Winter of Daily Struggles

By Nita Chicooree-Mercier

Today’s youngsters are having a taste of the tropical winter of yesteryears which marked a real seasonal change hardly two decades ago. Ever since, due to climate change effects, summer overstayed till May to our great dismay, putting folks in the complaining mode of the damn heat draining our energy all day long and hardly giving us a respite at night. Following the long summer, the much expected sweetness of April, reminiscent of Keats’ An Ode to April, went almost unnoticed so short did it last.

The last time streets were swathed in fog and early morning workers donned woollen caps and sweaters for a day’s work in the north was in 2016, so it seems.

Super cold in Curepipe, said folks pouring out of a bus at Mont Choisy, a pensioners’ day out for a mild sunny day in the north. Cardigans over their sarees and blouses, caps, scarves and all. Lest we forget, pullovers, sweaters, caps, baby clothes and even socks used to be handmade in wool or cotton by our mothers.

“If the well-off feel like giving a special lunch or dinner to relatives and friends, why not let others do so for you? Loads of women have been learning culinary skills inspired by local tradition and foreign trendy food habits. A good idea to ask private cooks to put up a nice menu on Saturdays and Sundays, which foreign expat guests also may appreciate…” Photo – yummychooeats.files.wordpress.com


Should we welcome the relatively cold weather? Sure, yes. Why? Not only for physical comfort because it keeps us fit for longer hours, but it also creates the right conditions for hard work. Hard work does not mean toiling and slaving for peanuts all day long to satisfy the greed of stingy employers. It implies giving the best of oneself, acquiring new skills, exploring unbeaten tracks and developing one’s full potential over the years.

Right conditions and a decent salary in the private sector are prerequisites for a deep commitment to work, and derive satisfaction from positive results in a win-win bid to enhance skills and promote employers’ interests as well. Hard work in every field is the gateway to success, and success is a positive gain which enhances self-esteem at a personal level and contributes to collective wealth on a broader scale.

Why should we remember the value of hard work? Over the last decade, laziness and the will to do little, or make quick bucks out of shady activities and spill out money in reckless superfluous spending has been the trend. Quite a paradox to talk about hard work when the job market has been put on stand-by and workers made redundant. Everyone is fully aware that the present situation is not of the government’s making, neither is it to be pinned on the back of governments around the world.

Unprecedented situation calls for exceptional measures. In times of normalcy, it is not the government’s job to feed all the needy, act like mother and father to whiners of all hues – who are given ample space and time in the media – and run to the rescue of any sinking boat in a country. Yet, this is what it is doing like other governments to avoid a disastrous economic situation. Otherwise, in normal times, we’d rather be wary of the French Dom-Tom style of putting down problems at the doorstep of the State, namely for patronizing Mother France to solve.

Over the decades mimicry of RFO Reunion, now Radio and Tele Reunion, to give it a semblance of autonomy, has gained ground in this country too with anchors importing from adulterated creolized forms of politeness to the habit of erecting a Wailing Wall for every issue. Now with two French channels which target every country where French language has made headway, there is no scarcity of navel-gazing and permanent political campaign and high adrenaline debates on hypothetical future power play.

While we leave it to political politicking to air a winter of noisy discontent wherever it can, we might as well pick up the suggestions put forward in this column last week.

Lots of people are going through extreme hardships while waiting for state aid to come in, which might take two months to materialize. ‘Locaphilia’ is the buzzword which sets in motion all creative energy to keep the economy afloat. Local tourism can be promoted on national television and radio not only in hotels and guest houses but also in pensioners’ resorts once they are no longer used as Covid-19 quarantine centres. Other countries are asking their population to spend locally, why not here?

Pensioner couples earning more than 18000 rupees and having no unemployed adult sons and daughters to look after can be requested to spend in hotels around the coast or travel to Rodrigues. Government should not hesitate to make an appeal to the patriotic spirit of citizens. High-end income earners may be invited to forget plans for future winter holidays in Lapland or winter resorts in Switzerland and the Mont Blanc and invest in the tourism sector locally.

Upper middle-class in the Civil Service enjoying job guarantee and well-paid employees and executives in private companies can help in a myriad of ways and give jobs to the desperate new class of unemployed:

– Refurbishing their houses, asking youngsters to sell away superfluous furniture, kitchenware, tools, clothes, etc., on social networks and give them a percentage on the sale. They are very good at it, and it helps get rid of cumbersome stuff in the house. Order local furniture, wardrobes, beds if need be, modern style mirrors etc;

– Change curtains and cushions, buy new material and have new ones made;

– Clean up yards; create a zen atmosphere with ponds, plants and fishes. Buy different plants and give a new look to gardens and backyards;

– Have small stores built in local style with corrugated iron rooftops and wrought iron gates;

– Allow street art young artists to draw and paint on the walls of shops for a fee.

– Not many weddings taking place these days; the service of cooks, bhandaris can be resorted to for special ceremonies, kathas, etc. This is what you think of when they hand their business cards to you;

– And if the well-off feel like giving a special lunch or dinner to relatives and friends, why not let others do so for you? Loads of women have been learning culinary skills inspired by local tradition and foreign trendy food habits. A good idea to ask private cooks to put up a nice menu on Saturdays and Sundays, which foreign expat guests also may appreciate. Instead of rushing around with preparations and all, you just relax and supervise the organization;

– There should also be no reluctance in asking foreign residents to participate in saving jobs in a myriad of ways.

The point is that those who are financially comfortable should make efforts to give work to their compatriots as much as possible.


* Published in print edition on 28 July 2020

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