Warming up in wet wintry Curepipe

One does not even have to know about, believe in, or understand ‘climate change’ to accept the reality of the shifts in weather that are taking place, and whose impact is felt by one and all.

Although many younger folks that I know go about as if nothing’s the matter. But not for us older bones! Which to some extent explains the smaller number of the morning denizens of Trou-0-Cerfs over the past several days, what with the almost daily morning rain and, like today (Wednesday 13), a biting cold.

As I do not regularly follow the local TV programmes, it was at the crater that I learnt from my walker-friends that the weather forecast was that the temperature would drop by at least 2 degrees, to probably around 12 degrees. Grrr!.

We had as a matter of fact already apprehended that it was colder, and it has gotten colder still as the day went by. And of course in Curepipe, there was the inevitable rain after an illusory and temporary spell of sunshine in mid-morning.

But what to do, one has to step out to do the routine things that keep life ticking, and fortunately with warm clothing on, and the bald heads – like mine – well protected in a cap, one can ward off the bitter cold.

As the Indian wife of a friend of mine put it many years ago, rolling her r’s in the Indian way, ‘fraicheur la pe rentre dans lezo’, polishing a bit of her Creole at the same time. They lived in Rose-Hill, and I said thank your stars you do not live in Curepipe. Never, she said, we will never think of living there.

Like my sister too, who married in the north of the island, and finally they shifted to Quatre-Bornes: that’s as far as I will come, she told me one day, not to Curepipe ever again.

Why on earth do people keep living in Curepipe?

There are ways, though, that warmth comes about, and not necessarily only of the physical kind. The classic one to start with: curling up under the covers with a nice book. But ‘tis also the season of marriages, and off to equally cold Vacoas I went yesterday, to attend a haldi ceremony.

An occasion to meet longtime friends whom we haven’t touched base with for God knows how long. There is an exchange of memories that serve as a kind of aperitif to warm us up and build the appetite, before we are called to the table to enjoy the fare of steaming hot yummy curries and puris, and kind of let ourselves go into some self-indulgence.

The food somehow tastes better on these occasions, and I am sure that there must be a psychological dimension to this, a kind of synergy that occurs in the atmosphere of conviviality and communal sharing that takes place, and sensations are heightened by the joyfulness that prevails and that all who are present feel.

And so it is that emotions that warm the cockles of one’s heart can as well make one forget for a while the physicality of the cold, and it is human interaction that can best bail one out very nicely and seamlessly as it were, by lifting one’s spirit. Like a good heart to heart conversation about everything and nothing, and it’s even better if it’s from afar.

Such as the Viber video exchange that I had this morning with a niece who is on mission in Seychelles, and as she had some free time we chatted for almost three quarters of an hour, about this and that and everything else in between! There was a lot of laughter and as usual we did not even realise that the clock was ticking, and it was time for her to get ready for her meeting!

Later in the afternoon, I got another Viber call, this time from an ex-student of mine who is specializing in medicine in Germany. She is from India, and we had a lot to talk about as she gave me a running account of how she was enjoying her stay in Germany, happy that she was getting an opportunity of learning a new language.

These small but vital things sent me into some introspection and reflection about the goings-on in the world, where luckily there are always good things happening besides the bad things that the evil-minded are perpetrating in different places.

For example, there was news that astronomers had discovered a new dwarf planet in our solar system, a tenth planet that was beyond Pluto which is about 120 times as far away from the sun as the Earth is, and that’s the reason it takes 24 years to go round the sun, as compared to the 365 days that our Earth takes.

Imagine Banané coming once in 24 years!! No thank you very much, we are fine here on Earth. In spite of all the ills that are currently plaguing it, and that make the splash headlines in the world media daily – and that generate fierce heat rather than welcome warmth. Murders that I read about this morning, for example, allegedly by a Mauritian in France, who is reported would have killed two women neighbours, and another man found dead by his niece in Curepipe-Road lying in a pool of blood.

Last night, Tuesday, US President Barrack Obama addressed his country in Dallas, Texas, at a memorial service to commemorate the killing in ambush of five White American police officers who were patrolling a protest march. The protest was against the killing a few days earlier, first in Louisiana in the south and then in Minnesota in the north of the country, of two Black drivers as their cars were stopped for some apparently minor traffic violation.

Obama spoke of an act of ‘demented violence and racial hatred’ about the Dallas killer, as he tried to send out a message of hope and of unity. There was talk of a rise of intolerance in America. Intolerant America, America the land of immigrants? Something’s gone terribly wrong out there, I was given to thinking, and as the demon of racism gnawed at the entrails of his country, the beleaguered outgoing president was trying his best to calm the hotheads, call for peace, and heal the wounds in an America where the faultlines seemed to be deepening.

In India, people in Kashmir who have the option of peace and prosperity in a democracy, the world’s largest, seemed to have chosen violence and chaos instead. Another piece of news that has rattled the capitals is the judgement of a UN tribunal about the dispute in the South China Sea between China and the Phillipines, in favour of the latter. China has already hardened its stance, dismissing the judgement. Is there another conflict on the horizon? That is certainly not what the world needs, not now nor in future, what with Brexit already causing turbulence around the world.

Bur here in tiny Mauritius, let us thank our stars for being in relative peace, and if only for this, be prepared to take the colder days to come in our stride, and keep a-smiling. Speaking for myself, I would say somewhat difficult but possible… I will try!

* Published in print edition on 15 July 2016

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