Interviewee ID: 990906
Parent's name: [blank]
Year of Birth: 1966
Notes on education:
Born in: sum, aimag
Lives in: sum (or part of UB), Ulaanbaatar aimag
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I thank you very much for accepting my invitation and
coming to participate in this interview. Aa, before starting
the interview I would like to ask and clarify two issues
from you. Firstly, all the information and facts contained
in your interview will be used …. as reference by researches
of history, TV and radio as well as by newspapers and
journals. So would you give us the permission to use it in
I allow, allow
Well thank you. Аа.. one other thing is if you wish I can keep your name in secret.
You also may not conceal it. Which one will you choose?
I’ll say my name in talking, yeah.
Aa….well now in the interview please introduce
yourself well, and will you present a brief introduction to
Mm…hn…well I am called Narmandakh, I was born мм…
four of us were born from my father and mother, yes, and I
am the eldest daughter.
You were born in which year?
I was born in 1966, then the brother below me now… I
have 2 more younger siblings, one of them a girl, so four of
When did you finish the 10 year school?
I was enrolled in the 1st grade in 1974 and finished the 10th grade in 1984.
Are there any events that are embeded in your memory
until now from the time of your student days in 10 year
Until 6th grade of 10 year school I attended school
No.21, then after studying in School No. 21, from 6 to 10th
grade I attended school No. 40 until I finished ….the 10th
grade. When we were small at that time various events
happened, it was wonderful time, a time full joy.
Yes, of course life in 10 year school is generally an
unforgettable span in person’s life, if you have any
recollections of that please tell me?
Our school No.21 was situated before, now that the
bridge with (stone) lion, to the south of it. That time we
were living in Tsagaan Khuaran and from there I walked to my
Were you brought up by your grand parents at your kindergarten age?
Yes, I did not attend the kindergarten at all, I
spent my childhood in the care of my mother’s mother and
Aan ha, did your grand parents scold you very much?
Well of course, I was scolded (Laughs) What can I say.
Were your grandpa and grandma alive when you graduated the 10th grade?
No, they were not. My grandpa and grandma, wait… died when I was in either 4 or 5th grade.
It was probably hard for you when they passed away since you were brought up by them.
Well, we were living together. We lived in one
enclosure, in separate gers, though the ger was separate I
spent most of the time with the two of them.
Did your younger siblings cause a lot of trouble for
you when you were young? Did you chide them a lot?
No, my younger siblings did not cause me that much trouble. We used to play together a lot.
How do you play?
Generally, we were very playful children. When I was
young I was a child who ran around, bounce and hop a lot,
running whither and thither all the time.
Yes, I was a girl just like a boy running and kicking
football, generally, one that may be called as a very boyish
type of girl. I was running just like a boy, playing
What was the game that children played at that time?
Children of our generation mostly played football.
Then we make a small hole on the ground and send into it
stoppers (of soft drink or beer) by finger filliping and
scoring that was one game we played. Then rope jumping,
footing shuttlecock into air these were the kinds of games
What kind of ball was available then, probably the ball was very expensive.
There was a ball that cost 5 tugrug. By its size it was not big, a ball of medium size.
Then where did you get the money to buy the ball, did your mother and father give you?
Yeah, it doesn’t really matter. Actually we did not
bother very much our mother and father and they would buy,
otherwise for what can we buy that.
Was your mother very busy at her job?
Yes, in general, my mother works very much, my father was also a workaholic, they are both very industrious.
Where there instances when you missed your mother and
father and wished that they soon come back from their
While young I did not really pay much attention to it
but later I would be hoping that mother would come home
soon, father would come home soon. My father was an
extremely hard worker, very persistent, very honest and
upright person. So when I was young father mainly insisted
that I make my lessons thoroughly, mother did the same, so I
was a child devoted to books, who coped on her own with her
studies. My father was a person of strict principles. He was
also very demanding, he was such a person.
He reprimanded you.
Yes, he was very strict on this account, for example,
in evening, he would check my note books, after checking it
he would dictate and I would write, he would say only one
time a passage with 5 sentences,…a sentence with 5 words and
if I could not write it down right way (0-08-20) he’d beat
me.(Laughed) My father was such a very strict person, I
don’t know how to describe it, may be very rigid in a sense,
but he coddled me I was a spoiled child. And my teachers of
the 10 year school often said to me “Why don’t you come to
the class in company of your father”. Apparently at that
time I was a spoiled child who always walked in the company
of my father and our teachers constantly scolded me for
that. That teacher of mine, in the first grade was a teacher
with that title of the best teacher, that was the reason I
was given in his class, in the 1st grade. So that teacher of
mine whose name is Small Dorjsuren, that dear man is still
alive and well, it was he who told me to bring my father to
the class in order to learn, apparently I was, to such an
extent, spoiled child. He was a very strict teacher, bent to
teach the children some education, he gave the students a
very profound knowledge, he used to lock up us in our
classroom for whole day….
Locked us in the class room and the teacher used to leave.
So it was a punishment.
Yes, the entire class was locked up. May be there are such very strict teachers, who knows, yeah?
When you were in 10 year school what was your most favourite subject?
Well, from the beginning I had a liking of the social disciplines.
Then you probably followed your mother.
Aan, I liked very much social disciplines, in 10th
grade we studied social sciences something of that kind, and
how should I describe something as philosophy which seeks to
comprehend the essence of matters, I was in love with such
disciplines in 10 year school. I finished 10th grade of
school No. 40, the teacher of social sciences of my class
was one called Gan-Ochir, he was a victim of repression, he
was repressed when we were in the 1st grade. At that time he
was working in the Ministry of Education some years ago
after being repressed he wrote a book. He was repressed in
connection with the case of, ….wait a minute what was it,
now Lookhov (Lookhuuz), Surmaajav (the so called anti-party
group) and others who were repressed. He wrote why and how
they were persecuted and repressed. He himself was dismissed
from his post and made a teacher. So he taught social
disciplines and was lecturing social sciences in our class.
He is apparently a man from the period of so called “Disorientation of Intelligentsia”.
Is he, Teacher Gan-Ochir? It could be possible, I did
not stay long enough in that school and don’t know well. He
was a teacher who taught in our class all the disciplines
related to social sciences and a very intelligent person who
had the ability to make judgment about children just looking
at them and that poor man told us later about his past
experience. Probably he is now no longer alive, he told us
that he had serious heart problem he might have gone because
of that problem, he was a very intelligent teacher.
You celebrated the children’s day... very extensively.
How did your family celebrate it? Do you remember anything concerning your young age?
In those days during children’s day …
It must have been wonderful, yeah?
Yes, all the organizations observed this holiday. The
place of work of our father and mother presented us a lot of
prizes, children who passed their exams with excellent marks
were awarded. Various contests were organized during the
holiday, I don’t know the contests were apparently organized
at their office, they took with them many paintings drawn by
us on the occasion of the children’s day and afterwards
awards were presented to us. Since our home was located near
the Park we frequently visited the Park, the children’s park
when we were young.
Did you now, occasionally visit the Park ?
Aan. Not now and then I don’t have that much time to go over there
Do you know whether the games in the Park have been
renovated now? Has the number of games decreased. It was
very nice before but now they are not that much beautiful.
Now I don’t know how it has been renovated in
comparison with the previous days, two, three new games
were, probably, installed anew. The rest were the same old
ones. I graduated from Technical University in 1989 and had
my wedding, from 1990 just after graduation market economy
was introduced and I could not work in public office though
I wanted to. It was the Factory of children’s food but I
could not get a job there. So I started private
business…since 1990 I have been in private business. From 90
to 96 I worked mostly at my house, I was running my business
from my home, it was from 90, oh no, from 96 up to 2000. So
from 2000 as a result of my many years hard work, of almost
4 years work, let’s say it was the fruit of my labour since
92 to 2000 almost 8 years of tireless labour. So in 2000 I
created for myself a work place, from 2000 I started a small
economic entity and got a seal and letterhead. From 2000 I
run a grocery shop for almost 3 years, I had operated a tea
house for 3 years, in all I have been private business for
10 years without interruption.
You said you were working at your home what exactly did you do at that time.
Oh, at home I produced small items, generally, various foods.
For example what kind of food?
For example mostly various kind of cookies and pastries.
Wow, and did you yourself bake them?
I did them myself, I used various materials to do
that using what ever capacity I had, because I am a person
who have some skill in food manufacturing.
You worked along the line of your profession.
I intended to engage in something related food
production but to do that I needed money, that is why I am
moving ahead in stages. So stage by stage I am implementing
a project on production and service sector, I am geared on
making something mainly on service. Eventually, I think of
building a production facility, a small enterprise. So we
recently became owners of a work place of 300 square meters.
So we are planning to open small enterprise in that place
capable of producing various food items. As of now we are
encountering some problems, we built the house but we could
not get the heating and work was stalled but when it gets
warmer work will be resumed.
Generally, it is very difficult to start something new in environment of market economy.
Yes, so in private business no matter whether it is
big or small, it requires from the owner knowledge of
different profiles, it is a such an activity. Only when you
have all round knowledge you can succeed in small private
For example. You need knowledge in accounting.
Yes, accounting is one of the first thing, then
knowledge in electricity, heating and, in general, knowledge
in engineering is required in private business. It doesn’t
really matter, we are exerting all our efforts to the
undertaking, our project is not a big one, it will suit our
need, so I am doing this now.
So when one is using one’s own capacity and doing what he or she can do best, it means
Yes, now even if we wanted to work in public
organizations, in the first place they will not employ us
saying we are somewhat old already, secondly we lack the
necessary knowledge and education. Now, there are so many
new highly trained youth and young people who are competing
at the labour market. Therefore, it remains for us to
improve what we have now and try to develop our professional
skill and further educate ourselves. This is the thought I
entertain. (0-19-36) Then in private business you have to
work without rest through days and night, forgetting about
your weariness. I have been striving hard for 14 years now.
And I am thinking of building a small factory of the kind
mentioned before, capable of producing various products. For
example I operated a grocery shop of 8 kind of goods
immediate need for 3 years. But now that shop 8 goods of
2000 has changed greatly. At that time it was simple and
carefree, as well as it was not bad but now that shop which
sell 8 goods of immediate needs has developed. Now the main
issue that shop faces is not buying some goods from others,
increase the price by a few tugrug and sell but for example
the capacity to generate different products in small amount.
Now as an example take meat products, you could prepare
various meat products in your small shop within the compound
and sell them to the clients. For example you can produce
different pastry products and sell and deliver them to your
customers. In my opinion, may be it has something to do with
the advance market economy that things are getting more
elaborate and sophisticated.
It is progress, isn’t it?
Yes, now for example if one simply buys some goods at
the market and try to sell them the seller will hardly find
any buyers, people will not buy them, because so many big
stores are in operation. Then knowledgeable importers are
different kind of people. As for us, we have to think a kind
activity mentioned before which is more suitable to us.
To go along the time
Yes, since things are changing within a day, in a
month not speaking of the year, you have to keep pace with
these changes otherwise you will go into bankruptcy, people
are bankrupt. (Laughed) I think they call it bankruptcy.
How many children do you have?
I have two children. The eldest one is finishing the
10th grade this year, the other one is in the 4th grade, I
have 2 children. (0-22-08)
Please tell me about your own family, your family?
My husband graduated also from the Polytechnic
Institute as auto engineer. He has the profession of
auto-engineer. So two us graduated from the institute, after
graduation of the school my husband got a an interesting job
by distribution in auto-(repair) factory, in those days
there was the practice to assign by distribution. He
gradated one year earlier before me so according the
established practice he got that assignment by distribution,
we were given appointment and told well, now you should go
that organization, but when I graduated that assignment was
no longer there. So he worked over two years in that factory
as repair man (auto mechanic), it was the usual practice to
begin your career as auto mechanic (repairman), as for us we
were supposed to begin our work as an ordinary worker who
has certain quota or norms to fulfill. As for my husband he
was in something which had very good perspective, but may be
it was not very opportune time, I don’t know why, if that
undertaking was developed it was very interesting
profession. They were producing TV antenna and plastic
chairs for children and plastic utensils and various other
goods. It was probably in 90 or 80 something he graduated
one year earlier than me. At that time several engineers of
the auto repair factory while working in that factory
apparently had the intention to start a private business it
was what were talking about. And actually they themselves
made the necessary equipments. For example, they had to
prepare the mold of the antenna and they did it and all the
rest what was required. But it was the time when market
economy was just making the beginning, they could not find
buyers for the product and the production was stalled. So
two of us are now engaged in private enterprise together.
The main thing is that if they continued their production of
plastic good (it had future) but now others probably do it.
(0-24-52) But at that time there were no such products. And
those poor men had to abandon that venture.
Your father died in 94, yeah .
As the eldest child of the family it should have been very difficult for you…
Yeah, of course, it was actually difficult, my father
was a man if he had the opportunity could have achieved a
lot, my father was extremely industrious, so I loved my
father very much, I think that I loved my father more than
my mom. My father managed to accomplish very much, in later
days he was sent to many places so that he could improve and
boost up the activities many different organizations, he was
told to do that in many places. He was a workaholic. He
generated plenty of new ideas. If he was given the
opportunity, what I could say….
(If he) had the chance?
Yes, if we had been a little bit more thoughtful… not
to mention about we did not really thought of anything. Now
people do a lot of things devoted to their father and
mother, for example they write book or do various other
things. I apparently at that time used to sleep a lot or
something else and my father used to reproach me saying “A
waning man drinks and eats very much " (уруудах хүний унтах
идэх нь их гэдэг) and it provoked and angered me so much
that afterwards I began to sit long hours learning my
lessons. When I was in 8, 9th grade of ten year school and
in the institute , I continued to study my lessons, mostly,
until well after 3 o’clock.
Until after 3 a.m.?
Yes, until 3 a.m., I was such a hyperactive person,
however, I don’t see the benefit of it till now. Then my
father was a very demanding person, he used to prod everyone
into action and he always said the truth, in general, it was
such time when the managers always demanded and gave at
times strange commands, that is why people were resentful
and some people did not like such managers, apparently it
was the case with him as well. (0-28-06)
It was the time of administrative method of management.
Aan, yes, my father was such type of person, he
himself was a very industrious and principled and wanted
others to be like him, he was like that at his work as well
as at home …
Such person, a person on whom one can rely, if he
were alive today, …do you think in this way? If he was alive
it would have so and so, do you think along this line?
Oh, yes, I do. I remember my father a lot, I can’t
express my myself well in words, even though I want to speak
very many nice things. But I lack the ability to speak and
it is difficult to me. I make notes at everything which
happened to be at hand and I hope eventually to have, to
make a kind of book of remembrance out of those notes but to
do that I also lack experience (of writing).
Was your youngest sister Odmandakh a rather spoiled child? The youngest one?
My sister is rather spoiled child but she is a very
honest and straightforward person compared to me she is good
at talking (Laughs) I am the most reserved and taciturn one
from among the 4 children, I was , in general, one of the
most tacit and silent child in our grade, my classmates,
fellow students of institute all remember that I was always
such a uncommunicative person before and I am still the same
now, it is very funny, you don’t change at all they
Your younger brother Munkhtuvshin was saying that you are very intelligent and also very reliable.
(Laughs) Poor Muugii, that is what he thinks of me.
He said that your husband had built the house for him.
In which year did he build it?
It was in 90 something, I think in 93
It was long ago, yeah?
Yes, quite a few years ago.
Was it in 93 or in 2003?
Aan, it was in 93
More than 10 years ago?
Did your younger sister sell goods at the market?
Aan, she did this during her summer vacation, during
summer holiday, my family lived in Khailaast, I think we
lived there almost 4, 5 years, then that very what, the flee
market was situated very near, so I did not let them to sit
idle and almost by force brought Oogii and Moogii during
their holidays to the market. (Laughs)
Compared to the time when you were engaged in trade
at the market, now in Mongolia doing private business has
become much more sophisticated but are there still too many
(outside) pressure and burdens?
Pressures are there but not that much, in any case
they(authorities) do not pressure too much, originally, it
was not very much then may be since I have been in this
business for many years and used to it, at the beginning it
was so but now I don’t mind it, it is tolerable.
How much do you pay now (in tax)?
We don’t pay much, it is about 30 thousand and
something in a quarter, 30 thousand in three months. At the
beginning in 2000 we did pay fairly large sum, now it is
much less may be, it is because at first we were doing
rather good, now we are making less and earning less
therefore, we are paying less as well.
What are you planning to do in future, how are you
going to make living together with your younger brothers and
sister, what do you think?
Now first and foremost one has to do something
himself one has to strive very hard, otherwise no matter
what and how much assistance you receive from outside, it is
difficult to succeed, in my view if you don’t try hard you
don’t succeed. As for the two of us we are able to earn our
livelihood and, of course, we pay attention to our
relatives. And I want to provide them with work and help to
obtain their own homes I keep this thought in mind. And at
the same time I have to think of my own business how not let
it down, I am thinking all these as an old woman.
You were operating a tea house (canteen), weren’t you?
I heard about it.
I kept it running for 3 years
Will you please tell me about it?
Did your mother also work there, didn’t she?
To keep a tea house you have to wok tirelessly
regardless of fatigue only this way you can earn the money
for your own food but you should not deceive your clients or
work carelessly, though it was a small business I thought
that it was necessary to have a specialist of public
catering, because I am only a specialist in dairy
production. Then there were suggestions that since I had run
that tea house for several years perhaps I could turn it
into a bar. But I had the experience of operation of a shop
of 8 goods of immediate needs and it had something to do
with the sale of vodka I was reluctant and abandoned the
idea. Running a canteen requires a lot of efforts and
labour. You have to put a lot effort into it, in order to
run a canteen you will have employ ten, but a bar can be
operated by only one person, this is just an example. This
is the actual situation I found out. One can not always
shirk from the difficulties, I believe that the main thing
is to do something worthwhile for the good of people. Though
the price of meat went up the income did not grow, for
example you make a profit of 30 tugrug from one booz if you
work really hard then from the sheer number of sold booz the
profit will increase. Then I believe that if you can feed as
many people as possible then you will, gradually, also have
to pay more attention to the health aspects of the food. Our
people today eat almost anything(0-37-21) even if you feed
them something full of fat they will consume with greed,
this is yet another example. And because people are buying
and consuming the food you prepare, I assume that you have
to think about producing food which takes into account
health aspects of the costumers. I always go for the good of
people without paying much attention to myself, I bring my
workers mostly from the country side. Children from the
country side are hard working and loyal, children from the
city can not stand a day’s hard work. So I bring them from
country side, I now have around 20, 30 girls. I want to send
at least one of them to a school, to help at least one of
them to stand on her feet. Looking at these children you can
clearly see for this one, it is better to go to such a
school, for the other one it is more suitable to attend such
a school etc. This is what I always keep in my mind. And
then I scold them very much and repeatedly tell them that
you will be able to earn your living on your own only if you
will work tirelessly.
Yeah, in order to be able to stand on your feet you
have to work tirelessly. Then as I look around most of those
of us who graduated from the institute are now living
abroad, almost none of them is working in this city. If you
take those who graduated from the Polytechnic institute most
of them emigrated abroad, probably to work there, only two
of us remained here clinging to our business.(Laughs)
About your younger siblings… does sister Nanzai
discuss and confer with you about them?
... aan My mother? She discusses with two of us, me and my husband in general.
What is the main issue?
Well, now we are in better position than it was some
time ago, my younger brother can make his own living
independently. The next one who is working in Korea is
actually not bad, he is very helpful, he helps others a lot,
he always does something to help others. As for my youngest
sister, if we can assist her just a little bit, and if we
could help her to get her own home (house), a car and give
her good education then it will be good enough, this is what
I have mind and of course we have to improve further what we
Probably you are always very busy, are you?
Actually I have very little spare time, rarely stay
at home I spend most of time outside home and come home only
to sleep and sleep. Now it is very convenient for us since
we have built a house, we are there all the time, in the
morning and during the evening hours. After enlargement it
has become far more convenient, when it was still small in
size we almost lived there all the time….
Where did you built and what kind of house?
Aan, at end of the apartment district
Do you know Elba centre? It is adjacent to it, our
house is small in size, but if we can use fully there are
Then is the cost of heating and electricity very high?
Oh, that expense is quite high, we spend almost 5, 6
hundred thousand monthly, it is the expense for running a
small tea house, but that is very high cost for us (Laughed)
who are making the money with difficulty, however, if we can
solve the heating this year, it will be less, until now
since we had no central heating we had to use electricity
for heating the hall, the rest of the rooms have not been
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.