Coming Back Home

By Allyson Seaborn

Anand Batsukh was born in the Mongolian countryside in 1985, but like quite a few Mongolians, he’s spent the majority of his life living overseas. When he was five years old he and his family left Ulaanbaatar to live in Beijing and it was here that Anand attended primary school and learned to speak Chinese fluently. After his family’s time in China, they packed up and moved to a small town in New Jersey. He says “it was in America that I learned what I now consider to be my mother tongue, English.”
It’s not uncommon to see a growing number of young Mongolian professionals returning to UB to start new careers. Because he grew up away from Mongolia, Anand’s views are unique and slightly different to those who have lived here their whole lives.
“In 2001, we moved to Ontario, Canada. I stayed in Canada until I graduated from Carleton University in 2008. After graduating from university, I moved to Beijing for a second time, to relearn Chinese in hopes of finding a job there.” Now after working and interning at several companies in Beijing, and after receiving his MBA from Tsinghua University, Anand is finally coming back “home.”
“I’m moving back to Ulaanbaatar in hopes of being a part of the socioeconomic transformation that has been taking place over the past several years. I’ve been gone for more than twenty years, so my immediate goal upon return is to familiarize myself with my city again. That includes learning the random driving behaviors of some of the most aggressive drivers in the world. As for my long term goals, I hope to open up my mobile technology and applications company over the next two years or so. Everything else is malleable”

Q&A Time

-Where were you born and where did you grow up?
-I was born in Ulaangom, the capital of Uvs province, which is where my maternal grandparents are from. After that, my parents brought me to UB where we stayed until I was five years old. At that time, we moved to Beijing, China, for a couple of years. Then, I lived in a tiny suburban town in New Jersey called Plainsboro for seven years while attending elementary, middle, and parts of high school. Finally, I graduated high school as well as university in the Canadian capital, Ottawa.
I feel very blessed that I have had the opportunity to grow up in such an eclectic environment, because it opened my eyes and mind to the many cultures of the world at an early age, allowing me to have a different perspective on the world than most people my age.
-What do you miss most about the Mongolia of yesterday?
-I left Mongolia when I was very young, so I’m not the utmost authority on this subject, but I do feel like when I was a kid, people on the streets used to be friendlier. Or maybe that was just my childish naiveté and I didn’t know any better as a kindergartener.
-What’s your favorite holiday destination either overseas or within Mongolia?
-Any place with a beach! This year I had the chance to go to Thailand and Malaysia for the first time, and both places had beautiful beaches. Any place that I can relax by the water, read a nice crime novel, and maybe find some tacos nearby, is my favorite vacation spot.
About six or seven years ago, my family traveled all through the Mongolian countryside by car, and it was an amazing adventure. We spent almost two weeks visiting many places, barbecuing in the steppes, and camping out under the stars. The shame of it being that we ended up just a few kilometers outside of Khuvsgul when we were forced to retreat by extreme flooding. It is a priority on my list to go back a second time, and this time, take a dive in Lake Khuvsgul.
-What hopes do you have for the future of Mongolia?
-My hope for the future is not an uncommon one. I hope that we as a nation and a people are able to properly optimize the current situation. It goes without saying that as of right now, things are far from ideal, but I do believe that we are taking the steps necessary to get there, albeit ploddingly and sometimes backwards.
I compare UB to Beijing and Seoul in the 90’s. Now, if in twenty years, UB can reach the same level of socioeconomic development, urbanization, and globalization that these places have reached, I will be an even prouder and happier Mongolian citizen.
-Who inspires you?
-Specifically, my family inspires me to be better every day. Without them, I would not be where I am, and I cherish them for that. My father is my role model, my mother is my best friend, and I know my brother will have my back no matter what. My sister-in-law and beautiful niece provide me joy whenever I get to see them
Generally, I am inspired by young entrepreneurs, especially those involved in technology; for example, the people behind YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, etc., that can bring their ideas to the world and change it forever, while making a living doing what they are passionate about. They inspire me and make me want to never stop improving upon myself.
-What’s your favorite pastime?
-To be perfectly honest, I will have to say going to my favorite restaurant with a couple of my good friends, and just enjoying great conversations over delicious foods and drinks. I am never happier than I am when my belly is full, the conversation is humorous, and the drinks are strong.
-Describe your most vivid childhood memory.
-I remember when I was about ten years old, I broke my left arm while playing on the swings with my friends. I didn’t know it was broken, it was just bruised and swollen up. When I went home, I tried to hide it from my parents by wrapping it up in a sweatshirt and staying in my room the whole night. It didn’t take long for my mom to discover my injury as soon as I fell asleep.
After going to the doctor and getting a cast on it, I remember sitting in the doctor’s office, crying really hard and being depressed—I thought I would never be able to play basketball or football again because I broke my arm, and it seemed like it would never get better.
-Can you explain in English your favorite Mongolian expression or saying?
-One that cracks me up every time I hear someone say it (usually my dad) is “etsgiin tawag,” which literally translates to “the bottom of father’s foot.” This expression is used in situations that catch you by surprise, for example, if you hear a loud noise or you drop something, you could say “etsgiin tawag!”
-What do you find most interesting about foreigners living in Mongolia?
-I find many things interesting about foreigners in Mongolia. One of them being that a lot of foreigners have probably been to more cultural and historical sites and explored more of the country that some Mongolians, certainly me.
Another thing I find very interesting is the adaptability of the foreigners who have chosen to make Mongolia their home for the long term. It is quite amazing that people from all over the world can settle down in Mongolia and adjust as much as they can, and they have to, since Mongolia is very different from most places in the world.
I really commend our foreign visitors that make a real effort to be a part of the local community and learn Mongolian, rather than sticking strictly to the foreigner circuit. I think that immersing yourself in the local culture, no matter where you are and where you’re from, is what makes traveling abroad the most worth it.

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=4470

Posted by on Jun 16 2013. Filed under Community. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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