After no communication for nearly ten years, Baagii, a major character from “I Grew My Boobs in China” Vol. 1 of Sihpromatum series, came to visit us in Holland.
I was very interested to know more about Baagii and have learned so much about him during his week stay with us. I could’ve kept diving deeper into his life story, but I would end up with another book rather than just an interview. Incredible! We had so many great laughs throughout this interview.
Author Note: I transcribed this interview, and though I’ve made minor corrections, I’ve focussed on preserving his voice and staying true to character throughout the interview.
1. Your English is very good. You were our guide and translator in Mongolia, so I’m curious how and where you learned English?
Well, I went on a religious mission to Montana, the big sky country, in the U.S. when I was nineteen.I didn’t speak any English before I went in 2002. Lots of people from France, Germany and many countries, and 30 people were from Mongolia also learning English to go on missions. People was supposed to stay there two months in Utah for the MTC (Missionary Training Centre) but when I got there, like, I just been there a week and then they put me as top of all of Mongolians in class. And then every week I have to speak in English in front of everybody, so that is how I learned my English quickly. They really pushed me. After two months they gave us an exam, and if you are good enough you go on the mission. I passed. That is how I learned English. Mongolian language is so different of course, and there were NO Mongolian people when I got to Montana so I HAVE to speak English, I had to.
2. That is amazing!! I couldn’t imagine having to master a language in just TWO months and being thrown into a foreign country with no one around speaking my language. In Mongolia, the main religion is Buddhism, what is your religion?
I was Buddhist and then turned Christian. When I was 6 years old I went to a monastery and I was a monk for ten years, until sixteen.I went to school there in Buddhist school and studied Sanskrit language. Just the school and then go study and then go home. They never kept me inside like India or Tibet. It was just everyday like a normal school but I had to wear monk clothes everyday and a shaved head. I really missed my hair but every kid in my school had to have their hair shaved.
Without hair, you can think more better so that is why they shave their heads all the times.
When I turned 16 I went to normal school and that was little bit difficult, but was okay. Was okay.
When I finished high school I met Christian missionaries walking on the street and they teach me. Then I went on mission at nineteen. Christian and Buddhist is very close. Very close. Many similar things.
3. Future, who you introduced us to, was a huge part of our misadventures in Mongolia. You are good friends with Future, can you give us a bit of an update about what he’s been doing for the past ten years?
He just finished medical school in UB (Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia’s capital) and became a doctor. [He really had a laugh here] So I know Future is Crazy. He just jumps around more than I do, do some prank things on me, you know, he does it that way kind of guy. We always say you are not going to be doctor, you are not doctor. How are you going to be doctor, you are so crazy. He is settled down little bit, but he is still crazy. His crazy pops out still. Right after you guys left he went to the Big Brother show in Mongolia and he asked me to go with him. You know, saying to me, “C.mon Baagii you come with me, I don’t want to be alone.” but I was on the radio and most people know me and I was scared people recognize me. So I didn’t. And he went. He was locked up in a big house with all other people. He didn’t win but he really loved it. He was on the show for two or three months. He really wants to be famous. That is what he always wants. He wanted to join a band but they didn’t let him. But after the show, with everybody they made a movie and that is how he acted in the movie “Elsnii Nuudel”. In the movie he is a teacher and then he fall in love with one of his students and cheating on his wife.
(You can search “Elsnii nuudel” on Youtube, this is an example of the movie, the first scene is with Future!!! – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4KvSRCA9WYIt’s so funny to see his with a moustache.)
4. When we were in Mongolia, we went on a tour with a company you worked for as a guide and translator. After our tour, you suggested we go to the south of the country but instead of hiring a tour, we go with one of your friends who could “speak English and had a car”. How did you decide to have Future take us? What is your side of the story?
I had already a friend in my mind. I know so many drivers that have been all over Mongolia, but I want someone who speak English for you guys. And I asked one guy who can understand English, and he can only just answer one word, not full sentence, just one word. Is really good experience to go with something who is going for first time instead of someone who done it so many times. Someone who can speak English but also their own language was nicest to have.
Well, we were sitting in the pub and we were talking and I was telling my whole trip after two weeks away on tour with you guys. Every time after a trip all the friends we get together, all of my friends were university students and want to hear all the travel stories. Future say, “Well I can speak English, can I go? And then I can practice English. And then can I have money if I go? And then we can have fun when I get back.” And I tell him but Gobi Desert is very hard, crazy place, easy to lose the road. Even I lose the road. In the North I can drive and mountains is easier to know where you are but Gobi there is NOTHING and if you miss one direction you are lost. And he said, “No if you show me on map I can do it.” And I ask, “Are you sure?” he said, “YEAH, YEAH, I CAN DO IT!”
I go home and he call me on the phone and he said, “Oh c’mon Baaggii, let me go,” and I thought ok, I will just show him on the map. And tell him every stop to ask people, and marked the map where to go. Driver, translator AND guide and he, [ahhaha] never went before.
And then he spent all the money on to fix his car. [Hhahaha]
He really enjoyed it. It’s really crazy, in the moment he is back, he was getting really mad that he almost die in desert, and broke his whole car and calling me crazy tour man but you know, I told him, “You wanted. You wanted to go.” Future stopped, start thinking and then started really laughing.
5. It’s been almost ten years since we last saw or heard from you. I was very excited and curious when I heard you were living in Sweden, not far from us in Holland. How did you end up there and where else has life taken you in the past decade?
For two years I worked for the guiding company. I was manager of a night club, I worked 3 jobs at once. Summer guiding, night club in winter, radio at nights. I finished university for two years, with my younger sister and me. When going to university I also am manager of “Good Boys” band.
I worked at the radio station and then my brother heard that someone is going to sell their radio station so we bought that radio station, called 105.5. Then my brother and I ran the radio station. It was good. I was the person who was talking and my brother was manager boss.It was 24 hr so when we go home, we put the music on. We talked about everything. In the morning was weather, and astrology and then train station times, and planes, and play the music in between to wake up and feel nice. And sometimes the newspaper highlights.
Election was coming up and one party wanted to buy our radio station like 2 years after, and I was able to sell it for 2 or 3 times what we bought it.
I met this guy from the party and they won the election, and he asked me to work with him.
Worked with the political party, promoting sorting free scholarships for children, so people would want to vote for that party. I give scholarship and tell them it comes from the party. Working in between elections, helping kids, I have over 200 kids under me who now have scholarship and some are studying abroad.
Then I decided to go traveling, every time I watched TV Europe looked really great and I wanted to go. Italy, Germany, Spain, it was really interested to me, so I thought, “yes I can do that”, I’d like to see that. Almost two years now I’ve been travelling, and working in Europe. My brother said to me, “You are crazy to just give up job to go traveling.”
In Spain I met a lady, I gave her my lighter, and she ask me what I am doing there. I just tell her, travelling a bit but the money is running out. Maybe I get a job and she said, “ I have a job for you. Come. Come.” and she took me where they grow cucumber and tomatoes. So then I work there, and there were many black people working there too.
I got a job there, because it’s expensive to live in Europe, especially for Mongolian. My first job in Sweden was washing dishes, for two months and then I met this guy who was from Africa. We were talking and I told him I do my job then travel a little bit, then go back working, so I can travel. He offered me a job at the clothing warehouse where I work now. A lot of Swedish people work there and the only Asian is me.
I think I am very lucky, I always meet people, and life works out.
[Thank you for sharing “Good Boys” with me. Beautiful music by Mongolian teen popstars! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iobluadiRw ]
6. Now that you’ve been in the “west”; name one problem in the west that could be solved by doing things more like Mongolians.” i.e. what could Europeans learn from Mongolians to make life better? – Alice
Here when people talk, or in Europe they smile at you and then talk and not much meaning. Like, a little bit fake. Mongolia if they smile at you and talk, then they will help you, go out of their way. That is the Mongolian way. If they don’t smile at you, they don’t like you. But here everyone smiles, so you don’t know. Why do they have so many fake smiles, if you want to smile, it has to come from the heart, really you want to smile. It’s a riddle. When you go to Mongolia, then they will take care of you.
7. What was your favourite place? What will you miss the most? What was your best memory? – Nicole
I really like the small town in Spain, Alehedjo. I really like Holland too. When I was riding a bike, there were not very many Asians. Everyone sees me as tourist ‘cause I have big camera taking a picture, and everyone was looking and very friendly saying hello asking how I was doing. But in the big city, they don’t do that. I like the small towns. In Spain also, I only saw ten Asians, who all worked in the same Chinese shop.
Sometimes they are watching me like I am in a zoo and I am giant elephant, or like dinosaur.
It is funny to hear Baagii say that locals are looking at him, because we had the same experience with nomads in Mongolia. It’s all a matter of perspective!!
He is now back in Sweden but hopefully we will meet much sooner this time. Maybe in Sweden for the Northern Lights? Fingers tightly crossed!!