bookmark_borderAre Mauritians racist?

On /r/mauritius there is an interesting albeit controversial discussion about racism in Mauritius. It is interesting that every participant thinks that some other community, presumably not their own, is racist. One says that the Chinese and Muslims suffer the most prejudice; another, that the Chinese are the most racist; yet another, that the Creoles and Muslims are the biggest victims of racism. The consensus then seems to be that Mauritians are racist generally.

However, someone rightly points out that it is not so much racism as it is communalism. Sadly this division is an effective formula for politicians to win votes and is therefore unlikely to be given up.

bookmark_borderThoughts of Marcus Antoninus Aurelius

I recently finished reading Thoughts of Marcus Antoninus Aurelius, a collection of Emperor Antoninus’s thoughts about Stoic principles. The format of the book is notable in that each ‘thought’ is written in short sentences, sometimes even in just one phrase but rarely more than a few paragraphs. I like the book because it shows a man at the head of a great Roman empire sharing in common with us such simple desires of being good, just, and content.

Marcus Aurelius writes a lot about the importance of wisdom, justice, and humility in living well. He is also fixated with the inevitability of death and the finitude of everything; glory, he says, is a futile pursuit as nothing is permanent and we are soon forgotten in the progress of time. Little did he know that his thoughts would endure for almost 2000 years.

Not Marcus Aurelius’s own words, but a commentary from the translator, nevertheless this passage is thought-provoking.

Many men think that they are seeking happiness when they are only seeking the gratification of some particular passion, the strongest that they have. The end of a man is, as already explained, to live comformably to nature, and he will thus obtain happiness, tranquility of mind, and contentment.

bookmark_borderDon’t have floorboards in the kitchen, they said

Shortly after buying our house we went shopping for decoration materials. We wanted floorboards in all the rooms on the ground floor so that it was a seamless polished wood surface from the front door all the way into the kitchen at the back. That was despite general wisdom against wood flooring in rooms where there is potential for liquid spills. So we bought the top quality product that was available ‘just to be safe’. It was of industrial grade, suitable for high traffic, and guaranteed to last for ten years — a lifetime away, we thought. That was 16 years ago.

The inlet hose to the washing machine under the kitchen counter started leaking. The trickle did not flow to the front where we would have seen it but instead found its way between the wall skirting and the floorboards to soak into the sponge-like underlay material. Which means that all the time the leak was developing, the water was absorbed under the floor. It eventually reached saturation point, and the kitchen was properly flooded.

I fixed the leak, cleaned the floor, and ran the dehumidifier. Fortunately, the boards are not too deformed; there are two small bulges in front of the washing machine — could we cover them with a mat? — and there is some swelling on one side of the kitchen cabinet where it has been in contact with the leakage.

The damage is not insurance claim-worthy, but it makes one more problem to address.

bookmark_borderADSL 4 EVERY 1

Screenshot of ADSL 4 EVERY 1 petition

We all reacted quickly and loudly to the ICTA proposal to snoop on Facebook activities, and with our concerns validated by EFF, Mozilla Foundation, and international media, it is unlikely that the plan will survive.

Another shock-worthy event that received much less attention in 2004 was the launch of ADSL services by Telecom Plus (now MyT) at the hefty price of Rs 5,500 per month. But some people protested and forced Telecom Plus to halve the price — a decent achievement, I suppose. Of course, change.org and reddit did not exist yet, so the online petition had to be handcrafted. Thanks to Wayback Machine, you can see how ADSL 4 EVERY 1 looked.

Three of us collaborated from Canada, UK and Mauritius to put the site together within a day. The text feels like a first draft and expresses more outrage than arguments, but it achieved its goal.