What a Fisherman Taught Me About “Paradise”.

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.

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

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An edited version of this story was published in The Times of India supplement, Mumbai Mirror.

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  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.

    1. Thanks, glad you liked it. It is chance encounters like these that make me want to travel more 🙂

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

    1. Thanks Patti! I was indeed taken by his wisdom too.

  3. i love the way you bring out the people and the softer aspects of their lives in your travel article! makes them special 🙂

    1. Thanks Sapna, they are special. I only try to do justice to just how much 🙂

  4. Jim Smith says:

    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!

    1. Agreed, and that’s exactly how paradise is found too. More inspiration than envy please 😉

  5. “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!

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

  7. 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!!

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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?

  11. Beautiful post. Thanks for writing this one. <3

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  13. shahujvaln says:

    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…

  14. 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.

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  17. “…………paradise is nothing more than a state of mind, and a way of life.”
    Loved these thoughts and a lovely article 🙂

  18. Pritish Sahoo says:

    Sometimes it is really unbelievable how such small incidents teach us so valuable things.

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