On the first day of our tour of Mauritius our driver-cum-guide Vikram lands up at our hotel sharp at 9.30 am to take us on a trip to South/South-West parts of the island.
The 20-something Vikram, hair neatly bleached and spiked, facial hair trimmed and carved into pretty unimaginable shapes, smartly clad in the global outfit of today, jeans and a T-shirt bearing his travel comany’s logo. Vikram could have been a young man from any part of the globe.
A cheery hi, a quick introduction and we were off to our first destination.
Five minutes into our drive, excited by the sight of the lush green sugarcane fields on either side of the highway, glimpses of the clear blue sea just beyond the green fields, no pot-holes, no traffic jams in the first 5 minutes, what better could a Bangalorean want at the beginning of a long-planned vacation!
Hey, Mauritius, here we come!
Lulled into the holiday mood I asked Vikram whether he could play some music for us on the car stereo.
“Of course”, he said, “I have just the right music for you!”
Vikram inserted a CD into his car stereo as I settled into my seat, eyes closed.
Strains of Sega music floating through my mind I quite looked forward to the drive. Alas, my pleasure was short-lived. As the first strains of the first number wafted through the speakers, I sat up with a jerk wondering what had hit me; it was the unmistakable nasal twang of good old Himesh Reshammiya. “Aashiq banaya, Aashiq banaya…”. I grit my teeth, too polite to ask him to change the disc, and braced my self for the HR assault. Then followed, “Aapka suroor..” and then “Shakalaka boom-boom”!
I could not bear it any longer and asked Vikram to change the CD and play something else.
“No, no, sir”, he said, “you MUST listen to this track. I have personally remixed this track on my PC with the new remix software I have downloaded”. So the HR assault continued this time via a remixed HR track, “Zara jhoom, jhoom..”.
Vikram went on and on about the Bollywood stars he has driven around Mauritius. Yes, he has driven around the great Himesh R. as well a few months earlier when HR was down to Mauritius for a concert.
Vikram then confided, he has also driven Preity Zinta around. He proudly said had promised to make him a Bollywood star should he deign to give up his driver-cum-guide job in Mauritius and visit Mumbai!
If it was not for Vikram’s earnestness and his innate likeability this piece of our chat would have been intensely funny. But I quickly realized that he was dead serious in what he was telling us. I just could not bear HR any longer and asked him to switch to any FM station which played Hindi stuff. And the good, well mannered guy Vikram is, he switched on to a popular FM station and guess which song was playing? Good old HR’s good old “Aashiq banaya!”
Bollywood is something which will never be far away when you are in Mauritius. The latest movies play in the theaters of Mauritius. While we were there we could see the posters of “Lagaa Chunari Mein Daag” and Manorama Six Feet Under” pasted all over the city walls. A visit later to the posh Caudan Waterfront and we saw a giant poster of Om Shanti Om at a multiplex announcing the movie release on 8th November (9th Nov is the official release date in India).
We were shown various locations where Bollywood movies have been shot:
“Hey, this is where this shot of “No Entry” was shot!”
“And that is where the car chase in that movie happened”.
“And that is the beach where that song was picturized.”
And they all expected us to go all ooh-aah-waah at all these juicy tidbits!!
Bollywood has this uniquely irritating habit of crawling all over you wherever there are people of Indian origin.