I was interviewed by the newspaper “Ардчилал”. They asked me different things about my passion for the Mongolian culture and traditions, how I came in Mongolia, about my feeling toward the country, and about my crafts! : )
The English translation of the interview below:
1. When was the first time that you heard about Mongolia, and how did you feel about Mongolia when you finally came here. Did it matched with your informations?
I heard about Mongolia in 2012, a friend of mine gave me a CD of ‘Huun Huur Tu’ (a famous Tuvan band) and the music really touched me, especially the singing. I started to dug into that music, and I discovered very quickly than Tuvan was an old Tribe of Mongolia. Then I explored Mongolian music and folklore.
The first thing I felt when I landed in Mongolia, was a big disappointment, because I was thinking back then that everyone were singing Hoomei, wore deel, and that there would be horse, and ger everywhere! ^^ When I cam from the Airport to the center of UB, it was a totally whole different story.
Now I visited the country side, so my love for Mongolia never cease to grow, and I hope I’ll be able to get out
of UB at some point, and be closer to the nature of Mongolia. I guess that when my studies will be finished, it will be a good opportunity to explore the nature!
2. How your lifestyle changed from your French life, when you came here? Is it difficult to adapt to Mongolian lifestyle?
Well before coming in Mongolia, I used to be a strict vegan, I wasn’t eating any kind of animal products (milk / honey / eggs / meat / fish etc..), also I wasn’t drinking any alcohol.
Now I try to get back in that way, but when I arrived in Mongolia, the “pressure” to drink a glass or two of vodka, was sometime a bit difficult to avoid. Also there is not as much vegetable here that there is in France, and most of the fruits are not that good or very expensive. So I’m trying to grow few things in my home, I’m just starting, and I’m trying to find some organic food.. but it’s very difficult, that’s one of the most difficult point here for me.
3. What is your current job. I thought that you were a scientist. Is that right? Was it easy to learn about Mongolia, or not?
Actually I’m a student in the University of Language and Civilisation. I’m learning the Mongolian language, as well as the old script, and the calligraphy. I’m not really a scientist, but that’s true that I would like, at some point to write about Mongolian culture, calligraphy, and mainly about Morin Khuur.
Learning Mongolian language is a very interesting challenge, and my brain got few difficulties sometime with some grammar stuff ehe ^^ As I like it, it’s neither hard nor easy, I guess it’s in between! As there is passion, any kind of issues can be passed ^^
4. Did you really like to learn playing Morin khur? Or someone told you? Why did you choose Morin khuur? We have many other national instruments.
I love the Morin Khuur, I can’t stop loving it, and every time I learn something news, I get more passionate by it! This instrument really changed my life for the better, and I really want to payback for what it did for me! The strength of this instrument, all the sounds that it can do, the story that it can tell, I have no word to describe the passion that I have for it! :) Only reading my heart could give you a glimpse of the affection I have toward this music <3
5. Did you play the Morin Khuur for your friends. How did they react?
I played for friends, also for family in many different occasions, and each time, people got more or less the same reaction. They get very interested by the shape, the horse head, the particular strings, as the instrument itself is pretty beautiful and interesting! Then they feel being taken away, elsewhere, they can hear the horses, and they feel like travelling into a far country. Most of them are happy and smiling after the playing. Some are not touched by it, but it’s pretty rare actually ^^;
6. What is your best playing song or music on the Morin khur? Mongolian people imagine that the empty steppe and horses, when they listen to the morinkhur melody. What about you?
Actually I learned some songs now but for some I used to learn the “easy” way. Now I put my energy into learning those songs the real way, as it “should be”. All my playing are on a big change at the moment ^^. I don’t really
have a “best” song I think. I have some songs that I really love to play though, “Builgan shariin yawdal”
and “Jonon harii yawdal” are kind of my favourites. They really take me away, in the steppe, on horse, or with a kamel! Also I love “33 govi magtaal” but I can’t sing (yet) or other pieces like “Argamag huleg”.
7. How did you learn to sculpt stones, and when? How many sculpting did you made so far?
Well I had the chance to meet a Huurug maker once, and he advised on the tools to buy, and show me how to use it during an evening. After that I just tried by myself, as this guy was pretty busy.. I don’t have any teacher for the making of Tamga.
Now I made 5 or 6 Tamga I think, it’s the very beginning ^^. I only started few months ago ^^
8. Did you learn any other things in Mongolia? I heard that you are learning traditional Mongolian writing. Is it difficult, or not? Because, it is really difficult also for Mongolian people. And how about calligraphy?
Well, I learn as much as I can, about the history, the tradition, the culture, mainly the Morin Khuur. Also I would like to learn how to make the instrument, I already made one, but I hope to make at least 3 or 4 a year, as I couldn’t do that fulltime ^^. I’m interested in Hoomei, and Urtiin Duu as well, and I really enjoy the Mongol Bichig, that’s true, I really like the calligraphy, it’s a very interesting feeling!
I actually feel that the Mongolian Cirillic is much more complicated.. I feel more comfortable with the Mongol Bichig!
The calligraphy is an other story, the touch, and feeling with the brush really need time, and practice to be understood I think, I have a lot of admiration for my teachers, they really inspire me, and I hope that I’ll get there some day!
9. What do you think about Mongolian people. What about the positive and negative sides of us?
I prefer to avoid that question, as it’s a very personal opinion. I guess there is good and bad person everywhere, we’re all human after all.
I feel mainly more comfortable in Mongolia that’s for sure, I had amazing encounter, with very amazing person, also, I had few disappointments so..
I could feel a big gap between the people from countryside, and the city people.. it’s like two different country actually ^^
10. Your Mongolian name is ‘Dondog’. Especially old men have this name in Mongolia. Or its very old name. Why did you choose this name? We have the popular movie named “If I could have an horse” and the main role’s name is Dondog. And I thought that you choose from this movie, maybe?
Yeah ‘Dondog’ is my Mongolian name ^^; I know that “Dondog” is actually a Tibetan name and not Mongolian. It seems that the meaning of this name is for someone who is a bit easy going, and joyful. I guess it’s suitable for me!
Actually, the man I was learning to make Morin Khuur with gave me that name, because I was always saying that his work was amazing, and very beautiful! So one day he said to me, out of a joke “You’re really a Dondog”. I ask a bit about the name, and I decided to keep it! :) Also when I say that my name is “Dondog” people usually laugh, and smile, so it’s very nice ^^ ehe
About the movie, I didn’t watched it, but I really want to start to watch Mongolian movie, especially old traditional one, as I start to get to understand a little bit the language! :)
11. What is your next plan to learn? Especially about Mongolian traditional culture?
Well my main goal is to learn the old playing style of Morin Khuur, and as much magtaal /urtiin, ardin duu as I can. Also I would like to find a master to learn to make the instrument with him!
I’m also very interested in the old script and calligraphy, and I’d like to learn old story about it. I’m lucky because the school I study at the moment is teaching me all this knowledge! :)
12. What is the best place that you visited in Mongolian countryside that you really liked?
I was in UVS, and I visited the river of TES and this was really amazing!!!! I think that might be one of my favourite place here! I also visited Khovd, and it was also very beautiful and powerful!
I don’t really have a favourite place, it would be more, a favourite moment (favourites moments actually) that I shared with people! Because no matter the place, it’s the people we’re with that make the moment magical! :)
The End! … for now ;)