Saturday, August 02, 2008

51 Interesting things about Mauritius

Mauritius - Waves at Gris Gris

  1. It is a very small country. The entire country is only about 75 x 50 kms - probably twice the size of Chennai!
  2. There is no concept of area codes for the country. Country code 230 + a seven digit phone number including all land lines and mobiles!
  3. If you haven't already heard, the island is incredibly beautiful!
  4. Tourism and Sugarcane (sugar) production are primary revenue centers for the country
  5. Without tourism, the country will be finished (this was said by a Mauritian)!
  6. On an average 1.2 million tourists visit the country. The plan is to increase it to 2 million
  7. Sugar is exported mainly to Europe
  8. Mauritius has 52% people of Indian origin!
  9. Only here, you will see Indian looking people (100%) who do not know Hindi or any other Indian language (exceptions there of course)
  10. Mauritius - Tortoise chewing grass
  11. It is very easy to survive here with English. 90% of the people speak this language
  12. However, to truly interact with people, you need to know Creole. It is a mix of French and African
  13. Looking at you, as an Indian, no one can make out if you are Mauritian or not! But the fact that you do not speak Creole is a dead giveaway!
  14. There is a "special price" for tourists. Exploitation is unavoidable as you don't speak Creole!
  15. Mauritius imports most of its food - rice, lentils, vegetables and so on.
  16. As a result, food is incredibly and unbelievably expensive. The first few days, the temptation is to go on a fast!
  17. You easily get north Indian food. No south Indian!
  18. Deliciously, no were else will you see such a cultural mix. African, Indian (Mauritian), European people who all have forgotten their original roots and have made a conglomerate culture!
  19. 1 MUR = 1.6 INR approx. 1 USD = 25 MUR approx. 1 EUR = 40 MUR approx. As you can see, the currency is quite strong! Despite this, the prices are incredibly high because of its unique disposition of importing everything.
  20. Taxi is annoyingly expensive (did you hear expensive before? biggrin). On an average it costs a minimum of 1000 MUR to travel anywhere.
  21. Mauritius - duck in middle of ripples
  22. Mauritius is becoming strong in BPO work. Infosys has a development center here in Cyber Towers, Reduit. We weren't able to visit it despite moving very close by once.
  23. Dholl puri is an Indian food not available in India! Puri made with dhal inside one of the layers!
  24. The country is surrounded by water (duh! rolleyes). What is unique is that almost the entire coastal area is taken up by resorts because of tourism. It is flanked with resorts and helipads.
  25. Indian names are all Indian despite the fact that the language is forgotten. This is also true for street names (Mayavaram street, Satish, Dhiraj etc).
  26. It is quite common to find Indian temples. We were able to see Mariamman temples, Muruga temples and Shiva temples during our travels.
  27. There is a massive Shiva statue in the middle of the country. Almost the likes of what you see in Haridwar in the midst of Ganges.
  28. The people here are not lazy, but they have a supremely relaxed life. They work from 9AM to 4PM. No 24 hour shops! This culture is evident all through the country. Contrast this with New York which is of similar size, similarly expensive life style and is an island city.
  29. Capital is Port Louis. It also houses the country's harbor.
  30. There is only one airport for the country. SSR airport at Plaisance.
  31. Either because of tourism or because of a deep eco-consciousness, the waste water from daily use is not dumped into the sea! A news that made be really glad. You can see that from the sea water. Wherever you go, it is crystal clear! So sweet. It made me really sad to contrast this with India where we take the easy way out to send everything to the oceans. A lady from India mentioned that Goa has the same potential to be like Mauritius if not for the dirty ocean water! I haven't been to Goa.
  32. Mauritius - Harbor
  33. 90% of the wealth is owned by 1% of the population (surprise!). Primarly, the people who are owners of the resorts. Historically, as the country formed, people who were staying there became propreiters of the land - invariably Eurpoeans.
  34. There are movie theaters that screen Hindi movies.
  35. Sea apart, there is green, green, green every where! It is a pleasure just to travel on the roads. Invariably, you are surrounded by trees and have the sea in view!
  36. Some unique things that you can probably do only here - Undersea walking, Submarine rides, Subscooter rides and Quadbiking in the forest!
  37. Dodo is the national bird of Mauritius. It was extinct by the latter half of the 1800's. The bird had a lot of meat and could not fly. No prizes for guessing why it became extinct. But it is another sad story of human apathy.
  38. Deer farming is done in Mauritius. During season, the same deer is hunted for skin and meat.
  39. Deer meat, Octopus curry - some dishes you probably won't see elsewhere.
  40. With sugarcane aplenty, Rum is very popular.
  41. The country's population is only 1.2 mil. As I understand it is decreasing and is carefully controlled. This of course, excludes the tourist population, which effectively increases it by 1 mil or so.
  42. Owing to its size, land is very expensive. 500K MUR for 100 sq mts of land (900 sqft approx)
  43. Mauritius - Giant waves on rocks
  44. It is not uncommon to destroy a sugarcane farm to make for land. I hope the country doesn't fall into the trap of losing its beauty to make up for growth.
  45. There are about 2 security guards at the PM's house! The PM is a Hindu (Indian origin)
  46. PM's office is at Port Louis. Same with the parliament (assembly).
  47. As it is the capital, Port Louis will be bustling with activity. This is one place where you will see a different Mauritius - traffic jams, lot of people, big malls and so on. You get an idea of how the rest of the country is!
  48. For tourists, Visa to the country is free on arrival. No prior visa is required.
  49. It is a honey moon country! If you go as a couple, a visa is provided no questions asked, albeit for a limited time!
  50. Petrol is very expensive. 49.50 MUR per litre (79.2 INR per litre or USD 7.48 per gallon). Contrast this with the corresponding countries.
  51. Two wheelers are quite common and convenient. Helmets are compulsory for all passengers in a two wheeler. Police mostly use bikes only
  52. Drive left side of the road
  53. I understand Mauritius politics is riddled with the same nonsense India faces.
  54. No trains! Contrast this with New York! To me it looks like they have missed out on a great opportunity. May it is still not too late.
  55. Two primary cellular network providers - Emtel and Cellplus. Cellplus has been acquired by Orange now
Some pictures from our trip!


Note: The images in this post are licensed with creative commons.
The copyright for these images belong to deepakkt. Click on the respective images to view them on deepakkt's website.

4 comments:

Radha said...

Few more to add:
1) The Island was discovered by the dutch people approx 600 years ago. They landed there as their ship needed a repair. It took two years for the portuguese to get the ship ready. This is when they depended on 'Dodo' for their food. It became extinct within their two year stay. The bird looks really cute and there is Dodos' pictures and dolls everywhere for sale.

To counter the loss of DoDo, the portuguese(or the dutch?) were said to introduce deers in Mauritius.
2)After the Portugese, The Dutch, The french and the English invaded the country one after the other. The country became independent in 1968.
3)This piece of land is said to have formed from a volcanic explosion from under the sea.
4) Nature also has gifted the country with the formation of coral reefs almost all along the coastal sea. This acts as a safeguard against tsunamis for the country. Most resorts are built so close to the sea.
5) Due to the formation of coral reefs, the waves that are very forceful a few metres away become very soft in the coast. The forceful waves hit the coral reefs(under the sea) and the water splashes with vigor a few meters before the coast. A new set of soft waves reach the shore. This is a splendid sight to see.
6) "Gris Gris" (to be pronounced as 'gri gri') is a place that must be seen. Because of the elevated land, a larger view of the sea is available here. The sea is very rough here and there are a few rocks near the shore. I need not explain why it is beautiful!!
7) Most mauritian women of Indian origin wear a Bindi and the kumkum in their forehead to indicate their married status. Names like Priya, Anusha, Dewayani and rajaveni were very much common.
8) Indians were brought to mauritius by the British as slaves to work in the sugarcane fields, factories and other kinds of work. One of the mauritian of Indian origin said his forefathers were ill treated and poorly fed by the British.
9) They are in a fairly good position now with many of them in govt jobs, a very few owning hotels or sugarcane factories. Still the Europians (1%) own 99% of the countries' money.
10) Africans were brought to Mauritius even before the Indians arrived.
11) Currently, most africans are fishermen. Some do work in sugarcane factories while a very few have elevated status of life.
12) Given a choice, the mauritians of Indian origin would not like to come back to India. Though they are very much following the indian culture and the religion, they are aware of the congestion and pollution in India :) or :(?
13) Tamil, Hindi and Urdu are optional languages in the schools. So most people of Indian origin and are Hindus choose Hindi. Some of them speak a broken Hindi while a few are good enough. It was so strange to hear the africans(boatmen) speak a few words of Hindi :)

Thanks to our drivers Dhiraj and Sathish for providing most of the information.

Sands Resort Hotel Mauritius said...

wow!very informative..Mauritius is just so amazing!

Radha said...

Few more to add:
1) The Island was discovered by the dutch people approx 600 years ago. They landed there as their ship needed a repair. It took two years for the portuguese to get the ship ready. This is when they depended on 'Dodo' for their food. It became extinct within their two year stay. The bird looks really cute and there is Dodos' pictures and dolls everywhere for sale.

To counter the loss of DoDo, the portuguese(or the dutch?) were said to introduce deers in Mauritius.
2)After the Portugese, The Dutch, The french and the English invaded the country one after the other. The country became independent in 1968.
3)This piece of land is said to have formed from a volcanic explosion from under the sea.
4) Nature also has gifted the country with the formation of coral reefs almost all along the coastal sea. This acts as a safeguard against tsunamis for the country. Most resorts are built so close to the sea.
5) Due to the formation of coral reefs, the waves that are very forceful a few metres away become very soft in the coast. The forceful waves hit the coral reefs(under the sea) and the water splashes with vigor a few meters before the coast. A new set of soft waves reach the shore. This is a splendid sight to see.
6) "Gris Gris" (to be pronounced as 'gri gri') is a place that must be seen. Because of the elevated land, a larger view of the sea is available here. The sea is very rough here and there are a few rocks near the shore. I need not explain why it is beautiful!!
7) Most mauritian women of Indian origin wear a Bindi and the kumkum in their forehead to indicate their married status. Names like Priya, Anusha, Dewayani and rajaveni were very much common.
8) Indians were brought to mauritius by the British as slaves to work in the sugarcane fields, factories and other kinds of work. One of the mauritian of Indian origin said his forefathers were ill treated and poorly fed by the British.
9) They are in a fairly good position now with many of them in govt jobs, a very few owning hotels or sugarcane factories. Still the Europians (1%) own 99% of the countries' money.
10) Africans were brought to Mauritius even before the Indians arrived.
11) Currently, most africans are fishermen. Some do work in sugarcane factories while a very few have elevated status of life.
12) Given a choice, the mauritians of Indian origin would not like to come back to India. Though they are very much following the indian culture and the religion, they are aware of the congestion and pollution in India :) or :(?
13) Tamil, Hindi and Urdu are optional languages in the schools. So most people of Indian origin and are Hindus choose Hindi. Some of them speak a broken Hindi while a few are good enough. It was so strange to hear the africans(boatmen) speak a few words of Hindi :)

Thanks to our drivers Dhiraj and Sathish for providing most of the information.

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