Gossip in the Wind

Thursday’s yoga class was both a celebration and a bit of a head-scratcher.

It was with a most joyous heart that I greeted the guy whom I thought I had killed a few weeks back.  He didn’t die!  And, better yet, he was willing to give the class another shot. 

We slowly spoke after class about finding ‘his edge’, learning to listen to his body and really only focusing on what was happening on his mat.  I told him that it might take him several years or maybe even lifetimes to fully find comfort and ease in some of the poses, but that it didn’t matter.  He didn’t seem to care for what I was saying and raised his eyebrows in a surprised ‘oh really lady’ expression.  It was either that or he didn’t fully understand me.

But, I think it will click if he continues to come to some classes.  It’s difficult to be able to say, “I can’t do it, but I’m comfortable with where I’m at, today.”

The puzzling conversation I had with him following my teacher-talk was not only strange, but understandable, I guess, considering how small the island is.  He asked me where I was living and I told him.  He replied, ‘oh, I thought you lived in [Mauritius city B].”

“Well,” I told him, “I guess you could say I live closer to [Mauritius city B] than [Mauritius city A].”

At this point, a younger women in my class approached and said, “You live over by [Mauritius landmark].”

Right.  So, I’ve never mentioned to anyone in my class where I live and all I could think when I was driving out of the gym parking lot was, “Are they following me?”   A totally absurd thought, but I guess it jus takes one person to know and then tell another person who happens to know another guy that works with his cousin’s mother.

On Friday this exact topic came up during my English lesson with Cool French Kid.  He had an interesting take on things and said that island gossip is the #1 form of entertainment here.  He could be on to something. 

I remember waiting the obligatory 15-30 minutes past the scheduled meeting time for meetings to start and listening to my former boss chat in English about all sorts of island gossip.  I could never jump in at the time because I didn’t know about any of the people or events that people  were talking about.  Now, on the other hand, I could probably slide the occasional ‘hey, did you hear about’ preface in and probably cause some disturbance of the force.  

But, again, it is a very tiny piece of land that 1.3 million or so (not including the tourists) people are living on and after you’ve been here a while, people tend to remember who you are.  Cool French Kid and I continued to talk about how everyone knows everyone and how because of this fact, change might be more difficult and slow to come about.

The everyone knowing about everyone’s beeswax is kind of like living in very small towns back in Minnesota.  All the families know each other and have known each other for decades.  The town I grew up in was smallish and I remember back in high school after some of the weekend barn parties (you may snicker if you must, but there were a lot of farmer’s kids in my high school and a barn has plenty of room for a keg or two), wondering why the cops weren’t shutting the big parties down.

Of course, the parties were in the middle of nowhere.  And, don’t get me wrong, there were many a party where the cops did stop by to break things up.  But, when you’re in the barn of a farmer whose family has been farming the same land for decades and each decade produces a dozen or so kids….well, you’ve got to figure that someone knows someone in the patrol party at some point.

And I guess that’s what it’s like here, too.  Families know families and tend to stick with what’s familiar.  I was told a tale about a lovely young Indian man who had fallen in love with a Muslim girl during his university days here.  He really thought that she was the one, but because they didn’t come from the same background and share the same religion, it was doomed from the start.

This could have just been a bunch of hot air being blown up my skirt, but it was confirmed by some of the women on my team that a women’s family really does have the ultimate say over who she’ll end up marrying.  Regardless, I felt sorry for the guy because he seemed rather bummed out about the whole affair.

People switch in and out of jobs very quickly here and maybe it has something to do with the fact that no one wants to really let anyone see who they really are so that they can keep all the job options open and available.  Why give people the chance to collect any dirt or gossip about you.  Try to keep the air of mystery for as long as you can – if you even can.

The constant job switching is terrible for the local companies that invest heavily in knowledge transfer of complex business processes and systems.  During my stint managing my teams, I lost three people 3 months after new subject matter training and some of the replacements only stuck around for a few weeks before either quitting or being sucked onto another project.  It was near impossible to move forward with the shifting knowledge gap.  But, that seems to be the status quo here.

It’s expected that people will leave shortly after picking up new skills and the company I was working for at the time really didn’t offer any tempting incentives for people to stay on board for the long haul.  Of course, a document stating a mandatory stay for X amount of months after the completion of training was required for all the trainees to sign, but people just waited until the time was spent and left.

I can only observe from the outside and make my own little guesses, but I do know that it would probably either be very difficult for me to be hired in the local sector, again, or either very easy.  It would depend on how my name was thrown about after I left.  I have a feeling that if I waited long enough, everything would be like new once more.  There’s only so much to remember for the long haul. 

My reputation here was never really mine.  All of my past references and the people who used to work with me really didn’t and don’t matter here.  My glittering work past is nothing but a personal memory.  I became part of the island collective the moment I started opening my mouth.  

“Hey, did you hear about so and so who was found to be doing this and that?”


About Minnesota Pilgrim

A GenX Xpat who moved from Minnesota to Mauritius to France with her Frenchman lover. Multiple cultures, total bedlam, absolute bliss.
This entry was posted in Culture, French, Health & Fitness, Indian, Mauritius, Minnesota, Religion, Work Abroad and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Gossip in the Wind

  1. immottcoiva says:

    Lots of guys blog about this topic but you wrote down some true words!

  2. Pingback: Trackback

  3. beachvolleymu says:

    Hi, I just happened to stumble on your blog and what a refreshing read. I was born in Mauritius, grew up in Toronto and went back to live as an adult for a year or so. You put into words what I feel during my stay there and what I try to explain to my big city friends who have never been there.

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