Experiences
10 Feb 2021

Immersion in the City: China Town - Mauritius

 

As I walked through the old and ancient pavement of Port Louis in China Town, I could not help noticing the difference of the city's busy streets and that of my village. Though the village center can be quite busy at some point, it was nothing compared to China Town's crowded streets with merchants at every corner. While walking under the warm sun, I was starting to feel quite hot and knew that keeping myself hydrated was very important. Ideally, one would be wearing sleeveless shirts and shorts, exactly how I was dressed on that day.

 

Chinatown is just like the Chinese areas seen in the movies with its old buildings and traditional food stations at every street corner. I was looking for a specific shop well-known for its grandmother's herbs and medicinal remedies. Through the age, the place has become a reference for businesses and the main street looks different with its four arch-like doorway, found along the street at different intervals. In recent years, this authentic area has been known for street arts and recycled sculptures, which now has a mix of tradition with a touch of modernity. After walking for several long minutes through the streets, I finally came across the medicinal shop. A very old and battered-looking building, with a dim light inside and I could hear the local news from the radio playing. From the furniture to the shopkeeper herself, everything looked so ancient in the shop. I handed over the Chinese doctor's prescription of my grandmother and watched as the lady meticulously weighed on her old scale each twig of medicinal leaves and herbs before wrapping them carefully in a newspaper which she gave to me with some recommendations. To be honest, I did not quite understand what she was saying as the lady, though speaking Mauritian creole, had a very strong Asian accent.

Happy with my purchase, I decided to have a quick Chinese Street food (mine bouilli, boulettes) noodles soups with dim sum before heading back home. These specialities are the Mauritians’ favourite Chinese dishes and the best place to have them is of course, China town. As I was making my way out of China Town, I could hear the sound of cymbals, gongs and drums and came across some youngsters who were rehearsing the Dragon dance, in view of the Chinese New Year which would be held in a few days. The Dragon dance commonly known to bring good luck will be performed across Mauritius welcoming this time, the Year of the Ox.

 

Zafi

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