Touria Prayag's Blog

L’express Weekly 27 January 2012

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on February 28, 2012

Much ado about nothing

The much anticipated M6 television programme on Mauritius was the highlight of the week for a rather bored nation greatly concerned about the picture we portray to the outside world.

We swayed between anticipation and dread at the promised revelations. In the end, what an anti- climax! In fact, we owe a thank you note to M6 for the wonderful free advertisement.

The image of a paradise destination was well conveyed. Better perhaps than through some of our exorbitant and hollow slogans. The princely suites the programme walks us into have to be the best in the world. What tourist would not dream of making our island their next destination? The beaches were superb, the range of water sports on offer were highlighted through a French kid who, by the way, has never had time to get out of the sea to discover our cinemas. And the Franco- Mauritian community came across as hard working, innovative and risk- taking and, barring an embarrassing moment when the Guimbeaus had to justify why out of all the employees on their payroll, the ones sitting in on the decision making were all white, they had nothing to apologize for.

The programme was one step ahead of our promotion campaign in that it has introduced the ‘ duty- free’ concept to the French public. Our ‘ branded’ clothes at a fraction of the real price rival the quality you get in Europe and can be delivered promptly thanks to the overtime of foreign workers. Yes, they are paid the meagre sum of Rs 40 an hour but then tourists don’t really care, do they? The drug chapter is no revelation either. The French know that we are big consumers of Subutex because they provide us with a regular supply of it and campaigned for the death peddler, Caterino, to be left alone to enjoy the fruits of his loot. As for us, the fact that we are the biggest users in Africa comes up in every report and is received with virtual indifference. The only embarrassing moment for us perhaps was the sight of two amateurs from the police force taking a leisurely walk in a supposedly very dangerous, drug- infested area and climbing up a slippery wall to peep inside a house of a supposed drug traffi cker! No gunshots, no reinforcement, no radio communication, no nothing; an embarrassment which has the silver lining of showing the French audience that even our supposedly dangerous areas are not as dangerous as all that. Thank you, M6! The promised revelation was perhaps the discovery of our homegrown shoe queen as she readily walked us into her shoe closet. Some might be tempted to compare her to Mrs. Marcos except that the latter had only 360 pairs of shoes. Our Lise Coindreau has 700 pairs, give or take 100. Wallowing in a euphoria only those who are not ironists can share, the shoe queen talked about how “ they”, whoever they are, are jealous of her because she is “ a woman, black and successful.” Somehow, when I think of “ black” successful women in this country, and there are thousands, Mrs. Shoequeen is not the fi rst to jump to mind.

Well, there was nothing more sinister than this. M6 did not talk about our taxi drivers and how some rip off the tourists or about some drunkard who raced on our public beaches threatening the safety of tourists and locals alike. For all that and more, thank you M6. Please come again.

Anytime.

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