10 Things every Mauritian does!
Today is the 12th of March, the day Mauritians celebrate their country’s Independence Day! Happy Independence Day to all my fellow Mauritians back home and around the world. Here’s a list to identify yourselves as true Mauritians, wherever you may be 😀
1. You sit with your aunties and grandmas for a special gossip time.
You might not even be interested in the topic or have a complete different opinion but, for some reason, this has turned into a form of entertainment for you. You quickly make your way to the kitchen (where all the gossip are born!) and hang around. You pick at the food that is already prepared for dinner which is an hour away. You break the end of the baguette because you know nobody will actually eat that so you are basically preventing waste and, in a small dish, add a small spoon of all the curries and sauces made. You enjoy this pre-dinner treat while listening to your grandma tell your mom and Aunty about what the neighbour’s niece did last week. To encourage the ridicule of the situation you go: “Nani, to koner ki soz inn fer?!” (translation: Grandma, do you know what that guy did?!”) and bam! You just create 2 more hours of gossip, well done!
2. You consider anything a good topping for Mine Apollo!
Every Mauritian has been here. Maybe you were busy, maybe you were tired, maybe there were leftovers in the fridge from the night before, maybe it was the weekend! Whatever the reason might be, you find yourself suddenly seeing the popular Mauritian instant noodles, Mine Apollo, as a delicious lunch idea. To make this dish “healthier” you find yourself adding anything to your noodles and, incredibly, it all tastes delightful! Cari, la daube, dizef, zassar, dall, gros poids, poisson sale (translation: curry, stew, egg, pickle, dholl, beans, salted fish) the list goes on!
3. Your parents are overly concerned about what others will think any time you make an unconventional decision.
Any decisions you make as a young Mauritian suddenly becomes more of a family decision than a personal one. You find yourself thinking about how your actions are going to affect you mom, dad, brother, grandmother and possibly your distant cousin. It seems that the you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders and have a duty to do exactly what is expected of you. Making a decision that may seem unconventional or not part of the culture or tradition is taboo and risks having you become a big disappointment for your loved ones. Your parents seem to believe that everybody cares about your school results, where you work and who you marry: “Ki kaliter zenfan to eter, to pe gate nou reputation!” (translation: “what kind of child are you, you are tarnishing our reputation!”)
4. You celebrate Chinese New Year, Eid, Divali, and Christmas with the same joy!
I never realised the value of this one until I started traveling and meeting foreigners! People are surprised that you have such good knowledge of different religions, cultures, languages and traditions. You can explain what Eid, Divali and Christmas is in detail and you are proud of it! You have great awareness and tolerance for every culture and can easily adapt to different people for this very reason!
5. You have friends from different colours and religions.
Coupled with number 4 above, you find it very normal to have friends of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. You all speak creole and learn about the similarities and differences between your families and call your friends’ parents Uncle and Aunty. Your friends from abroad cannot comprehend how you have such a diverse group of friends and you cannot understand why they find this so surprising!
6. You make subtle racist jokes with your friends in school.
In a growing global culture of political correctness you often find yourself in awkward situations with foreigners with your somewhat racist comments and jokes. Naturally, in Mauritius this would have been well accepted and even applauded! You know how to make a racist joke out of almost every situation with your school friends ( “ey ki kaliter malbar to eter!” – translates to: hey what kind of malbar you are!) and feel uncomfortable the day you step into your university in a foreign country having to bite your tongue every time you have (or think you have) a great pun!
7. You are proud of your high school uniform way more than what university you have been to.
For some reason, people, including employers, do not really care about where you studied your degree as much as they want to know which high school you went to (“li sorti RCC sa!” – translates to: “he went to RCC”). You find yourself feeling very proud of your high school and, whenever you pass your school, remember the great times you spent there. You get excited when you meet young people who went to the same high school and ask whether your English Teacher is still working there!
8. You get excited about gato sale (savoury cakes) with dite so (hot tea) when you visit family and friends during tea time!
Visiting friends or relatives will always involve food and drinks! It does not matter if you warned the person or not that you would be there, the fryer turns on, hot water is bubbling in the kettle and the spicy chutney is coming out of the fridge. You find yourself drooling over the aroma of hot crispy savoury cakes that will soon find their way to your belly. You nearly forget the reason you came in the first place!
9. Your parents or the people around you encourage you to move abroad because Mauritius will just never change for the better.
Unfortunately, from a young age, you are encouraged to think that the grass is greener on the other side. You grow up thinking that eventually you will move to the UK, Canada or Australia. You already have half of your extended family living abroad and you romanticize about a life away from home. When you are a teenager or young adult, full of hopes and dreams, you challenge Mauritian broken ideologies and vow to bring positive change to country only to find yourself laughed at or told that it is pointless.
10. You complain about how flawed Mauritius is and how things should change but still are proud to be part of such a diverse culture!
You complain about everything that is wrong in your country but you find pride in being Mauritian. You realise that, although many scholars around the world cannot comprehend how we did it, Mauritius is a strong growing economy with resilient workers and a tolerant culture. You enjoy telling foreigners about the famous quote by Mark Twain: “Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius”
Happy Independence Day!