Monday, August 11, 2008

Are you a skeptic?

You Are 54% Skeptic

You aren't exactly a skeptic, but you're no blind believer.

You doubt what you hear, especially when you hear it for the first time.

When it comes to doing your own research, you sometimes fall short.

Question your beliefs a little more. You might be surprised what you find out!

This is a good test biggrin

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.

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