OUR LIFE IN MAURITIUS: BY ESHA MOOKERJEE-DUTTA
It all began when we were contemplating a move to Mauritius almost two decades ago. J had just accepted a job offer in the turquoise island, and each time I’d mention the name Mauritius, our friends and family would stare with their big round eyes and exclaim, “Really? Oh wow! You’re going to live in paradise!” So, though I knew they were right in some ways, a part of me would nudge me to question if we were doing the right thing at the time.
After all, I was just beginning to settle in professionally as a trainer and rather keen to complete my management education that had been on my mind. Though the prospect of moving to a beautiful island seemed very attractive, I was worried this was going to affect my future professional life. Doubts assailed and I drowned in misery over the coming weeks, as I tried to straddle the personal and the professional realms, whilst weighing my options. At the end of those six weeks, I gave in, to the insistence of the adman’s words that if this didn’t work for us both, we’d return. On this premise, we launched ourselves on a new adventure. The promise of a life we yearned for. The promise of happiness.
And, thus, in the fall of the late 90’s, on a wet and windy afternoon, we arrived at the Sir Seewoosagar Ramgoolam International Airport in Mauritius right in the middle of a raging anticyclone, that was tearing through the island at the time. As we made our way towards the city of Moka, my mind deliberated upon all sorts of things. I wondered what life would be like and if it would make us happy. The depressing weather played havoc with my thoughts. But, thankfully, the rains didn’t last long. The sky cleared up and so did my mood.
As we drove through the bustling streets and entered a country road, with old colonial mansions on one side, I was bowled over by the luxurious green that gave the place a picture postcard look. As the car swerved down the road, we entered a portly 18th-century mansion where J’s new office was located. No sooner had we stepped in, we were greeted by a bunch of smiling people. Warm, genial and friendly. It was a lovely feeling in a new country, when you land up amidst strangers for the very first time. I instinctively knew we’d love this new place.
That afternoon marked the beginning of our discovery of the people, places and life, in the beautiful paradise island— a journey that was to leave a lasting impact on our minds for years to come.
During our stay in the Mauritius, we discovered many interesting things. Its’ multi-racial people, its’ rich mix of culture, its’ wonderfully varied palette of food, its’ marvellous white-sand beaches, its’ grand architectural structures, its’ sights and sounds as we drove along the length and breath of the island. We learned to appreciate the laid-back pace of life, the easy-going friendly people, their warmth and joviality, as we began to get attuned to a new way of living—Working through the week and relaxing over the weekend.
Over the months that followed, I learned to set up home. In the weekdays, I’d take the bus to Port Louis to attend French classes at Alliance Francaise, or check out local markets in and around Rose Hill and Quatre Bornes. At home, I was slowly transitioning from a novice cook to a confident one, juggling chores, trying my hand at freelance copywriting projects and spending time reading at the British Library, that was just a stone’s throw from where we lived. The weekends were spent with friends chilling out by the beach with a favourite book or going on long drives and discovering the lesser known places around the island. Life was predictable but happy and two years passed by, as if in a dream.
But, one fine day, I realised somewhere deep within, there was an inexplicable sense of disillusionment. Something was amiss. It was around this time that I started keeping a journal to record my thoughts. That helped me connect to my inner self. I could sense that I was beginning to exhaust my reserves of patience, playing the perfect wife, exploring a new culture, learning a new language and, of course, no longer looking forward to the weekend by the beach. A revelation happened one day. I was slowly beginning to ‘discover’ the writer in me. Then, came the question—What next? Something nudged me to look beyond. As the spouse of a Work Permit holder, I did not have any opportunity to take up paid employment, or update myself professionally and grow. We’ve had our fair share of good times. Perhaps, time had come for us to decide on our next course of action.
Now, when I look back, I can say that Mauritius was in our destiny. But, it all happened in a quick succession of events, that we barely realised, how we were caught up in an unstoppable chain of events, one that would eventually take us down the road to unlearn and adapt, evolve and grow, stretching our minds, far and wide. Life in the paradise island gave us many beautiful moments in life to cherish. But, life is more than a sum-total of happy times. In many ways, J and I yearned for new learning, for growth and for travel.
After some deliberation, we decided to move again. This time, the shores of England beckoned us. But, although the move got us out of Mauritius, we could never get Mauritius out of our hearts. We left one island for another one, but with beautiful memories to treasure.
And, so, it has remained, till this day. Even after two decades, I still feel I’ve left behind a part of myself on that beautiful island, and I long to revisit our favourite haunts, and relive the past one more time! The flat where we had set our first home still comes to me in my dreams, as does the balcony from where I would watch the setting sun. I sometimes wonder what happened to the family next door or the Japanese couple who lived on the floor above us. Memories of my beautiful Elm tree leaves my eyes a little moist. And, somewhere, in my minds’ eye, I can see a determined young woman looking out of the window, yearning to live out her dreams. What happened to her? Did she live her dream? Did she find herself? And what about happiness?
Someday, I hope to find the answers!
A Bangalore-based Management Consultant/Trainer by profession who loves to travel, Esha is also a dreamer, skywatcher and curator of memories. She loves nature, and you can often find her taking random captures on the go, when she’s not cooking up a storm in the kitchen. She also writes. She blogs at Blogs by Esha. She also holds a link part called Wordless Wednesday.
This guest post has been written as part of my First Blogiversay celebrations that started on 1st December, 2017. The posts will be on my three favourite genres; Fiction, Musings and Travel.
Check Varad’s Friday Fiction Matter of Tooth. Today we have Esha’s Monday Musing. I wrap up my blogiversary celebrations with a Wanderlust Wednesday post (6th December -on the day of my Blog’s Anniversary) written by an avid travel blogger. Watch out for this space in the days to come.