Monday, October 19, 2009

Diwali In Mauritius...

Dashra had passed and we did not even know what happened on this. Anyways Diwali was about to come and this time we could see some decoration on road side, so it was supposed to be livelier.

As I always say surprises are there on each occasion in Mauritius then how Diwali could be an exception. This time surprise was cleaning of houses rather say washing. Oh man… people were washing their houses like any thing from top to bottom. Thanks to GOD they could not wash foundation… it was not limited to houses only vehicle or every possible thing we can think of. I was afraid; we would get some water after Diwali. After this they put on the lights to the house, but this was limited to few houses only not like washing ceremony.

On the day of Diwali people distribute cake to relatives, friends and neighbors. By the way don’t stress much for cake; it is nothing but different sweets made at home. It was delicious, no doubt about it. This distribution goes for a day or two. As soon as started getting a little dark people lighted oil lamps (Diya/Deepak). Here people use a little bigger size of lamps that we do in India. I am not very much sure, did people do LAKSHMI PUJAN in the evening as around 7:00PM every body was out of the houses and were lighting lamps or doing fire work. Yes, people did fire work also though it was not much but still it was nice. Good environmental care. One good thing was the fire crackers available here were kind of enough safe to use.

Apart form all these activity, few of the municipalities had organized some different shows like musical nights, light show and all. Since we were invited to our friend Riyad’s place, he came to pick us up as we were not sure of bus services during that time. We met his family and had a nice dinner with them. After dinner we went out to see decoration on road side and then to a light show which was organized by Curepipe municipality. It was a wonderful light show and we enjoyed it for some 20 minutes and then it started raining and we came back to home. It was 12:00 AM by the time we were home.

Overall it was a nice celebration on Diwali, though this was our first Diwali out of India, but still we could feel homely.

Durga Puja (Navratri) and Dashra...

Ramadan was running and Durga Puja was approaching and was going to start just one day before EID. Nishu had a plan to keep fast for all days and we thought to go to temple to offer evening prayers. But our mail concern was whether the temples will remain open by that time in evening. Luckily 3 /4 days before the Druga Puja, we were passing by a temple and the president of the management committee of the temple (a person known to us) met and updated us about the puja. It was a kind of surprise to know that temple we remain open till quite late during the days of Durga Puja, so we were kind of assured that at least we could go to the temple in the evening.

On the first day of Durga Puja, we tried to reach the temple a bit early to be on safer side, still can not trust that Mauritius can remain open till late. We were in temple by 6:45PM and to add to our surprise we was a proper arrangement for people to come and offer prayers. Temple was fully decorated with lights and a musical group was singing Bhajans there. A nice sitting arrangement was also done for the people to sit and enjoy the Bhajans. Quite a few people were there to offer their prayers and then enjoy Bhajans. During these days one saint was also there in temple giving Pravachans.

This was nice to see so many people offering prayer and temple was nicely decorated. Now we were completely assured that we would be able to come to temple during the 9 days of Durga Puja. We managed to go to the temple during the days of Durga Puja. We used to offer our prayers and sat there for some time to enjoy Bhajans. We never had a chance to listen to that saint as it used to start a bit late. Anyway was not that interested too.

Since surprises are a by default gifts (at least for us) in Mauritius, two more surprises were also waiting for us. When the day of Navmi, we went to temple as usual we found it closed, means there was nobody to offer prayers on that day. On the next day Vijay Dashmi was there and as usual people were busy in their daily activity and there was a kind of no sign of the festival. There was no firework, no fair nothing at all. Since office was open that day we did puja early and went to our offices… This time it was good at least we could go to temple for most of the days… Now Diwali is approaching, let’s see how it will be.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Glass Bottom in Pereybere & window shopping at Grand Bay...

Long time there was no outing; reason winter was running in Mauritius. Feb till May is the season of winter here. Though the temperature does not fall much but sea remains a bit cold. Don’t talk about wind and rain. The speed of wind is always very high during these days and absolutely no time for rain. You never know when black clouds will gather and will start showers. Thanks to God that does not remain for long.
During last days we have heard a lot about glass bottom and under sea walking. I was quite keen to and experience that. Since I was a little scared of under sea walking, we decided to go for glass bottom boat ride. While it is available at few places but our target was Pereybere. Way to reach Pereybere is same as to reach Mont Choisy. From Mont Choisy next is Grand Bay and then Pereybere. From Port Louis TBS Bus Service goes to Pereybere.

So, we went to Pereybere by after noon. First we had a light snack there and then looked for the glass bottom. It is a small beach and there was not much crowd also. We could bargain for the rent, usually the range is 150-400 Rs per person for a ride of 45 minutes.
The boat is usually of a normal size of boat with sitting capacity of 10-12 people but has a fitting of transparent glass in middle. Thru these transparent glasses we can see the life underwater. Though thru the glass usually we can see about 5 /6 feet under water, still it is enough for a good experience. During our ride we could see quite a few live and dead corals and lots of fishes. The boat driver stops the boat in between for some time and gives some bread to feed the fishes and we also did this. Since only two of us were there we could enjoy freely. Nisha used complete bread for those fished and was trying to touch them. We could see only one kind of fishes there but the number of them was big… In a small area we could see hundreds of those fishes. She had a nice photo session on the boat. Then we came back to the shore. Current he is not high so people enjoy swimming a lot here.
Then we headed towards Grand Bay which is about 5 Km from here toward Port Louis. This is again a small beach and like Pereybere known for water sports activities like water sky, parasailing and glass bottom. The area close to this beach is famous for shopping specially cloths market. We also tried our hands there but it was limited to window shopping only as prices were extremely high. We saw a shopping mall there named as GBS Mall. We were surprised when we saw the rates in EURO there in this mall, so there was no point of shopping. This was a nicely build mall with nice interior.
By 4PM we left for Port Louis and then reached home by 6:30PM. It is advised to leave early if you are not having own transport. Over all it was a nice experience of seeing under water life. Now I am planning for under sea walking also.
An advice: Be careful while shopping in Grand :)…
Pereybere Beach information:
Sand - medium to fine grain, coral based, some debris.
Facilities - close by.
Shade - casuarina and palm trees.
Sports - you'll find lots going on here. Swim, snorkel, dive, kite boarding.
Notes - can get crowded

Shiva Ratri in Mauritius...

As I said earlier also, Mauritius is a country where people celebrate festivals with at most joy and religious feelings, same is shown for Shiva Ratri… Main attraction for this festival is that almost 90% of people from Hindu community walk down to Grand Basin, a place where they have biggest statue of Shiva in Mauritius (One of the biggest statue of Shiva in world) and has a sacred pond named as Ganga Talao to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva. Our land lord told us about this well in advance and asked us to be prepared for this. This place is about 24-26 Kms from our place rose hill.
Nishu was quite keep to walk for this but I was a but scared as I had to go to office after this… but later I came to know that we have leave after this so I made my mind to join her. Since entire Mauritius was walking for this so there was no issue to know the way to temple. Two days before Shiva Ratri we started for the temple early in the morning. We did not see much people on internal street but as soon as we hit the main road we saw a number of people walking.
As we were told, this was well managed. People were walking in a row and no matter they we single, group or carrying the KAWAR. Every kilometer or two stalls were there to offer food, juice , tea coffee to the people walking to feel the refresh and have gain energy…after every few kilometers medical facilities were there and proper Police arrangement was there to help people and to maintain the arrangements.
This day it started raining since morning and we had only an umbrella to protect. Any how we were on our way taking rest and shield from rain on the way. We walked well and reached the temple by 12:00 noon. It was full of people offering their prayers and place was full of beautiful KAWARs. We offered our prayers first and then had small refreshment.
It was now 3:00 PM and was time to return. After some time I started feeling tired as I was carrying heavy bag and was wet also. Anyhow I managed to walk few kilometers and crossed the village on the way and as soon as we reached to a town we got a bus. By now rods were almost block on one side as so many people were walking. Bus took quite some time to pass and by 8:00 PM we were at home. We took a bath in hot water and had some food which we carried with us. We were too tired that we never knew when we slept.
Next to next was it was the festival and we went to temple and offered the JAL to lord Shiva. Since people were coming in small groups today we had enough time to do our prayers…
It was really a great experience and I was fully surprised to see the crowed on the road and devotion of people for Lord Shiva.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mauritius: 24X7

Mauritius, a place known for beautiful beaches and sea food, wonderful climate and cool & calm people. You don’t find any rush for anything in Mauritius; everything goes with its own speed. I am sure you will be surprised to know that it is the one side of the coin. The other side is you will see people rushing for transport or closing down the shops and wrapping up the things as soon as the clock approaches 5:30 PM. it is quite difficult to get food items after 7:00-7:30 PM.

Now, gone are these days. Soon Mauritius is going to adopt 24X7 culture. Based on the result of surveys conducted Mauritian Government is taking some progressive steps in this field. Mauritius HRDC is the main responsible body to plan and promote the same in Mauritius and to design a basic infra structure plan for it. Recently a 3 days festival / promotion campaign was organized by HRDC at Port Louis, capital of Mauritius. This festival was open for public till mid night. This was for the first time in Mauritius.

During the festival dance and music programs were organized, arrangements were there to amuse the kids and for light snacks. Transport facilities from Port Louis to main destination of the country were arranged till late night along with the security arrangements for the festival. Road side shops which used to close at 5:00PM were open till late. A big number of people gathered to see what all it was and to enjoy the festival also.
How people of Mauritius take this initiative this will be visible in near future but the festival and promotion campaign was a good time for lot of people for sure. People who never came out to Port Louis at night they could see the lights and decoration, hawkers could work a bit late for 3 days to earn some extra bucks and few people got chance to show their talent on stage.
Anyways just wait and see what is next. All the best for Mauritius.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

At President House...

On Friday 15thMay09, Sameera (an office friend) told me about an open day and vintage car show at the President Residency (used as office these days) of Mauritius on the occasion of International Family day. This show was supposed to be held on Sunday 17thMay 09. I made my mind to go for this that time itself. It had been more than 2 months I went out on any of the weekends. I informed my wife about this and she was ready to join.
Sunday morning she was a bit tied up with few things so I had to move out for this show alone. I was sure about my plan, not to miss the opportunity at any cost. I was very much clear that I’ll get this chance once again.
The house is known as The State House and is about 10 minutes walking from the University of Mauritius, Reduit. I reach the main gate. The residency / building is about 1 Km from the main entrance and the way is full of trees on either sides. It is building of 2 floors… It is made as the old pattern of hut shape which looks quite decent. Only the ground floor or better say one of the conference room was open for public rest all was still restricted. This hall was big enough with some decent decoration and 2 beautiful chandeliers.
As soon as u come out of that room there is a corridor and after that a big garden. A small fountain welcomes you. The house is surrounded by small hills and a small valley on one side in which a river flows. This looks quite good and gives a feeling of botanical garden of Ooty.
Because of the vintage car show I could see few of the old cars there. But it was not well organized. For the information about the car a paper was pasted on the screen having little information about the make and model. Still quite a few people were enjoying it.

Since it was a family day there were quite a few arrangements to amuse kids. A lot of stalls where there for different snacks and a big arrangement for Sega… Yes, this was the first time I saw the live show of Sega. I really enjoyed it and did full video shot. There was a small show about Judo from a club.
I was there for some 2 hours and had a good time there mainly because of Sega and Judo show.

New Year in Mauritius...

X-MAS had passed and now we could see a bit more decoration in the market and on other places as well. Curiosity was at its peak to know how the New Year celebration was going to be here. One obvious reason for the curiosity was we were out of the country for the first time and that to a place which is a famous tourist place. Anyways it was just a day to get all the curtains to be raised.
It was 31 Dec’08, we were in office and had a small celebration here itself. It was started by opening bottle of Champaign, no doubt non-alcoholic one, need to follow office ethics also… it was ended with some snacks. By evening I was at home. By the time I came back I could see quite a few lighting out there.
As a tradition we had some musical programs here on TV to welcome the New Year. It was in local language, English, Hindi and Bhojpuri also. Since we did not have any transport available with us, we did not go out anywhere, but were on TV at home.
Well now clock was show 00:00 hrs and New Year knocked our door. It was up the surprise, when we saw the fire work. Really it was like celebrating Diwali in India. Everywhere we could get the sound of crackers and fire work in sky. This fire work lasted for more than an hour. People were enjoying at it most as they had leaves for coming two days (It is official leave in Mauritius).
Definitely, I would say that the welcome of the New Year was up the expectation as it was told to us.
Just to mention that few of the hotels / club/ pubs had special arrangement of parties for this celebration, entry fee ranging from 1000/- till high. Over all it was a good experience…

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I was on Mauritius Radio...

Few days back one of my friends Vashist (from office) asked me that how much I know about cricket. I simply replied that cricket is in blood of Indians. Let me tell you that in Mauritius Football is the main sport and for last 1 /2 years they are trying to promote cricket there and have made some teams for this. After 3 /4 of our talks he gave me a proposal to go live on Mauritius Radio and participate in a program based on sports. I was shocked for a moment as I never thought to be on Radio even in my dreams and I was out of touch of cricket for long, so denied for this. Next day he called me with his friend Arvind , who is the anchor of the program. After talking to him I had an idea about the program. Still I was a bit nervous so I called him next day to know his expectations from me for this program. My only concern was not to ruin his program. When everything was clear to me, I said yes for this.
On the D-day 18-APR-09 I reached Mauritius Broadcast Center at 6:00 PM and met Arvind. There he told me that this program has some music along with the discussion / talks on sports. He gave me few guidelines that how we would proceed in the program. Now I was not that nervous as I was initially and all set to go for it. Program started at 6:30 PM and he introduced to me first to the listeners and I said “Hello Maurice “to greet the listeners. I was there for almost 45 minutes in the show and we talked about the feelings of Indians associated with cricket and culture of cricket there, about IPL tournament, T-20 cricket and present cricket team. How those 45 minutes passed away , I did not even come to know.
Nitish, Co-Anchor of the show played some of my favorite’s songs and I dedicated “DHEERE DHEERE SE MERI JINDGI MEIN AANA” from movie Ashiqui to my wife… Really it was a strange and pleasant experience for me. Thanks to Vashist and Aravind to give me this chance.

Trip to Mont Choisy...

December 2008 had already said good bye and people were welcoming 2009 and to welcome the New Year our target was Mont Choisy beach. This beach is in the north-west of the capital Port Louis at a drive of about 50-60 minutes by bus. TBS bus service is the one which is running from the second bus terminal of Port Louis, from where you get the buses for north.
Since this beach is quite far from rose hill area so we started early around 8:00 am for the beach. Usually it takes about 50 minutes from our place to reach main bus terminal of Port Luis and then 15 minutes walk to reach the bus terminal for north. Soon we got the bus for the beach. The journey was a bit longer than the expectations and had to ask for the stop 3 /4 times from the conductor.
Here I would like to tell you something… In Mauritius, buses there is a button on each seat which is connected to a bell close to driver. Whenever you want to stop the bus at a bus station just press the button… is it not good? Definitely yes… Second good thing, people waiting down to board the bus will not enter in to the bus till all the people getting down the bus are done… People here are quite helpful in terms of tell you the way and all.

Around 10:15am we reached the beach. As we heard, we found the same, it was fully crowded. This beach is famous for water sport. You can easily see people here having sun bath sitting on a big boat in sea, doing water ski and other water sports. Here water is quite clear to see deep and sand is also white. To resist the sun you have got quite a few trees here and public utilities are also near by. Approach to the snack is quite easy and you can find people sailing such stuff here and there and on permanent shops also.
We spent some 3 /4 hours and had fun in water… Since we don’t know swimming we did not try any adventure J… This time we were there with all preparation done had our brunch there on the sea side itself. It was a first experience of this kind. Since Port Louis closes early so we left from the beach early while we wanted to enjoy there more L… When we reached home it was already 5:30 pm… it was time to have a bath and early dinner… This was a nice day spent on the beach…
Some Facts:
Sand - white, coral based. Medium to fine grain. Some debris.
Facilities - near by.
Shade - mature trees.
Sports - snorkeling, swimming.
Notes - gets crowded on the weekends

X-Mas in Mauritius...

Market and roads were full busy these days... Though decoration was not much or I can say at least in area of rose hill but all the super markets were full of people and were running with lots f saving schemes… And it was quite obvious as X-Mas was approaching. In Mauritius there are about 30% of christen of population. By the way in Mauritius there is a bulk of people who celebrate all the festivals with equal dedication and enjoy them. This is really a good feeling of respecting all religions. Even I heard that X-Mas will be celebrated at a great level.
X-Mas arrived and as I had decided earlier I went to the church in morning after my bath. We have a church “Saint Patrick” nearby so I went there. I was a bit surprised when I reached there… Though it was fully crowded as expected but there was no decoration at or at least at the main entrance and outside. Anyways I spent some 10-15 minutes there and offered my prayers in my own style. Being a Hindu I don’t know their patterns and more over a prayer is a prayer no matter, in which style it is offered.

In after noon around 3:00pm we went outside to have a look of market and some other church. We were outside for about 2 hours and visited few other churches also… As long as we visited we were more surprised. We did not find any special / more decoration on any of the churches. Don’t know why? But it was not expected at all… On top of this all the main markets were closed… very Strange L…
We returned home in some time and started thinking about the new year… It was also heard that new year is also celebrated on a great scale… it was just a week left and all the secretes were about to revel.
I forgot to mention that we went for a lunch from office to a Chinese restaurant. There I could see some decoration which has been shown is the photo attached.

Trip to Flic-en-Flac...

I had the accommodation in guest house just for a week and had to look for a new house during this time. Luckily I got a house on rest soon which was best suitable for us and we shifted there on the first Saturday itself. This house was in Rose Hill area of Mauritius and was not far from office also. Initial 2 /3 days we spent in getting settle in the house and arranging all the required stuff for our kitchen and all. So the first week and weekend spent in getting settle.
Now the next weekend was there and we planned to head out somewhere. Our land lord advised us to go to Flic-en-Flac beach since it was the nearest beach from our location. So we headed towards this beach only.
Flic-en-Flac (it’s meaning in Dutch is Free and Flat land) beach is in west of the Mauritius and not so far from the capital Port Louis. So we took the bus from nearest bus station of Qutre Bornes for the beach. It took some 45 minutes to reach the beach. Surprising, is it not? 45 minutes by bus for closest beach in a small country… Actual in Mauritius usually roads are not broad and cuts and turns are usually sharp, so traffic moves a bit slow with in speed limits.
When we reached there we were amazed by the beauty of beach. We have seen the beach earlier also but this was the first one with blue colored water… Water was also quite clean and clear. Really people don’t praise the beach of the Mauritius like that only; the beaches deserve to be praised. It was fully crowded as it was a weekend and people were enjoying in their own ways. Few were swimming and diving in to it, few were playing in sand, and dirking and few were playing music and doing “Sega” (Mauritian dance and music). We went to the beach without any preparation so we did not spend much time there. But even in that short time we enjoyed at it most.
Some facts about the beach:
Sand - white, coral based, clean
Facilities - full
Shade - Umbrellas, some palms
Sports - Available along the beach. Great for snorkel along the fringes (not in the sand), and diving in the lagoon. Calm surf makes this an excellent swimming beach.
Notes - Can get crowded at holiday peak season.

First Day in Mauritius...

In a 45 minutes drive from Airport we reached to the guest house in “Qutre Bornes”, where the owner Mr. Vodamuttu welcomed us. During this welcome session he told us a little about life style in Mauritius and also about the high cost of living here. I felt he was trying to justify that because of cost of living his guest house is expensive … Any ways it was Monday and I had to report to the office for sure so I asked the Taxi to come back after 2 hours so that I can get ready and report to the office. By lunch time I was in office and met “Gouri”, she was the one who arranged for the taxi and guest house. She was an Indian married to a Mauritian man. After some time “Jack” also came back from lunch. He was the one whom I was supposed to take charge from. After a normal introduction and little chat we started our work and finally at the end of the day I met “Jimut –the DC head”… I returned back to the guest house by 5:30pm and came out with wife just to have a walk there. We were a little surprised when we found almost ever thing was closed by 6:30pm… it was the same as we heard about Mauritius. We were not used to of this environment at all, so felt a bit odd… Any ways we were too tired of the journey so had an early dinner and slept.
I would like to say that the food at the guest house was really good… The wife of the owner used to cook herself. I never expected to have such a food good on the first day itself. The day went like this and I was looking for coming days …

Journey to Mauritius...

We had our flight from Bangalore International Airport at 6:30pm. We reached the airport by 4:00pm and started waiting to board the flight after completing all the formalities at the air port. It was a flight of Emirates Airlines and started from Bangalore on time.
Since it was a stopover flight, first we reach to Dubai. It reached Dubai at 9:00pm (Local time). Our second flight was at 2:30 am. It was a long time to wait and the airport was big enough to spend this time easily. We had a plan to reach our terminal first and then to have a visit of the Dubai airport.
Dubai airport… God it’s too big and very beautiful. Even a smallest thing here reflects the beauty of the airport and is a part of its beauty. The market inside is known as Duty Free and if full of lights and other gadgets. Duty Free is full of the shops for jewelry, cosmetics, electronics, glass items, watches, tobacco and other fancy items. No doubt shopping here would be a really great experience, may be we’ll have this on the way to home …
Now it was the time for the second flight and after the formalities we were in the plane. We were quite tired of the whole day journey so we slept in the flight after some time. When we awaked up it was morning and we were flying in the sky of Mauritius. When we saw outside we could see small island with a blue see all around and was looking very beautiful. Really it is well said that Mauritius has got a very beautiful skyline. It is really a good experience to see Mauritius from sky and I am sure you’ll find it more beauty full from sky…
Forgot to mention that in this flight when Air Hostess was serving dinner they asked many passengers that if they were Mr. & Mrs. Sharma. We were sitting a bit back side when she came close to us, I smiled and she could understand we were the one she was looking for. Actually on that flight only this couple was vegetarian and she had to struggle to search us and told that was the only veg food available in that flight.
It was 10:00 am when we landed and came out in some 30 minutes after completing all the formalities at airport. A taxi was already waiting for us and we started for our guest house. We were enjoying the natural beauty of Mauritius on the way to the guest house.
A long journey was waiting for us as we had to stay here for a year. Hope this will be a good experience …

Those Last days of Mysore...

I ware quite happy, when the talks for an onsite trip to Mauritius started for the first time in August 2008. Reason was obvious that there were very less chance for me to go for an onsite, since in my profile onsite is very limited… Anyways I started collecting information about Mauritius from internet and other people who had been there before and showed my green signal for the trip. There was no update on this for long and I had no other option just to sit quite and wait… how long, nobody knew? But I was told by one of my friends to be ready as if I’ll get the chance it will be informed at last moment, so basic preparation was done from my side.
It was the last week of October 2008 when I got the confirmation to go. It was now high time to pack our bag and baggage and we started doing this at a good speed… The kind of speed and sharpness my wife showed in the packing…wow it was mind blowing… Any how we managed to set out stuff here and there and got ready for the departure.
9 November 2008, was the D day when we had to leave for Mauritius. Our neighbor, Lobo Aunty prepared a nice breakfast for us for that day. We met our close friends (Abhijeet, Vaibhav, Abhishek, Liza and Madhu) for last time and received their good wishes and started our journey… Everybody at home was aware of the trip, but time was too short to meet them… I was a bit sad for this but could not so anything for this… Since this was one of the great opportunities I could not afford to miss it and I was happy because of this...