Monday, March 09, 2009

A trip to the land of the blues - II

Trip to Mauritius: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

We exited the airport and got into our vehicle – a van that was supposed to mass transport many others along with us to our respective hotels. For a moment I overheard the driver say something to a group of drivers standing outside, and I had to really control my laughter with colossal efforts. I am quoting the driver verbatim here: “Aaiii gayyeee Yaaai gaaai yaaai aaai” (please ignore spelling errors, if any). It sounded like he was trying to say some word unsuccessfully and was starting all over each time. For hundred times. I immediately thought I should write to Russell Peters asking him to come over here and try picking this language up.

And then I decided, maybe not.

Cos he will again start picking up on Indians.

Cos this place is overloaded with Indians. Not just people, even our symbols like the LIC, Indian Oil and State Bank of India have sneaked into this tiny little son-of-an-island!

Firstly the airport itself is called ‘Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Airport’. (The first time I read the name, It took a while for me to realize that it’s Indian. These Mauritians love to make our names less recognizable!). This was something I had experienced once even before the trip. The moment we decided that Mauritius was where we would go to, I immediately launched myself into extensive secondary data research (checked Wikipedia). It was then that I got to know that Sir Anerood Jugnauth is the President and Navin Ramgoolam, the PM of this country. That being my first encounter with Indian-names-twisted-with-glee-by-Mauritians (and I didn’t know it then), it took me half a dozen attempts to read out the names properly, and once I had accomplished that I felt like a fool – it was all as Indian as I am! And I took so much time! (I hope you did too, now).

Ok then, so the point is that Indian names are pretty common here. And I spotted things like temples (with proper South Indian styled gopurams), cars that dot the Indian landscape (All Maruti / Hyundai models, exactly as they are in India. Just that Santro is called ‘Atos’. Small island na.. they had to take measures to handle the space constraints). And then saw posters of ‘Ghajini’ and ‘Rab ne bana di jodi’ stuck everywhere.

A bus stop

In all, I guess Mauritius is actually an Indian island that has just abused its license to continental drift.

Anyway, we reached our Hotel (Hotel Legends, Grand Gaube) in about an hour and a half (in which time we had REALLY travelled the entire length of the country. Mother promise). The drive was sooooo scenic on either side that I stopped clicking pics after a while. Had gotten used to being in paradise soon :)

The drive reminded me of umpteen WinXP wallpapers

The reception was very cordial, and the ambience, very elegant. The attendants spoke and smiled with so much warmth, I almost asked them “Have we met before?”. They gave us our welcome drinks and asked us to be seated while they got our chef for us.

Pretty soon he turned up. “Hi. I am your chef and will be managing your menu during your stay here. My name is Ruben. And I have another name.”

Reminded me of “En paeru Manikkam.. enakku innoru paerum irukku”.

I probed him to say that name and he said “You won’t understand, it’s too long.” I said I didn’t mind cos I was anyway on holiday and could spend a few minutes hearing him say his name out.

Ruben sounded pretty Christian, and so I expected something along the lines of Francis Xavier Don Bosco Michael Patrick Santhome Bede. But he said “Gopalakrishnan Muthuswamy”.

That was a stunner. And I really thought he was kidding; maybe he knew we were from South India and maybe he wanted to flaunt his knowledge of India(n names). I exclaimed “You must be kidding”.

He smiled and handed his card over.

And I was right. His name wasn’t Gopalakrishnan Muthuswamy.

It was Gopalakrishnan Moothooswamy.

Muthusamy Karuppiah, anyone?

As I felt later, one astounding thing at Mauritius is that the Indians there have maintained our culture, our naming customs, and our worshipping rituals. But strangely, they do not seem to be very convenient with the language. At least the Tamilians there. While the Northies did speak some form of Hindi or Bhojpuri, the Tams there were not too conversant in their language. I found that kinda surprising.

Anyway, we were given a message that had arrived from our tour operator which said she would like to meet us at 02.30 PM to discuss our tour details. That gave us just enough time to change and head over to her office.

The room... No bathrooms.. Only glamourooms :)

The backdoor of the room opened towards the ocean

I heaved a sigh of relief as we entered her office at 2.30 sharp – I hate not keeping time (not that I’m good at it. I just hate it, that’s all). Then we found that the plans we had made with SOTC here in India had not been communicated well to them. That was very depressing considering the amount of time we had put into the planning. Anyway, we fought for a while and finalised our sightseeing plans for the oncoming week. It was 4 by then, and we had half an hour before a campus tour that would brief us on the facilities available at the hotel (and more importantly, the ones that were free). That gave us just enough time to pick up some food – we hadn’t lunched at all! We had a couple of pancakes with honey by the pool side at the Grand Blue – the main bar of the hotel. (The way they pronounced the name I would have thought it was spelt Graaa(n) Bleeeu had I not seen the board). It was 4.30 by then and we went over to the reception for the tour and were surprised to find that it was already halfway through. Then we had a small briefing by the guest relations officer, after which we trudged to our room and had a great sleep for a few hours. Very refreshing after 24 hours of tiring moving around.

We woke up at around 9 or 10, and went to the browsing center (consisting of 2 computers) and sent a couple of mails to people back home. Then we went to the main restaurant (Gingko) for dinner.

That was when I got a sneak preview of how difficult food was going to be over the next week. While I understood not a single word on the menu, my taste buds didn’t understand the food itself either. There was a lone saviour on offer – something we could relate to (but not pronounce). When we ordered for a second serving, the bearer looked at us as if we were weird people, and proceeded to serve the dish after a long time. We thought that was a bit rude, but brushed it aside thinking maybe it was impolite to ask for second helpings at Mauritius.

Soon dinner was done. The clear sky drew us into star gazing from the beach lying on our backs in the comfortable furniture. The more we saw into the deep, dark sky, with the silent presence of the Indian Ocean a few feet away from us, the more insignificant we felt in the larger scheme of things.

Pretty soon we headed to our room. And I discovered that toilets there did not have water in any form (except within the commode), not even health faucets.

Now am contemplating having one of the following contests on VT.com:

a) Listing everything one can do with a 1-litter .. 1-litre Aquafina bottle

b) Whether one has ever washed after potty with exactly 1-litre of water

Anyway, the day was pretty much at a close. After setting my alarm for the next day, I dropped on the bed. The missus asked me to set a wakeup call at the reception. It kinda hurt my male ego (and my laziness) to move along and make a call to the reception. I assured her that my phone had a good enough alarm.

And we delved into one more round of deep sleep.

Until my next, it’s Vishwnauth signing off!

10 comments:

Girl of Destiny said...

:-)
that made an enjoyable read!

King Vishy said...

G-o-D.. Thanks a lot! :)
Glad that you read thru the entire stuff.. Not sure how many others did it, considerin the response till now :D

anyway, glad that u are back to being a regular on blogosphere!!

Ananthasubramanian said...

I just wonder how lucky Ananthasubramanian Narayanan is. Just imagine, how tough it would be if he had settled in Mauritius and worked as a chef in one of their premier hotels.

Would have been Some-Ben !! :) :)

BTW, what happened to the alarm? :) :)

phalgun said...

Nice one Vishu......
Somebody has seen the Malaysia Petronas Diwali ad he he he.....
Consider yourself pretty lucky that it is just one week of your time with all the food and the toilets da...
Have fun buddy.

San said...

ha ha ha.... i know what happened next.. u 4got abt the time difference rite?? oops if i go on what more will u rite? and it seems to me u better listen to bhabhi because one look at the both of u anyone wud find out she has more sense.

murali said...

Nice blog da..i have heard in mauritius its hard to find vegetarian dishes on the menu..how did u manage!!

King Vishy said...

@ananth..
LOL.. Yeah.. wonder wat u would have called yourself there..
And wait patiently for the story to unfurl da :)

@phalgun..
Ha ha.. true.. One week was enough time to enjoy..

@murali..
very true da!! it was quite difficult.. tat too forms part of the remaining story :)

@san..
am not approving your comment for now.. It's an outright spoiler :)

Srinath said...

Did I think you were good??!
You're a Rembrandt :) !!!

King Vishy said...

@srinath..
Machi enakku Rembrandt pathi onnum theriyadhu.. Just know that he wasn't a writer :D So unable to understand the context of this comment..
But i choose to take this as a compliment.. thanks a lot!!!

Srinath said...

I meant to say you have painted out the travelogue :)