Friday, February 12, 2010

Conquer ... with love

"Toutes les batailles de la vie nous enseignent quelque chose, même celles que nous perdons."
Paulo Coelho

All the battles in life teach us something, even those we lost.

Coming back brought many sad issues to deal with. The passing away of my mother-in-law. The plight of Haitians, after the devastating effect of the earthquake, is still with us. Looking at the brighter side, the effervescence of the Winter Olympics, because it's on Canadian soil, has spread its positive vibes over the city, over our snow-filled country.

And yes, I believe that love does resolve a lot of problems.

"Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love."
Mahatma Gandhi

Wishing you all lots of love for Valentine's day ...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Venus d'ailleurs - The story of Chinese immigration in Mauritius

A bonus to my photo exhibition trip: the documentary on Chinese Immigration in Mauritius, the last one in a series of four was launched a few days before I left.

Here's a preview, and an article on the film by Alain Gordon-Gentil and David Constantin.

I contributed to the documentary while I was visiting China to retrace my father's footsteps. Watching the finished product on a giant screen, in a theatre packed with 300 people was awesome. The music, words, and images seemed as if they were magically put together in this dramatic production that recounts the life of Chinese immigrants, among them my father.

Thanks to Alain Gordon-Gentil's vision, his desire to share with the world the richness of his beloved island's history and culture, we now have a series of four documentaries to better understand Mauritius, its people, and what makes it thrive as a nation.

The documentaries can be purchased from Pamplemousses Production.
Tel: 230-247-1093

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

What a wonderful world ...

I've come back to earth when I landed in Toronto on Sunday. The photo exhibition in Mauritius was such an overwhelmingly positive experience that I felt as if I was floating in another reality, a warm, seductive, tropical one.

The Photography Museum is an amazing little treasure nestled in the heart of Port-Louis, the island's capital. It was such a privilege to exhibit in this old stone house built centuries ago by French colonials. The museum was created by Tristan Bréville and his wife, Marie-Noëlle. Their dedication to photography, and Mauritian history and culture is truly inspiring. They seem to be at the hub of a larger community of talented Mauritians. Through the Brévilles, I've met artists, photographers, musicians, writers, and could finally sense the creative pulse of the island. And love it so much that I'd like to go back there every few years to mingle with those artists and exchange ideas and perhaps work on projects together.

It was also wonderful to renew contact with friends from high school. And so neat to recognize them after three decades. It was always the eyes that brought back memories of them as teenagers, that brought back that instant connection of having shared many special moments together. The eyes, truly the windows of the soul.

We got together for dinner, and my dear friend Angèle brought a guitar. Such a thrill to strum along as we all sang french ballads of Françoise Hardy, Barbara and Georges Moustaki. It's amazing how music brings back memories, and have a way of flooding one's senses with the melancholy of that time.

Friends and relatives were so warm and supportive, making the show a memorable experience. Mahen Bujun, a talented cameraman and a terrific friend, filmed the opening reception but I have yet to learn how to put it online.

There were so many positive reviews and coverage on the exhibition that I felt really spoiled, like a kid wallowing with delight in the warm welcome: radio & TV interviews, numerous newspaper articles.

After the show was over, it was fun to trek around the island, take photos in villages along the coast, and meet Mauritians going about their daily tasks along the breathtaking backdrop of mountains, sugarcane fields, and shimmering sea. I hope to tell their stories in pictures in an exhibition in Toronto next year. Thanks to all who drove me around to show me the Mauritius they love. Harold, Ahfee, Monique, Ahlien, Angèle, Ahlan, Patrick, Eric, Robert, Bernard, Tristan, Alain, it wouldn't have been the same without you.

Thanks also to Christiane and Dominique for introducing me to Rodrigues, an unspoiled island that is part of Mauritius but did not develop as fast. It has retained its natural charm with cows and goats grazing freely near streets, people walking about, their contours outlined against an endless sky, and a constant, ever-present sea.

And thanks to everybody who came to the show, I hope you were inspired by photos of le Canada que j'aime, and will visit some time.

Guests listening to the opening comments by the mayor of Port-Louis.
Photo by Tristan Bréville