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Thursday, February 16, 2012

UBPost: The Changing Culture of the Mongolian White Month

Originally posted Feb 15, 2012 in the UBPost
by A. Jargalmaa


Tsagaan Sar (White Moon or White Month) , is the Mongolian New Year festival calculated on the lunar calendar. For more than 2,000 years Mongolians have been celebrating White month, we celebrate it to mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

Tsagaan Sar is the celebration of new life and symbolizes wealth and prosperity in the family. The holiday runs over three days, on the first day, the eldest and most respected family members are visited. The holiday provides an opportunity for people to gather, and celebrate and exchange gifts.

Families prepare for the holiday a month in advance by making plenty of food and gifts. The eldest family make 1000-3000 buuz (steamed Mongolian dumplings).

In rural areas, because of the distance and weather conditions, the celebration at times can last longer than a month.

Tsagaan Sar's Eve is called Bituun and that evening Mongolians do a special ritual (Bitvvleg). It means respect all things fully. Full darkness full souls, full stomachs, and full homes. All neighbors visit each other with mare's milk, vodka, traditional steamed dumplings, and cookies. This night is the last one on the lunar calendar.

On the first day of celebration called "Siniin Negen", people go up to the mountain before the sun comes up. They see the New Year's first sun, which means that the family will have luck and live well that year.

At the celebration site, people light bonfires and raise the Mongolian flag just before the sun rise. As the sun edges over the horizon, many Mongolians throw milk offerings into the air, while others shouted excitedly, welcoming the new year. Then they have to go to their homes and everyone will wear new clothes, open the "orkh" (ger's top window cover) and make a fire.

Tsagaan Sar signifies the beginning of Spring. Although the steppes are still covered with snow, the scent of spring is already in the air. The coming year's weather is analyzed based on the animal's mood and behavior as well as other signs of nature.

All men go to the top of a nearby hill or mountain carrying food and make a prayer to Nature and the State again. Then, the men go in certain directions prescribed by the Buddhist horoscope. This ceremony is called "muruu gargakh", which means "starting your footprints". It is believed important to start your way in the right direction on the first day of the new year as described by your lunar horoscope to by lucky.

With the sunrise, the greeting ceremony starts in the family. The oldest person stays in "khoimor" (ger's northern side) and the younger family members greet him or her first, then greet each other. The younger greets the older by extending arms with palms up and holding the olders arms from underneath. Everybody greets each other except husband and wife. Usually, people hold "khadag" (long and narrow piece of yellow, white or blue silk with various meanings) in their arms.

When the greeting ceremony is over, everyone sits behind the table and starts exchanging "koorog" (a snuff bottle made usually of semi-precious stones and filled with finely pulverized tobacco). The typical greeting words are "Daaga dalantai, byaruu bulchintai, sureg mal targan orov uu?", which can be translated as "Does your 2-year old horse have enough fat on it?" (means good health), "Does your 2-year old yak have enough muscle?" (means good power), "Did all your animals survive the winter safely?" and "Sar shinedee saihan orov uu? Nas suuder hed hurev"" which used to ask an old person about his or her good health and age as people are proud of old age.

Exchanging khoorog means expressing friendly intentions to each other and is usually the starting point of introducing a stranger. Exchanging khoorog creates a warm atmosphere between people and makes a good beginning of friendly talk that helps to learn the true heart of the stranger.

People eat a lot of "buuz" (steamed Mongolian dumplings) and drink "airag" (fermented mares milk). When the ceremony finishes in the family, the hosts give presents to each person.

The present symbolizes a wish for wellbeing, health, wealth and power. Everyone moves to the next family starting with the next oldest person's ger first. The Tsagaan Sar celebration can continue for a month, but the first, second, and third days are the most important.

Buddhist monasteries and temples hold rituals and services to pray and bless for the well being of the worshipers.

Once Tsagaan Sar was purely a traditional holiday, that people celebrated by meeting relations that they hadn't met for a long time. Nowadays ideas of White Month are changing.  People are more likely to flaunt their wealth. We used to exchange snuff-boxes for greeting but now snuff bottles are used with a show of wealth.

Also Mongolians use to wear "deel" (garments) on traditional holidays like Tsagaan Sar, Naadam, and Independence Day, but now the sentiment has changed to "who will wear the best deel?"

The change in culture can be attributed to the infiltration of greed. Downturns in the market, poor exchange rates and inflation are creating an atmosphere where people feel worse off.

Why don't we try and celebrate Tsagaan Sar like the old days? Mongolians have a choice in how they celebrate, what will they choose? Let's hop that this culture of flaunting will change.

Friday, February 10, 2012

UBPost: Could Mongolia Make the Transition from Coal to Wind?

Originally posted in the UB Post, Monday, Feb 6, 2012
by D. Munkhchimeg


The increasing minding of Mongolia's ample mineral resources has driven rapid economic growth in the country. In 2011 its GDP growth reached 17.3 percent. But we should keep in mind that Mongolia's mineral resources will run out someday. On the other hand, renewable energy sources such as the sun, wind and water are practically limitless. So not only mining, but also renewable energy may be a key part of Mongolia's development, providing future energy security.

Today, coal, the fossil fuel that has the highest emissions of greenhouse gasses, comprises the bulk of Mongolia's energy production, generating more than 80 percent of the country's power and heat.

"All forms of energy are expensive, but as time progresses, renewable energy generally gets cheaper, while fossil fuels generally get more expensive," said researcher Kh.Batsuuri during a recent presentation on wind energy. According to the 2011 IEA report, a portfolio of renewable energy technologies is becoming cost-competitive. "Wind power is one of the fastest growing sources of power generation," he added.

With its wide, windswept high plains, Mongolia has large untapped wind energy resources. It was determined that 10 percent of the total land of Mongolia has sufficient sources to be used for wind power production.

"Mongolia has the wind capacity to generate enough electricity to supply all of China's electric needs," says B.Byambasaikhan, CEO of Newcom Group's subsidiary Clean Energy, during the discussion "The Green Solution: Coal or wind?" which held on last Friday.

"There is no doubt that most of Mongolia's energy needs will be supplied by coal," admits G.Purevdorj, scientist at Mongolian Academy of Sciences. But with mounting environmental problems in Mongolia, it is vital to take full advantage of its renewable resources, as renewable energy could help mitigate the increased greenhouse gas emissions, he added. There is an urgent need to look to cleaner energy solutions than coal.

The Government signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 and ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 1999. But how can we stave off the potentially calamitous effects of climate change? It is encouraging that the Government claims to support and promote actions and initiatives towards green energy sources.

In 2005, Mongolia's parliament approved the National Renewable Energy Program, which aims to increase the country's renewable energy share to 20 to 25 percent by 2020. And in 2007, a Law on Renewable Energy waa adopted.

Hydro electrical plants have been built at Durguun and Taishir and the national program 100,000 Sun Lights has been implemented.

As a result, it is now common to see a nomad's ger fitted with solar panels powering satellite receivers. Despite this progress, renewable energy still only generates a tiny fraction of the country's electricity.

The Government needs to reconsider the fact that no concrete results of massive investments can be seen in the country's green energy sector.

In the private sector large scale activities have been initiated towards the development of Mongolia's first wind energy park.

Newcom Group is working to put into operation a Wind farm in Tuv aimag's Salkhit Mountain with the capacity of 50 MW. According to Byambasaikhan, Salkhit the wind farm would supply almost 5 percent of the country's electricty when it starts operating in November of 2012.

If Newcom completes its wind power plant project successfully, it shall lead many other projects for renewable energy.

However, experts warn that there might be more barriers to the private sector than opportunities. Lack of infrastructure and uncertainty in the regulations remain major problems.

General Electric signed a deal with Newcom to supply 31 turbines to its wind farm project. But it's not just a matter of getting the necessary equipments it's also a question of transporting them. "Wind fans and turbines are very big. Transporting them by dirt road is extremely difficult, as the road from Zamin Uud to Choir is not completed yet" says B.Byambasaikhan. Just imagine, each wind turbine weighs 240 tons and its base weights 1000 tons.

The fact that Government regulates energy prices also scares investors. "State monopoly, strong regulations, and fixed price hinder the private sector initiatives" explained Ch.Otgonchuluu, a director of Economic Policy and Competitiveness Research Center.

Newcom has already signed a power-purchase agreement with the Government for the proposed wind power plant project. Each year it would produce 160 million kWh of electricity that would supply the energy demands of 70,000 households, reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases by 150,000 tons and save 1,2 million tons of clean water.

The project costs USD 115 million or 165 MNT and within the law sets purchase cost at 9.5 cents per kWh, it requires 11 years to justify the investment.

"The cost had been set at 9.5 cents when the Law on Renewable Energy was adopted in 2007 and is likely to remain for another 5 years. Since inflation has been rising, it is important to amend the law and increase the power purchase cost in order to create favorable conditions for investments" said Purevdorj.

"Of course, it would be more attractive for investors if the cost is set, for example, at 15 cents," says B. Byambasaikhan, "But we are not looking at short term goals. It's not going to be easy, but we need to get building."

Word List:

  • GDP = gross domestic product: the total value of the goods and services that a country produces in a year, not including income received from money invested in other countries
  • bulk = the majority or largest part of something
  • portfolio = used about other sets of things that belong to someone
  • windswept = a windswept place has a lot of wind and not many buildings or trees to protect it
  • untapped = not being used yet, but existing in large amounts that could bring profits or benefits
  • sufficient = as much as is needed
  • mounting = increasing, especially in a way that makes a situation worse
  • to mitigate = to reduce the harmful effects of something
  • to stave off = to stop something from happening
  • calamitous = causing serious damage, or causing a lot of people to suffer
  • concrete = based on facts and information
  • massive = very large in amount or degree
  • lack =  situation in which you do not have any, or enough, of something that you need or want
  • energy demand = Amount of energy required

Thursday, February 2, 2012

MV: The Tourist - 2011

Elise sits next to an American tourist, Frank, on a train going to Venice. She has chosen him as a decoy, making believe that he is her lover who is wanted by police. Not only will they need to evade the police, but also the mobster whose money her lover stole.


A tea with milk, an orange juice and and a croissant.
  • croissant = a type of light bread with a curved shape that is usually eaten for breakfast
Come again?
  • "Come again?" = "What did you say?"
Somebody is talking to her. Looks like a courier.
  • courier = messenger, delivers messages & packages
Looks like a messenger, you said to call if anything changed in her routine.
  • routine = your usual way of doing things, especially when you do them in a fixed order at the same time
We have to throw them off the trail.
  • to throw off the trail = to stop someone from finding you or from discovering the truth about something by using a clever plan or trick
Congratulations, Acheson. You have, indeed, cracked this case.
  • to crack the case = to solve a complicated problem, or to find the answer to a mystery
Alexander Pearce has 744 million in illegal assets...
  • assets = something such as money or property that a person or company owns
...that, given he is a British subject, we might seize.
  • subject = someone who lives in a country that is controlled by a king or queen
  • to seize = to take something using official power and force
Money laundering.
  • money laundering = hiding the source of illegally gotten money
I think you'd be a diplomatic attach#e.
  • diplomatic attaché = a diplomatic official attached to an embassy or legation, especially in a technical capacity
Ectomorph, yes. Same basic phenotype.
  • ectomorph = having a thin body build,
  • phenotype = observable physical character of the body as to strength, health, etc of a person
You're the paranoid math teacher.
  • paranoid = worrying that people do not like you and are trying to harm you, although you have no proof of this
He's fluttering his eyelids like a girl. That's his tell.
  • fluttering = to move up and down or from side to side with short, quick, light movements
  • tell = (noun) indication of playing card strength unintentionally given off by an opponent
Oh, yeah, sure. I mean, I could use a lift, yeah.
  • lift = (noun) a ride somewhere
You're ravenous. / Do you mean ravishing?
  • ravenous = extremely hungry
  • ravishing = extremely beautiful or attractive;
I don't like being summoned.
  • to summon = to call for the presence of, as by command, message, or signal
It drives me nuts.
  • to drive someone nuts = to make someone crazy, to irritate someone a lot
Prepare to intervene.
  • to intervene = to become involved in a situation in order to try to stop or change it
We still have a visual but the American is in imminent danger.
  • imminent = likely or certain to happen very soon
I'd say not our mandate.
  • mandate = an official order to do something
Sir, this man is in real peril.
  • peril = danger
Am l making myself crystal clear?
  • crystal clear = extremely obvious or easy to understand
They've placed a....A bounty on your head.
  • "bounty on [someone's] head" = reward to capture/kill [someone]
Brand-new bills? l appreciate it.
  • bills = dollar bills
Now he owns most of the casinos and brothels from here to Novosibirsk.
  • brothels = place where prostitutes work
Well, you've certainly blown your cover now.
  • to blow someone's cover = to tell people who someone really is or what they are really doing, especially when doing this puts that person in danger or spoils a plan
Who'd have thought your tastes were so provincial?
  • provincial = old-fashioned and conservative
He just left her that envelope. Pull up the footage, we have his face.
  • footage = video footage, part of a movie
I don't bloody believe this. All right, get that moron out of here.
  • moron = someone who is stupid
Take that gangster guy.
  • gangster = a member of an organized group of criminals
And you're a moron that almost ruined my 8-million-pound sting operation.
  • sting operation = a complicated plan, usually taking months of work and a lot of people, by undercover agents to catch and arrest criminals.
Oh, I took great pleasure...never knowing what the scamp would do next.
  • scamp = someone, especially a child, who behaves badly but is difficult to dislike
You know, in our quaint legal system, if a man sleeps with my wife...
  • quaint = interesting or attractive with a slightly strange and old-fashioned quality
Permission to fire. / Hold your fire.
  • to fire = to shoot
  • "hold your fire" = don't shoot
Permission to engage. / Negative.
  • to engage = to start to fight with an enemy in battle
  • negative = no
It's absurd.
  • absurd = completely stupid, unreasonable, or impossible to believe
This is Chief Inspector Jones. Permission granted.
  • to grant = to give
Agent Ward, your suspension's lifted.
  • suspension = punishment where someone is removed from a team/job/school for short time
  • to lift = to officially end a rule or law that stopped someone from doing something
And your employment is terminated.
  • employment is terminated = you are fired




Past Movie word lists can be found
at Movie Vocabulary link at the top of the page

LYRICS: Gomo Tulku - Don't You Know

Gomo Tulku - Don't You Know ft. Jidenna (Tibet Tribute)

This song is a dedication
to the struggles going on
inside Tibet and a tribute
to the selflessness of those
who were involved in the recent
self-immolations.

Though taking one's life is an extreme tragedy,
those individuals' acts were a sobering reminder
that there are some things greater than ourselves
and worth giving our lives for.

Is there something
I can help you with?
You claim you got it
everything new whips
Fresh fit and fly baby
you call cupid.
But something in you
wants to get stupid.
If this is your first time
don't be surprised.
Just put that finger up
and make the bird fly.
This just a guide
for the layman un-cool.
Showin' you
how to lose yourself
f*#k you.

Now I am like a snowflake,
the only one of its kind.
View me from the bird's eye
and we probably all look alike, huh?
We look all alike, huh?
Well, you're probably right...

Here I was thinking I was chosen
by the boss of life.
Handpicked for a special mission.
Here I was just thinking
I'm the gifted one.
Call the medic
I'm sick with
ambition.
I never tire.
No sir,
I never Michelin.

And when I multiplied the bread
thought I was Christ.
When all my friends had left,
thought I was right.
My head was just big,
this shit is baggy.
I let life play its course now.
I'm just the caddy.

Who them all foolin' ya'll,
I don't want to know,
'cause I don't know.
Ain't all losin' control.
Aye! Don't you know that, know that, know that?
Aye cause I don't know that.
Who them all foolin' ya'll
You can let it go.
So what you need
to do is lose control.
Aye! Don't you know that, know that, know that?
Aye cause I don't know that.

Science say
we 99 percent alike
silly how we dwell on that 1 percent
difference right?
I kill and strike
fightin' for that pie
to keep that 1 percent
of this lil' slice.
If you superman,
I got that 1 percent of kryptonite.

Underneath the skin tone
we all colored red.
And we all used to crawl around
and pee all in the bed.
I grew up and blew up
that we are not the same.
I swear it must be helium
that be all in my head.

Gotta competition in me.
So surely you will fail.
The cheddar chase
rat racing always on your tail.
I know the soul gets richer
when you lose your wealth.
I guess the only way you win
is when you lose yourself.

Who them all foolin' ya'll,
I don't want to know,
'cause I don't know.
Ain't all losin' control.
Aye! Don't you know that, know that, know that?
Aye cause I don't know that.
Who them all foolin' ya'll
You can let it go.
So what you need
to do is lose control.
Aye! Don't you know that, know that, know that?
Aye cause I don't know that.

Is there something
I can help you with?
You claim you got it
everything new whips
Fresh fit and fly baby
you call cupid.
But something in you
wants to get stupid.
If this is your first time
don't be surprised.
Just put that finger up
and make the bird fly.
This just a guide
for the layman un-cool.
Showin' you
how to lose yourself
f*#k you.

Who them all foolin' ya'll,
I don't want to know,
'cause I don't know.
Ain't all losin' control.
Aye! Don't you know that, know that, know that?
Aye cause I don't know that.
Who them all foolin' ya'll
You can let it go.
So what you need
to do is lose control.
Aye! Don't you know that, know that, know that?
Aye cause I don't know that.


Gomo Tulku

A fresh sound in pop music is often credited to the culmination of an artist’s unique life experiences with his or her music. Gomo Tulku (also known as Gomo), 23-year old Buddhist lama (religious leader) and ex-monk, is by no means short of unique experiences and is by all means ushering in his own brand of popular music.

Naturally, Gomo’s music is in every way a fusion style as he himself is culmination of many cultures being he is a Tibetan-Canadian-American who resides in Italy and was raised in a Buddhist monastery in India. His sound is a mix of hip-hop, rhythm and blues, dance and pop. However, he does not necessarily subscribe to a single genre. Where in one song he may rap the verses and sing the hooks to a club-banger beat, in another song he may showcase a series of beautiful vocal melodies to an electro-type, dance beat. Although his music touches on his own personal experiences in the monastery, its content is secular and speaks to individuals from all walks of life.

But understanding Gomo requires one to really understand his unique past. Gomo Tulku, or Tenzin D. Kashhi, was born in Montreal, Canada on August 8, 1988. At the age of three, Tenzin was recognized by renowned Buddhist figure, His Holiness the Dalai Lama to be the reincarnation of his mother’s late father, also a Buddhist lama. Thus, he was given the same name as his predecessor, Gomo Rinpoche. As a Buddhist lama, he would inherit the previous lama’s belongings, disciples, and above all, responsibility as a religious leader. By the age of seven, Gomo left his family and moved to South India to a monastery where he would begin his rigorous studies for the next 12 years.

At the age of 16, Gomo visited his family in America to get a small taste of the western lifestyle. During his one-year stay in America, Gomo attended high school, interacted with teenage Americans, and openly pursued music, all for the first time. This period would mark Gomo’s metamorphosis from a humble, quiet monk, to a confident and charismatic artist.

Gomo would spend the next few years finishing up his studies in the monastery, while also devising a strategy to take the music world by storm. At the age of twenty, Gomo gave up his vows as a monk and left the monastery for Italy where he would connect with friends, sponsors and artists to begin his music career.

Since then, Gomo has worked with famous Italian, hip-hop producer Deleterio, gained sponsorship from Guess clothing line, and has generated an international media buzz. He released his debut single and video “Photograph” in August 2011. The success of the song helped Gomo win “Best Male Artist” in the Tibetan Music Awards 2011 that October. In December 2011, he released a Tibet tribute song with New York rapper, Jidenna entitled “Don’t You Know”. The song was released as a typographic animation video.

Gomo Tulku is currently working on his first EP, amongst many projects, which is set to release in early 2012. Stay tuned and join the movement that is about to “enlighten” the music industry.

More at Gomo Tulku Music