Chalta Hai

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A cartoon in a French newspaper shows a sign on a road inviting drivers to accelerate as there was a speed camera ahead... in order to reduce  budget deficit! This is a typical French humour to show the displeasure of the people when faced with what they believe to be a grotesque interference in their daily life. We Mauritians – with apologies to Shakespeare – strut and fret our hour upon the stage like actors and then will be heard no more. Life goes on as usual, chaltahai, as they say in India.

But last year in New Delhi a woman was gangraped on a moving bus and thrown outside. She died after attempts to provide her with the best medical care in a Singapore hospital failed. The whole of India, particularly the womenfolk, was up in arms against the way women were being treated and the ‘chalta hai’ attitude. Here in Mauritius we read about crimes of all kinds being committed everyday. We show our anger and disgust at the deterioration of our social fabric and of law and order in our once happy and peaceful island, with Rodrigues being even more peaceful. But after some time when things settle down we forget about the crimes and when we are asked : “How are you?” we invariably reply: ‘Korek’ or ‘On fait rouler’ or ‘Chalta hai’.We get along. Have we betrayed a sense of defeatism or is it just realism?

The price of foodstuffs will increase abnormally, but there is always an explanation for the increase. It is the country of origin of the imported foodstuffs or rain – if it is not drought – that is to blame. This will cause a storm of protests, with consumer associations demanding that the price of all foodstuffs be controlled or imported by state agencies, forgetting about hedging and other scandals. But things will invariably settle down. The new prices have come to stay. Life moves on.

But to come back to the French cartoon, Mauritius also has settled for a new way of increasing its revenues. Modern one-arm bandits called speed cameras have now become an important source of income for the government. Drivers will have to pay up. There are no excuses, no mitigating circumstances. The speed limit will be suddenly reduced from 110 to 80 km/h, particularly when there is a bend on a downward slope, not to mention that the speed limit will further decrease to 60 km/h and even 40 km/h and this too on a highway! What do you do? Never mind. Continue watching the speedometer instead of the road and the traffi c! Life will go on. Chalega!

No need to talk about corruption and other ills of our society like drug addiction. Again, with apologies to Shakespeare, is there something rotten in the state of Mauritius? Never mind. On fait rouler!

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