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What a Fisherman Taught Me About “Paradise”.

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On my first day in Mauritius, I couldn’t help but envy the lifestyle of the laidback locals lounging around in their Hawaiian shirts. I assumed that living here was paradisiacal indeed, what with constantly being surrounded by the azure waters and not having to deal with the worries of city life. Meeting a fisherman on the island would make me realize otherwise.

I checked in at Le Meridien Ile Maurice, with a plan to indulge in everything that Mauritius is famous for; sunbathing on my private beach with a cocktail, swimming with the ocean in sight, riding a glass bottom boat into the sea, and whiling away time in my balcony overlooking the turquoise waters. Then one day, as I watched the sunset paint the sky red from the resort’s jetty, which protruded into the vast ocean, a young man waded ashore from the shallow waters, wearing a worn-out sweater and carrying a bucket of seashells. A small-boned man of Indian origin, Ravi was a fisherman by profession and an occasional peddler of seashells at the resort. His disarming demeanor immediately struck a chord with me, and we delighted in each other’s company as the sun sank below the horizon.

Mauritius photos, Mauritius ocean, Mauritius sunset

The sunset painting the sky red.

We talked late into the night; I was curious about his life on the island and he about my solo sojourn in Mauritius. His eyes lit up each time he spoke of his encounters at sea; just that morning, after a futile fishing session, he jumped off the boat into the deep sea to snorkel, and spotted a swordfish! While many of his friends sought higher incomes in factories, he chose to be a fisherman so he could feed his family even on days when he made no money. He pointed to some dim lights at the far end of the beach and called them home, but went on tell me that he considered himself very lucky to be able to live by the sea, afford a nice sweater to keep warm in the not-so-cold Mauritian winter, and meet friendly people at the beach who took him around the world with their stories.

Indian ocean, Mauritius photo gallery, Mauritius islands

Who wouldn’t want to dive into these waters?

When I asked if he had ever travelled out of the country, he recounted his fishing trip to Madagascar eight years ago, when fishing laws were still lax. He and three friends took turns to row their open boat and fish, and at nightfall, lit a fire on the boat, cooked and ate the fish, and sang songs to the sea. The fading memories of his adventure made him wistful, and in the tunes he hummed, I could almost hear the joy of a big catch, the roar of the storms they braced, and his unending love for the sea. The anklet of seashells on his bare feet shone in the dim light, and as we walked along the beach at Pointe Aux Piments, I heard him rattle off sentences in eight different languages, of which he had learnt Spanish and Italian at the resort itself, while selling seashells to sunbathers.

Mauritius beaches, Mauritius pictures

The beach along Pointe Aux Piments.

In Ravi’s adventurous spirit, I saw a little bit of my own; in vastly different ways and worlds, we are both trying to choose the things we love, over money. The difference though, is not that he lives in paradise and I continue to seek it. But that he has realized that paradise is nothing more than a state of mind, and a way of life.

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Have you met anyone on your travels who taught you an important lesson about life?

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Also Read:

The Lady in Red.

A Cup of Life Over Tea.

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Join The Shooting Star on Facebook and Twitter for more stories from around the world.

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I originally wrote an edited version of this story for The Times of India supplement, Mumbai Mirror.

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41 Comments Post a comment
  1. Its great Ravi thought you how paradise is and your journey to where he is, is the perfect moment to also bask in its inspirations. I love the way you weave them into one great article such as this, impressive.

    March 17, 2013
    • Thanks, glad you liked it. It is chance encounters like these that make me want to travel more :)

      March 19, 2013
  2. Love this article and message, well written too. What a wise fisherman–and friendly and kind too.

    March 17, 2013
    • Thanks Patti! I was indeed taken by his wisdom too.

      March 19, 2013
  3. Beautiful!

    March 17, 2013
  4. i love the way you bring out the people and the softer aspects of their lives in your travel article! makes them special :)

    March 18, 2013
  5. STUNNING STUNNING photos!! You have made me want to go there. What an inspirational story. I have such a travel bug it’s scary! Thank you for bringing this to us. It is inspiring!! You have a great blog! Do visit mine at: http://tamikadoubell.com/2013/03/18/the-cosmo-bartender-of-the-year-party/

    March 18, 2013
    • Thank you! Glad you enjoyed reading it.

      March 19, 2013
  6. Absolutely awesome piece of advice. Never let it be said that those who live on their own terms are fools. We are the fools who live on the terms of others. Huge amount of envy for Ravi. And some for you too miss travel bug!

    March 19, 2013
    • Agreed, and that’s exactly how paradise is found too. More inspiration than envy please ;)

      March 19, 2013
  7. These shots are totally gorgeous, almost hard to believe they’re real! Great post :)

    Check out my budget travel blog soon!

    March 19, 2013
  8. “Paradise is nothing more than a state of mind, and a way of life.” so true and nicely brought out in this post of urs Shivya :) U definitely inspire me to travel more!

    March 19, 2013
  9. It’s always about the people you meet along the way, isnt it ? Just opens your mind !

    March 20, 2013
  10. Pratyush #

    Beautiful thought – “paradise is nothing more than a state of mind, and a way of life.”
    Love your posts and blogs and for the inspiration they provide!!

    March 20, 2013
  11. I thought you might be interested in this%2

    March 25, 2013
  12. There is something to learn from everybody in this world. And the one who is open to that kind of learning is truly a man of the world. Shivya, nice post.

    April 6, 2013
  13. harjot #

    Well written..strikes a chord.Felt wistful asking myself – am I sure I am not choosing money over my dreams ?

    April 11, 2013
  14. This is so beautiful! Isn’t this what we all crave for? Stories we have never been part of, but feel like we’ve participated in somehow nonetheless?
    Beautiful!

    September 10, 2013
  15. Amiya #

    Beautiful post. Thanks for writing this one. <3

    September 17, 2013
  16. Wonderful blog! I found it while surfing around on
    Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo
    News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!
    Thank you

    October 18, 2013
  17. shahujvaln #

    Wow… Following your blog since long time but missed this post somehow….

    Some people spends whole life to understand meaning of life and some people like Ravi understands it just like that…

    I loved his understanding and love towards sea.. I loved the way you depicted him…

    November 20, 2013
  18. Great post. It goes to show that everybody has dreams and its not always what we think of being rich or travelling the world. Maybe we should be like Ravi and be thankful of the simple things.

    December 9, 2013
  19. Right now it looks like WordPress is the best blogging platform out there
    right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?

    March 20, 2014
  20. Hi, the whole thing is going nicely here and ofcourse every one is sharing data,
    that’s truly good, keep up writing.

    May 24, 2014
  21. Hi i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anyplace, when i
    read this piece of writing i thought i could also
    make comment due to this sensible post.

    July 3, 2014
  22. Hi Shivya,
    An enjoyable post….Thanks for sharing.

    July 31, 2014
  23. “…………paradise is nothing more than a state of mind, and a way of life.”
    Loved these thoughts and a lovely article :)

    August 13, 2014

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