Friday, December 29, 2006

It's in you to give....

As we approach the New Year's eve w/end, I have heard a lot about the NOT-drinking-and-driving campaign here in MU. This week after Christmas, the news have been about how the police force stopped vehicles on Christmas eve for alcohol tests and how many drunk drivers were tested.

We all know that we shouldn't drink and drive, yet some drivers still do it because they either think they are above the law or because they think their tolerance for alcohol is better than most people. What these drivers do not realize is that by driving under the influence of alcohol, they not only put themselves in danger, but they put the lives of other people in danger too. Most often than not, in road accidents involving drunk drivers, the innocent are more hurt than the drunk driver himself. The Don't-Drink-And-Drive campaigns usually try to remind people of those risks come the holiday season.

That said, the Canadian Blood Services (CBS) usually have a massive campaign to make people donate blood during the holidays. Here in MU, I haven't heard that much about giving blood although I am sure the need for blood is even more critical during this period. The blood banks in MU already run low most of the time, so it is only normal that during the holiday period, with people getting busier at home and with parties, fewer donors have the time to go to a blood collection point and unfortunately more accidents occur during this period meaning more people needing blood.

Since the blood collected can only be used within 35 days, every healthy person who can donate blood should be encouraged to do so to relieve the need for blood nation-wide. Blood to spare is something most people have... yet, there is still not enough to go around. It is something money can't buy, only something one person can give to another. In fact, one blood donation may help save up to three lives.

As the CBS campaigns usually say: "It's in you to give. Give the gift of life, donate blood."

If nothing else, that could be your good deed for the coming year.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Goodbye 2006, hello 2007!

As 2006 is coming to a close, this is the time to reflect on the year just gone by and for some of us, to make new year's resolutions.

Looking back over the events in 2006, it seems that this year has seen its quota of natural disasters, political scandals, unfortunate killings and accidents and sporting events. Personally, the year has been way more peaceful than in the world, the highlights being getting a new job then changing companies, a trip to Birmingham, and making loads and loads of new friends.

With only a few days left in 2006 though, let's not linger over the past, and let's look forward to the new blank page ahead. I am sure that the question that will pop up sooner or later would be about my new year's resolution.

What's a new year resolution you say? Check out the answer on wikipedia:
A New Year's resolution is a commitment that an individual makes to a project or a habit, often a lifestyle change that is generally interpreted as advantageous. The name comes from the fact that these commitments normally go into effect on New Year's Day and remain until the set goal has been achieved, although many resolutions go unachieved and are often broken fairly shortly after they are set.
According to a few surveys online, the most popular new year's resolutions are:
- Spend more time with family and friends.
- Get fit/ lose weight.
- Quit smoking.
- Enjoy life more.
- Quit drinking.
- Get out of debt/ save money.
- Learn something new.
- Help others/ volunteer.
- Get organized.
- Get a better job/education.
- Eat right.
- Reduce stress/take a trip in the year.

I, by experience, know that my new year's resolutions do not hold all the way because I tend to forget them after 1 week. Yes, we are all getting older, some of us a little bit wiser, some a little bit balder, some a little bit fatter. The bottom line remains that we don't need a new year to come by to realize that we need to take action, either it is to lose weight, eat right, quit smoking or decide to take a trip. However, some of us do like to have a set date to start something even though the goal might not be reached anytime soon.

Having said all that, I have decided that my 2007 resolution would be NOT to have a resolution.

What's your new year's resolution for 2007?

The countdown has started...only 3 days left.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fireworks, firecrackers, etc.

It is the custom in MU to set off fireworks or firecrackers for celebrations like Christmas, New Year's, Divali, Chinese New Year.....bah, any festival or celebration in fact.
So, in this season of holidays, it is very common to see/hear fireworks around the island...EXCEPT I never expected to see what I saw last night.

I was driving down the motorway after work when, lo and behold, I saw fireworks being set off from a GAS STATION! It is to believe that Mauritians from Roche-bois have no clue whatsoever of the danger of lighting up fireworks in a highly inflammable area like a gas station. I had no time to check if they were being set off by kids or by "responsible" adults, but in any case, the gas station was open, so there must have been the said responsible adults around. An accident could so easily happen and the sad story would be on the headlines the following day claiming that nobody thought such an awful thing could happen.

In CA, the law prevents citizens to set off fireworks or firecrackers if it is not during the Victoria Day week-end (the w/end preceding May 25), Canada Day (July 1st) or New Year's Eve. Some provinces allow fireworks for Divali, but I haven't seen any on Divali during the 5 yrs I was there. It is justifiable why Canada would have such restrictions on fireworks: people do not realize until it is too late that what they are doing could put other people in danger. If such a law was to be implemented in MU, I bet a lot of Mauritians would be outraged that their kids do not know the pleasure of setting off firecrackers and fireworks. Safety comes first though, so I wish there could be something to be done about this....Right now, all I can think of is maybe stop by Roche-bois and kick some uneducated @ss over there. I must say that this particular region in MU could give me unlimited inspiration for blog entries. :P

It is on this happy note that I wish y'all a Happy New Year 2007.

Viva fireworks!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

My Christmas tree

Today, I've put up my Christmas tree.
For the last 7 yrs, I either didn't have a Christmas tree or couldn't be bothered if I put it up or not. And my parents didn't bother either when I wasn't here.

But this year is different, I am home and I WANTED to put it up. So this morning, I dug out my old plastic Xmas tree and that's what it looked like:

I was glad it could still stand up and wasn't too bad looking though it's a bit tilted at the top. (But that only makes it look like a natural one, haha!)
After an hour of bending, stretching, sweating and what not, that is what it looks like:

I've tried to simulate snow with cotton balls....but humm....I ran out of cotton balls. So you can see some snow at the top, but it didn't reach the bottom branches :P

A few of my friends asked if it isn't too early to put up my Xmas tree, after all Christmas is still 3 weeks away....The answer is NO! The beginning of December is as good a time as any to put it up. Some people decide to put it at the beginning of December, some 1-2 weeks before, some on the eve, some a few days before. It is up to people's preferences and sometimes to family traditions. In my family, I've always been the one to put it up (and take it down) every year ever since I'm old enough to do it by myself. So it was always up to me to drag it out year after year, to my convenience.

I'm glad I've put it up this year. Not only it gives a festive mood to the house, but who knows, Santa might drop by on Dec 25!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Nail in the fence...

I've hurt someone I love this week and it reminded me of this email:

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won't matter how many times you say I'm sorry, the wound is still there.

"A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one. Friends are very rare jewels, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share words of praise and they always want to open their hearts to us."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What's in a beautiful face anyway?

Familiar with the expression "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"?
Well, BULLSHIT! It's all in the math!
According to an article published in USA Weekend magazine in 2003 (there are more recent ones, I just liked that one!) attractive faces are those which are more symmetrical and have a certain ratio (1:1.618) which recurs in beautiful things.

" is simply balance: The more symmetrical a face, the more appealing it appears. "

And not only that, beautiful people tend to be more succesful, get more attention and smell better (???). The same article refers to another research which compares attractiveness to a mask created with the above-mentioned ratio.'s that for a good take at the mirror?
In terms of symmetry, nature has been kinda scatter-brained with me (what's with the single dimple?) so I'd still rather think that the idea of beauty IS subjective.

And somehow after reading all this, all I can think of is "There are things money can't buy, for everything else, there's MASTERCARD!" :P

Monday, November 13, 2006

Kaho naa kaho???

I'm not into hindi songs, nor bollywood movies, though some of my friends caught that craze a little while back.

Today though, my friend sent me an indian song: Kaho naa kaho.
I didn't actually know what it means, but I've listened to it and my mom came running saying "Who's listening to indian music in the house?".
Just to say how unusual it is!
I don't understand a word of chinese, but we listen to chinese songs, that is not quite weird to me or to anybody else. But somehow it is kinda weird if I listen to indian songs....GO FIGURE!

Anyway, having just a tad bit too much time on my hands today, I found the english translation of the song:

(Kaho na kaho yeh aankhen bolti hain
Whether you say it or not, these eyes of yours say it
O sanam o sanam, o mere sanam
Oh sweetheart, oh my sweetheart
Mohabbat ke safar mein yeh sahaara hai
In love's journey, this is my support
Vafa ke saahilon ka yeh kinaara hai) - 2
On the shore of faithfulness, this is my coast
(Baadalon se oonchi udaan unki
Her mannerisms are higher than the clouds
Sab se alag pehechaan unki
Her distinctiveness is different from everyone
Use hai pyaar ki kahaani mansoob
Love's words are attached to her
Aati jaati saanson ki rawaani mansoob) - 2
The flow of my breath is attached to her

Kaho na kaho yeh aankhen bolti hain
Whether you say it or not, these eyes of yours say it
O sanam o sanam, o mere sanam
Oh sweetheart, oh my sweetheart
Mohabbat ke safar mein tu hamaara hai
In love's journey, you are mine
Andhere raaston ka tu sitaara hai
On dark roads, you are my shining star

Tu hi jeene ka sahaara hai
You alone are my life support
Meri maujon ka kinaara hai
You are the shore for my waves
Mere liye yeh jahaan hai tu
For me, you are this world
Tujhe mere dil ne pukaara hai
My heart has called out to you

Kaho na kaho yeh saansein bolti hain
Whether you say it or not, this breath of yours says it
O sanam o sanam, o mere sanam
Oh sweetheart, oh my sweetheart
Labon pe naam tere bas hamaara hai
On my lips is only your name
Yeh tera dil bhi jaana hamaara hai
This heart of yours is also mine, darling
Kaho na kaho yeh aankhen bolti hain
Whether you say it or not, these eyes of yours say it
O sanam o sanam, o mere sanam
Oh sweetheart, oh my sweetheart
Mohabbat ke safar mein yeh sahaara hai
In love's journey, this is my support
Vafa ke saahilon ka yeh kinaara hai
On the shore of faithfulness, this is my coast
(Khwaabon mein tujhko sanwaara hai
In dreams, I have perfected you
Jazbon mein apne utaara hai
I have become completely absorbed in you
Meri yeh aankhen jidhar dekhe
Wherever these eyes of mine look
Tera hi chehra nazaara hai) - 4
Your face alone is the sight they see

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The power of....WIKIPEDIA!

So since Thursday, I've been on Wikipedia:

The principle is simple: you can edit and add to any article you find on wikipedia and it is published right away. Moderators probably crowd the place as soon as there's a change, but the thing is, if the moderator have no clue on the topic, chances that your changes are going to stay are high.

We did a little experiment on Thursday at work: we changed the article on Mauritius and put obviously wrong information on there...I don't think anybody would believe Aliens came to mauritius 2000 B.C. although no one can prove the contrary! The changes didn't last 24 hrs although my team lead added my name to the list of prominent Mauritians and it stayed there.

Yes, I am the newly, self-proclaimed Duchess of Mauritius.
Until I'm erased off wikipedia, please refer to me as SAS Carine.

A party nation....

Today is Divali...It is the festival of lights...

"Divali is the most jovial of all Hindu festivals.... it marks the victory of righteousness over evil in the Hindu mythology. Traditionally, clay oil lamps were placed in front of every home turning the island into a fairyland of flickering lights; these have now been replaced mostly by decorative electric lights."

We've got 15 statutory holidays in MU whereas there are only 10 stat holidays in CA.
But of the 15 stat hols we have this year, 6 fell during the week-ends. Yes, in MU, we don't have stat holidays moved to Mondays or Fridays, they are fixed by whichever religious bodies have authority because they follow the festivals of the different faiths on the island.

The richness of the Mauritian culture comes from the different religions that make up the Mauritian population. We, mauritians, as a nation, we celebrate all the festivals from Chinese New Year to Eid-ul-Fitr. We share the cakes and the good wishes and the good humour and the diversity. That's way better than having BANK holidays, for example. :P
One of my Canadian friends asked the other day about Thanksgiving. No, we don't have thanksgiving here in MU, not because we don't have anything to be thankful for, it's just not something we have set up here by the first immigrants.

Check out the list of festivals and the list of holidays for 2006 in MU.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My day...

The thing about being in MU for my birthday is that there's a lot of surprises.

First, I was awakened at 3:50am by a text message wishing me happy birthday. I looked at the msg but was too sleepy to reply, so I went back to sleep. I was awakened again at 6am by a phone call from my mom's friend from Reunion island. Following her recent visit here, she hid a gift behind the closet for me to find on my birthday!!! As soon as I was out of bed, there goes a series of text msgs getting in, one after the other, from various friends who remembered... Even my brother who already sent a card by mail text messaged me again. When I was in CA I didn't use to receive ANYTHING from him for my birthday!!!

So the day goes on...
My ex-coworkers visited me during their tea break at 10am just to wish me a great day.
Then at 11:30, 3 of my friends at work disappeared and came back with cake and pop.
We all go into the meeting room for me to cut the cake but I couldn't convince anybody to sing for me :P.
That was my 3rd birthday cake since Sunday. When I was in Canada, I'd be lucky if I had one whole cake for my birthday in any given year!!!
I spent the day in a state of euphoria....A lot of my friends here and abroad remembered and thought of me and I felt loved, cherished and utterly spoiled. After 6 yrs of not expecting anything special for my birthday, I must say that this is way more than I would ask for.

The day would have been perfect if it wasn't for the ADSL not working when I got back home.
I installed the brand new webcam I've received as a gift and then went out to have dinner. By the time I got back home, I had to call customer service 3 times before I could finally get online and stay connected!
Webcams are great if you want to know whether u've got mannerisms, eh...I'm awfully aware of each time I was scratching my nose or my head...But the silences while waiting for the other person to respond is spent watching that person type or concentrate, which is certainly entertaining in itself!

Just when I was saying good night to everybody online, there was a power cut! In pitch black darkness, I had to find the way to my room and look for batteries and the flashlight (thank God I got that 2 yrs ago for camping!) . See, even in the mess in my room, I know exactly where things are! :P
It's not rad to brush your teeth and shower to the light of a flashlight, and even worse when you don't get hot water for your shower. It's not rad to end the day like that, but my birthday this year was just too awesome thanks to my friends.
It sure changes from a birthday that goes unnoticed in CA...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Mon père, ce héros...

I drive an automatic car....
I agree, it's not the best when you want to accelerate because you cannot just shift gears and accelerate. Although you might have your foot down to the floor, the car will only accelerate at its own pace and (automatically) shift gears when it needs to, you cannot force it to do so faster. This has its own implications, for example, I cannot race at start because hell, it takes time for my car to reach 100Km/hr. But that is not the topic today.

So I drove to work this morning and I set off a bit early because my dad used the car during the w/end and the tank was half full -- or half empty (whichever way u see it). I have the odd habit of filling up on gas every time the gauge reaches mid tank, so I thought I'd stop by that gas station on my way to work. I'm a creature of habit, I'd admit, and I always fill up on gas at the same gas station near my home. Today though, it was easier for me to go to that other gas station on my way to work, coz it's on the motorway and it's easy access and exit, far from the traffic jams.

So there I was, driving in, stopping and here comes the attendant, all smiles and merry and he asked me even before I had time to stop the engine, how much gas I'd like. As far as I know, there is only a limited number of self-service gas stations in MU, so having someone serve you is quite normal around here (not the case in CA!). I told him to fill it up, and I stopped the engine, and looked for my wallet, while the attendant was busy....what was he doing? ... He was wiping my windshield! Oh wow, I thought, that's service! I didn't think more of it than that coz I was eager to set off again, it was 7:25 and in 5 mins, one of the lanes on the motorway would close so I'd be stuck on a one-lane motorway (don't ask!). When the tank was full, it amounted to Rs. 1056....Hell, where would I find that Rs. 6 now? Guys at MY usual gas station would round it off! Anyway, when he was paid and I was ready to set off again, MY CAR WOULDN'T START!!..

So first thing I think of is: I gotta call my dad. My dad goes the same way 3 days a week, and we talked about it this morning, so he knew I was stopping at that gas station. Cellphone, speed dial 3, "Dad, the car won't start, I'm at that gas station, did you pass yet?". THANK GOD, my dad was just behind me, he was there in 20 seconds flat. He didn't even stop, just passed me on the right, shouted through the window to shift the gear to "P" and drove off. So that is just what I did, I shifted the gear from D3 to P ( don't ask me how it got there, I have no idea since I would drive on "D" and not on "D2" anyway) and set off. I made it before the lane closed, got to work 5 mins later all safe.

So now, I don't know how to feel, if I should feel happy about the car being ok and that I made it to work early or if I should feel sad that I passed for a dumbass so bright and early on a Monday morning....Mind you, it was my dad and he's seen the worst and the best of me, but still.....That's not the best way to start the week....IS IT? Let's just hope the day goes on improving....

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Only in Mauritius...

I drive to work everyday.
Just that would be enough for me to post entries on my blog everyday.
There are things you see on the roads in my country (yes Javed, last time I checked, I was still Mauritian), that you can't see anywhere else....

Today, I saw a 4x4 drive over the "island" separating the lanes on the motorway and merge into traffic going in the opposite direction....Ok, maybe that's forgivable, there was a huge traffic jam ahead because of an accident and I understand some people will do anything (and I mean EVERYTHING) to avoid traffic jam.

But I once saw a van stop on the right lane (the fast lane!) of the motorway and let people off right in the middle of the motorway. What was that about? Did the driver even THINK about the people driving at 120 km/hr on that lane and that stopping might cause a huge domino accident? Nooooo....he probably just thought that since he's got to stop, everybody else on the motorway should stop too! Now, let's not think about the cars coming on the left lane who might just not realize some people are getting off the van and knock them off coz that would just be too graphic for my imagination.

I've also seen a family of 4 travelling on a moped! The dad holding a kid in front of him and the mom doing the same on the back seat, kids not wearing helmets or anything! I don't think they realize just how dangerous it is to carry more than the indicated number of passengers on those thingys....I think mauritians have no clue that the indicated number of passengers allowed on those is 2 MAXIMUM!

And what about the man sitting on his moped facing oncoming traffic on the motorway this morning? I think he wanted to cross over to the other side of the motorway when all he could have done was to ride 100m up, take the roundabout and ride down the lane he wanted to cross!

Now, that's only a few examples....
Driving in MU is like an obstacle course: you gotta watch out for cars just coming out of nowhere, cars hindering traffic because hell they can, bikes, mopeds, hens and roosters, barking dogs, kids playing football (soccer!) on the streets, low branches of the trees by the road, hawkers and their wares (taking up half of the street) and of course the oh-so-many potholes along the way. And let's not get started on the bus drivers who think that since their vehicles are larger, they can pass other vehicles in any situation, even if that means oncoming traffic has to come to a complete stop. And mind you, if you are coming in the opposite direction at full speed, they'll flash their brights at you so that you stop far enough for them not having to slow down to pass the other vehicle!

If all the drivers in MU went to a driving test in any other country, I don't think half of them will get their driving licence no matter how many times they try. I got mine in Canada on the 2nd try :P
But it's true what they say: if you can drive in MU, you can drive ANYWHERE!

Monday, October 09, 2006

The grass is greener on the other side....

Since I've been back from CA (almost a year now...), I've been asked quite a few times WHY I didn't stay there. The reason is quite simple, I've been booted off: work permit expired, not renewable.

It's true what people say: you're never as patriotic as when u're abroad. Though I've been back a couple of times during my 5 year stay in CA, from time to time I'd be homesick. I'd miss my parents, my room, my dad's car...all the little things that make MU what it is for me. I'd miss the dholl puris, the samoussas, the briani, the alouda, the beach, the almost-always sunny weather.... These would be missed when it's -25 degrees outside with wind chill and I've got to go to work in 30cm of snow, but before I head out, I gotta put 3 layers of clothes on, not forgetting the boots, the scarf, the hat, the gloves and a lot of courage. When I've been waiting for that damn bus for 15 mins in bitter cold, that's when I asked myself "What the heck? why did I leave my little paradise island again?".

Then I would find myself talking about MU, being proud of coming from such an exotic place....Most people in Canada have no clue where MU is found, so I told them, it's a tiny dot in between South Africa and Australia. Believe me, that's the fastest way for them to understand! Since the coming out of the animated movie Madagascar, Canadians are more likely to know where Madagascar - the country- is, but before that, it was just HOPELESS to try to situate MU by telling them it's next to Madagascar! I could totally make them believe that MU has only 1 main road and a crossroad, that we feed on fruits right off the trees, that we reside in huts, and even that we walk around wearing leaves. There were times when Canadians would ask, with a puzzled look on their faces, "So why did you leave that paradise to come here?".

Now that I am in our little paradise lost in the Indian Ocean, I find myself missing snow from time to time. I miss the hush when all goes to a slower pace because of heavy snowfall. When you're walking in knee-high snow, trudging your way to your house, and around you, there's nothing else but snow and all you can hear is your heart beating and your labored breathing. I miss snowboarding and ice skating, I miss the hot dogs and the chips (crisps, according to Brits). I miss all things the "eh?" they add every now and then at the end of their sentences....

One year ago, I felt like I belonged there. Nothing at home felt like home, I was uncomfortable with the heat, I was complaining about the crazy drivers, the fact that you can't go out without bumping into someone you know or the gossip. For 3 months I stayed home like a hermit, chatting with my Canadian friends on MSN till the wee hours and waking up at noon, resisting to adapt to the lifestyle here. Then little by little, I got used to the mauritian ways again. Now, I'm one of the crazy drivers..... When in Rome, do as the Romans do they say.

People are never satisfied with what they have. When I'm in MU, I think of CA, when I'm there, I think of MU. I wish there could be a way to merge the 2 worlds I belong to.....instead of always feeling like the grass is greener on the other side.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The first entry

Here we go, my first blog.
Ok, it's not good to start with a lie, I do have a blog on Mauritius Interactive (MI) but then it is for members only. Although it's free sign up, not a lot of people would go through the trouble, especially if they think it's for sino-mauritians exclusively (which it is NOT).

But this is exciting and the idea came from Javed.
I still do not know what I will blog about, I had trouble with the title!
But since people notice that I often refer to my years in Canada, I think I will not run out of topics to compare Canada and Mauritius.

This morning, for example, there was an accident on the motorway (we would say highway in CA) on the opposite direction and some drivers ahead of me were causing a traffic jam on this side of the road because they were slowing down to watch! Ok, maybe traffic does slow down a little bit in the opposite direction in CA, but imagine a huge traffic jam in both directions on 401 on a Thursday morning because of an accident in ONE lane? Just not thinkable. Come on people, just move on, you can read about the accident in the newspapers later on.

I just got started...