Travel to escape or to seek?

 

travel

While I was packing to come to Toronto in October, I did not know what to expect. I just knew that I was finally realizing my dream of living abroad. Everything else was put in the back burner. I had put up with the critics, raised a few eyebrows and disregarded my fear of the unknown. “Are you sure you want to take that leap?” I kept being asked. But, my mind was already elsewhere…I had been wanderlust for a while and holding back was out of question. Tomorrow was foreign and enticing.

Three months later…Do I regret it? No! But, lately I have been asking myself a few questions. Namely the motivation behind the desire to go abroad. “So what brings you here? “, Is the recurring question I get from people who come from other countries too. We all come here with our stories and our motivations. Sometimes it is economical, sometimes it is just to follow our love one…What motivated me to travel 15,264 km away from my home country?

I read somewhere that you either travel because you are seeking something or because you are trying to escape something. So, am I a fugitive or a seeker? Either possible scenario raises a question: What am I escaping? Or what am I seeking? Are these questions really worth my time or am I just making a fuss of nothing?

See, there are so many cliches about travelling. We are led to believe that it gives you endless possibilities. So, we end up idealizing leaving it all behind as if it was the solution to our struggle. We think that the place we are in is not the right one so, we pack our bags, bide goodbye and move to another country. And of course with hope that our issues will just vanish by magic. But here is the thing: this is just bullshit. Traveling will not take care of your issues. Chances are, you will be bringing them with you. So, just scratch that option.

I think that I fall in the second category. I am the seeker. But, not with the typical line “I went abroad to find myself”. I opted for life abroad because of the promise of freedom it offered. It is only when you are miles away from home that you discover what you miss the most, what makes your heart beat, who you really are when no one is around to keep you grounded.

I have learned so many things about myself during these three months. I am allowing my new environment to mold me, shape me and transform me. All while remaining true to myself. Life abroad has shown me my strength, my weakness and my ability to think on my feet.

Everything I have learned so far can be sum up by Cesare Pavese’s quote: “Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it”.

How about you? What motivated you to go abroad? Are you the fugitive or the seeker? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below ;). Cheers 🙂

 

 

 

I’m a martian in Toronto

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Lately I have been thinking that terming me as a “martian” would be suitable. After all, if you remove the “u” and the extra “i” in Mauritian, you get the word martian…Honestly, this is exactly how I feel since I landed in Toronto. Every time I say that I am Mauritian, I get the clueless look. I feel like I am a rare species.  I have lost track of the number of nationalities I have been attributed and stereotypes that I had to break. Yes we have running water, we also have WiFi, 3G, 4G and not all Mauritians are fishermen.

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Okay, blame it on the fact that there is no cultural representation of Mauritians and no one talks about it. But, I was never prepared to become an ambassador of my country. Least have to bring the subject every time I meet someone. For, I can always expect to get the question “where are you from”? which is always followed by: “Where is that?”

I still remember my dad telling me that I need to be prepared to be asked about my country. I remember laughing it off and telling him that I’ll just say the basic. You know an island in the Indian Ocean next to Madagascar. And that we are  multilingual since we speak French, English and créole.

But, it turned out that the basic does not surfeit when people ask me what language I am talking when they hear me speaking creole. “But I hear some french words. What kind of language is that?” Or having to explain that there is no average look for a Mauritian. “You guys are really from the same country?” When they see me hanging with my Mauritian friends from different ethnic groups. Or how come I know so much about Indian and Chinese culture.

yeah-uh

I guess that I have never been so culturally aware or talked so much about Mauritius’ history . Well, long story short: The french colonized Mauritius and brought slaves from Africa and Madagascar to cultivate the land. Later, the English overthrew them and took over the island. With the abolition of slavery, many slaves flew. To make up for the loss of labor, the English brought Chinese and Indians. So, basically the Mauritian society is made up of European descendants, Chinese, Indians and Africans. And creole is the language that our ancestors invented to be able to communicate with each other despite their different nationalities and language barrier. It is a mixture of french, English, African and some terms from Hindi and Chinese.

Consequently, Mauritians’ cuisine is a blend of Chinese, European, Indian and creole food. And we do not have a “typical Mauritian look”. Just scratch that part. But we do have some common character traits: we are very friendly, we smile a lot, we are helpful, we are usually late and we always  use “ayo” to express different kind of emotions. From fear to irritation and surprise. And Mine Appolo is a huge thing. At least for most of us. I can go to the extent of saying that it is a national anthem. Chili must always be part of our dish. And yeah flip-flops are mandatory! Hey after all we are a tropical island and gorgeous beaches are ever present and it is our duty to maintain the islander lifestyle!

Ever since I am here I feel like I have become a representative of my country. And it is so much pressure! I have never been so aware of my “créolité” . And paradoxically, I  am learning more about my own culture and my country.

Oh and yeah here’s a video on my island made by a compatriot:

 

*Back to being a brand ambassador again* Hahaha.

Do let me know if you’ve ever felt the same way while living abroad in the comment section below. Cheers 🙂