I still have the taste of the banana tarte, “merveille” with chutney and the napolitain which I used to buy with the “marsan gato” during recess at primary school.
Like the madeleine of Proust.
« Mais qu’un bruit, qu’une odeur déjà entendu ou déjà respirée, le soient de nouveau, aussitôt notre vrai moi, qui depuis longtemps, semblait mort, éveille en recevant la céleste nourriture qui lui est apportée. Une minute affranchie de l’ordre du temps. Et celui-là, on comprend que le mot de mort n’ait pas de sens pour lui ; situé hors du temps, que pourrait-il craindre de l’avenir ? »
When we were kids, there were marsan makatchia coco, sorbet rape, piksidou, la mousse, goyave de Chine and de France…
Delicious childhood souvenirs!
And, the famous la glace Gloria of Rose Hill near Queen Elizabeth College or Vona Corona!
We could satisfy our simple pleasures with just a coin of 5 cents!
Or the “poutou” or “ounde” which can’t even be translated! That’s how we call these home baked Mauritian delicacies which we have the pleasure to taste at Chez Dodo restaurant in Paris, near gare de l’Est.
We even have “sutarfin”, “gato moutai” (jalebi in Hindi) and “maspin” with coloured coatings.
And the unmatched “alouda” during summer!
« L’innocent paradis, plein de plaisirs furtifs
Est-il déjà plus loin que l’Inde et que la Chine ?
Peut-on le rappeler avec des cris plaintifs,
Et l’animer encore d’une voix argentine,
L’innocent paradis plein de plaisirs furtifs ? »
Moesta et errabunda, Charles Baudelaire.
All these “gato lontan” bring back memories through just a scent, a glimpse and the Mauritian sega which makes you feel home.
We have our “gato banana” and “poutou”.
And, words to travel through different periods of our life, enabling us to preserve and cherish our personal memories without nostalgia but filling our life with hope …to just live on and on these memorable and magical moments.
That’s the unfathomable strength of a word, “shabd” in Hindi.
All Mauritians of Mauritius and of our diaspora thus weave an immense tapestry throughout the five continents and beyond time and space. In a sort of “hors-lieu, hors du temps” symbolising Oneness (which includes Otherness as none is a stranger) and Truth like in the evolutionary Vedanta philosophy.
“Tat Tvam Asi”, meaning Thou Art That – “We have discovered the essence of life. You are the all-pervading universal Spirit that sustains life in all its forms.”
With their own experience, personal and spiritual quest, just like the weaving hands of Henry James, all Mauritians are adding a motif to the universal canvas.
My personal legend, your story, our story, all woven harmoniously constructing and reconstructing our identity, our common Mauritianship which perfectly blends in the bigger History of the World.

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