The Mauritian Touch

By Nita Chicooree-Mercier

No doubt there is no place like home. The services one gets at the airport is usually very satisfactory; you are struggling to pull a trolley out, any agent doing his bit of work nearby volunteers to give a helping hand, the vendor at the duty free shop helps to put your purchases in a bag and amiably exchanges a few words with you.

It all smacks of the natural sense of Mauritian hospitality with the slight bowing of the head to say hello and good-bye. Just fine. No one overacting their role with effusive greetings: ‘have a good day’, ‘thank you’ and unnecessary broad commercial smiles at the departure and arrival counters. The young employees are adopting a more professional attitude in dealing with customers; if they could avoid talking about their private matters in the presence of customers that would be even better. A service extended to Mauritian citizens as well. What a treat! Not to mention that the policemen tone down the dead serious expression as if travellers were violating Nasa precincts!

Sure, it is the low tourist season, the place looks empty and the employees have more time to be considerate. Undoubtedly, the Ministry of Tourism together with airport authorities have coached employees to do their bit in the promotion of tourism.

 Air Mauritius – Pride on the wane…

Well, well, where does the national career stand? Gone are the days when locals and foreigners showered praise on the national company, the high standard of service and attendance, the smart hostesses and stewards and the delicious food, which currently you can obtain in Asia. The service on Air France carriers has been declining for more than a decade. One wonders whether Air Mauritius has lately adopted the standard of service of the French airline company? More profits and poorer service? Air France joined with Air Mauritius because our national company was doing well, and in the course of a few years we have seen the standard of service going down.

The recruitment of staff lately follows criteria, which raise serious doubts. The green colour of the seats is quite unattractive, and the music is all-European. We used to have Indian and sega music too earlier. Not anymore. The hostesses wear only European style uniforms. It has the bland and sans âme look of a company, which has lost its identity. Upon arrival, the interior design at the airport, sorry to say, looks quite dull compared to airports in Bali or Singapore, which are small islands too. We wonder who select the design and architectural style or do they integrate the soul and culture of the country at all in their choice.

Eyewash and Eyesore

In a bid to provide accommodation to different income scales, the government has embarked on a vast project of construction in different parts of the country. In fact, low-income earners will get around 20 sq metre houses with corrugated iron rooftops. Houses with three rooms and a small plot of land will be provided to those who earn Rs 20 000 or more. The point is that many people would rather buy land at affordable prices and build their own houses. Conversely, IRS and similar projects in the best areas are in a frenzy of expansion with the blessing of the authorities.

Mauritius is a small island, and currently there are too many foreigners living here. Mauritians abroad are being fooled into buying standard houses at soaring prices. Just look at the architecture of these houses. Though good materials may be used in the construction, forms and styles do matter. We can draw inspiration from a combination of Asian, African and European styles, but we adapt them to the local climate in building houses. A few fellows sit around a table and decide what style of houses, what size of kitchen and living room you folks are going to have. South African promoters have fallen in love with Mauritian landscapes, more precisely with the huge profits they will draw from their investments. With the blessing of the government. Direct investment big deal. For us, short term vision of development.

* Published in print edition on 15 July 2011

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