I was born in place called Savtain khooloi of Lun soum of Arkhangai aimag as the eldest daughter to the family of Sharavjamts. After that my mother left to live separately so I lived with my grandpa and grandma and was doing all the daily job of an rural family, collected dung (laughed) I was still small, cleaned the dung of the livestock, carry water etc. all the daily chores of rural household until I reached 10 years I was reared by my grandmother. At age of 10 I was enrolled in school, my father moved to (soum centre) and was treating a person by pressure massage. That man was the one who established the furniture factory for the first time. My father was a good carpenter, I was a carpenter at the centre of Lun soum, and when the furniture factory was established a good carpenter from every place was summoned by Marshal’s cable of that period. (0-02-58) So a lorry was sent to bring our family that time now this your in-law Badarch was in mother’s womb they expected the birth to come pretty soon. So after our arrival here Badarch was born, I was attending in autumn of tat year the elementary school of Lun soum then from here came a driver who was a relative of ours with a car that car belonged to the Marshal. It was called M pick-up truck he wanted to take two of us me and a friend of mine and went to school and met the Director of school to receive a permission to leave. Then the Director would not allow us to leave he said you people would not send the children to school, they’d drop out and did not give a temporary leave permission. That brother of our said that any way I’d take them with me and would enrol them in school and we moved. When we went to the school two of us frightened were sitting in the cabin of the car. So when Director would not allow the driver said we’ll send them to school in the city and when the Director still insisted that he’d not give the permission we moved directly to the city. Then after passing by our school and approaching Khashaat (a neighbouring soum) we breathed a sigh of relief. So we came to the city, we wore skin robes, sheep skin rope and traditional Mongolian boots, during the break we sat together talking to each other, since we wore Mongolian robe we were ashamed from the city children around us. I finished the 4th grade of school No.11, 7th grade of 10 year school No.5. I was actually told to go to north (Russia) for study but due to poor health I did not go. Then soon my mother fell ill for 2 years she was immobilised and had to be taken care by someone. Since my father was taking care of my mother, it had become impossible for us to make a living, we had no income. That is why I decided to attend evening 10 year school in order not lag behind my friends, so I decided to attend evening 10 year school and left the 10 year school, meanwhile, one Lhamsuren who was the teacher in charge of our class wanted me to enrol me back in my school, and she asked the Director of the school to let me return to my class but the Director said that he would allow any one who left the 10 year school to re-enter the school. So I had to attend the evening school and at the same to work. Then fortunately, when I went to the Education department and met the chief of department, there was a person by the name of Balchindorj. He received me I told him that I wanted to enrol in evening school(0-06-00) but they told me any one who had not graduated from technical (vocational) school can not be accepted. You are a child of school age, I was then probably 17 years old. That was what happened, so I did not know what to do, it was impossible to return back to 10 year school…so when I went to education department there was that Balchindorj, until now I am grateful to him. He said he’ll find me a job, and you can enrol in evening school (0-06-23) in a class of your choice and gave me an official letter. Then those who refused to let me in the school asked from which grade I would like to study so I thought well, I finished 7th grade if I were to enrol in 9th grade it could be difficult for me and decided to enrol in 8th grade and told them so. I was given a job of (educator in the text) assistant teacher in a kindergarten, kindergarten No.4. In those days a teacher’s salary was 300 tugrug, that was a really a very big income for us, I was the bread earner of my mother and father. So (laughed) when I received my very first salary I bought presents for my father and mother. For my father I bought a shirt, for my mother who was bedridden I bought shoes. My mother was incapacitated and bedridden who would never get up, her legs were crippled. My mother and father were delighted. They said that their daughter was very thoughtful and intelligent. I had salary and when my mother died we were in a better position than before, 300 tugrug in those days was a lot of money. When I was working as a teacher in the kindergarten people who were working with me supported me, they ordered me to sew deel (Mongoian national robe). I don’t know now how well I did the tailoring. I used to sew the robes on Sundays and they paid me 25 tugrug for each robe. 25 tugrug was sufficient amount of money. Now I think that humane nature of the people of that period was remarkable. They knew my life and that was an expression of their support in every possible way. Then I am extremely grateful to Balchindorj guai… so after graduating 10 year school I continued to work I finished 10 year school successfully so I wanted to enter the University. Then when I received the distribution to enter the an Institute a Director of our would not let me leave my work, as the time of entrance came, that time I was in financial college, I left my work in the kindergarten and was working in financial college. But the chairman of our trade union visited that Director together with me. He told him you are teacher why you are refusing a capable person who came to you to pursue her study further, why are you talking like this and severely scolded him thus he made him free me from the work and join the Institute. In this manner those people of earlier days loved very much children and tried to help them in every way to stand on their own feet. So I became a student of the Institute and the same year married my husband. We had ger so had no problem, an advantage of living in a ger is that it is very good for the health. It is very quiet, secondly it teaches children to be industrious. Children living in ger clean the dwelling, bring water, chop the firewood, bring the wood in, but in apartment, frankly speaking if we now look at our door it looks to the north, it is somewhat strange to have your door looking northward, in ger when you sleep head to north… or if you should sleep head to the west side, you can sleep that way. Most importantly ger makes you more industrious.

Byambajav -

It keeps you closer to the nature.

Tserendejid -

Yes, close to nature, close to life. It (ger) is a very convenient dwelling for human health. Yes, apartment is always noisy. Ger is not, ventilation is good, always open air. There is no noise and it is very quiet. In any way it is very nice for us when live in ger (on summer camp) or visit families living in ger. When we were young living in apartment was convenient. Until my husband received an apartment we have been living in a room of various families and first received an apartment in 64, when it was just constructed. We have 4 children(0-11-04) My children all have profession, and everyone has a work to do, so we two are doing well and enjoy a good life. The most important thing is we should adopt and continue humane and industrious customs of the people of that period, it is the main thing. Then in those days even when we were studying in 10 year school we were drafted to work. In institute we worked in state farms, we dig soil and did various other job all the time. People and children were organized in work groups. After graduation from the Institute a lot of young pole from everywhere gathered at one place. So they get to know each other(0-11-51) and worked together. Bringing up by labour is a very important part of making a man. One can learn a lot by studying but educating though labour is vital then he or she would be able to work anywhere, I think that it is wrong to abandon that practice of letting the children to work. While working as teachers in technical schools after graduation we took our students and went to state farms to work there. Working there was really nice. I had worked on state farms many times usually for a month, later as senior teacher not so many times but when I came after graduation I was usually sent with the first group of students. So as a newcomer you would do almost everything told to do whatever it may be. After a year I thought working at state farm gave me health. Children at the state farm after working for the whole day in evening played various games. It was wonderful you gained weight, and now I think that physical labour was a good exercise, now there is no lessons of physical labour in schools and they are not engaged in labour after gradation, there is no favourable environment for young people to know and trust each other. But we went one by one but we got to know there each other our marriage started from there, many nice young people met and became husbands and wives over there. There is nothing like that. We had many meetings and gatherings and where we all met, also we organised get together parties. It was a nice opportunity to get acquainted, to know each other. I think now they lack that opportunity.(0-13-46) There is no such joint labour of youth. Then now there are children who are collecting garbage this is a worthwhile idea that emerged since last year. Yeah, so that environment of physical activities, the work we did…well, shall we now….

Byambajav -

When you first received the apartment….

Tserendejid -

Aan when we received the apartment now...

Byambajav -

How was it?

Tserendejid -

Now, it was wonderful. Well, we were young, and fetched water, prepared in evening firewood and coal and it was a hard work. Then when we moved to this apartment it was warm, convenient, a new apartment is so nice. I lived together with my father and a younger sister whne we were acquainted and we lived in our ger, and this apartment was given to my husband it was truly a great festivity for us, my sons, this Batbold were running from room to room laughing on the first day of our arrival. Even the children were so delighted. So we now live in this apartment, almost 43 years have passed since then. An apartment is very nice and convenient for living, aa one one hand children don’t learn to work and make them lazy in comparison with us. But it is nice, it offers you more opportunities to engage in something else. For children living in ger when they grow up(0-15-29) crowding in one place creates certain difficulties. There are problems but most importantly living in ger is good for your health and coupled with the physical work it makes your life very enjoyable, may be because I myself lived in ger since my childhood it is what think, yaeh? I was sent to the financial college as teacher and worked there for more than twenty years then I went to Korea accompanying my husband.

Byambajav -

Will you tell me about your life in Korea? Can you draw comparisons between the living environment there with that of in Mongolia?

Tserendejid -

Koreans are generally extremely industrious people. Once in Korea we had to do anything that has to be done in our Embassy. From sweeper to waiter and even we had at times to be the cook. In general, we had to do everything ourselves, our staff was very small as for the North Korea it is a small country. Therefore, the Embassy itself, its activities and the life of the Embassy staff were very compact, now may be it is more active. That was like that, so there we as members of family had to do anything that required our participation.

Byambajav -

Was it very interesting to arrive there for the first time, can you share your impressions of that period?

Tserendejid -

When you first arrived there the atmosphere, in comparison with ours, was very heavy, completely different. Generally, the responsibility is much higher than you work here at home. Here you work on the job of your profession, over there you have to be a jack of all trades. When there is a reception, we all became cooks. For the Ambassador it would be too much but his wife, the secretary all of them became cook. So we prepared the dish under the direction of the best cook amongst us, then some of us had to serve as waiters. So it was also an interesting life. You learn new skills such as typing, accounting, in a way you have to take up the job of completely different profession, Yeah. And we had to strive rather hard to provide convenient living conditions as family members of the staff. Living there was so and so, but generally that is a very secluded life, it was a an isolated world, an Embassy, we had no place where we could go freely. When we drove out towards the country side to be in open air there was no such clean air or free space, trees were planted everywhere you had to travel along a single road, you go to the sea shores, for us who are used to the open landscape it is really…

Byambajav -

You feel confined, yeah?

Tserendejid -

Yes, of course, in that heat, you want to go out, the people over there really work hard, and they are mostly women, women are engaged in the most hard physical labour, they work at construction and in general living is very difficult, but apparently people are accustomed to the living condition you find yourself, for us when we look at them from aside their life is extremely hard and even the food is rationed. Well now the international relations are improving then freedom and democracy had arrived, it is very nice. We are now free to go anywhere. But over there if we wanted to get out we had to apply for permission. Growing freely is not of small significance, there is no such free country as ours where even an outsider can go anywhere and engage in any activities one wishes. (0-19-55) Our nature is wonderful, I am a native of khangai region and love dearly mountains and rivers. When I walk in mountains and along the river I feel refreshed physically and morally. Yeah, that is the splendour of nature, I believe that I became healthy and stronger while working with my student at state farms. Therefore, I cherish nature, if a person will live nearer to the nature in fresh air and engage in physical labour, the labour and fresh air will cure almost any kind of illness. That is what I think. People, now our people are paying more attention to their health and travel to the countryside, if mental workers would walk during spring in forest, hike in mountains and rub your body with spring water it will help you to improve your vitality, cure almost all illness. You basically don’t need any medicine or injections. I felt that on my body. I reared 4 children and helped the to graduate from schools. Now they all have their own families. And of course, our life has changed. Then my father died in his 40’s, my mother died when she was only 40. Since I was the eldest child they were at my care and I took the responsibility of arranging everything connected with running the household affairs.

Byambajav -

Do you put up the ger yourself?

Tserendejid -

No, I can’t put up a ger that well, hee, hee, as for ger I can’t put it up. Аа, but...

Byambajav -

In those days for example, your mother’s ger had what kind of furniture, in the ger?

Tserendejid -

Аа then when we lived in countryside when my mother and father put their ger up my father by his own hand made every piece of furnishings. Later when we also got new ger the chest and other items he made are still being used by us. My mother covered with paint finished furnishings she was working as the applier of paint in one factory. And my father was carpenter so he made all the furnishings in the ger himself. After coming to the city he used to make all the furnishings in the ger, he did that. A chest my father had made during that period is now in our summer house, a long chest. My father was a good carpenter. There are many things he made, when we lived in Korea he came with us and made a dough kneading board for our family. Simply ...

Byambajav -

Did your father visit Korea?

Tserendejid -

He visited going together with us...(0-22-57)

Byambajav -

Please tell me about that?

Tserendejid -

Yeah, father was over there, wooden items were scarce there so my father made a kneading board for me. He cut narrow wooden panels of boxes glued them together and made kneading boards for the Embassy kitchen and one more for the secretary. Recently we met, remembered about it. As a carpenter he made several long benches for the Embassy and put them in the garden at an outdoor sitting area later when we visited (Korea) in 84 they were still standing there. So my old man was saying something made by your hands still exists like this. (0-23-48) While nothing is left of the papers I had scribbled on. The favourite recollection of my childhood years is that an old man who was the elder brother of my father loved and pampered me since I was a lonely child I used often come to his ger he had many children and they sometimes threatened to beat me up. So that old man took a lash in hands and used to scold his children saying only dogs bite each other not the humans and run after them. And I had such a powerful protector hee, hee. As for the furnishings in our ger there was not much of it, at that time we had two beds on iron frame and a long chest. There were two more smaller chests, so three chests, that was our furniture, when my children entered school my father made for them a student desk. A desk with drawers that desk, I think, is now still in use of children of my younger siblings who live at Gandan. Yeah, then for us, for my late sister as well as the elder sister of your mother, the mother of them he made a desk, it was a pretty furniture desk of brown colour, we trying to decorate it painted various patterns on it. We had such a desk, the chair was simple wooden chair, after our graduation from the institute and later after we left to south the children of my younger brother took it. There was also a large wardrobe made specially by my father for two of us to store our clothes, this wardrobe is now in the home of my younger siblings, so my father usually made himself the furnishings for he was a good carpenter. We did not buy the furniture as people do today. And when we moved to an apartment those nice furniture was not available at all. We came to the apartment with beds, it was beds made from iron frame the head side of the bed was coated in nickel, later we bought one sofa, there were no other furniture. All furnishings of the ger were brought and set in the apartment. Including that long chest hee, hee, that way we started our new life…

Byambajav -

What was the most cherished furnishing at that time, the furniture that you wanted to buy and set at home?

Tserendejid -

These furniture, wardrobe, various sofas became available later, in our days beautifully decorated chests were the best furnishings, chest with paintings of tiger and lion, and those chests with nice paintings were probably the best furnishings. Yeah, we did not buy those chests, we had furnishings made by us, they were made exactly in the same manner as it, the furnishing, was produced by the furniture factory, our family, at that time, was a household with such beautiful furnishings. It was god enough to live in a ger….

Byambajav -

How the most luxurious and beautiful ger of that period looked like?

Tserendejid -

Аа, a luxurious ger of that period…

Byambajav -

Did they spread carpets ?

Tserendejid -

Carpets, in olden days those sedentary families in city and settlements had carpets, and there was one very beautiful low desk called the desk of tea cups, a large table that had two drawers on sides for keeping cups. At that time there was a shelf called student table, or generally as shelf. We had one such big shelf made by my father, it was a big one, later also younger brothers took it to their home. We had it when we first came to the apartment. And we stored our belongings in it when we later left. Aa, well as for the rather well-to-do and rich family of the city of that period for example when we visited a family who was a friend of my husband, there was a big nicely decorated low table without legs with drawers on two sides and with carpet that in those days was as rare as gold but the other furnishings were simple and hand made, there was a very beautiful chest with paintings on the front.

Byambajav -

Were there carvings?

Tserendejid -

With carvings, in those families I used to visit I did not see one. I don’t think carvings were used at that time that much, no, it was probably not. The frame of god statues were made exclusively beautiful. It was decorated with patterns, in general, items of veneration were made very beautiful. I have not seen anything around me that was extremely luxurious, among city residents that father of our friend was a city resident but that family had that decorated chests and three beds, a family that had those decorated wooden beds were also considered rather luxurious. Yes, now among those who are living in enclosures like my younger brothers households with such beds would also be considered rather splendid. Those who had such beds, had a cupboard or stand with legs for keeping kitchen utensils, in those days, of course, there was nothing comparable to the present kitchen furniture.

Byambajav -

Were knives and forks as well slicing boards at that time?

Tserendejid -

As for the kneading board we usually made it ourselves my father made those boards, with regard to knives and forks in those days only aluminium forks and (spoons) were available hee, hee, knives, there were only Russian knives, actually the knives and forks came out rather late. They were used mostly by the well-to-do, steel utensils such as forks and spoons we started using after being in south since 76 before that Russian aluminium utensils were the best we could get. Wooden containers and pails of that time for storing cream and butter were the best suited utensils for that very purpose. The skin bag for fermenting airag was also good for that purpose, therefore in past dairy products stored in those containers did not get spoiled as today, this is what I assume. The products were kept in those wooden pails. Then(0-31-22) the containers for dairy products were kept very clean. Dried curds were usually stored in tulam (whole skin bags), made of sheep skin, then it was consumed during the spring. But now cream and dairy products are kept in plastic containers and get easily spoiled. I think that why is the products deteriorate in quality. So the utensils for food storage, in general what our people used were genuine natural products, including their clothes. Now that cradle for baby made from sheep skin is very good for the health of children. In past children in sheep skin cradle used to suck(as a pacifier) a slice of tail fat of sheep that had been soiled and become almost brown in colour. Then young mothers and fathers told that they found their child sleeping among the lambs tied to rope in row. So the people were very healthy because they lived so close to the nature. And most importantly people in past were extremely aware of protection of their environment, did not leave waste materials and ashes everywhere, when migrating from one place to the other carefully cleaned the old camp site. Dropping milk or other dairy products into water any other unclean matter was strictly was prohibited. But now rivers are polluted by garbage, in past our people protected water sources with special care, children were taught to protect the nature. In our place a nice pulpy fruit called adargana grows, I don’t know of the present veggies and fruits with which to compare it, may be it is more like a white carrot, but very sweet, to extract the root we had to dig the soil, when we went for it they prohibited us because it would loosen the soil and would not allow us to dig the roots so we would go for the dig secretly. We were warned not to pollute the source of the river. That way the nature and rivers were protected and thanks to it the environment was clean and a lots of different plants grew. But in our country the environment has been vandalized without any restraint, it has been defaced awfully, it is high time to educate the children in the spirit of love to nature and water, by being close to nature children will grow healthy. We now have air pollution. In childhood we rarely put boots on. In cold of spring and autumn we were running bare foot occasionally stepping on warm dung of cow. It was very warm when you step the warm urine of cow as well. In summer stones would be awfully hot for a bare foot child because of these extremes we grew up healthy. In hot summer day catching the ewes and lambs (for milking) from among the animals standing in pack (hursan not хорцсон-gathered in pack) was an arduous job at that time. Then the child would pasture the lambs and calves, there were plenty of other odd jobs that were the responsibility of a child. These were the jobs that helped him to grow healthy. As for the school it was a time when the well-to-do did not send their children to school and usually the poor and destitute send their children in place of the children of the rich. When the representative of school or soum administration came our parents hid us in order not to send to the school. Hee, hee , however, my parents did send me to school. Thanks to my father’s coming to city for work luckily I was able to get the education. If I was living in the country side surely I would have become a milkmaid. Hee hee, if you take into account the fact that my father had not even attended an elementary school he was a genius. Even his grandparents had been goods carpenters in generations. One of them they say designed and created a machine for polishing stones.

Byambajav -

Really?

Tserendejid -

Yes. Then that man was arrested because he was a lama, but he was released after building this monument, monument to Sühbaatar.

Byambajav -

Will you please tell me about him?

Tserendejid -

Well since we had been children we don’t know much about it. When the furniture factory was put into operation, also the stone polishing workshop was put into operation and he was the man who created that polishing machine. Then I don’t know in those days such independent initiatives were not hold very high, it was used that time what happened now I have no idea. However, the street of the furniture factory was named after Choimbol. If he continued further probably he would have invented and created far more interesting things so ours are people of high intellectual capacity. Only in country mental work is not valued, I think mental creations should be given due recognition. Because mental capability is not being valued capable intellectuals are leaving for foreign countries. I think as far as the intellectual capacity is concerned Mongols are not short of anyone, in general, we are quite capable, that why we feel so big. Well, I think I have taken too much of your time….

Byambajav -

I have one question.

Tserendejid -

OK.

Byambajav -

In earlier days women were not allowed go further than pillars of the ger, is it true?

Tserendejid -

Аа in our time there was no such strict regulation. It was in place before our generation. Well, in our family there was no one who would know that well all those customs and traditions, I personally did not know them that well. Of course there were limitations imposed on women. Women should not have nice teeth because it will be no good for her.

Byambajav -

Тhen what should be done to those who had beautiful teeth?

Tserendejid -

Well it was thought that was burden meaning that it would bring bad luck, if you had beautiful hands that was also no good. If she had long hairs then there was a saying the long hairs are the sign of weak mind etc. So if you think over these then there was evidently a tendency to go against everything beautiful in a woman. Aan then all those who were born beautiful were made the wives of khans and princes. So if think there was tendency to reject everything beautiful in a woman, this was on one side. Children were educated to customs and traditions according to the understanding of sins. Yeah, for example, if you don’t listen to the elders it would be bad for your fate, if you throw out ashes and garbage together the spirits of water and mountain would be enraged in this way in connection with religion children were taught to follow and observe the rules and customs. Well, it had something to do with environment we lived in, there were no other sources of information. Now children receive various information they don’t need it and will simply not believe in such things. We had no or little information from outside so we had to swirl around that taboo. In those days the most important of respect was respect of the elders. The most senior of the ail (group of households) commands that group of households. (0-40-09) There may be up ten households camping as immediate neighbours and if the elder said that they were pasturing their livestock too late they would obey him do as told. But now they apparently stopped listen to the elders. I assume that our people are obliterating too much everything from the past, they eliminating that what had been created in the past. There are things that should be improved and adopted but not abandoned. For children learning to respect the elders is very important for a person, it is a very precious thing. There are many important ideas and customs, young people as today would not sit above the elders, when elders are talking to each other children should not interrupt them, there may be certain negative elements in it but on the whole they were extremely useful in acquiring rules and habits of human society. Then if you think it over the requirement to look carefully at the parents and their lineage, at their grand parents were a notion of enormous value. Then a family created on the advice or orientation of one’s parents, a family created heeding to one’s mother and father are more stable and firm. Those who did not heed, generally did not get along well, the mother and father see further.(0-42-00) then this issue of lineage is the most precious and complex matter. The rules and customs of olden days were very wise they did everything thing by their own hands, if there was a need to treat medically, they administered the medicine, when there is the need to do something they did that. And on the basis of immense experience of life and observations elders forwarded ideas that were no less important than what the present scientists can articulate, however they were not recorded or written down. Hee, hee I believe it is so. We have been listening to instructions of our mothers and fathers, in our days instructions of elders were more honoured than at present the laws of state, they were much more than law. For us it was the unbreakable law, and in my view it should remain so in any time. Then it is the society that educate men, there is no other option for an individual except following the norms of the given society. This is what I think. Well, our country will develop, our children are receiving information, as for the knowledge they have now the opportunity to study and educate themselves, in our days we were asked to enrol in school, they virtually pleaded us to join and rendered every assistance to those who were in school, however, the examinations were very strict and went according the written rules, one had to face a stringent training. And when you compare the time in past we studied with present, it is different, probably, it has something to do with the skill and motivation of those teachers of earlier days. For example when you look at teachers and compare them with ourselves the attitude is completely different. We left our own children aside and run after the children of other people. We wanted those children to achieve a stage when they can make their own living. We, for example, used to tell the female students you should become educated otherwise you would be sitting before the stove as simple housewife. To the male students we told you’ll get a good job and become the head of a family. Head of a family has great responsibilities, it is an honorary role for a man. There is a very nice custom of ours. When a young man marries the parents prepare the ger and furnish it, give him share of the property and says now you are a head family. Now it is up to you and it depends on the decisions you will make how you will carry on further the livelihood of your family, this means he is accepting a great responsibility. The bride (parents of the bride) has to prepare all the ropes that are needed to fasten the felt covers of the ger as well as the felt coverings. To a strict households the bride has to bring them upon her arrival, this also means a big responsibility. Now newly weds come to an apartment and buy everything to furnish it.

Byambajav -

What does the brides’ side have to prepare? (0-45-40)

Tserendejid -

Well, our people do not know that well all those strict rules and customs. In general.

Byambajav -

Then what is the custom or rule?

Tserendejid -

They say that is customary for the side of bride to prepare the utensils of kitchen. Then most importantly the parents of bridegroom make the all preparations and bring the bride in. As for us we did not know the customs, we were almost children and did not really know what was happening… after bringing the bride, when you look at some households, after having prepared all the necessary accessories they erect the ger and the couple enter their ger. Yes, then after some time after the bride who is now the daughter-in-law of that household pays a visit to her mother and father, and when she comes back her parents give her the livestock as a share of her property. At the time when she was first brought to the home of bridegroom her share of livestock was not given. There is a certain period after which she will visit her parents. It was, in general, ….the custom observed in our place, we had no such strict rules or traditions. Apparently in other aimags there are very strict customs and rules, I found out this while reading a book later as for us we did not observe any of those customs. When we married we came each with a suitcase, there was a single Russian made iron bed of green colour. We get together with such a bed. The suitcases hold two or three pieces of our old clothes. We had nothing else, that was how we married. In those days when we married young people married just like that. So all we had to do was to rent a small house(cabin) to start our independent life.(laughed) Now even though a lot of formalities are observed the families not stable. The role of man is the most important factor. When the head of the household is good he plays a crucial role in many matters. Children…the children of a family of responsible father grows to be a responsible man. And the elders of the past set examples, they showed the children personally on their own practice. They worked with the child alongside and showed them what to do and how to do so that the child get practice and get used to the work. Of course, in those days it was mostly the everyday activities of the household. It was also very important. Teaching children on one’s example should be at all times. ????? (0-48-24,26) They never looked down on children’s work, which is very important…(0-48-31)

Byambajav -

When you first moved to the apartment where did put your furniture. Now in ger you will put this one on the backside of the ger. Then in a room which of the furnishings should be put on the place of respect (upper side) did you give any thought to it?

Tserendejid -

No, I did not. We-two had no such furniture. My father and brother occupied one room. In the other room we lived together with our children. Each one of had a bed, which was the most important thing. The Buddha statues and shrines of my father we could not display them all as today. They were hidden in a small box made for that purpose. So…

Byambajav -

In other words in this room, in this room, which means …

Tserendejid -

Yes, in this …

Byambajav -

This room is situated in the north, the northern side, is it?

Tserendejid -

Yes. We gave to my father this room on the north and we occupied the bigger room facing south. We did not think about the direction…no. Simply we were more in numbers and occupied the bigger room, others the smaller room …

Byambajav -

Now you sleep looking to which direction? You sleep your head towards which direction?

Tserendejid -

Now I sleep head to the north … well, head to the west side. I sleep head towards north by the cardinal point of universe. In the room facing south I was sleeping head towards the direction of the door. So as for the direction you have keep I mind the cardinal direction of the universe, as in ger you can’t say this is the side of the door that is the north or back side of the ger, as it can not be applied to an apartment.

Byambajav -

So the habits and customs are changing a little bit?

Tserendejid -

Yes, of course. It is changing along with the society and the environment. However, I am sure that people follow the cardinal point direction of universe, I think so. Yes. So sleeping head towards the west in this room means I am looking to the west. Now when the houses look to any sides not just north or south it is difficult to speak as in the ger the backside of it but you have to take orientation on basis of the direction of universe.(Laughed) Yes…then ger is a traditional dwelling of Mongols, it is truly a dwelling of our people. Aa, houses are European dwellings. Dwelling of foreigners. (0-50-51)

Byambajav -

What do you think…for young people who follow the good traditions is it better to live in apartments or live a nice ger?

Tserendejid -

This a matter for that person to decide …

Byambajav -

In your opinion?

Tserendejid -

It is a matter of interest. Well, then for young people it may be better for them in live in a ger, from the point view of economy and if you care for your health. The obvious drawback of living in ger is the difficulty you face living together with several other people. At least for a person like you who is working on something when there many people… there is no way of finding a solitary place. No matter how many people are there you have to tolerate them or else. In a ger you don’t have any other choice. In country side ger is more convenient. But it is better for the young people to live in apartments. From economic point of view ger is ….more beneficial than an apartment. To live in a nice ger and enclosure while young will be worthwhile experience. It is up to them to decide how can they benefit from it. (Laughs)

Byambajav -

Well, I think you are, apparently, in a hurry. Then…will you tell about your life after you got your pension comparing it to your life during the socialist period and we’ll finish there. Since you are in hurry …

Tserendejid -

OK. Well once you get your pension you become a house keeper. Living on pension is not something that one would wish when you feel still strong and healthy. You are isolated from the community and it is something which…(one would wish) In other words you are left with yourself alone, becomes a housekeeper. Well, of course there are those who are not like that. As for me I was taking care of my sick father and thus spent the time. But when we were working during the socialist period, we had been always very busy, and I don’t think it was something wrong. At that time it was not easy. But in my view that hard work rewarded us with stronger health. When one is among the public and even work without any spare time, he or she manages all the duties before you. Aa, if you are sitting idle to just listen to your body. (0-53-58) And you will think that something is wrong. I wish the present youth to do some job, be engaged to some extent. For an individual not to find some occupation is, generally, very depressing. It is not good at all. A man doing something always feels optimistic and up beat. Well, you may get reprimanded, you may commit mistake but you’ll also gain a lot. Under these circumstances the condition and the motive to drive you forward is formed. After I was retired on my pension I used to tell this to my colleagues. I retired in a hurry because I was leaving for the south (Korea). Since I had no job there I decided to receive my pension at the age 50 on account of children. (In past mothers who reared 4 children had the right retire early) My colleagues were telling me don’t retire, it is too early for you to retire. But I decided to retire thinking that it was not desirable thing to be standing before the children slavering and asked them to set my pension and left. I understood that it was wrong to think I am old. When others were working why I should not work as well. I should have continued my career. I think it was indeed my mistake. But in fact I had some problem in my life, my father was ill with stomach cancer, he was ill so I had to take care him. May be because of my care he lived for 5 more years. He did not suffer very much. So I used to tell to those whom I left behind well, you should be working till they start to nag you to resign you should continue to work. Those young teachers who worked with me later laughed telling me that as you advised us we continue to work. (Laughed) In general, it is better if one has some kind of job, salary does not matter, it may be high or low, the most important thing is to be among the people, to work along the side of the collective, to receive 30 thousand tugrug by sitting idle or that sum given be by the children or by someone else or to receive it as the payment for the job you have done are different things, receiving that 30 thousands tugrug as the remuneration for the work done by is a lot sweeter. Yes.(Laughed) It is sweet, incomparably pleasant. This may be different for different people. For me specially when you are in good health you should be working. To sit idle means, in fact, to consider yourself a sick person.(0-56-39) That is why you should make yourself busy with some occupation. There are people who are, though, on pension do plenty of nice things, but how many are they? In anyway being engaged in some work is the right thing. I now always advise young people to do job, don’t sit idle. Don’t mind the size of salary, you should be among a collective, take up some kind of job. Some do understand and appreciate it. This is something that I kept in mind (since retirement). If you think it does not matter to me, then it is his misfortune. I thanks to many good kindhearted people I did not drop out of school. I started working since 17, after graduation from the Institute, it was very nice, we were given the distribution slip and were told go there and get your job. We were given the opportunity to graduate from the school and then led directly to the job to do, you were expected to meet fully the requirements. So we all went there and …worked I after graduation from Teacher Training Institute went by distribution to the Financial college. And had been working there, but now there are so many graduates of the Institutes with high education and profession who are unemployed. Then we have been a very lucky and happy lot. They say socialism was bad, I don’t know. I believe that we have been lucky, even too lucky. We received stipend to study. If you earn excellent marks you got supplementary payment (Laughed) you fail exams your stipend were cut(Laughed) that is why you were determined not o get a cut. Did you also receive stipend until you graduated?

Byambajav -

Aan I had stipend when I studied abroad. After coming back to Mongolia I did not receive stipend.

Tserendejid -

Yes, this had happened. After my children graduated there were no more stipend. My children did get stipend until they finished. Well there were probably drawbacks in socialist system. It somehow subdued the private initiative ??? (0-58-55) that was the drawback. Then there must have been something else in social aspects. As for us I don’t think we had lived that bad, during that period.

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Interviews, transcriptions and translations provided by The Oral History of Twentieth Century Mongolia, University of Cambridge. Please acknowledge the source of materials in any publications or presentations that use them.