Mauritius: Day Nine

25th July 2015:

I woke up in panic remembering that I had left my toiletry bag at Quatre Bornes at my cousin’s.

I managed to find a spare toothbrush and I began my day.

I was having my breakfast when all of  a sudden my uncle came through the door and said: “let’s go, let’s go”.

I replied: “Nah man, 9.30”, he laughed and agreed.

aWe left and made our way again to Port-Louis using the same bus (Express)

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We arrived at Port-Louis.img410

And immediately said Salam to each other as both had things to do.

My aim: walking from Gare du Nord to La Tour Koenig. (5.4 km)Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 17.52.06

I went to Mimosa (one of the last standing film photography lab left) to get my roll of film that I have dropped a few days ago. I was so pleased because I only paid 50 mru (about a pound) for development and the scanning was free of charge but only if I get a pendrive to store the scans. I left to go to China Town to find a pendrive as it was less expensive than this area.

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I remember that the walk from Mimosa LTD to the station was quite far and tiresome because of the insane heat. My back was sweating because I was carrying my camera bag.

I walked to Victoria Station to make my way to La Tour Koenig.

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I put my bag down and I sat down taking my breath and a few sips of water as the sun was just too much. As you can see on this shot you can tell that the light was strong.

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Mauritius’s architecture is quite insane, sometimes people don’t have the funds to finish their houses so they relax and work until they gather enough money to finish. Meaning they could have the top extension of their houses done but no money for windows and this could go for years.

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These houses above are typical houses from Mauritius in the 80’s and even before because they share the same metal structure (La Kaz en Tol).

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I was walking on the main road and the colours looked like when I was a kid and a feeling of beautiful nostalgia came over me. I sat down again to rest for a few minutes and changing a few rolls.

There was a little alley at some point and I took opportunity to take some pictures,

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and then proceed to the bridge to have an overview sight of the hussling bussling city.

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I came down and saw this.

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I continued walking on the same side of the road and was amazed of how Mauritius had changed.

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You realise that people are actually working really hard just to make ends meet.

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A lovely lady selling Roti and Dhall Pourri, the smell was just wow.

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At this road I turned left and went into a little alley out of curiosity.

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A guy was working on a motorbike and I asked him if I could take a picture of this beast. He replied: “Pena problem”  (in creole; there is not problem).

I thanked him and wished him a good day on my departure from this area.

I carried on and I came to the road and district where my grandmother, grandfather lived and where my  mum, aunties, uncles were born. Cité Valledji

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I crossed the street and made my way to the Nelson Mandela stadium which is a big field where Mauritian athletes train for football.

Just as I was about to get into the fields through the gate, a couple of Mauritian guys called me. They spoke to me in creole and let me tell you it’s a dangerous district and I was really scared carrying all this equipment with me but I really wanted to see where my mum came from from an adult point of view, because when I was a kid nothing really made sense; all I wanted to then was buy sweets and play in the streets with other kids. Now that I am able to ponder, I could see how poor my parents were and it kind of broke my heart and a huge feeling of gratitude came over me from all the beautiful things they have done for us when we were kids.

Anyway…. back to the guys who called me!

They were so nice to me, I felt bad for being apprehensive but I was kind of a stranger in this place.

I introduced myself and I said that I was documenting my roots and they were like: “wow, please take a picture of me”. So I did! He said: people call me l’Etrangleur (nickname).

I asked them if I could go into the fields to take pictures and he said: “of course”.

Cité Valledji is a Creole district and a lot of people are from African roots and Creole.

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I left the fields and I went back to l’Etrangleur and asked them if they knew my family that was living there. They didn’t know and they asked me for the street. I asked them to give me a few minutes so I could call my mum to find out. My mum picked up and I told her where I was and she started shouting at me on the phone because she knew that this place was not safe. I told her: “I am sorry, I promise I call you as soon as I come out of this district”. I had the street name and I went back to the guys and they said it was on the right after that street.

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I thanked them for their patience and chat.

I made my way to a shop when a guy asked me to take a picture of him.

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The sun was coming big time and I could feel the temperature rising. I dropped my bag on the floor and took a few pictures.

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This is the house my mum grew up in in the 60’s.

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That was it for my excursion in cite Valledji.

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I made my way to La Tour Koenig in the district of Point Aux Sables to get to my auntie’s house.

I was so excited as it was a surprise visit.

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Ok that walk was very tough and it took me 30 minutes of power walk to get from Cite Valledji to the bottom of la Tour Koenig.

From that point it is only uphill.

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This walk reminded me of many places in Tokyo as people build their houses as they want to and not to fit the culture and the aesthetic that the council wants like in UK. A real culture of individualism.

I walked and walked (more like climbing) until I got this street but I couldn’t take it anymore so I stopped at a corner shop to get a few chocolates to give me enough energy to get to my auntie’s.

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I took my turn into a lovely side street that was in front of a school.

I walked through the creole district to get to my auntie’s house. I was actually documenting step by step this journey there.

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Finally arrived!!!! Wooohooo.

I went in and they screamed of joy and my cousins from Quatre Bornes were there too which I didn’t expect to see.

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We laughed so much and were catching up on good times.

I absented myself to pray as it was time for Asr.

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After the prayer I went into the garden to relax a bit with a nice cup of Mauritian tea that my cousin Steven made for me.

This is the beautiful kitchen where I used to be when I was a kid.

After that I asked my cousin Lizzie if she wanted to come with me to walk around the area, I wanted to get some lovely food. She suggested Sherridan which is a small shopping centre. I wanted some boulette (fish balls in soup).

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So we walked and took a shortcut that she knew to get to the place.

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I only had my Mamiya 7 with me which was awesome! I can’t believe I managed to get these at such an exposure. (1/8sec).

We enjoyed some amazing food and we had so much fun! I love you Lizzie 🙂

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We walked back and went to get some Banana tart that I bought at a beautiful boulangerie.

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This tree is amazing. It welcomes a million birds and they all sing at the moment of the adhan (call for prayer) and only at that time. I put it to the test and it is actually always at adhan 5 times a day! Subhan Allah.

I went back to my auntie’s and relaxed until the rest of the family came. I stayed until night time then drove back to Grand Baie with my brother who later came. I saw all the family as there was a huge family gathering on that night.

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Author: Nadeem Karim

| London / Paris Photographer - Mu'min |

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