Mauritius: In the roots of a multi-linguistic nation

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This afternoon, through my brand new Twitter account, a compatriot of mine published on his wall a multiple choice question, where Mauritian people were asked in which language they enjoy writing the most. In answer to that multiple choice question, we had choice between English, French, Mauritian Creole and Oriental Language.

Mauritius, as per the details that you will retrieve in that historical complete article, is a widely diversified people composed with people having Creole, Indian, Chinese, French and African origins. Most of the Mauritian population is especially composed with Indians, mostly originated from the states of Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, with a minority also coming from Punjab. There is also a vast population of Mauritians of Muslim faith as well, of Indo-Pakistani origins. Due to that diversity of cultures, though most of the Mauritian culture finds its inheritance within India, several dialects and languages are spoken. The two official administrative and legal languages used in Mauritius are English and French, especially English, since before being proclaimed independent on 12th March 1968, Mauritius was a British Colony and kept on following the rules based on the British administration and education, especially in public sector. There are also some other dialects spoken in Mauritius, but only within each community. The Chinese Mauritians speak and learn at school their ancestral dialect Mandarin and, for a minority of them, Cantonese as well. The Muslim Mauritians, due to their Indo-Pakistani origins, speak and learn at school Urdu, which is a dialect derived from Arabic in Pakistan, Punjab and Muslim India. Finally, the Indian Mauritians of Hindu faith practice and learn Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati and Marathi, depending on the state from which they are originated. The White Mauritians mostly practice read, written and spoken French, since for the majority of them, they originate from France, though Mauritius was a British colony. However, the Creole community, originating from Africa, never imported any African dialect of its own (Swahili, Zulu, Xhosa, etc.), and they manage either in English, French or Creole. Regarding the Creole language, we have to put a big plan on it, and also on the Creole community, since there are so many things to shell in them which should be understood by the Mauritian community. Through that blog post, as I promised to my compatriot, I will try my best to answer, in a more constructive way, to his answer regarding the languages we would use to write the most in Mauritius between those four choices.

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English as First Choice. Why?

As I mentioned before, English is the preferred read, written and spoken language within the Mauritian population. It has first of all a coincidence with the fact that before having been proclaimed an Independent country, Mauritius was under British colonization, and all the administration and educational sector was mostly based upon the British rule. Even after its independence, Mauritius still kept the British administrative process, as well in professional life as in the public educational sector. I tried to do some researches about English being the predominant language of the country, even after its Independence in 1968, and that article 14-3 contains a paragraph, which may explain the reason behind this, I quote: “In short, the situation of English in Mauritius seems to be problematic; its existence seems to be a burden rather than a help to the population. However, the situation also has positive aspects and positive arguments can be adduced in favour of the existence of English and its various functions in the independent state (since 1968). Mauritius was an English colony from 1810 till 1968 and since then it has been a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. English, therefore, has a tradition and a permanent place as the official language and the language of administration, politics and the school system, which is organised on the English model. Apart from these historical facts, its neutrality distinguishes it from French inside the country. For external relations, the role of English as a world language and, above all, as one of the official languages in India is very important. It allows close contact to be kept with the lands of origin of the majority of the population, India and Pakistan – and this is done much more efficiently than would have been possible with the help of the Indian languages, which are now quite clearly declining in Mauritius.” English being a universal language is a sort of mystery for Mauritius, but even for the rest of the world. I have a British French pal, who put his profile picture on his social platforms with a message stipulating “Keep calm and speak English” as he defends English as the universal language spoken worldwide. He once even related me that in England, if you talk to an English person in another foreign language, the very first thing that the English person will ask you in return is to speak English, since he or she defends the native language of his or her country. On that point I give the English native right. I also remember how my little boy struggled a lot at school since his native language was French, whereas he started his scholarship at the International School of Seychelles, where the only language used at school for education is English, and I remember how isolated he was because of the language barrier. His second year teacher in KG1 (FS2 as per the British Curriculum) once cracked my son when my son insisted to speak French with us, telling him very frankly that he had to speak English since he didn’t understand French. Also, my husband and I had to start speaking English with him so that he could adapt quickly within the school environment and activities. Since that day, we didn’t stop speaking English with him, though from time to time, we are used to come back to his native French language. But now, the question I am asking myself is that, if my son’s school he was studying in Seychelles and if my son’s school right now in Abu Dhabi is also an International school, how could it be that the International School of Seychelles follows a British Curriculum, and the actual International School where my son is actually going in Abu Dhabi follows the American curriculum, which resembles a lot to the British one but with more extra-curriculum activities? And how is it that so many International schools, instead of following an International Curriculum with several cultures and languages spoken, mostly follow instead the British Curriculum, and having everything taught in English and not in another language? Here we should interest ourselves mostly to the latest question, since nowadays English is still considered as the global worldwide language. An article answers to that question completely and on that purpose, I am thinking especially about Republic of South Africa during the Apartheid. I remember that last year, my husband and I were visiting Johannesburg with a local guide, and I wrote a very long blog post containing some extracts about the rebellion of students during the Apartheid period and the martyr of student Hector Pieterson, when the Black students were rebelling against learning and practicing of Afrikaans, which was a language imposed by the pro-apartheid government to them, to isolate them from the rest of the population, since they were not given the right to speak, nor to practice English. They rebelled against Afrikaans language, since they were fighting for their right of learning and practicing English as well as every other South African people of ethnicity differing from theirs and considered English to be equally taught for all South Africans. To come back to the Mauritian context, as per the PDF document also stipulated, English as the main language is a tradition which dates from about 200 years ago and which cannot be forgotten. Alike my son, French was my native language, since Creole was forbidden at home, as I came from a very affluent family due to my father who was a Freemason and had a honorable position as the first Anesthetist who started practicing in Mauritius after he completed his 14-year studies in England, Ireland and India. Because I was speaking French, and since we had some relatives settled in France, my mother always wanted me to follow mostly a scholarship based on French Curriculum, and also I have been following my whole primary and secondary scholarship at the Lycee la Bourdonnais, which follows the French Curriculum and which is linked with the French Alliance of Mauritius and the Academy of Reunion Island. In the French curriculum, it was French which was the predominant language, whereas English was learnt as a secondary language. Despite all, I recognize today, though I always cultivated a true passion for English learning since I started learning it in primary school at only the age of 8 years old, how English was indispensable for my daily life, especially in an Anglo-Saxon country like Mauritius and since I have been travelling in several English-speaking countries such as England, Singapore, Malaysia, Republic of South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Canada and Seychelles. during my marriage life and during my teenage years. Today English is helping me a lot for my daily life and even for my son’s education since he goes in an English-speaking International school and must speak English permanently. And today, even when I blog, I favor English for my audience, even though on some of my social platforms I also express myself in my native language French.

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French as second choice. Why?

I found the answer again in the PDF document, and it is linked also with the fact that, due to my family position since I was born, French was spoken at home instead of Creole language. First of all, there is a presence of French Mauritian people in Mauritius, though they represent only 3% of the whole Mauritian population. Here is what the article stipulates again about them, I quote, “The Franco-Mauritians, who represent less than 3% of the total population, are by far the most influential social force in the island, and they continue to play a dominant role in the sugar, manufacturing and tourist industries. This, and the fact that their way of life, and most important, their form of speech is closest to that exemplified by the media, means that they represent an ideal for the “coloured” population, and gradually for the rest of the population, thus exerting a sociolinguistic influence beyond their numerical importance.” But to come on the French language importance, according to that article, here is the extract which explains how French also has its predominant place in the Mauritian population, but mostly as a prestige language than an administrative language:

Despite more than a century and a half of British rule and the imposition of English as an official language, French has maintained its position as the prestige language of Mauritius. Fluency in French is more closely linked to advancement in the social hierarchy, and happens to be indicative of intelligence and good breeding, especially in the eyes of the “General Population”. According to Barnwell and Toussaint (1949), there is considerable evidence to suggest that between 1840-1870, the British administration tried to make the inhabitants of Mauritius native speakers of the English language. But the decisions to anglicise the colony came a bit too late, since French had already established itself as a strong language with the help of the British colonisers themselves. As long as military and political control remained in the hands of the British, they were content to allow the French to remain in a dominant and privileged position. Hence, the French continued to dominate the linguistic and economic life of the island. In 1992, when Mauritius became a parliamentary republic, it remained a member both of the Commonwealth and the ‘Francophonie’.

French language has an evident role to play worldwide, since for so many centuries, France was considered as the heart of the European society, culture, history and monarchy and French language was and is still considered as a prestige language, especially in Mauritius. Like I mentioned before, when I was born, I was taught to always express myself in French and it was badly seen for my parents if I spoke Creole, including with my friends, family members and with even the maids who were working for us at home! A Mauritian who speaks, reads and writes French very well is highly considered as someone literate and cultivated, compared to a Mauritian who has weak knowledge in French, despite having a high knowledge in English as the predominant Mauritian language. In my previous paragraph, the document mentioned Mauritius as a member of the “Francophonie”. It would be interesting to know a little more about the Francophonie and how it appeared worldwide. According to Wikipedia, “The convention which created the Agency for Cultural and Technical Co-operation (Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique) was signed on 20 March 1970 by the representatives of the 21 states and governments under the influence of African Heads of State, Léopold Sédar Senghor of Senegal, Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, Hamani Diori of Niger and Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia. The missions of this new intergovernmental organization, based on the sharing of the French language, are the promotion of the cultures of its members and the intensification of the cultural and technical cooperation between them, as well as the solidarity and the connection between them through dialogue. The Francophonie project ceaselessly evolved since the creation of the Agency for Cultural and Technical Co-operation, it became the intergovernmental Agency of the Francophonie (Agence intergouvernementale de la Francophonie) in 1998 to remind its intergovernmental status. Finally in 2005, the adoption of a new Charter of the Francophonie (la Charte de la Francophonie) gives the name to the Agency of international Organization of the Francophonie (Organisation internationale de la Francophonie).[9]“.

Another extract is worth to be known about the missions behind the Francophonie: “The International Organization of the Francophonie leads political actions and multilateral cooperation according to the missions drawn by the Summits of the Francophonie. The Summits gather the Heads of states and governments of the member countries of the International Organization of the Francophonie where they discuss international politics, world economy, French-speaking cooperation, human rights, education, culture and democracy. Actions of the International Organization of the Francophonie are scheduled over a period of four years and funded by contributions from its members.[36] The Charte de la Francophonie defines the role and missions of the organization. The current charter was adopted in Antananarivo, on 23 November 2005. The summit held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on 26–27 November 2004 saw the adoption of a strategic framework for the period 2004–2014. The four missions drawn by the Summit of the Francophonie are:

  1. Promoting French language and cultural and linguistic diversity.
  2. Promoting peace, democracy and human rights.
  3. Supporting education, training, higher education and scientific research.
  4. Expand cooperation for sustainable development.[36]

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What about the Creole language? Big plan on the Creole language in Mauritius and worldwide

Still referring in the Mauritian context, here is the extract of the PDF article regarding the use of the Creole language in Mauritius, and how Creole language is considered as a cheap language: “The consolidation of Creole has not yet progressed to the point where it could replace English. Besides, it is not (yet) regarded as a fully-fledged language by large sections of the population, and is therefore unlikely to be accepted. The one alternative left is French, the language of the francophone, white section of the population. The language of the sugar industry owned by the Franco-Mauritians remains French. Since the colonial period, this has been the trend. The senior positions in this sector are generally occupied by Franco-Mauritians, who go to great lengths to promote French. According to Benedict (1961), “Franco-Mauritians make a point of using French among themselves, only employing Creole to address servants and employees of low status”. To use Creole in the wrong context is to commit a serious blunder. Therefore, French is used by the sugar sector, both in its oral and written forms. Reports, publications and journals are published in French. However, the mass of the employees of the industry are either sugarcane-cutters or factory workers who either speak Bhojpuri or Creole (the other ethnic languages being restricted to formal classroom contexts). This will therefore decrease the influence of the French language, which remains the language of a minority group.” Frankly speaking, when I read those lines, I am very angry since it reminds me of my own personal experience regarding the Creole language. Since Creole speaking was forbidden at home, except with the maids working for us, I could only start speaking Creole at the age of 9 years old with my very first Creole word, “Ou”, which means “You”. What was funny too was that within both my matriarchal and patriarchal families, everybody was speaking Creole, but there was a glimpse of megalomania within my matriarchal family, since they were all of African Creole origins, since they very often also tended to express themselves in French. Why? Is that a complex of inferiority since they have been underestimated and deprived from their African inheritance since their ancestors were brought as slaves to Mauritius? Only God knows about it. The Creole Community of Mauritius, especially those who come from more rural regions, claim their pride for the Creole culture very openly through their songs, the traditional Mauritian sega music which is an inheritance from the African slaves, who imported that dance and kind of music in the country when they were having fun at night before going to bed. But once more, the sega, though today it became better accepted within the Mauritian culture, was considered as a low kind of music. According to Wikipedia, “Sega was for long looked down upon because it was the music of slaves.[7] It was also looked down upon by the Catholic Church, which was not keen on its association with sexuality and alcohol.[8] Until the Mauritian Ti Frère became popular in the 1960s, sega was only played in private places.[1] A particularly big turning point was his performance at the Night of the Sega at Mount Le Morne on 30 October 1964.[7] It is now considered the national music of Mauritius and not restricted by ethnicity.” It’s very sad though that the Mauritian population considers the Creole community only as descendants of slaves coming from Africa and Madagascar and that their vision about the Creole community stops there and doesn’t go further. It would be interesting to better know more about the Creole population, not only in Mauritius but also worldwide. The extract of that article, though it mostly refers to the History of the Creole people in USA, maybe could better help us understanding the truth behind the diversity of the Creole culture in Mauritius and even in the Seychelles, and completely denies the fact that Creole people are descendants of slaves: “The term Creole was first used in the sixteenth century to identify descendants of French, Spanish, or Portuguese settlers living in the West Indies and Latin America. There is general agreement that the term “Creole” derives from the Portuguese wordcrioulo,which means a slave born in the master’s household. A single definition sufficed in the early days of European colonial expansion, but as Creole populations established divergent social, political, and economic identities, the term acquired different meanings. In the West Indies, Creole refers to a descendant of any European settler, but some people of African descent also consider themselves to be Creole. In Louisiana, it identifies French-speaking populations of French or Spanish descent. Their ancestors were upper class whites, many of whom were plantation owners or officials during the French and Spanish colonial periods. During the eighteenth and nineteenth century, they formed a separate caste that used French. They were Catholics, and retained the traditional cultural traits of related social groups in France, but they were the first French group to be submerged by Anglo-Americans. In the late twentieth century they largely ceased to exist as a distinct group. Creoles of color, the descendants of free mulattos and free blacks, are another group considered Creole in Louisiana.” Furthermore, here is another interesting extract of that same article which is worth to be discovered about the Creole: “With imported furniture, wines, books, and clothes, white Creoles were once immersed in a completely French atmosphere. Part of Creole social life has traditionally centered on the French Opera House; from 1859 to 1919, it was the place for sumptuous gatherings and glittering receptions. The interior, graced by curved balconies and open boxes of architectural beauty, seated 805 people. Creoles loved the music and delighted in attendance as the operas were great social and cultural affairs. White Creoles clung to their individualistic way of life, frowned upon intermarriage with Anglo-Americans, refused to learn English, and were resentful and contemptuous of Protestants, whom they considered irreligious and wicked. Creoles generally succeeded in remaining separate in the rural sections but they steadily lost ground in New Orleans. In 1803, there were seven Creoles to every Anglo-American in New Orleans, but these figures dwindled to two to one by 1830. Anglo-Americans reacted by disliking the Creoles with equal enthusiasm. Gradually, New Orleans became not one city, but two. Canal Street split them apart, dividing the old Creole city from the “uptown” section where the other Americans quickly settled. To cross Canal Street in either direction was to enter another world. These differences are still noticeable today. Older Creoles complain that many young Creoles today do not adhere to the basic rules of language propriety in speaking to others, especially to older adults. They claim that children walk past homes of people they know without greeting an acquaintance sitting on the porch or working on the lawn. Young males are particularly criticized for greeting others quickly in an incomprehensible and inarticulate manner.” As per what I have understood through those extracts, the Creole people have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they are descendants of slaves. They have several mixed origins, but decided to defend their culture, not by abiding on their ancestors’ culture and rituals, but mostly acting as individualists and free-spirited people. This is exactly that kind of philosophy that the Seychellois people defend, and they don’t even hesitate to make of Creole an official language and culture, as the individualist culture of the Seychellois archipelago. Unfortunately in Mauritius, apart the rural Afro-Creole community who still dares to proclaim the Creole language and culture through engaged artists and activists, Creole is still considered by other communities as a low-class culture and language, and Wikipedia very merely gives details about the expansion of the Creole culture in the island, an explanation which may perhaps be compensated with the previous detailed description of the Creole community from USA. Nonetheless, despite being underestimated as a community and language, Creole is now spoken by almost the whole Mauritian population nowadays. The Creole language still remains informal despite a shy start of its promotion within the educational and literary section as per those two extracts from the WikipediaWikipedia: “The British took over Mauritius during the Napoleonic era, but few English-speakers ever settled there and by then Mauritian creole was firmly entrenched. The abolition of slavery in the 1830s enabled many Mauritian creoles to leave the plantations, and the plantation owners started bringing in Indian indentured workers to replace them. Though the Indians soon became, and remain, a majority on the island, their own linguistic fragmentation and alienation from the English- and French-speaking white elite led them to take up Mauritian creole as their main lingua franca. English and French have long enjoyed greater social status and dominated government, business, education, and the media, but Mauritian creole’s popularity in most informal domains has persisted. (…) The Mauritian government began supporting an orthographic reform in 2011, with a system that generally follows French, but eliminates silent letters and reduces the number of different ways in which the same sound can be written. This was codified in the Lortograf Kreol Morisien (2011) and used in the Gramer Kreol Morisien (2012) as well. It has become standard upon its adoption by the second edition of the Diksioner Morisien (which previously had been spelled as the Diksyoner Morisyen).[4]

I remember having had the opportunity to buy two albums from the adventures of Tintin and Snowy, which Mauritian writer Shenaz Patel translated in Creole. Seeing the Mauritian Creole starting to have its place, not only through the Mauritian sega, but within also the educational sector and Mauritian literature, should have been a pride for us. But yet, despite the efforts made to have the Mauritian Creole language accepted as a part of our local culture instead of an informal language, the Mauritian population still remains very reluctant regarding the use of Creole within families. If I take example on myself, neither my son, nor his elder cousin (my husband’s brother’s son) are allowed to speak Creole in society nor within the family background, even though in both my family and my husband’s family, Creole was always the only language spoken, since according to our elders, they wanted the new generation of children arising to be affluent in both English and French, since those two languages represent the symbol of the well educated Mauritian citizen. Imagine, from that point, my in-laws’ pride when they hear my husband’s nephew speaking French and my son speaking English 😀

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The Oriental language in Mauritius

As I mentioned before, there are several oriental dialects spoken in Mauritius, but which is intern to each community existing in the country: Mandarin and Cantonese by the Sino-Mauritian community, Urdu by the Muslim community, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati and Marathi within the Hindu community. I will not refer to the extract of that document anymore, but as a Mauritian, I am really stunned seeing that each Asian community learns its own community and ancestral language at school, and that there is no openness of language exchanges between each community. To refer first to the learning of the native language, there is something that I really don’t understand, when I see how the Indian dialects are taught at school: Tamil taught for the Tamil-speaking community, Telugu taught for the Telugu-speaking community, Marathi taught for the Marathi-speaking community, absence of Gujarati and Punjabi learning though there is a minority of Gujarati originated Mauritians in the country, Urdu learning only within the Muslim community… And to crown the whole thing, Hindi taught to the… Bihari community! And not its local dialect Bhojpuri, which is put at the same level as the other dialects in Mauritius! Now, to recapitulate, I don’t understand why there is no Gujarati nor Punjabi taught in Mauritius. There is a small community of Gujarati Hindus in Mauritius, and I know a few of them though they are rare. I also saw some Punjabi people walking in the streets and who were from Mauritius as well. They exist, so why are they deprived from learning Gujarati and Punjabi, and why did those two minorities accept that discrimination passively? Regarding the Urdu language, since it’s derived from Arabic, it’s especially taught within the Muslim community of Mauritius only! How could it be that a language spoken should have a link with the religion? That’s ridiculous! The Holy Bible and the Holy Quran, for example, have been translated in so many languages of the world, including Tamil, Mandarin, and who knows especially for the Holy Bible, maybe also in Arabic in some countries. How is it then that the Holy Scriptures in the Bhagavat Gita and the Ramayana are purely in Sanskrit only and not translated in English for better knowledge of it by non Hindus or non-Hindi speaking people, but instead are re-interpreted in English and French in books written by English-writing and French-writing authors? Finally, the best of all: The underestimation of the Bhojpuri language, which is the local dialect taught in the region of Bihar, where so many Indo-Mauritians proclaim to be originated from… but instead, they learn HINDI at school! Why? Wouldn’t it be better that all the Indian Mauritians learn Hindi as the basic Indian language, and then their own regional dialect in second position, including Gujarati, Punjabi and Bhojpuri? I am very sad to see how the Bhojpuri language has been placed at the same low position as the Creole language in Mauritius, as well as the deprivation of the Bihari culture. The Tamil people included some festivals such as the Thaipoosam Cavadee dedicated to Lord Muruga, one of Lord Shiva’s sons. The Telugu people included the Ugadi festival, which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The Marathi people included Gudi Padwa and Ganesh Chathurti, which are typical Marathi celebrations, one of them being dedicated to the Elephant God Ganesha. But where is the true Bihari culture, apart the Bhojpuri songs in Mauritius? All I see are global Hindu festivals celebrated by the Bihari… But not purely Bihari religious festivals nor cultural festivals. See for example that article recapitulating the main festivals celebrated in Bihar. Though most of the festivals celebrated there are generally celebrated in whole India, Bihar also has its specific religious celebrations, such as the Bihula, for example, since “Bihula is a prominent festival of eastern Bihar especially famous in Bhagalpur district. There are many myths related to this festival. People pray to goddess Mansa for the welfare of their family.” Regarding the Gujarati and Punjabi minorities I am sad I couldn’t retrieve anything about them in my researches. That is really sad since they are very close to their traditions, especially songs, dances and wedding celebrations, like as I witnessed when I assisted my neighbors’ children’s weddings, since they were of Gujarati origins. Regarding Punjab, I never saw any Punjabi festivals in Mauritius. But since Indo Mauritians are big fans of Bollywood music and movies, they also fell in love with Punjabi music, especially Banghras, with some Punjabi artists like Yo Yo Honey Singh, Daler Mehndi, Hard Kaur, Bally Sagoo, Sukhbir and so many more, but it stops here. There are no even temples dedicated to the Sikh Guru Nanak for that minority and no one seems even to wander about the existence of that minority in Mauritius. Secondly… Okay, I will mention it, but as the conclusion of my blog post instead.

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CONCLUSION

It’s very sad that each community jealously preserves its culture and ancestral dialect instead of sharing it with other communities, and that is also one of the main reasons why Mauritius still remains prisoner of its chains of Communautarism: I am myself a mixed girl with Afro-Creole, Indian and maybe European origins in my blood. I have been taught, while following the French Curriculum, not only to learn French and English, but also another European language and I chose German. Nonetheless, at school you had German, Spanish, Latin, Russian and Afrikaans which were among the languages  you could learn there and I found that wonderful, especially for the Latin as a classical language. So, if a French school proposed so many languages, including a classical one and an African one, though Afrikaans was considered as a torture language during Apartheid (maybe the school ignores about it and that was why maybe they also proposed it), then why don’t all the Mauritian schools propose ALL the languages to be taught by ALL Mauritians together with English and French… and even include the Mauritian Creole language? That is what I will never agree about… Language is a way of opening your ways to the rest of the world, and if Mauritians only keep on focusing on English, French, Creole and their own community’s dialect, how do they want Communautarism to stop? That’s the question!!! It’s easy for Mauritians to learn new European languages or African dialects, but why don’t they proceed the same with all the actually existing dialects in their own country, which could maybe contribute widely into reducing the communautarism in Mauritius? As a mixed girl, if the opportunity was given to me to do it and if I had the capacities to do it, I would have done it, starting with Hindi as my ancestral patriarchal language before knowing more about Bhojpuri from my Bihari origins and other existing dialects… Including Urdu. My son may perhaps learn Arabic at school and if I need to take some basic Arabic tuition too in UAE, I am ready to do it, not only to help him in his homework but also for my own personal knowledge of knowing a brand new language. Finally, if the chance was given to me to even learn Mandarin and Cantonese too, I would have done it. I am for cultural and social diversity, and one of the basics of that diversity is the diversity of linguistic knowledge. And that conclusion is the final answer to my compatriot’s multiple choice question, though I first answered that I would choose English and French for literature, and Creole only to hang out. I was wrong to reply too quickly since I felt his question required a constructive answer… And I hope I have been convincing enough 🙂

So, before foolishly singing the lyrics of the Mauritian National Anthem “As one people, as one nation, in peace, justice and liberty”, I invite all Mauritian people to meditate on that blog post and reconsider the image of the country.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Big Social Dilemma about Hindu womanhood in Mauritius and India

This morning, since I chose to have a relaxing day after having an almost sleepless night after a long and hardworking day at home with lots of food to cook, lots of house chores to deal with and so many reproaches I accumulated with my husband for silly matters, I seized the opportunity to watch an interesting Hindi Short Movie, “Teaspoon“.

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The cover image of the movie says it all, showing a tearful housewife who was crying out of her nerves because she was fed up. The story, which is in Hindi language but translated in English, relates the life of Kavita, a housewife whose life is balanced between her house chores, her cooking, her husband who works in an Insurance company but who needs to travel all the time, and her sick father-in-law who is sick and bedridden, and who always calls for his daughter-in-law’s assistance by hitting a teaspoon with the wooden bed or with a porcelain cup next to him. One evening, during dinner time, Kavita was talking to her husband Rajiv and wanted to go somewhere for a short holiday, but within the condition that her father-in-law would be placed in a home temporarily until they come back. But Rajiv categorically refuses that his father is placed in a home, which he estimates as costly, and prefers that he stays at home under his wife’s supervision. The days go by and Kavita’s father-in-law is becoming more and more exigent by asking after her through his teaspoon. The irony in all that is that he teases Kavita only when Rajiv is away from home, but doesn’t bother her when Rajiv is back home. Maybe because he knows that Kavita is busy with Rajiv… or that he pretends to act smart with her only to please his son? Only God knows! But the more time goes by, the more Kavita suffers from that situation since she feels abused by her father-in-law and completely misunderstood by Rajiv, who defends his father more than he does for his wife, who does everything for him and even for his father. Also, further to a huge fight between Kavita and Rajiv during dinner one evening, the morning after, Rajiv rushes to work without having his breakfast, since he doesn’t want to stay at home to avoid another fight with Kavita, since he cannot stand to fight against her each time she tries to complain with him about how his father acts towards her in and out of Rajiv’s presence. On that same morning, Kavita avoids her father-in-law during almost all the day, trying to cope with her other activities and with her work from home… Until at a moment, when her father-in-law asks her again for assistance, her nerves let go and she kills her father-in-law by accident by stifling him on the face with his pillow! When Kavita realizes what she did, she is under shock, and during the funeral ceremony during which everyone is quiet, she provokes noises in front of everyone by heavily bursting in tears, and she keeps on crying every day in presence of her husband. Rajiv, who doesn’t understand the strangeness of Kavita’s behaviour, asks her to stop that comedy since, according to him, she shouldn’t have cried so heavily since his father represented a burden for her and since she wanted to get rid of him for a couple of days by sending him in a home while they would go on holidays. Kavita wanted to tell the truth about what she did to her father-in-law, but she lacked courage and then sentenced to silence. Her husband then asked her to prepare his breakfast quickly otherwise he would be late at office. While she was preparing the chapatis in the kitchen, she suddenly heard again the famous teaspoon, but there was no one in her father-in-law’s bedroom… And then she came to discover that it was Rajiv himself who was making the sound with the teaspoon! Was Rajiv conscious that he was repeating the same gesture as his father? Was Rajiv aware that Kavita killed his father, and is doing again this disturbing sound to take revenge of her? Or was it the father-in-law’s spirit who came to haunt Rajiv to punish Kavita and turn her mad?

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Only God knows about what was in Rajiv’s mind in that movie, and that movie inspired me because it was exactly the same type of situation I have been facing recently. We are actually renting a fully furnished apartment in Seychelles. But as I related to you in my blog post “Too Much of Heaven Can Bring You Underground“, where I mentioned about some serious problems my husband had to face because of the landlord of another house we were renting before in the North of the country, I have to be very precautions on the way I need to keep the apartment clean. And on that day, I had a lot of food to cook since the day after we are used to fasting by only eating vegetarian food, I had some deep cleaning to do in the whole place since after only two days, the apartment turned dirty and dusty again, and I had a lot of laundry to do, especially since there were some white tissues which accidentally accumulated red stains after washing, and which I had to restore with some special products I could purchase especially for that in a supermarket in UAE, since those products weren’t available in Seychelles. I could earn a lot of time fortunately since my son was very tired after having waken up so early and then could do a 2-hour nap, but after such a hard day, I was so tired that I was feeling lots of back, feet and shoulder pains during the whole evening and that I was feeling very weak. But what pricked me was that, despite all the efforts that I did for all those chores, my husband kept on yelling in the house for some nasty details and each time our little one was misbehaving, without trying to understand that he was in good shape since he could rest for two hours to recuperate, and he even indirectly accused me of lacking discipline when it came on his education! At a moment I was so much fed up that I kept on yelling on my husband to make him shutting his mouth, and I felt completely demotivated and discouraged in front of such arrogance and ingratitude from my husband! Also today, because of that demotivation, I did almost nothing today apart some light chores and looking after my son since he came back from school. And again, my husband, whose mood unfortunately didn’t improve at all, kept on accumulating on me his moral lessons when he noticed some tasks not properly done, or things going wrong with our son, etc. At a moment I couldn’t bear it anymore for having so many moral lessons and reproaches from him, and while I brought the little one to the playroom after his dinner, since there was a playroom in the residential area which was kept open until quite late in the evening, my nerves went on and I heavily burst in tears, exactly in the same situation in which Kavita was retrieving herself in “Teaspoon”. I even have the sensation that, though my husband pretends that he understands me, in reality it’s not the case at all and I felt that I retrieved myself in front of a brick of wall exactly like Kavita felt with husband Rajiv.

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In such a moment of despair, I confided into a common good friend of ours, who is known for being a hardworker, regarding my situation, but she was categorical with me as a purely traditional Hindu woman: We, Hindu women, should be able to bear the burden of the whole world over our shoulders without complaining, even though we are sick, and we should always manage on our own and represent a rock on which our husband and children should always rely on through both thick and thin. She herself was an oppressed daughter-in-law when her children were still small, and had to face the burden of being always isolated by her mother-in-law and her sisters-in-law, and she even never had any encouragement nor support from her husband during those moments of struggles. But contrary to Kavita, she never gave up and kept on persevering without asking anyone’s help, and when her elder daughter got married, it was only at that moment that her husband really started to understand her and to recognize her values and how his own family were completely wrong about his wife. It’s in that purpose that she always encourages me to cultivate that fighting spirit that all Hindu women should always have within them, even in the worst cases. I remember that on my Google+ profile, I once posted a picture of several women who had to participate into a house construction, by carrying tons of heavy bricks over their head, since they were working to earn a living to help their husband with poor working revenue, so that they could fulfill their house hold. And after work, they had to continue working for the children, the family, the food and the housekeeping at home and had very few time to rest, but they never complained and always bore the burden of their responsibilities in silence, at the image of Mother India.

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I never complained so far since there are still a lot of married Indo-Mauritian women like me, who may be either younger or older than me, who continue to cultivate the tradition of being submitted spouses and mothers for their family, and who are always judged through their behaviour and through their clothing, appearance and daily responsibilities each and every day. Even though I have been raised within a half Creole, half Indian family, and that my mother mostly showed the glance of the Creole woman who was authoritarian, lived her womanhood fully despite her responsibilities and who always had her word to say and her presence to impose wherever she was going, I married a Hindu man and had to change myself drastically from the Creole education I received from my mother to the submitted spouse and mother I had to become, since all women and spouses in my family-in-law should always dress and behave respectfully, and be totally submitted under their husbands’ authority, though their husbands give them everything they need materially and financially, and though they have the right, especially during family meetings, to express themselves and to have an identity to show. For years, I haven’t been like that since I was always surrounded with maids around me like in my mother’s place, but when I stepped back into my native Mauritius after having spent the first years of my marriage life in Madagascar, I had to start everything from scratch and learn the hard responsibilities that every Hindu spouse should learn to do. It was very hard because I was always pressurised by my in-laws, and all the time compared to my sister-in-law, who had a child before me and who was more experimented than I was. But what pricked me the most was that during so many years, my in-laws considered her as the perfect daughter-in-law, whereas I have been considered as the incomplete daughter-in-law, which is the reason behind which one day, in a moment of despair after the huge fight I had with my father-in-law and which, I hope, put a final full stop to all those comparisons between us, I wrote “Sleeping Tablets“, a short story ending with suicide… whereas in real life, I am still alive and fighting, contrary to my fictional character Sapna in the story. And in addition to all that, I had no help from my parents, since I was and am still in bad terms with them, like I explained in all my other previous blog posts. But even though I was very harsh and cruel with my father-in-law during that fight, after which he had a very high blood pressure because of me, thing for which I never apologised though I was worried about his state of health (Hell yeah, I can be extremely cruel when I am angry, including against my elders, because when I have my points to defend, I never keep silent!), my father-in-law stopped comparing me with my sister-in-law, not because he understood my situation, how it was frustrating for me and how it made me sick, but rather because he was mostly scared of my overreactions and that he preferred shutting his mouth to avoid another argument with me.

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I don’t complain about the way I am leading my life as a housewife, mother and spouse, and I am very thankful that my husband gives me of everything and that I improved a lot the way I manage my daily responsibilities at home. I am also thankful that despite the struggle, my husband respects the fact that I need to cultivate my passion for literature, creative writing and blogging, since it helps me being better balanced in life and better managing my struggles, frustrations and moments of stress through expressing the voice of my heart through written words. But what I am facing, and what lots of Indo-Mauritians face again, even though the Indo-Mauritian society drastically emancipated through the years, resembles exactly the situation that still so many women face in India, since most of Mauritians have their inheritance within their Indian ancestors’ roots, and since Indo-Mauritians represent about 81% of the Mauritian population. There was another video which I loved watching from Bollywood actress Kalki Koechlin, a satiric video regarding rape, where she and another Bollywood star named Juhi Pandey ironically replied to what so many Indian women (and even Mauritian women) face as a critic when they are victims of abuse and rape, “RAPE: It’s Your Fault” which followed the numerous series of sexual assaults which had been filed since the famous 2012 Delhi Gang Rape which savagely shook the Indian society, especially women. In that satiric video, the kind of moral lesson that unfortunately too many women hear, in India like in Mauritius, is that one:

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This is exactly the kind of summon that women hear from men to be “respected” in society, and it doesn’t only concerns India but even Mauritius. Even though I have had toxic parents, the kind of education that they gave me was exactly what I obtained as per that picture, and I keep on practising that type of educational manner passively since I married a man with strict manners and am now part of a strict family-in-law who exegeses that every spouse should behave properly, not showing off in public, doing their house chores properly and wearing decent clothes. Myself, I do it every day, though I still have that rebellious voice within me which speaks when it has to, and though there is nonetheless a certain freedom of expression between me and my husband, even though there are still so many things that I keep untold and that I prefer writing in my blog instead. I even remember having watched a sort of short film that a good friend of mine once realised on his Facebook account, where men kept on being accused because of the Delhi gang rape, where he showed also the medal reverse that women aren’t that innocent either because they don’t behave as decently nor as respectively as before, especially since they are more and more caught on cheating, exposing their assets publicly, talking about their sexual life more and more openly with strangers, etc. And, of course, that it’s one of the reasons why they attract men to rape them… Another type of classical male accusation that I have heard that women are mostly responsible of their own rapes, which has nonetheless a part of truth especially on cheating. I remember having had so many male friends who faced hard heart breaks and relationship endings, since their girlfriends preferred lust and money with rich and wealthy men than true love they could receive from my friends, and on that purpose, with the education I have been brainwashed with, I found those girls really cheap and heartless, being myself a woman, and I gave my full support to my male friends.

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But there was a comment which I really loved reading in reply to the short movie “Teaspoon”, which stipulated that, I quote, “Wife should not be treated as a machine. A machine does not need any appreciation for the work it does. But, the wife expects some appreciation for the work she does. For that matter, even husband likes if he is appreciated for the job he does. In this short film, the husband never tries to understand the problem she faces in his absence at home. If he would have appreciated his wife for all the care she takes for his father other than doing house hold work, his wife would have felt happy and such ending would not have taken place. His wife was not bad in nature. Let all the husband learn to appreciate their wife for their contribution in running the family, to have a happy and peaceful family.” That should have been a good response to all what I have written previously, that if women became so bad and cheap, it wasn’t totally their fault, but especially because they had been victim of bad treatments in the past because of men, and mostly after having escaped from forceful marriages, at the example of late Bandit Queen Phoolan Devi, who was forced to marry an elder cousin whereas she was still a teenager, or of late Pakistani model Qandeel Baloch, who posted provocative pictures and videos of her years after having escaped a forced marriage, before she was killed by her brother “in honor for the family”! I also invite you to pay attention to Kalki Koechlin’s poem “Dear Men“, which perfectly depicts on how men are hypocrite towards women, and dare claiming once per year the International Women’s Day, and which is a strong slap about disrespect of womanhood. And finally regarding the rapists, I found something very interesting on a blog, where there was a review about the short video “RAPE: It’s Your Fault”, the kind of message that women dream men should read carefully so that they take conscious that it’s unfair of putting 90% of the blame over women, and only 10% on men:

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But after all what I wrote previously, as per whatever a good friend of mine, Indian author Pratap DivyeshPratap Divyesh, wrote in his book “A Responsible Confession“, Pratap perfectly depicts who should be blamed in the Delhi Gang Rape… I started reading the book, and the answer I obtained was that all started with OURSELVES… That before blaming the victim for having gone out late, before blaming the rapist for his irresponsible and monstrous action against an innocent girl, we should first have a look at our inner self before judging anyone… And he was right about it. It’s not the man or the woman who is responsible of the rape… It all starts with our minds first. And the extract of that article perfectly concludes about who is guilty in rape and we will see that both sexes are concerned:

As per my consideration the responsibility lies equally between both sexes because without a small mislead both sexes cannot cross the limits. In western countries there is a lot of reports on “Date Rape”which is a girl getting raped when she is going for a dating with a guy. If we analyse the situation there may be a little clue of what triggered the Rape situation and what may have been done to avoid that. In India this is now becoming a big problem since we have reports on this type of rape. In this both victim and the accused is known to each other. The situation created the problem.

If the girl is little bit cautious about her surroundings this may not have happened. If the guy is little cautious about the values of the friendship/love of that Girl then this may have been avoided. Recently there was a report which involves Rakhi  Sawant and popular pop singer. When we saw the pictures of Rakhi Sawant it was just a piece of cloth which was tied just by two knots near her breast. If we untie the knots then her dress will fall and she will be undressed. This kind of dresses will change a good mind to bad. We must know what to wear where. Yes there may be a little conditioned freedom is needed when we go to public because not all eyes and minds are same.

The true Diwali Starts within our Hearts and Souls… before being celebrated at Home!

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I was very tired after such a hectic day on Sunday, and even yesterday, since my son didn’t resume school back after his mid-term holidays, because of the bad weather outside and due to some health complications, which made that I had to look after him and at the same time catch back a lot of delayed chores and prepare dinner, but I didn’t want to fall asleep without writing that blog post, which I could publish this morning only due to network problems I occurred last night because of slow-down of Internet connection. Last Sunday was a very special day: It was Diwali Day.

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For those who never heard about Diwali, in the Hindu religion, it commemorates the return of Lord Rama from Lanka, after he defeated the King Demon Ravana, who kept Lord Rama’s wife Sita prisoner after having trapped and kidnapped her from her home, and saved the life of His beloved wife Sita. When Lord Rama returns to his homeland together with His wife Sita, He is welcomed by all his devotees with oil lamps called Diyas, which they illuminate all along His footsteps together with flowers to welcome Him and to celebrate His victory. Diwali is also the opportunity for Hindus to celebrate Goddess Laxmi, who is the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, whom they thank during that special occasion for all the good luck She has been bringing into Hindu families all over the past year, and also the Elephant God Ganesha, who is the Son of Lord Shiva and His wife Parvati and who represents the God who removes all obstacles, and Goddess Saraswati, who is the Goddess of Arts and Knowledge and spouse of the Creator God Brahma. On Diwali day, in India, in Mauritius like in every Hindu families, a couple of days before Diwali starts, families deep clean their houses, buy a new broom, a new cooking recipient, some new clothes and jewels for the occasion and at times start preparing some sweet cakes, since the varieties are numerous and that some of them need a long time of preparation. On Diwali morning, spouses keep on preparing some cakes and offer those cakes with the Holy Prashads (offers to God during prayer) to Laxmi Maa, Saraswati Maa, Lord Ganesha and also to Lord Rama and His Beloved wife Sita before packing the cakes and distributing them with all their family members, friends and loved ones before 06.00.pm, wearing their new clothes and jewels for that special occasion. The rest of the cakes that they don’t have time to distribute, they give them during the day after, since they need to be back at home before 06.00.pm to light on all the oil lamps (Diyas) before that time, which is the time, according to the Hindu ritual, where Goddess Laxmi enters the house of the family to bring Her holy blessings in the house. Diwali represents a very festive day, since after the rituals, youngsters and adults have a lot of fun with sparkles and firecrackers, folkloric songs and dances until late in the night.

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But through the experience that I had yesterday, the Diwali that I celebrated together with my little family was very different. We are still settled in the Seychelles all alone, since my son goes to school there and that my husband still works there. On Saturday, my son and my husband went for shopping to buy all the necessary stuffs for celebrating Diwali, whereas I stayed at home to proceed with a deep cleaning of the house. But since we were staying in an apartment that we were renting only temporarily, we didn’t buy any new broom nor recipient, but we only lit a new oil lamp at night for the evening prayer. On Sunday, my husband and I woke up very early to have shower, to perform our usual morning prayers and then, after a quick breakfast, I tidied the kitchen and started preparing the sweet cakes, while my husband was busy finishing an urgent work. To be honest, I have very few experience in cooking Indian sweet cakes, since it was only the second time in my life that I experienced cooking them on my own, and later I will explain you why. I first wanted to cook some Rasgoolahs, which are some little round cakes made with milk powder, which you should fry in hot cooking oil before rubbing them with a homemade cardamom syrup. Unfortunately, since we have an electric oven which heats too much, my Rasgoolahs got burnt and I had to throw all of them in the dustbin 😦 Furthermore, I tried another type of cakes, the Nankatais, which are some vegetarian cookies made with corn semolina. They were not too bad but they didn’t have the original shapes that Nankatais have in general, and rather looked like some ordinary cookies, but they were presentable and, according to my husband and to my son who enjoyed them to the core, they were delicious 🙂 So happy for them! After the Nankatais, I tried some Almond Barfis. Barfis are some cakes made with liquid and powder milk, sugar, cardamom powder and almond powder, which should have a thick texture after the Barfi paste gets colder and is then cut into some little diamond shape cakes. I tried the Barfi cakes and even included some green food colour in it to give it a more attractive presentation. However, since the Barfi didn’t have enough time to get colder due to the lack of time, the paste was very sticky when I tried to cut off the diamond shaped cakes! The taste was good though, but the presentation was a true disaster, and I learnt trough that catastrophe that next time, I shall prepare it the day before, so that the texture gets more firm. Finally I ended with Gulab Jamun, a sort of oval shape cake which resembles the Rasgoolah, but with a thicker texture since you add more flour in it. But when I tried the oval shape, I had difficulties to cook it because of the overheating oven, also I had to give the Gulab Jamun a round shape for a better cooking, and I may say I succeeded them. After the cakes were over, we gifted each type of cakes in front of our Deities which we regularly pray before distributing them with some of our neighbours and friends before lighting the Diyas at 06.00.pm. Contrary to the previous years, we only had two Diyas, one in our Prayer room, and one in our kitchen, since the kitchen represents the heart of Hindu homes, like all homes in general. We also got in touch with our relatives and close friends to share the Diwali wishes, looked after our young son, since he would resume school the day after, and my husband prepared a delicious carrot, potato and leak soup for dinner. And here I am, while my husband and my son are deep asleep, sharing you how my Diwali went on… And why I chose such a title to write my blog today.

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Before I share with you my personal experience, I have had the pleasure reading a recent post from one of my compatriots, where he expressed his own opinion about Diwali, and I really enjoyed that opinion because what he wrote in his post was completely right and summarises exactly what I have myself been experiencing before. He mentioned in his post exactly the way Mauritians celebrate Diwali nowadays: with hypocrisy and by showing off what they have. With the huge economical progress, lots of Mauritians tend to show off their wealth by building big houses, buying the latest high-tech products, the most expensive car, etc. But the medal reverse behind so much wealth is completely different and proves that the Mauritian society is based upon the principle that all what glitters isn’t true gold. To appear so much fortunate, Mauritians have a lot of debts since they need to contract loans with their banks or insurances, which they struggle to reimburse in return. There are some Mauritians coming from affluent families or of affluent personalities, who are protected by some religious communities, by freemasonry or who don’t even hesitate to call after sorcerers to be able to influence people through their fortune and words. There are some dealers who operate illegally in prostitution, child labour, drugs and all sorts of illicit businesses in exchange of dirty money. There are some corrupted people who either bribe their suppliers or superiors in exchange of money despite the active intervention of the ICAC in Mauritius to obtain some favours they don’t deserve. And it’s most of them who celebrate Diwali with so much extravaganza for the pleasure of showing off and without realising they are mocking Goddess Laxmi, and this without any shame nor remorse! And those same people expect that with so many lights decorating their houses, with huge Laxmi poojas celebrated in their houses, so many cakes shared with hypocrite Happy Diwali wishes to people they criticise, envy and dislike in reality, Laxmi Maa will step into their houses? And how about She shows Her anger by removing all the luck and wealth Her fake devotees accumulated for years to punish them,will they accept their fault or reject the wrong on others… including on Laxmi Maa?

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Regarding my own experience on Diwali, yes, I admit that I have also experienced Diwali in total ignorance and hypocrisy, but in a totally different concept. As I have mentioned in some of my posts, before marriage, I followed my parents’ religious steps mostly based on Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism and Christianity, before embracing Hinduism, though I kept on practising a few Catholic rituals after marriage, since my husband also praised Mother Mary regularly. I gave more details about that experience when I wrote about the way I took back the Hindu religion that my father rejected against his family’s approval. Since my father changed his religious orientation totally, as an ex-Hindu, he never felt the necessity to explain me the true meaning of Diwali, since myself I was christened Roman Catholic after I was born. However, for the pleasure of celebrating Diwali and being part of the Diwali festive mood, we enjoyed ourselves by buying Indian sweets and Diwali carton boxes, sharing the cakes and preparing the boxes equitably before sharing the cakes with my paternal relatives, and lightning some electric lamps… and even some Diyas! What was funny was that even though we were not following Hinduism, my father allowed that we would light Diyas, but he never explained me the meaning of the Diya… And myself, since I was so naive and ignorant, it never came into my mind to ask my father to explain me about the meaning of the Diya, nor about the difference between lightning a Diya and lightning some electric lamps. It’s through the news on television that I came to know about the meaning of the Diya and the information I obtained about its meaning was more than enough for my general, cultural and religious knowledge about Hinduism, since I wasn’t a Hindu devotee before marriage. After marriage, I embraced Hinduism, but yet, I admit that I had so much things to learn about Hinduism. My paternal family members were Hindus for the most of them, but none of them taught me about Hinduism, in one hand because my parents would never allow them to influence me on Hinduism because of my Christianity, in another hand because myself I was linked to Christianity and never wanted to betray my religion, which was the one in which my parents placed me since I was born. Things drastically changed after marriage, since, like I described in the post regarding my conversion to Hinduism, which I mentioned previously in that paragraph, I never expected that one day, I would be taught about the importance for me to embrace Hinduism after marriage. At first though, since I had no one to really explain me the basics that I was supposed to know, I ignored about the importance for me, as a spouse in a Hindu couple, to prepare the Diwali sweet cakes with my own hands by lightning myself the oven with my hands. I have been living in Madagascar from 2005 till 2009 and then had to leave Madagascar in emergency with my husband because of the socio-political crisis of 2009 which shook the country and forced so many expatriates to leave the country for safety reasons. But during all the time I was settled there, we had a Malagasy maid who used to prepare all our meals and who had a very strong experience in Pakistani cuisine, which mostly was alike Indian cuisine, at the exception of a few variants. Even Pakistani cuisine included Diwali sweets… But the difference was that Pakistani sweets all included eggs among the main ingredients, whereas Indian sweets excluded eggs, which was considered as an animal product as per Hinduism and wasn’t allowed to be used for cooking Indian sweets, especially since those sweets are distributed after prayer sessions with Hindu priests and during Diwali celebration and prayers, and also should be purely vegetarian sweets, by respect for the religion which didn’t authorise any animal product as offerings. Before marriage, my husband, who was already settled in Madagascar, then completely ignored that the Malagasy maid included eggs in the Diwali cakes she prepared for being distributed by my husband to his compatriots and colleagues, until one day, my mother-in-law, who was on holidays at his place in Madagascar, noticed that our maid included eggs and then forbid the maid using eggs again, explaining her as best as she could the meaning behind it, and the maid then stopped using eggs. Since it was the maid who used to prepare the cakes, and since she was already a good cook, I never cared about learning how to prepare food, and I admit it, since i came from a rich family where I had maids all the time to serve me, I was a spoilt child and I was never interested into learning the rules of being a good and independent housewife, until we had to leave Madagascar and that I retrieved myself on my own, and then forced to learn everything from scratch! For Diwali 2009, since we were living at my in-laws’ place, and 2013, during which we were on holidays at my in-laws’ place one year after our settlement in Seychelles, since my in-laws were preparing all the cakes and that we were mostly busy with our young son, I didn’t cook one single Diwali cake. For Diwali 2010 to 2012 that we celebrated in Mauritius, during which we were renting my husband’s uncle’s house until we would obtain our own house in January 2013, we could manage with some Rasgoolah, but we even ordered some cakes outdoors to complete what we cooked, but some of my in-laws, especially my sister-in-law, who was known to be always competitive with me since we know each other, was all the time teasing me ironically because of that, and it really pricked me though I never replied her anything to her provocations. But for the last three Diwalis that we celebrated in Seychelles from 2014 to 2016, we had to manage on our own. In 2014, my husband helped me a lot, whereas the two other years, since he was at work and our son at school in 2015, and since my husband was very busy with an emergency task this year, I had to manage on my own. I won’t say that my cakes were brilliant, but one thing was sure, I did my very best and I was proud that I could try to follow the Hindu tradition for Diwali as a true Hindu spouse after so many years of struggle and wrong experience choices. I understood that, as a Hindu spouse, for Diwali, it was of my duty, as a Laxmi in my family and in the home that I represent together with my husband and my child, it was MY duty to light the fire from MY oven, in MY kitchen, in MY home. It was MY duty to bake the cakes with MY efforts and own hands. It was finally MY duty to be the first person in the family to light the oil lamp for Diwali to welcome Laxmi Maa. It WAS NOT the Malagasy maid’s hands which counted to light the oven and prepare the cakes, though she did it in our house. It WAS NOT my mother-in-law to light her oven in her kitchen and to prepare the cakes. Because the efforts for those cakes and prayers were coming from OTHER PEOPLE, and it was THOSE PEOPLE who were harvesting the prosperity from Laxmi Maa, and NOT the three of us, since the efforts didn’t come from ME, the Hindu Housewife.

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However, this year, we were away from my in-laws, from our native country and from my family. People were pitying us because of that, thinking that we were sad for being alone, but it wasn’t true, at least for me personally. Yes, it’s true that I was alone, but I wasn’t lonely. I wasn’t lonely since after so many struggles I had been experiencing with my own family, and which I had been sharing in several of my previous blog posts, I totally eliminated my biological family from my life, and that I came to understand, after so many difficulties, that there was no worth for me to have a biological family with heartless, fake, hypocrite and hurtful and hateful feelings towards me. I wasn’t lonely, since I eliminated a lot of people among even my in-laws, who deceived me a lot through their behaviour towards me and the numerous critics and gossips I had been victim of since I entered my family-in-law and embraced their name, rites and rituals. Among those in-laws, I especially kept grudge against my father-in-law, who prefers my other sister-in-law than me, since she is the one who completes him the best, and I also keep grudge against my sister-in-law herself since she always keeps on competing with me since I entered the family. And you won’t believe me, but I didn’t even greet them Happy Diwali, since I didn’t want to be hypocrite with anyone this year, and that I preferred keeping silent instead of wishing Happy Diwali hypocritically to people that I dislike and despise. I wasn’t lonely since I moved away from my native country, where I had been unfortunate before and even after marriage and where I only keep bitter memories instead of sweet ones because of my family, most of my in-law, bad school experience during which I was considered a loner and at times was even bullied at school, where I never knew about experiencing a good socio-cultural life, and where unfortunately I made so many bad choices among those I thought would be true friends for me, but who were just illusions, at the exception of very few Mauritian people whom I still cherish a lot, but who made the object of a very selective choice by myself and at times with intervention of my husband. Finally, I wasn’t lonely, like I mentioned before, because I eliminated so many fake friends who turned either strangers or enemies to me through some bitter and unexpected life circumstances. I spent Diwali mostly with my husband and my son, through farewell thoughts shared with some people dear to me but geographically living away from me, through some people in the neighbourhood with whom I have a rather good relationship… and with God above all. But hell yes, I was alone… But I was happy, since I wasn’t lonely.

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By the same way, even though I didn’t succeed my cakes, though there were times I panicked under effect of stress and pressure, and at times because my son was mischievous with me in the kitchen, I gave so much punishment to myself to prepare all those cakes, and though at times my husband reproached me drastically when he found that my cakes weren’t good at all, though after those reproaches I wanted to let everything down, sit down and burst in tears, I found back the courage I started to loose to improve my preparations as best as possible, and though the final result wasn’t exactly what was expected, the cakes were tasty and delicious… But unfortunately, it seems that in Seychelles, local people don’t like sweet cakes too much, which means that unfortunately none of the cakes I baked for Diwali were consumed by my husband’s Seychellois colleagues. Only one of his colleagues from South Africa enjoyed the cakes, since he loved tasting new stuffs, but that was all. I was very deceived, and I even interpreted their reaction as pure racism and despise against Indians and Mauritians, which means that I swore to myself to never bake so many cakes next time, if those cakes will finally finish in the dustbin or in a forgotten corner of the kitchen cupboard or fridge. I was very deceived that so much energy and fatigue has been used finally for nothing when it came about sharing. But what consoled me though was that before sharing the cakes, I could perform my prayers in total simplicity and with a sincere heart.

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Finally, during all the times we celebrated Diwali in Seychelles, neither I nor my husband nor our son, except that year at least for our son with new clothes we succeeded buying for him during our latest trip overseas, had the opportunity to wear new clothes and accessories. We appeared in front of God and in front of people with our previous clothes but which were still in good state. We couldn’t even buy  new broom this year to clean the flat we are actually renting, since we are renting it temporarily only, nor a new cooking recipient to cook our cakes for the same reason as the broom. But we succeeded lightning a new Diya that we never used before, and this the day before the Diwali Day. The fact that we could at least light a new Diya this year was the most important for us since we at least succeeded welcoming a new light full of hope and courage in our lives, after so many struggles that we had been facing in our little family and in our marriage life. The way I had to manage on my own most of the Diwali celebration this year, and even last year was difficult, but my husband interpreted that experience as a test, since a true Hindu housewife, since she stands as a Laxmi in a Hindu family, must represent the rock of the family through both thick and thin, and be able to bear both the joyful moments and burdens of life upon her shoulders.

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Myself, through the years since I married, the more years go by, the stronger I feel I am becoming, though I admit I am still very fragile and vulnerable and that I need protection from stronger people than me to succeed in life. But that latest Diwali tested me and taught me some tough lessons: Quality instead of quantity. Sincerity and honesty versus show off and hypocrisy. Finally, the importance of the presence of the light inside our own hearts, souls and auras before spreading it in our houses and prayer rooms, since the first door Laxmi Maa will enter is the inner door to our hearts, souls and auras, and then the doors of our houses and surroundings.

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So on those words above and as I mentioned in my WhatsApp status, I am wishing Happy Diwali to all my dearest ones, the ones whom I cherish the best and sincerely, but I am not wishing Happy Diwali to those whom I dislike and despise, because they don’t deserve it. However for those same people, who represent my enemies, I wish them that the Light of God penetrates their inner selves and succeeds into cleansing their hearts and souls from all the darkness and shadows making them haunted and miserable, and that they feel the blessing and the welfare of that Light of God within themselves for a positive change, for themselves to start, and then for the rest of the world.

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La Digue, Seychelles: An Experience to Remember

Beach of Anse Source d’Argent, La Digue Island, Seychelles

Some of you who travelled to Seychelles have indeed had the chance to watch on board of aircraft a small video showing us the Seychelles beauty, thanks to its most beautiful beaches, its green environment and life under the sea. But that video, if you remember well, is also a message for tourists to contribute to the preservation of environment in the island because of its fragile ecosystem. La Digue is an example perfectly showing how Seychelles love their country and really care about it. What is especially particular with the inhabitants of La Digue is their simple but clean way of living there.

The new boat in which we embarked from Praslin to La Digue

The tour guide wasn’t sure about it, but maybe the crosses on the rocks near La Digue Harbour

Is a homage to all the people who perished in shipwrecks near La Digue Island

Effectively, before we arrived on the island, we did a few researches about La Digue on Internet. We were astonished that the island only had 2000 inhabitants and that their lifestyle was more traditional than the lifestyle held on the Mahe Island. We also noticed that the main locomotion mode there was bicycles, and that the island had very few vehicles, apart some taxis, touristic cars and jeeps used as family vehicles. Otherwise most people bicycle or walk in general.

View of Sheikh Khalifa from Abu Dhabi’s palace on the Hill

PUC Eoliennes in Victoria, Mahe

A few beautiful sea views on our trip from Mahe Island to Praslin Island

When we arrived on the island, one of the strong points we noticed was the absence of pollution. The roads were clean, and even the few vehicles there didn’t produce any toxic smoke. We didn’t even notice some filling stations where we were bicycling. Also, less noise, less pollution… And more calm spirits within people!

On our way to the beach of Anse Source d’Argent. There were some wild tortoises living on those rocks freely.

We very often talk about the men’s effects on ecosystem, but we tend to forget to ask ourselves: what about the effects of the ecosystem over human nature? We obtained the reply through some inhabitants we questioned, among them a fruit seller, a teenage girl, the boss of the Ports Authority Office who welcomed us at our arrival and did the necessary to make us having a double bicycle (because I don’t know how to bicycle!!!!): All of them were calm, all of them were very nice, always smiling and relaxed. Here is what we have seen through the inhabitants of La Digue.

Let’s start with the guy who welcomed us at the Ports Authority Office, and who prepared for us some tuna sandwiches at our request when we arrived, because we were hungry. Though he was on duty, he found some time to have a good talk with us and behaved like a real gentleman with us. He was making sure, with a lot of patience, that we can have a double bicycle which would allow us visiting the island freely, and his patience brought its fruits.

A local habitation on La Digue Island

A bit further on our road, there was that sweet teenage girl named Emilie, who was snapped together with me, further to approval from her mother when I asked for her permission to snap her house and to make photos with her daughter. Their house was a traditional type of Creole habitation, far from the modern houses built with bricks. We have been snapshot by a nice Gujarati expatriate settled on the island for business purposes and who was as nice as Emilie. This proves again how a safe and sound environment is good for the human being, including the foreign population.

A stop for a fresh homemade juice at a fruit seller’s place

There was the fruit seller, who produced some fresh local fruit juice with fresh fruits that he mixed, while we were having a break before continuing our ride to the beach of Grande Anse. The reply given by Emilie and the fruit seller was the same, when we asked them whether they preferred Mahe or La Digue. Of course, it was La Digue, thanks to its calm and the security there, which differs from the rush of Mahe and the insecurity there caused by drugs, which unfortunately remains a problem against which the Seychelles keep on fighting regularly.

A glimpse on how La Digue people love environment: local artisanal products, riding all around

the island by bicycle so very few automobiles, a glimpse of the road and the beautiful clean beaches,

And the final picture showing me from afar, climbing to a Virgin Mary Grotto encrusted within some volcanic rocks

We also met a lady whom we asked the road to Anse Source d’Argent, one of the most beautiful beaches of the world… But unfortunately, that lady was mute, and it left us surprised! But what touched us was that, despite her muteness, the lady was always smiling and living a normal life courageously. A proof that in La Digue, people love each other in a safe and sound climate and environment.

We also acknowledged a lady, before we left Mahe, who was living next to a natural park where a bird spec called Veuve was living. The bird was named so, because of its black feathers, reminding about the widows of the previous years in Seychelles who used to wear black. For her part, she gave us a brand new version about La Digue: She preferred Mahe, because of the expensive life on La Digue. But she doesn’t seem to realise that the products sold on La Digue are certainly more expensive than on Mahe, because they come by boat and as their price also includes the sea freight. While translating that article in English (as previously I wrote it in French), I remembered a Nepali expatriate who owned the restaurant where we ate our pizza. They were at all only 3 staffs, IE him and two pizzaiolo from respectively Seychelles and India or Nepal. There was no tension between them and they were like a real family and good friends, and what was amazing was that it was one of the best restaurants recommended on Trip Advisor! The pizzeria was located in Gregoire’s at la Digue, and obtained a Certificate of Excellence on Trip Advisor, as per the link I retraced about it:http://TripAdvisor/Restaurant_Review-g477968-d22643…

When we however asked the Nepali boss about La Digue, he also replied that it was too quiet and that it lacked activities contrary to Mahe. A proof that La Digue doesn’t suit to busy people who love being in activity and this is what my husband confirmed while I asked him about living on La Digue. He also maintained that it wasn’t the best place for raising a child, again due to lack of activities, but it was the best way to relax or for living in after retirement.

Humans and Mother Nature: An important and vital connectivity

Some of my Mauritian compatriots shared their views with us after they assisted to a seminary about Eco tourism, which was held in University of Mauritius: “There was a talk and presentation by Mr. Vikash Tatayah, conservation director at MWF. He explained to us that Eco tourism is becoming more and more important in the world and that it’s in the government’s plan. Mauritius is very resourceful. He took one interesting example: He said if you see a pod of dolphins by chance, it’s a good thing. But if you take your boat, diving instruments, many people, this is not Eco tourism. The dolphins get scared and this disturbs their communication. And the reviews about Mauritius is great, be it a 3 4 or 5 star hotel, we offer great service. And people love Mauritius because of its homely environment. Children should be taught about the importance of nature and animals. He noted that children who visit zoos tend to become more curious about animals. And ask more questions. Later on, these children become wildlife conservationists. There are programs to protect the endemic plants and animals such as the kestrel“. There is a part of truth in what Mr. Tatayah said, and the pictures of La Digue perfectly illustrate it, with the population preferring bicycle or walking rather than vehicles. And what is interesting is that the tourists, for most of them, bring a strong contribution, preferring bicycling and footing rather than the comfortable vehicles at disposal of tourists, but which are very expensive!

A compatriot of mine was very often seen pictured with his home pets (rabbits, puppies, kittens, aqua tortoise), and even with some Savannah animals (giraffe, rhinoceros, elephants) and camels during some of his trips to Africa, whereas I have a picture of my young son befriending a small chick belonging to his uncle. Those two pictures show that there is no age to love animals. The compatriot is now a young adult man, and his love for animals is a proof that even when we grow up adults, if since childhood we have been properly trained to love and respect animals, it won’t be difficult for us adults to love them more.

This is why I get angry inside myself each time I hear my surroundings telling me to be careful with my son’s hygiene when he wants to befriend animals… And this since the episode of the snails when he wanted to take care of a snail he retrieved in our house owner’s garden in Seychelles! The fact that my son fell in love with that white little chick is also a proof that, when it comes on animals, children are our best teachers, because through their innocence, children perfectly know how to communicate with animals and better understand them.

As I mentioned too in some comments about that debate, lots of people pay expensive fees to assist to the yearly festival of whales on the island of Ste Marie in Madagascar, using traditional ways of sailing to avoid making the whales running away. Mr. Tatayah was right to blame the use of motor boats, which are a source of danger and disturbance for the dolphins, and which don’t allow them communicating nor understanding between each other properly.

Regarding children who are more curious about knowing about animals, yes it’s true… But even adults are curious too. That compatriot of mine, for example, when he enjoys himself with the Savannah animals while he is on trip to Africa, simply because since childhood he has been correctly trained and encouraged by his elders for cultivating love for animals. Also it proves that there is no miraculous formula, apart comprehension and cooperation of adults towards children.

And imagine the pleasure of playing with dolphins or whales in such occasions? Enigma sang it very well in the 90’s, “Remember the Shaman who said that man was the dream of the dolphin”. Dolphins see in us their dearest dreams and want to become our friends. However in some countries, those same animals are tortured for business! Animals are killed before extraction of their skin and flesh for industrial and commercial reasons, and among them polar animals in North Pole, whales killed in Scandinavia, tortoises or dogs killed for being consumed as food in Asia… Nothing to do with the Savannah animals with which my compatriot was playing in Africa, or the local tortoises conserved on rocks retrieved on the road to Anse Source d’Argent at La Digue.

Another compatriot of mine commented those lines, I quote: “Well, we should in fact lay more emphasis on sustainability as it promotes positive environment ethics, it does not also degrade the resources and therefore benefit the wildlife and environment.” Further to what she said, however, Mr. Tatayah seems to have forgotten a detail: The attitude of the Mauritians and of humans in general over environment. In some regions of the island, we still notice the pitiful attitude of some inhabitants, who despite the increasing number of facilities proposed by the country on recycling, and the numerous campaigns organised in the country for preservation of environment and sanctions taken by government itself. Especially when we notice the drains full of wastes accumulating every day, and which produce dust, infections, bacteria and disease in the neighbourhood regions, and the inhabitants who always keep on giving all wrongs to the Government and to the Ministry of Environment, instead of trying, for each of them, to bring his or her personal contribution into improving the state of the region and organising some cleaning operations in the region. The attitude of the human being is also a source of important contribution into the preservation of a safe and sound environment in the country.

Here in Seychelles, there is the Vallee de Mai in the island of Praslin, known as a natural reserve where it’s agreeable to go for a healthy walk in total contact with Mother Nature, and which sponsors the Aldabra project launched by Minister James Mancham for preservation of the marine tortoise living on that small island from archipelago of Seychelles, which is on its way to disappear due to the increase of waters.

Railway of Konkan, Maharashtra

Green Maharashtra

Narendra Modi also launched a cleaning campaign in India after his nomination, and openly showed himself with a broom in his hand and cleaning the roads. South India followed his campaign successfully and is doing its very best to preserve its environmental cleanliness. But there is still a long way to go in India to have such a spirit about cleanliness… Especially in Mumbai and the pitiful state of the beaches, due to the indifference and passivity of the inhabitants, who unfortunately contributed into making of that beach a public dustbin! Such known towns like Mumbai unfortunately contrast totally with some regions very few known in Maharashtra, where green and cleanliness co-exist such as the beautiful region of Konkan, where one of my sisters of heart comes from, showing us a green, clean and safe environment. Here is an interesting link with lots of details about that beautiful region of Maharashtra to know more about it, and on which I will develop about that beautiful region as soon as possible after I reassemble all my sources all together: http://divcomkonkan.gov.in/asp.net/visitor/history.aspx.

Alison Teal

Finally, another deplorable aspect to take note about: The way people lie about the image of some touristic worldwide regions to attract tourists, whereas those regions present their medal reverse. I once mentioned about the Maldives which have an island where all the wastes coming from other islands of the archipelago are stocked and afterwards abandoned. Some foreign people launched in their way a sensitization campaign regarding that polluted island, at the example of that ex-reality show star Alison Teal like in the pictures shown in the article below: http://www.dirtbagdarling.com/girl-gone-wild-naked-and-afraids-alison-teal/

A Traveller’s Experience

One day, a compatriot of mine posted a picture of him writing in his diary while he was sitting in the compartment of the train going from Mumbai to Pune during one of his trips to India. A couple of times earlier, I saw a great picture which I shared on my timeline, and for which the message perfectly matched the message that my compatriot wanted to pass to us through that post. I am sending you that picture in attachment, because it’s worth to meditate on it and on that picture of my compatriot writing in his train compartment.

Let’s first of all analyse my compatriot’s picture. He is sitting in the compartment, and he is writing. There is an extract in whatever he wrote on his website about that picture, which really amazed me, and which I would like to share with you all: “The train journey fuelled my inspiration to lose myself in the world of words. I took out my travel diary and wrote down my emotions and memories.” Whatever he was sharing with us through his diary on that picture, and the way he described how attentive he was to every sound, every sight, every scenario happening during a train trip, is perfectly summarised by that picture that I am sending you in attachment.Look at that young girl carefully. She shows, through her clothes, her bag on her back and the way she is standing next to the exit door of the train, how she is really appreciating the trip, not as a travelled, but as a true traveller. Contrary to some other travellers who are comfortably sitting in their compartments, either reading their newspapers, sleeping, chatting on all sorts of things, eating, drinking or playing cards, that young lady is exactly doing what my compatriot has done while travelling by train. Though she knows about the danger of standing in front of that door, she doesn’t care. She is admiring the landscape, exploring the green grass in front of her eyes, enjoying the cold breeze caressing her face and caused by the speed of the train going on. She is capping with her eyes, and not with her camera, every little detail she would notice during her travel: People crossing, cattle from afar in the green grass of a local farm… And travelling such, that young lady will do exactly what my compatriot did: She will also salute every person she will see walking or riding in front of her eyes out of that train, as if she was a part of them and no more a passenger in the train. That was also what my compatriot did… Not only seeing people from outside, but even with the other travellers inside, by creating such a true human touch. And who knows if, when she will sit back in her compartment, that young lady will do the same also? That is what we truly hope and expect from her and we wish she really did it.I remember that, when I was still in my college years, we once studied a subject together with our French teacher, about the difference between the traveller and the travelled. I don’t remember exactly the whole course nor did find any personal researches about it, but I remember a few lines that he shared with us about the difference between those two kind of people. The traveller is the one who feels, the one who enjoys the feeling of every little detail around him or her. The traveller is the one who will see with his heart whatever the eyes cannot see, and even see with his heart the physically unseen. He will hear sounds from the heart, which are different from what he would hear with his own ears as physical sounds, because those sounds he will hear are spiritual sounds. It goes on in the same way for the other senses of the human race, such as the taste, the touch and the smell. The traveller is most of all a feeler. The travelled, however, will only think about his or her material and financial comfort to better enjoy his or her trip. He will think about the promotional rates for the flight or train tickets, look for the most comfortable compartment where he would sit, choose the best menus for the comfort of his mouth, take a whole bench of seats available to sleep comfortably… And at the arrival he or she will look for the most comfortable hotel to live in and to relax his body, instead of enriching his or her soul and heart like a true traveller. The traveller is mostly a spiritual person, not forcefully a physical one. It’s the inner person within us expressing itself, whereas the travelled is only the outer person that we represent physically. Unfortunately very few people have that gift of travelling like travellers… And that compatriot of mine is part of those rare people
I will relate you a little anecdote. I have a relative who is settled in Europe. One day, her husband brought her to a very peaceful and beautiful lake located in a mountainous and peaceful region in Scotland. My relative kept on taking a lot of pictures continuously and her husband, at a moment, got very angry against her, because she was loosing her time captivating those moments with her camera, instead of seizing that great opportunity to appreciate that wonderful landscape by appreciating its beauty, embracing the fresh air caressing her lovely skin, feeling the pureness and peace of that place, feeling Heaven’s presence in it, enjoying the ducks in the pond peacefully swimming, etc. I sincerely congratulate my young brother-in-law for having scolded her for that, because he wanted to show her the true meaning of life… And she admitted she did the wrong thing by being stuck too much to her camera.
Otherwise, another detail in my compatriot’s post captivated my attention, I quote: “I inquisitively and gleefully peeked through the window to catch a view of the glorious Lonavla and Khandala.” Why did those two regions especially fascinate my compatriot? As usual with my curious nature, I did my personal researches about those two regions.
Here are some interesting points I noted out through some researches on Wikipedia, and which describe the beauty of both those regions, representing another shape of the Green Maharashtra, like the region of Konkan, from which my friend and sister Kishmish Réhahn comes:
“Places of interest around Lonavla and Khandala[edit]
View of Rajmachi Point, Lonavla Rajmachi Point Rajmachi Point is located about 6.5 km from Lonavla. This point commands a view of Shivaji’s famous fort, Rajmachi (Royal terrakouioce) and the surrounding valley. Regular State Transport buses ply between Rajmachi Point and Lonavla from the State Transport Bus Stand. The famous Vaghjai Dari is also located here.
Ryewood Park & Shivaji Udyan This is an extensive garden situated in Lonavla. The garden covers a lot of ground and it is full of tall trees. There is an old Shiva temple in the park. The garden has plenty of place for children to play.
Valvan Dam Valvan Dam has a garden at its foot, and is a popular evening spot 2 km from the town. The dam supplies water to the Khopoli power station at the foothills of the Sahyadris for generating electricity. The Kundali River feeds into the dam’s reservoir.
Lonavla Lake Lonavla Lake is surrounded by natural scenery, about 1.6 km from the town. The lake dries up during the winter months.
Duke’s Nose Duke’s Nose stands 12 km from Lonavla, clearly visible from the highway while driving towards Mumbai. This landmark in Khandala is popular with hikers. Also known locally as Naagphani (Cobra’s Hood), the cliff owes its name to the Duke of Wellington, whose ample nose it resembles.
Tiger’s Leap Tiger’s Leap also known as Tiger’s Point is a cliff-top with a sheer drop of over 650 m, giving an extensive view. Buses are available up to INS Shivaji and the remaining distance of about 1.6 km has to be covered on foot.
Just around tiger’s leap, there is a small waterfall active only during the monsoon. It serves the purpose of relaxing in the water better than Bushy dam, as the force of the fall is higher. Also, after the brief steep descent, the fall becomes a stream with a fair amount of force to go all the way down to the base of the Tiger’s Leap. Adventurers can trek down the stream whilst intermittently stepping back on land where the water current is too strong and the fall is steep.
Karla Caves Karla caves, located near Lonavla, is a complex of cave shrines built by Buddhist monks around 3rd to 2nd century B.C. A famous temple of Goddess Ekvira Devi is also present here.[10]
Bhushi dam during the rainy season Lohagad Fort A robust climb of about 11.2 km from Malavali Railway Station takes you to the ‘Iron Fort’, once a formidable battle-station of Shivaji. The fort commands a view of the surrounding hills and hamlets.
Lohagad Fort during monsoons Bhushi Dam A waterfall near the dam is a popular spot between Lonavla and I.N.S. Shivaji. Buses running on the I.N.S. Shivaji Road stop here.[11]
Lion Point Scenic point midway between Bhushi Dam and Aamby Valley .
Tungarli Lake and Dam This lake and Dam come to life during the Monsoon season, where youth climb the mountain top to the Dam. This dam was built during the British era and features a serene surrounding.
Shooting Point Another scenic point in the town of Khandala (Bazaar path), which provides a magnificent view of the Rajmachi Fort and the valley. Also the home for the St. Mary’s villa.
Wax Museum The ‘Celebrity Wax Museum’, modeled on the famous Madame Tussaud in London, is located only 3 km away from the railway station at Varsoli, near Toll Plaza is a new attraction for the tourists.[12]”
Regarding Khandala, here are the points which attracted my attention most, and which also prove the Green Maharashtra beauty:
“Places of interest[edit] Tiger’s Leap : It is one of the most fascinating places in this area. If someone carefully observes the valley from this point, it will appear as if a tiger is leaping into the valley.
Amrutanjan Point : Amrutanjan point is yet another point located high up in Khandala. It provides an excellent view of the places nearby. The point is a well suited location for an enormous sight of the valley as well as the Duke’s Nose.
Duke’s Nose : Duke’s Nose, also known as ‘Nagfani’ is named after Duke Wellington, who had a pointed nose resembling the cliff.
Karla and Bhaja Cave : Karla and Bhaja Caves are historical rock-cut caves, situated at a distance of 16 km from Khandala. Karla Caves are the ancient Buddhist caves. Bhaja Caves are similar to Karla Caves but are on a much smaller scale. This caves are also in Chaitya style.
Bhushi Lake : Bhushi Lake situated in Khandala is the ideal spot for all those who wish to relax in the lap of Mother Nature. Its serene and tranquil surroundings and crystal clear water provides immense opportunities for the tourists to rest in peace.[1]”
Two regions with fantastic green views, beautiful and clean green landscapes, pure fresh air, calm, sensation of peace, sensation of freedom, strong presence of God through the hidden caves and temples, etc. Exactly the kind of landscapes that a lot of travellers enjoy looking through the waggon window most of the time, and which bring positiveness into their trip. And I am sure that by exploring those places, my compatriot felt a total communication with God while travelling by train as a feeler… As a true traveller.
See the quote on the picture: “Travel as much as you can. As far as you can. As long as you can. Explore our beautiful world”.
A true traveller LIVES. He lets all his senses wide open, all connected with the voice of his heart more than the voice of his brains. Because like we say in French, the heart has its reasons that the reason itself doesn’t always have. With the heart, the traveller lives some unique experiences by being in total communication with God.
A true traveller LOVES. By living those experiences, he learns to appreciate the true inner beauty behind every single experience. See my compatriot himself. He loved seeing the beautiful landscapes of those two beautiful green regions of Maharashtra. He loved the human touch with the people whom he chatted with in the train, sharing all together their life experiences with him. He loved the scenes out of the train with people coming in and coming out of the train, the sellers, the brouhaha of people always rushing around the train to be sure to arrive at their final destination on time, the sound of the horn and of the running train, the feeling of the train bumping on the rail… And he understood that it couldn’t be else than as it is… And it couldn’t be better… Because in each of those experiences, my compatriot showed us the inner beauty of the travelling experience by train, and showed us that such trips should never be painful but rather appreciated for what they are in their brute shape. Exactly like a piece of gold extracted from a gold mine and which hasn’t yet been reworked by jewellers.
Finally a true traveller, by living and loving those experiences, appreciate them so much that his feelings will come out… And he will LAUGH. LAUGH in the sense that he will cry, he will scream, he will jump, he will be hilarious, etc. Exactly like my compatriot who, in one of his pics on his Facebook page, was laughing with some travellers in the same compartment while they were sharing their stories together. And this is the voice of the state of trance in which the traveller will feel as he reached the highest level of his feelings as a traveller.
To conclude on that post, let’s meditate the “Live, Love and Laugh” in a brand new version I wanted to demonstrate through that post: – LIVE like a baby taking birth… That was what my compatriot did by entering the train and discovering his surrounding before analysing it with his heart in a deeper way. – LOVE like the love you give that baby to help him growing up healthily. That was also what my compatriot did, by appreciating every little detail in his trip like I described before. – LAUGH, like the baby who will express his feelings through what he will receive from Live and Love. Again my compatriot did it! And when he arrived at destination, he came out of the train enriched, and wrote all that experience in his diary.
On that conclusion, I let you all on your meditation state of heart and mind and send you my blessings.
Live, Love and Laugh like a journey… not like a destination to reach.

The Rising of a Female Voice from Konkan, Maharashtra

One year ago, I had the great pleasure to acknowledge a new friend of mine, a young artist from the beautiful but yet unknown region of Konkan located in Maharashtra. I never heard about that region before I acknowledged her, and as I am of curious nature, I discovered a small comment about that region, on which I may do more researches in a separate post, as it’s really worth to discover about it. Here is meanwhile what the post said: “A little-developed shoreline running south from Mumbai all the way to Goa, this picturesque strip of coast is peppered with postcard beaches, fishing villages and magnificent ruined forts. Travelling through this tropical backwater can be sheer bliss. However, remember that accommodation is scant and transport limited and a little unreliable. The best option, if you’ve the funds, is to rent a car in Mumbai and drift slowly down the coast to Goa. What you’ll get in return is an experience that money can’t buy.”

Until I provide you more details about that beautiful region, I would like, in that post, to talk about that bold, beautiful and brave friend of mine. Contrasting with the exotic shape of her native Konkan, the image of hers that she showed me really touched my heart and provoked some anger and rebellion within my heart as a woman. She gave me another proof on how parents’ love and support are important for any child. Her case is very specific also because unfortunately, her parents discriminate her from her elder brother, because she is a girl!!! Here was the whole conversation I had with her and which I am re-posting there, in reply to the post I wrote a couple of days ago regarding my miseducation:

“I have been faced somehow same like this…you know what sis, my parents sent my brother in private English medium school and I have completed my studies with government public school. .. just because I was female child. I was among toppers of my class yet I didn’t achieve a lot what my fellows achieved who were hardly passed…you know I’m in last year graduation but whatever I’m doing I do not have a little interest in it…I took first class marks every year but it is just that I study to get marks no personal interest in the subjects I’m studying on… I always did whatever my family decides for me…even though I started earning when I was just 12 years old…from that day I didn’t even ask pocket money to my parents. .. and till now I’m fulfilling all my expenses on my own. Yet my Dad isn’t happy with me..just because I’m not typical like them.. I was someone who wasn’t fear to dream…my younger brother told me dreams are not for us… Despite all I started hoping support from someone like every youngster hope to get…but after all my sacrifices surrenders I failed in my both loves…I was so depressed and alone..then started doing sketch art…I was starting doing better and better…And it was great support for me….but here also my family doesn’t want me to draw…they hate my artworks. ..I started with this identity to hide my real identity, just to stay connected with my art.” Then in reply to my “Confessions of a miseducated girl”, she replied: “I feel proud of you at least you have courage to tell this to the world …And thanks for build up courage on me… I really appreciate your honesty.”

I noticed, before my friend related me her story, that it’s a phenomenon that I have noticed especially in Indian families, where women don’t have their own rights to decide and this is very sad for a country which considers itself “modern”. They pretend that they are in favor of womanhood but in reality they are not, including in your family background. When you see out of your family background, you realize that even in the huge Bollywood industry, actresses are no more considered and even almost forgotten when they get married and have children. You merely now hear about some of them, like Lara Dutta, Shilpa Shetty, Raveena Tandon, Twinkle Khanna, who were solid references among the biggest actresses in the Indian cinema, but who are no more considered like before since they married and had children, apart appearing in a couple of movies only and in some publicity. But things are starting to change slowly but surely now in the cinema industry, since some bold and brave actresses like Vidhya Balan, Kareena Kapoor and Kalki Koechin, despite being married actresses, had the chance of having supportive husbands who encouraged them into continuing cinema. Even Madhuri Dixit, when her children grew older, left away her housewife gloves and stepped again into the Bollywood hall of fame… even daring to accept to shoot some bold scenes!

That was why I insisted with my little Konkan friend that she should never give up her dreams, and should rather take all what she is doing as a challenge. As she faces parents who are unable to understand her, I esteem that it’s time for her to spread her wings and fly! It’s the only solution to give her parents a good slap so that they stop making of her a pauper! According to me, as long as she will keep on bothering about what her parents think about her, she will always be sad and miserable. My Konkan friend has her beauty,personality and capacities, so is that always necessary for her to share all your stuffs with her parents and her brother ? Concerning her brother, why does he follow his parents’ dreams ? It’s because he knows that he is a boy and because he knows that he has more power on his shoulders as, even after marriage, he will keep on carrying the name of the family upon the shoulder, and maybe become the only heir of the family. I also begged her to let her brother being so if he wants, and prove to her parents that she has her right to be different and that they should stop always conducting her like they did before! I also found it a shame that they keep on discriminating her all the time because she is a girl! It was as if they wanted to tell you that it was HER fault if she were born a girl! NO IT’S NOT HER FAULT AS WELL AS IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT, IT’S GOD WHO DECIDED THAT SHE WOULD TAKE BIRTH AS A GIRL, did I yell to her! But the reality is that they always misjudge her, not because she is a looser, but because they have a problem with their own ego! I admit I have been rude by talking badly about her parents, but it’s incredible how such elder and experimented people like could misjudge and underestimate her values! Even once they marry my Konkan friend with someone of their choice, they don’t realize they will make her life sad and miserable and that she could end up depressed and maybe committing suicide!

Here was the conclusion I then insisted about with her, I quote: “As from now, STOP DEPENDING ON YOUR PARENTS’ OPINION AND FIGHT FOR YOURSELF BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO EXIST AS A WOMAN! We are all here to help you being a bold and brave woman dear. I am sorry but unfortunately your parents really deserve a big slap because they must understand who you REALLY are and that you are NOT A PAUPER. They must start respecting you as well as you always respected and followed their decision as an intelligent and obedient girl. You followed their dreams and sacrificed your own dreams, and your parents abused of your silence and of your passivity. I have also been passing through that, though my parents put me in a high school and this only because they wanted to use me as a cobaye to get relieved from their frustrations, exactly like your parents are doing with you. They are using you only to get relieved of all THEIR PERSONAL FRUSTRATIONS, AND IT SHOULD STOP NOW ONCE FOR ALL! If you don’t react, your parents will keep on abusing on you and your life will turn hell! I am not saying all that because I want you to disrespect your parents. I never mentioned about that, let’s make things clear. It’s just that your parents need to be taught a very strong life lesson from you and that they should change their attitude towards you. It’s necessary, and that will help both you and your family feeding a much better and stronger relationship. Your parents should think of what could happen to you tomorrow. Imagine that you marry someone of their choice, you are mistreated, beaten, abused… They will keep on ignoring you ? Imagine that you get killed, or suffer from a very severe disease ? Does it mean they will let you dying and let you down ? NO! THEY DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO THIS BECAUSE, HOWEVER THEY WANT IT OR NOT, YOU ARE THE FRUIT OF THEIR LOVE, EVEN BEING A GIRL! So sad though that they are so cheap minded and only are obsessed by the fact that you were born a girl and not a boy, which makes them blind about your good health, the good results you obtained at school though being in a government school, your talents, your capacities, your rebel soul and above all yourself. You can still make that change, Through your failures, you can be extremely successful. Myself I wish that contrary to me who failed in my relationship with my parents, you succeed into conquering their hearts, you succeed into bringing a change in their stubbornness and that you succeed into rebuilding correctly the foundation of your relationship with your parents. I can feel there is still hope for you, and we are ready to help you. I was furious when I read what you wrote… frankly speaking i want to slap your parents and your brother. sorry for my frankness but it’s true : stupid, cheap minded people!!! here is how I would consider your parents and sorry to tell you this, they don’t even deserve my respect, because true parents never discriminate their children, especially if they have one son and one daughter. they should be treated equally, despite being different.”

My Konkan friend, though, was generous through her answer, stipulating that it wasn’t her parents’ mistake, because their society is developed in the way, where there mindset made up in the worst way. Whole society mindset should be criticized. But I insisted on the fact that, even though society is developed like that, it still remains THEIR FAULT, because they could react and bring a change if they wanted so it’s because they have no will to change that they are like that with her. the fact that the society is like that is just an excuse they have in mind for not wanting to change. My Konkan friend agreed with me, but whatever they did with her, she doesn’t want them to be opposed or criticized. She then told me those words, which, by reading them today while proofreading that text, made me reflecting deeper about her strategy to fight against her parents’ stubbornness and disagreement: “It is just that I wanna find my own ways without giving any family excuses, and after all they are my parents, It is my duty to respect them. And I succeed in finding my ways like they didn’t bring me in English medium school but I learn English on my own, and now I’m doing social service on public school for teaching English to girls like me. They oppose my art I find this way to stay connected with my today my most favorite person Rehahn Hoian commented on my drawing. And soon I will show them what art can do. In my view life is full of hurdles ..despite criticizing or finding excuse we should find our own ways.”

Further to the traumatic experience I had with my own parents, I used some rude words regarding my Konkan friend’s parents. I respect the fact that she respects her parents above all despite the injustices she needs to face everyday because of them. But personally, if they were my parents, I wouldn’t have any respect for such parents like hers! I mention my words again:

1) It’s not because the SOCIETY is built in such a way that PARENTS should passively follow the rules of the family traditions of whole India. If they WANT, they can bring a CHANGE for making people reacting in children’s education!

2) Such parents react like that because they always consider women as the “weak sex”. They forget that it’s the woman who gives birth to the human race for 9 long months and how they suffer and bleed a lot while delivering their baby.

3) I am pretty sure that deep inside them, my Konkan friend’s parents are like that because they are conscious that my Konkan friend is capable and intelligent, but they are jealous of her success and are doing everything to make of her a pauper. I passed through that too with my parents, but I rebelled and fought a lot, and though I don’t have any more relationship with my parents, I don’t care at all because with time and space, I came to understand that the problem was not with me, but with THEM, because of their STUBBORNNESS and STUPIDITY. But personally I hope and wish that my Konkan friend, if she doesn’t give up what she is already doing, will conquer the heart of her parents and of her brother and that their relationship will improve a lot.

4) Through my Konkan friend’s example, I came to understand why women were not respected in Indian society in the daily routine: it’s because they do the same thing with their daughters, mothers, spouses and sisters even at home! If in their own house they are irrespective towards women, it means also that they will also be irrespective in society! I still remember when a compatriot of mine was travelling in the train from Mumbai to Pune, and when he met a woman with her little girl… The woman was forced to stand up and no men didn’t even dare to let her sitting comfortably to better enjoy her long trip. My compatriot, who was sitting also, saw the woman in difficulties, and he let his place in the train to the lady and sat on the floor, enjoying a good playing time with the little girl. And even though the floor was uncomfortable for sitting, my compatriot didn’t complain at all, and the lady befriended him through some snacks she shared with him 🙂 Isn’t that lovely? And I am sure that the other men who were staring at my compatriot were all disappointed and felt ashamed because of that simple gesture my compatriot did. What is the need then to be big bosses, whereas your education starts at home? And if my compatriot through a simple gesture did a great action, it’s thanks to the good education and support given by his parents since childhood.

I seize the opportunity to share with you another story, which directly happened in my in-laws. My husband has been growing up with most of his cousins being boys, but only one girl in the family and whom I really adore and admire. When my sister-in-law was born, as per what she related to me, all the family rejected her because she was a girl. She was very brilliant at school and always brought very good results, but she was always criticized and rejected because she was a girl. Due to all that pressure, my sister-in-law didn’t very brilliantly succeed her High School Certificate and had very average results. My husband was the only one who truly supported her and gave her courage to rise again, whereas the other family members didn’t even care about her and kept on criticizing her as a piece of shit because of her average exam results at school! My husband even invited her in Madagascar and encouraged her to follow a little course in Computer Science in the company where he was working, as she always wanted to study Electronics and Computer Science, and he even paid her for the course of his own pocket, because the course wasn’t an official one and the company wouldn’t remunerate her in such conditions. My sister-in-law was very thankful to my husband for his gesture, and myself I am very proud of my husband for his generosity towards her. But in addition to the critics, among her haters, my sister-in-law had one of her uncles who always criticized her because of her failure. But another uncle of hers told her the sentence which would help her rising again from her ashes “To be able to rise again, you must know the pain of falling down”. This sentence said it all. Since that, my sister-in-law started taking great care of her health and beauty, brilliantly succeeded her tertiary studies and accumulated several diplomas and professional experiences. Her ascension never stopped, and all the family members who criticized her all the time bent on their knees in front of her success. And the uncle who criticized her received a big slap from God, as his son retrieved himself unemployed for months and turned depressed since the company where he was working suddenly shut its doors!

You should never criticize nor underestimate the power of a common woman! Like late Sheikh Zayed, who was the founder of the United Arab Emirates once mentioned, “Educated women of today will become the mothers of tomorrow”. And this is what I truly hope for my Konkan friend and for every woman in our family and out of our family.