Mönhöö


Basic information
Interviewee ID: 990905
Name: Mönhöö
Parent's name: Goosh
Ovog: [blank]
Sex: m
Year of Birth:
Ethnicity: [unknown]

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


Themes for this interview are:
(Please click on a theme to see more interviews on that topic)


Alternative keywords suggested by readers for this interview are: (Please click on a keyword to see more interviews, if any, on that topic)



Click here to submit your own keywords for this interview

Please click to read an English summary of this interview

Please click to read the Mongolian transcription of this interview

Translation:



The Oral History of Twentieth Century Mongolia

Byambajav -

I thank you very much for accepting my invitation and giving me this interview. There are one or two matters to clarify before we proceed to the interview.

Mönhöö -

Ааn hn.

Byambajav -

Your interview will be used by us may be after a few years, may be tens or a hundred years from now by historians and researches. Aa, then it may be used as reference material for broadcasts on radio and Television, in newspapers and journals.

Mönhöö -

Ааn hn.

Byambajav -

Would you then grant us the permission to use in this way all the subjects and information?

Mönhöö -

Of course I do.

Byambajav -

Well, thank you. There is another thing that should be clarified in this interview. If you ask what is this then you may leave your name in secret or you may use without concealing.

Mönhöö -

Aan. It is okay. Write Munkhoo, you may write it.

Byambajav -

Yes. So I can leave your name without keeping it secret.

Mönhöö -

Aan hn.

Byambajav -

Yes. Well, let’s start the inteview…tell me about about your mother and father as well as about yourself, introduce yourself and tell us in the first place about your childhood.

Mönhöö -

Ааn. Well, I am called Gooshiin Munkhoo. I finished 10 year school, in childhood I attended kindergarten... I was brough up in kindergarten. I am very grateful to my mother and father, most importantly, for bringing me up since childhood in kindergarten. After all they were both intellectuals. In fact, by today’s standard two of them were working as managers. Yeah. So when I was attending the kindergarten at that time…I learned the songs and poems children learned and was raised there. As for my father he passed away in 90’s. He was a medical doctor. However, actually I know my father very well. He was a good man. Generally, who will say that his or her mother or father were bad persons. He was a good person, my father. My fater was a good person indeed. As for my mother…she was also an office worker, she worked in the Party Committee.

Byambajav -

She was socially very active person, wasn’t she?

Mönhöö -

Yeah. Well, she was in the city party committee ... in the committee of the revolutionary youth league of that time…now there is no such a committee of the league. That time she was serving at a good post such as an instructor. She was also an instructor at the party committee of the city. She was working in the office of the October district. (0-03-32) She worked as an (event) organiser. Well, then to be brought up in the hands of such people was a good fortune. They were intellectuals. At that time we were almost like, by the present standards, the children of chief executives, ministers or bosses. This is what I can say about my mother and father…well then in childhood…at that time we were brought up in the kindergartens, then I finished the school No.28, after I finished…the 8th grade…and entered a technical (vocational) school. At that time there were so many of these technical schools…today there are no technical schools, then there were many technical schools. The given period was 86. At present children would not enrol in technical schools they all talk about entering in institutes. They all want institutes. At that time I finished a technical school, I entered in the technical school of auto-transport. My father wanted me to enrol in medium school of health (medical college), he was telling me to accept the assignment to enter the class of midwife. While he wanted me to become a doctor (medical personal), I on my own intuition … instinct had chosen the technical school of auto-transport and got an assignment slip to enter that school. That time the first 20-30 children did get the assignment to good technical schools not the institutes as they do now. Assignments were, usually, given on basis of the points (they had earned in entrance exams). Aa, then I was at 25th place…from 225 children, I was at 25tn place. My late father did not say that I should take the assignment of the technical school of auto-transport. He told me to take the assignment for Medical college. In the maternity or midwife class…assignment were given indicating the gender of entrants, so many males and so many females etc. So when he was insisting on midwife … at that given time I chose the technical school of auto-transport, the class of auto-mechanic. Aa, well, that was it. So I went along that path. It was after my graduation from 8th grade so that was it. When my former classmates were in 10th grade and finishing the 10th grade they were saying why did we not finish just the 8th grade as you did. If we finished the 8th grade like you and studied in technical school by now we would have a profession. What the benefit of graduating from the 10th grade. That time even if you finish 10th grade no assignments were available. The most important part was that even though there were no assignment for graduates of 10 year school, if you were graduating the 8th grade a lot assignments to vocational technical schools in Germany, Czechoslovakia and Russia were available. They were available to the graduates of the 8th grade at that given period. But when they graduated the 10th grade the assignments were no longer available. My former classmates who graduated from the 10th grade regretted why did they not take those assignments. If they went to Czech or Germany after 8th grade at that time by assignment to a technical school of shoemaking, today coming back to Mongolia they would have been able to open a shoemaking factory or shop, they would have mastered that capability. This is what my 10 year school classmates now talk about. But back then everyone wanted to finish the 10th grade…it was a must embedded in everybody’s mind, the maxim of the socialist period was …an individual for the public, the public for the individual. We lived under this motto. (0-07-38) During the socialism the catchword was fight against embezzlement of the (public) property we had been educated by that call up the date. It was such a period. So, it was okay in general, I grad…graduated the technical school of auto-transportation and received the certificate of the qualification, received a driving license. My profession was a driver…now I think it over a little bit. In our times we had been sweating for 4 years, studied the theoretical lessons passed the practical field training. What do they do now. One month course. Oh, what is the use of it. What we, myself had been studying for years, what I had been through, how one can learn all of those subjects just in one month. There is no such thing. They study for 2-3 months. How can they do this? Without teaching anything on theoretical side, speaking of theory now…it is not an exaggeration if you lift the bonnet(hood)… of the car and ask where is the battery? No one knows where the battery is placed. Take the fuel (suction) pump, where is it?, show me, Nil. New drivers have no practical knowledge. But I did spend 4 years to learn about all of them. However, when I first came to work there were many things that I did not know. When you are doing the real thing…I worked by distribution at first in Auto-transport operation base No.5. I was sent from the auto-technical school by distribution first to the Auto-transport operation base No.5. At the operation base we start the learning process from essentials. After years of learning by books…you were not appointed directly as a mechanic or as a controller mechanic. You were appointed as fitter or repairman. So I after I had been admitted as a worker, when I came in the morning, shall I tell my own story now?

Byambajav -

Ааn hn.

Mönhöö -

Magnificent. When I came in the morning I was told to remove the silencer (muffler) (Kushitel -a corruption of Russian word-Glushitel) of a vehicle. Silencer is something …which could be removed after cutting off the electricity (Хүчдэл?)…I was told remove the silencer of ZIL 30 (A Russian made vehicle, ZIL abbreviation of Zavod imeni Lichacheva). I thought, well, what was the silencer, and then… decided anyway to go underneath and look for it…and tried to remove it. We were told it was a kushitel, in fact, it was a pipe. We were not told how remove the pipe, because it was assumed that any body could remove that pipe. Any driver can remove it…

Byambajav -

Assumption ...

Mönhöö -

... with that assumption we were sent to work. So to remove that silencer for the first time I was underneath of the vehicle and tried to do something with the wrench. He was asking did I manage to loosen the nuts and bolts, I was saying yes I am. But what a strange thing is this? Then the driver came and said oh you are loosening the wrong bolt. I said brother I am unscrewing this bolt and showed to something resembling a pipe. And I was told that in order to remove the silencer I had unscrew two bolts on the top and two more of the silencer and 2 more on the top of the pipe. (0-11-02) So as you see even we were graduated without definite understanding. Then what the children will be taught and learn in the present courses of one to tree months duration. Our people are doing totally meaningless work. This is my understanding, instead of this why can’t there be a one year college course for drivers. What is the use of those graduates with incomplete knowledge of the vehicle. Driving licences are giving without proper training. This is just a matter of making money. Today training courses are organised for a payment of hundred, hundred ten, hundred twenty thousand tugrugs to issue drivers’ licences of B category for driving small passenger cars. What happens in real life, new drivers often ram from the rear of the car standing before them. The driving schools are training so many of these unqualified drivers. In real situation they are useless. I think that if I would have enough money, speaking of my dream, then I would organise one year college, with 4-5 cars, a very good quality college to train drivers. We can speak of only college we can’t think of institutes. I think of training professionally qualified drivers with sufficient experience and with good knowledge of driving.

Byambajav -

Ааn hn.

Mönhöö -

Aan ha. One or two months courses are ... flawed, it is my thought. Yeah. It stands nothing, it is only some means of making money…today in Mongolia these people work to make money. They have no intention of giving a training of quality. Even I did train some in category D for 150.000 tugrugs. I saw it on my own experience in order to give a category D license, you give the trainee a bus with 30-40 litres of gasoline and let him drive for a day or two. When you spend 30-40 litres of gasoline on a trainee it means you don’t spend sufficient amount relative to the 150.000 you have received. For a trainee you don’t spend that much fuel. For 14 days training you don’t spend that much. At the best you buy fuel for 20, 30 thousand tugrugs and buy about 100 litres of gasoline, and teach the trainees to make turns in the shape number eight, let them park backing the bus and drive it out from the garage moving forward. After that they are entitled to receive the category D license, the category for driving bus. It is what we usually do. We don’t have the resources to organise a truly qualitative training as Mongolia is concerned. No, I am not slandering Mongolia. I am just trying to present the real situation.

Byambajav -

When you were young your mother was apparently a very busy person?

Mönhöö -

Aan yes. Our mother, of course, was very busy. That is why our elder brothers, uncles on both sides…younger brothers of my father, they all cared for me… actually they brought me up, they often took me to the kindergarten because my mother and father were both busy. Since both of them we on some kind of managerial jobs, they were busy all the time…I did not like very much going to the kindergarten, specially in the morning.

Byambajav -

Why? (0-14-45)

Mönhöö -

In the morning mother and father would not take me to the kindergarten. It was those brothers who brought me. There are four, five uncles of mine on both sides. On father’s side there are four, four of them, on mother’s three of them. And then since my father was eldest ….son-in-law and therefore I think he was respected… as much. When taking me to the kindergarten…they took a bottle for soft drink, at that time ….cost of a bottle was 20 mungu. The price of one bottle of soft drink was 1 tugrug 20 mungu. My brother gave the bottle to me carry it and he himself walked before me. Since I liked very much that drink I’d follow him to drink it. So he brought me to the kindergarten and took me in the evening. My mother and father sometimes would come late and I remember staying sometimes with guard for some time.

Byambajav -

(Laughs.)

Mönhöö -

I was a small kid. Well, that was …my childhood years, it was wonderful. Now when you recall it the childhood age…not really the childhood years but the students years were the most wonderful time. When I was a student, I studied for 4 years in the technical school, the period of being a student is the best years. We as a special student brigade was sent to State Farms, I don’t know whether those State Farms are still there. So we went many times to state farms. When I was in the first course, we went to Kurhyn State Farm of the Khentii aimag and toiled there for three months and came back with 450 tugrugs. At that time the highest pay a student got was 600. I had 400 and my mother and father used to borrow money from me. So I don’t know how to spend that 450 tugrug. Then I could buy and eat a dish for only 3 tugrug and 20 mungu, 3 tugrug and 50 mungu. There was canteen No.25 where fried meat pies and patty (прошки-pirojki- patty) were sold. Just to the North of Eldev-Ochir (name of old cinema house, now the Stock Exchange) there was a patty shop, it is gone now. We ate patty there, it was good and cost only 30 mungu. Imagine, you were a student and could buy for 3 tugrug 10 pieces of patty, this is the most wonderful memory I have. Being a child is nice, you did not grow up suddenly, you were brought up by your mother and father until adulthood. The name to call me was given by my mother and father, the name I’ll be remembered would be given by my people.

Byambajav -

You’ll also give it yourself.

Mönhöö -

Yes. Therefore, a man should safeguard his reputation. And most importantly, I am grateful to my mother and father, first and foremost. I think thanks to them I have achieved this present status of mine. And in general...the most important thing, the vital thing I think is the student years, such a wonderful time to remember is actually very rare for a person. 4 years. When I looked back after finishing 10 year school, I had 4 friends from among the collective of the 10 year school with whom I befriended more closely... (0-18-30) Our class had about 30 students, our class of the technical school of auto-transport had 30 students. Then of the 30 students only 2 were girls and the remaining 28 were boys. So we were learning the two girls did also. When I was studying in the technical school at that period frankly speaking in our technical school there were a lot of children of ministers and functionaries. That time there was the Ministry of Transport, it was called Ministry of Transport. It is now called Ministry of Road, Transport and Tourism, then it was Ministry of Transport and even a son of the Deputy minister of the Ministry of Transport was in our school. And then there was this transport operation base No.27. so children of merited transport workers, directors of the operation bases were studying in our school. As for me I earned my entrance with my hard labour. I was at 25th place… placed at 25th out of 225 participants and entered the technical school of auto-transport. They asked what do your father do? I replied my father’s name is Goosh, my father is a doctor. And they knew him. When ever a (new)teacher came in the class they would ask the same question. They say stand up and whose who are you? They want to know your father’s name by all means. And when you say whose who are you for example when I say Gooshiin Munkhoo, they would say oh, you are the son that man, who is now the Director of the Ambulatory of Transport Workers. So I say yes I am. Then teacher would say okay, okay sit down. So when they continued ask it turned out all the students were children of bosses. On the top children of ministers, lowest happened to be children various managers or directors, and all had some connections with the Ministry of Transport. Now in this apartment house father received a flat from the Ministry of Transport. All the apartments of this side were occupied by workers of various organisations related to transport. However… with passing years most of them sold their flats and moved out. Now there is not a single acquaintance here, when I go out of the entrance door there is not single person whom I know. All others had sold their apartment. Only my dear mother is still living here because of her attachment, may be she thinks that it was my father who received the apartment. May be she still holds in her heart my father. That is why my mother is determined to carry on further this home of ours.

Byambajav -

Those children of Ministers and Managers of that time who were in your group what are they doing now?

Mönhöö -

Now they are almost in the same position. When I inquire about them there is no one who is at worthy job. In general from those of my generation, I’ll reach 40 soon, no one has achieved imminence in Mongolia, I don’t see any one who has done something laudable. Now if…there were really outstanding personality we’ll surely him on TV. Now when I see all the channels on TV I don’t see any one from my class, from those whom I happen to know from my student days, some one outstanding.(0-22-18) Then life goes its way. Now and then some of us depart…with the passage of time by the law of nature or something else some of us die. Speaking of good friends…in 10 year school and in tech school I had three very close friends. If I name them, they are Batsuren, Ochirsuren-two of them and Naraa. My three good friends and me four of us were together in 10 year school, together we went to the tech school. It was the railway technical school I spent a year in that tech school. And my two friends were with me in railway technical school. We came from the 10 year school together and three of us together intentionally failed the exams.

Byambajav -

Why?

Mönhöö -

Ааn? Nothing special. We wanted to be in one group (class). So failed the exams. …then I was enrolled in the group of diesel locomotive operator, the others in group electricians. I was enrolled in group of train of the railway technical school. The train group means that the graduates would work as a chief of trains on road. Actually I could have passed the exams without failure and finish with a profession of chief of train. Then there was a branch of auto-transport technical school over there. Aa…I could have entered that branch…if it did not work…well, there is no use to talk about it now. So to keep company of my two friends I was attending the school. One was assigned to the group of diesel locomotive, locomotive operator. Then the two could not pass the (medical) examination, both of them could not pass because of bad eye sights. There was the medical examinations, even (various) analysis were taken at that time. No one was admitted simply by saying please enter as it is done today in various institutes. Is this man suitable? If he is not suitable for health reasons he was not enrolled in that group. Well, now this chief of train, my would be profession of that time, would be in charge of trains on the journey, the group was full of girls. I looked once into the classroom and saw all those girls, so I decided…oh no, I’ll not join them, they are all girls. So I were to be admitted in group of in train services of the railway technical school. My two poor friends, one was to be admitted in locomotive operator’s group was excluded (because of poor eye sight). The first group of ten and it went on, students passed medical examinations in groups of ten people. The other… friend of mine was in group of electric engineering. He was in the group of electricians. This way it went down. Group of electricians and then the plumbing, these were the two groups, so you have to go to either one of them, electricians or plumbing. We-the three friends all joined the group of electricians there I did not stay long. Anyway we have been sent to the Khurakhyn State Farm of Khentei aimag we worked on wheat fields for 3 months. So three of us spent together 3 wonderful months, three of us all played musical instruments. My friends had a band group at Rail way technical school, I was plying in a group at auto-transport technical school. I played in band for 4 years till I graduated from the tech school. My two friends also played in band. We played together in 10 year school that is why we did not play together in one band group of the tech school. We had no interest to join to each other’s band according to the practice of those years. I played my music here I had my own band, my two friends had their own band. So we played in electrical music band for 4 years, for 4 years we played live by today’s standard on electrical musical instruments. We did not take in our hands microphone and or pre-recorded tapes, we played only live music.

Byambajav -

Your family have 2 girls and 2 boys, haven’t you?

Mönhöö -

Yes.

Byambajav -

Will you please tell me about your elder sister. Did your sister scold you very much?

Mönhöö -

Oh, of course, I was reproached by my elder sister. My sister is a very principled person. And then when she was born, she copied the personalities of my father and mother of that period.

Byambajav -

Because she was the first and the eldest child?

Mönhöö -

…Because she was the eldest. Most importantly for this reason she scolded me a lot. My youngest sister was still very young. Od-Mandakh is the name of my younger sister, it is very pleasent to talk about my sister. …We have a younger brother and a younger sister. This youngest one-Oogii was born in 80. Father and mother brought from maternity house a tiny baby. Then this younger brother next to me started crying, we were in this room, he sat crying outside the door. We asked what happened he said my mother did not care me anymore (0-28-07). Asked why brother was saying that he said she stopped kissing me but kissing that tiny thing, it is not funny. The youngest one was a girl. The younger brother of my father is also rather diminutive, speaking about my youngest sister, she has an extreme likeness of father’s side. As for my eldest sister, she is more like of my mother’s side. My youngest sister is awfully principled, how should I describe. She is very prudent and thrifty as well economical in spending, but my elder sister and me are not so prudent and principled. In general, rather spendthrift, by today’s standard we are wasteful and throw money without prudence, my sister would give me anything I want, speaking about my sister, my sister is so gentle that if I need anything she would always give me, saying take it my brother, whatever you need at your home you can take. My younger sister, probably, you take an interview from her, she is, should I say very principled and economical person. She got her characters from my father’s side as like the two younger brother’s of my father, my elder sister is not like them. Speaking about my sister, I can describe her as the finest person.

Well, what else shall I talk about? Is the time up?

Byambajav -

I was told that in your childhood you often attended circus performances, did you?

Mönhöö -

Well, Yes.

Byambajav -

Were you very afraid of the (circus) animals?

Mönhöö -

Did mother tell you?

Byambajav -

She told me about her memories of your. Tell me about it, why were you afraid. And then how often you visited the park, tell me of your memories of those visits.

Mönhöö -

Oh during that period, the Circus was almost the only place of entertainment, then there was the Drama theatre. Those were the only 2-3 places. The present UB palace, these plenty of bars that people do not really care were not there then. So the Circus was a nice place of that time. I visited Circus many times with my father and mother. I don’t know what was the cost of ticket that time. The charge was only a few tugrug, what was the admittance fee for children I don’t know. At that time I think actually that cultural development achieved certain level in Mongolia mainly on the basis of the Circus, and the Drama theatre. Now, at that time there were wolves, bears, snakes and other animals in the Circus. Now where are these animals, they are nowhere. May be some of them died without passing the market criteria, some might have been bought for few tugrug and killed, now, it seems that this sort of things happen. (This is an exaggeration all those animals are still there) Generally speaking, to see what now you would go to the Circus, there was a time when Mongolians demonstrated marvels of Circus in aerial gymnastics, on parallel bars? etc. (0-32-17) I think, today, these tricks apparently also disappeared. It is my own personal thinking. That is why many Circus from foreign countries are coming to show their performance. Recently a nice Circus from Russian Federation with elephant came, and the elephant almost spoke human language. A braggart would have said that it almost spoke. In my days there was no (Circus) elephant for such a performance. From where we could buy an elephant in Mongolia. We don’t have that capability. Those at the top are embezzling to the bottom. In Mongolia, actually those few who have achieved high ranks misuse their power to steal as much as possible(public property) and then come out as a pretentious member of the Great Khural. They make plenty of nice but empty promises and embezzle a lot of things, defraud and bring the banks into bankruptcy. This is what they do. In fact, for Mongolians who haven’t seen much, it is inevitable when they gain some prominence they join their likes. It is impossible for them to step down without stealing something, even if I were a member of the Great Khural, I will try to have a 4, 5 story house before retiring. Then problems penniless person encounters are truly enormous. Therefore, they have defraud, the most important thing is to plead them to embezzle mildly not too much, the rest doesn’t matter.

Byambajav -

I was told that your sister Odmandakh is rather quick tempered, did you ever angered your sister?

Mönhöö -

Aa, I did anger her, countless number of times..

Byambajav -

For example

Mönhöö -

яахав дээ. Бас тэгээд уурлуулах үе их гарна шүү дээ дүүгээ бол тэгээд л хааяа нэг 100 гр татчаад л хүн ямар уудаггүй хүн гэж монголд ямар байх биш дээ. Уудаггүй уудаггүй гээд л худлаа рекламдаад л байна, байдаг болохоос биш уудаггүй хүн гэж хаа байхав дээ. Нийлээд суувал ганц грушик пиво ч гэсэн татна ш дээ. Худлаа л монголчууд л уудаггүй гээд л байдаг болохоос биш харин тэр чигээрээ ороод. Аа бусад тал дээрээ гайгүй ээ бас. Аан дүүгийнхээ 10 жилд нь 10 жилээс гарахад нь бас зохих хэмжээний тусламж үзүүлээд, дүүдээ үзүүлэхгүй бол одоо хэндээ үзүүлэх вэ дээ. Үзүүлж л байлаа. Миний дүү чинь хамгийн гол нь огцом ууртай шүү дээ. Тэгэхдээ яахав дээ дүүдээ миний ах баярлаж явдаг юм гэхээр бас аавынхаа мэргэжлийг эзэмшээгүй ч гэсэн бас анагаахад ороод, сураад энд бас нэг тогоонд нь хоол идээд бас нэг нягтлан гээд ажлыг нь хийгээд явж байхад нь би дүүдээ их баярлаж явдагийм л даа. Анагаахад нягтлан бодогч хийгээд явж байхад нь их баярлаж явдаг юм гол нь. За тэгээд ч дүүгийнхээ тухай ч өөр юу ярих вэ дээ. Өөрөөс нь асуугаад мэдчихнэ биз. Ах занын манай 2 ах ямар ааштай, манай эгч яадгийн гэдгийн тухай ч тухайн үед нь тэгээд мэдээд ойлгочихно биз. Хувь хүнээс нь өөрөөс нь ярилцлага авна тэгээд нэг сайхан мэдээд ойлгочих байлгүй дээ.

Byambajav -

Did you dearly love your grandma?

Mönhöö -

Yes.

Byambajav -

Your grandma also loved you very much.

Mönhöö -

Oh, I think till now I haven’t uttered a word about my grandma. Our grandma raised me, first and foremost for the sake of my father and mother. At that time 100 tugrug was a pretty big money. I clutched in my hand brown note of one hundred tugrug, begging my grandma to buy me a basketball and bought a basketball for 75 tugrug, we did not buy it from the market as we would have today. The first ever shop of sports goods was situated near the Food store No.20. We bought the basketball from that shop. Well, most importantly it was my grandma who made me a man(brought me up). I love my grandma very much. I did not talk about my grandma, may be my dear grandma feels hurt, after all it was my grandma who brought me up. At that time our home was in Tsagaan Khuaran… grandma took me with her… the hospital of infectious deceases was constructed now at that site, we lived there so my grandma would take me by hand and she lamely walked with me my poor and beloved grandma. So we went together to the stores, then there was the store of Sansar. (0-37-55) We usually go to Sansar and bought something for just 1 tugrug. The buying power of money was so great. We could buy something by only 1 tugrug, we would buy a piece of short sausage, dried apricot or anything we like to munch. Now if you give 1 tugrug they will not accept it. We should have at least 100 tugrug, 100 tugrug will be barely enough to buy one or two cigarettes. So at that time I enjoyed greatly my visits to Sansar together with my grandma. She raised and pampered me, therefore I entertain immense gratitude to my grandma. My grandma had some livestock. We tended her goats. So while looking after the goats I met my (future) wife. I should recollect the memories about my wife here. My wife and her grandpa used to look after their livestock very well. They lived in our neighbouring enclosure to the north. In the morning the old man would take out his goats, Munkhoo did the same from the enclosure in the front and two of us will join and move to the mountain side. We brought our goats there on fine grassy pasture to graze them. So in the meantime I met my (future) wife. My darling wife is much younger than me. Lot younger than me but two of us became close after tending the livestock together for some time. Since you asked me about my grandma I bring back the memories of her and can say only that my grandma was a very good person. Generally, we revoke the good memories of our loved ones only after their death, unfortunately none of us talk how good they are before they depart. Well, it was wonderful. I should have talked about it before, what could I say now when she had departed for good. She was a truly good person.

Byambajav -

Did she buy a guitar for you?

Mönhöö -

Yes, she bought a guitar for me, for 60 tugrugs. She bought that guitar from the State Department Store. When the store was still the State department store she bought for me the guitar for 60 tugrugs, it was an acoustic guitar. I have to mention my elder sister, my sister was the person who for the first time taught me how to play on guitar. So my sister taught and I learned to play. My sister was my first teacher who taught me how play guitar and I for the first time began playing on musical instrument. Therefore, I should mention my sister, I did not learn playing music by myself as soon as I was born from my mother. Yes, one can not start singing and playing right away. My sister played music for me for the first time and taught me how to play. Now, I can say she is my teacher, then I would like to say a word or two about my sister. My sister is an extremely industrious person. Even before I put my foot into the market she has already been in the market. So doing business life of my sister has improved radically. My sister started her business by selling Lucky toothpaste, the Lucky mint.

Byambajav -

It came in (was imported) exactly at that time.

Mönhöö -

Yes, exactly at that time, now, when this toothpaste first appeared in our country. When the imported toilet soap first came my dear sister was selling them. Well, in conformity with the requirements of the market relations I am also in market and rapidly getting accustomed. I have also to mention my brother in-law. There is no such good person except him. The person, who built for me this enclosure and the house, was my brother-in-law. And I can repeat once again that my elder sister is extremely industrious person. To feed her children and her husband she went (to the market) in the cold of winter. My brother-law was an engineer, who had just graduated from the Institute. My sister had also graduated the institute. I don’t know what institute it has become now. My brother-in-law graduated from that institute as an engineer, he is an engineer who is almost my teacher. He is a man with high education, high education. My sister has also a high education, they are graduates of the same institute. It was called the technical university, now it may not a Technical university, they graduated it. I am very grateful to my sister who notwithstanding the winter cold left home in the morning and stood at the market till evening. Thanks to it she has radically improved her livelihood. In my mind, the well to do life of this high standards my brother-in-law and his children are enjoying now is the merit of my sister. It is the thought I keep in my mind. I firmly believe that it is the merit of my sister.

Byambajav -

Your father saw the worldly mortality(death) in 93, 94. At that time as the eldest son you were left behind as the head of your household, so what was the thought in your mind? How difficult was it, could you tell me about your impressions?

Mönhöö -

At that time, it was difficult. (0-44-52) As now I remember my poor mother was still a young woman. Now, when you recall the memories of that period, when the father had died, the question how our family will live further occupied not really my mind but it was constantly in the mind of my mother. Well, what was to happen, happened, my husband had departed. And the thought how shall I carry further the livelihood of my family apparently occupied the mind of my mother. I don’t want to lie, I was still very young and the thought or idea how I shall carry further the livelihood of our family did not really come to my mind. So…it is my belief that the idea how to achieve this much and arrive at the present standard of life was developed and nurtured by my mother at that time. And I think that we-her children have achieved this much today is really one of the great merits of my mother. If one thinks it over it is the truth. For anyone while young, your father was the best man. I know my father very well. Even sometimes we did share a 100 gm (vodka). I drank with my father, my father was young and handsome at that time.

Byambajav -

You have been closely associated.

Mönhöö -

Very intimate. I did drink a 100 gm vodka with my father. Of course, such occasions to drink occur. My father, though, he had been a boss for a long time, there was time when he would have to ask for 38 tugrug from Munkhoo. You bought a bottle of vodka for 38 tugrug, went outside and got it for 38 tugrug. It was not like today when the cost of a bottle of vodka is in range of a few thousand tugrug. At that time when you had a 100 tugrug it was like being a millionaire. Father and me when we reached the Oboo (A shrine made of pile of stones situated on mountain pass) drank some vodka, in general my father was a moderate drinker. However, the most important thing is that some men drink moderately but don’t neglect the job to be done. I do my job, even I drink I don’t neglect my job. Father and me when we were on the road to the Batsumber State Farm did drink one or two hundred grams of vodka. It usually makes the difference. When someone drinks a hundred gram and start talking, even things that he kept in his mind hidden comes out, so when we drank a bit it happened to both of us. So, in general, we had lengthy discussions. My father was also responsible for building a camp, that camp is situated at the entrance of the valley after the Khalzan (name of small valley to the north of UB). This was a rest home for the transport workers, and a summer camp for the children of transport workers.(0-48-32) I think the summer camp was called “Solongo”. My father and myself were present at the opening ceremony of the camp. …Thanks to my father and mother I have seen a lot. Now, there is this summer camp of children “Nairamdal”(Frienship). I had been during my summer vacation at this International summer camp Nairamdal …in eighties, I spent my holiday vacation there, most importantly, in the shift by the end of June and in July. Because it was in July that children from different foreign countries arrived at Nairamdal summer camp. I was in the group called “Odod”(Stars) we had children from various countries. In our “Odod” group there were many children from Poland, if, for example, we had in our group mostly Poles, in the other group called “Sansar” (Outer space) there were more Russians. Generally, the camp received international children from different countries. A very nice lady Tsedenbal Filatova used to visit the camp. She was the one who had the Nairamdal camp built and she was responsible for many other big constructions. We can not pass without remembering the past. Now, these apartment districts No.3 and 4, these apartment districts No. 3 and 4 were built by that dear Ts. Filitova as a gift districts, who, do you think, built for us this Palace of wedding ceremony. It was Ts. Filatova who pleaded Brejnev guai to build it when Brejnev came and she received it. It seems that our people forget that what had been constructed and was constructed for you and thanks to them these organisations are thriving, it is very nice, however, it is very important that we don’t forget those who founded and built these establishments for us. Tsedenbal guai accomplished a lot, it is not true that he did not accomplish anything. His wife had also accomplished a lot. Besides it, she had given us this Nairamdal summer camp built. She also had requested Brejnev guai and had these apartment districts No.3 and 4 constructed. Then including the wedding palace there are many other constructions. At the given period there was a time when we not only gave away but took in return. It is impossible not mention about them. We can’t always dream about something nice. Though they say it is very bad in Mongolia there are those call it the white tiger ? of Asia. The main problem is that our people can’t really work hard. If you take the example of Korea, there was a time when Korea was in much inferior position than we are today. But now it has become a country far more highly developed than ours. If you think carefully, will people in Mongolia bring their rings and other valuables when told that there is a need of money for the development of our country, I don’t think our people will bring their valuables. They will say we have nothing (of value) even it was for the development of their own country. If you muse over the fact why Korea has reached this high stage of development than ours then you will see that the (Korean) people have such warm generosity towards their motherland that they gave everything including the rings on their fingers and were able to save from bankruptcy not only the banks but their motherland from bankruptcy.(0-52-15) If Mongols truly want to be like them we can be. Mongolians do have money. When you think about the country, I feel that people who are unable to keep the streets clean and free of wastes could hardly can develop. Actually it would be hard to develop. If you can’t take up and throw into the waste bin the papers littering streets then how can you hope that the country will develop. In other countries people get up early in the morning. When I was in Beijing the residents were up at 5 a.m. When I was in nineties in Beijing at 5 in morning residents were up and working hours had been commenced well before 5 a.m. Breakfast and tea were already prepared in early hours of the morning. We would be sleeping at that time. Who would get up and prepare their food at 5 a.m. This is the condition in these countries. The main reason why these countries are developing so fast is the fact that people over there can toil really good. The most important thing is that they can work for the development of their country for a small change without considering it as just a single coin. In China 1 Yuan is a lot of money. What is the value of 1 Yuan in Mongolia? We throw away 50 tugrug, what can we do with 50 tugrug? But 50 tugrug in China is some money. You can play a billiard game with 50 tugrug, with 1 Yuan you can play billiard game. In our country they ask a crazy sum of 1500, 2000 tugrug for a billiard game. But one should be able to make money from changes. What I am trying to say is no matter how insignificant it may be but 1 tugrug is a money worth earning. This is the most important thing. Well, is it enough?

Byambajav -

Well, as person with 1 elder sister and 2 younger siblings do you have some idea on ways and means how to secure a better life and wellbeing of your entire family? And in general, what recommendations and commandment would you give to the children of your relatives and to your own children.

Mönhöö -

Well, when I have two younger siblings and one elder sister, it does not really matter. Now, we have learned to live independently on our own. Once a man marries a woman, you live to feed your wife so you have to work. If a woman is married to a man two of them work, this is the situation with us. Now, women are engaged in labour, while the men enjoy the freedom of life. In short, the situation is completely different in Korea, the men, the husbands work, while wives stay home and take care of the children and prepare the food, prepare rice porridge, it is their duty. But the situation is reversed in our country. Women are toiling while their husband enjoy life and rest, have their food prepared for them, this is their way of life. As for my two younger siblings they are doing okay, the most important thing is my dear sister is married and in my view they are leading their well-off life independently. They don’t need that much help from the other but I hope that they will lend each other helping hands in time of difficulties. And they should wish good when the other is doing well, that is it. No one enjoys good life for good. Originally, I was doing terribly well. For a while I was sparkling as a star and used to squander the money as something worthless. I told my younger siblings what do you need take them, in this manner I used to throw away a lot. However, there is none who does well all the time. A man does very well for a while then comes the turn of decline, so there is decline as well rise in man’s life, there is no such thing as earning money all way along. There is no such conducive environment in Mongolia or very rare. So we are following our ways independently. Importantly my younger siblings are all grown up. There are grown up children of my elder sister, numerous children of my elder brothers, the number of son-in-laws and daughter-in-laws is growing. During the lunar new year when we meet I am now almost the eldest among the men. Standing after my elder sister I have joined the ranks of elders. So I wish all the good to my numerous younger relatives. This is the main thing I keep in mind, now I have got so many younger brothers and sisters, they will have their children. So Munkhoo will become the eldest brother, however, even the devil does not know how a man will live. Of course, one can not live happy all the time. A man who is full of smile today may be dead by tomorrow. Life is not eternal. This is what I would say. So I wish all the best and happiness to my brothers and sisters. This is what your brother Munkhoo wish.

Byambajav -

What would you say to your mother.

Mönhöö -

Well, I would wish my mother long life and bring make happier all of us.

Byambajav -

Do you have a child?

Mönhöö -

No child. We have been married more than 10 years. But God did not bless us, if we had a child that child would have been almost of the same age with my younger sister. But, what can I do since God did not bless us (with a child). Who knows when the blessing will come. Hence things went this way, what could I say to my wife, it is unfair to tell a woman that she is not giving me child and there is no need to press on her that she should give birth to a child, I don’t know who is at fault. So I only think about it. Now I would like to wish to my mother long life and be the source of happiness of all of us.

Byambajav -

Well, now I would like to thank you very much for giving me this nice interview. May I wish you to have a baby as well as wish wellbeing and prosperity in your life.

Mönhöö -

Well, I thank very much for coming to my home and making this interview, I express my sincere gratitude to you. May your work be successful.

Byambajav -

Well, may your wishes come true.

Back to top

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.