What was supposed to be just a fun family holiday back to Mauritius turned out to mean a fair bit more to me.
LOCATION: TAMARINA RESORT IN TAMARIN, MAURITIUS
WEARING: Sundress dress (shop all Sundress here) | Bag from Cambodia (shop similar here) | Vintage earrings | Spurr heels
SHOP THE LOOK BELOW
Born to a Mauritian mum and Italian dad, it is suffice to say that my upbringing was rather diverse. I was shaped by an eclectic mix of influences from either side of the family; influences from two cultures that dont’ exactly mirror each other (or much at all for that matter).
Half Mauritian and half Italian, but brought up in Australia; I guess you can say I am a true ‘moggie’.
At the age of 28, I can confidently say that I understand my Italian heritage and that I proudly identify as being Italian.
Up until last year, I still had a huge Italian influence from my 89 year old nonna. As much as I used to laugh at her or roll my eyes at some of the things she said, I was incredibly lucky to have her presence well into my adulthood; there is only so much you understand and appreciate when you are younger.
In your primary and high school years you still have so much to learn. You aren’t worldly by any definition of the word, and often you aren’t very appreciative – not for any other reason then you just haven’t matured enough yet. I took for granted all the little cultural nuances I was exposed to through my family as a kid. I took it for granted because that was simply the way things went. In my innocence, I never really questioned or thought too intently about what we did, ate and said.
Now, as an adult, those different little cultural things that we have always done mean a lot more to me.
As I mentioned, the influence of my Italian grandparents that went on well into my adulthood really helped me to truly understand and appreciated my Italian heritage. Unfortunately I didn’t have that privilege on my Mauritian side. My grandad sadly passed when I was 17 and away in Europe; and for as long as I can remember, our relationship with grandma was little to nil.
Unlike my Italian side, after the age of 17 I didn’t have a 1st generation Mauritian matriarch or patriarch championing the way. I didn’t have that same connection with my Mauritian roots that I did in my childhood into my adulthood. Of course I still had my mum, her brothers and sisters and our extended family, but that influence wasn’t as strong without my grandparents. It is just the way it is when you live in Australia and have parents of 2 different nationalities.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have always been proud to say I am Mauritian (even when 80% of people have no idea ‘what a Mauritia is’ – see, they had no idea) and have always done distinctly Mauritian things; but, what going back to Mauritius made me realise I wasn’t doing, was truly understanding my Mauritian heritage. I am almost ashamed to admit that there were certain aspects of being Mauritian that I hadn’t quite got my head around yet. But I shouldn’t be ashamed because it was a harder puzzle to piece together without my grandad and grandma’s influences in my later years. And I definitely shouldn’t be ashamed because I have managed to piece some of that puzzle together now.
So many things finally clicked being back in Mauritius and absorbing myself in the culture.
There were so many ‘aha!’ moments in my 10 days back on the island. Putting salt on our cut up apple wasn’t just a weird thing that our grandad did every time he gave us fruit, it was Mauritian (they serve their fruit with salt and chilli). My love for headscarves and bold prints? The African-Mauritian influence (when paired with the Italian influence, I had no chance at being a minimalist). There were so many little things that all made so much more sense while I was over there. I felt at home.
Of course there were a lot of less trivial things that clicked too, but there is no need to delve that far into the dynamics of my family or the country (unless you are interested in hearing more of the history of Mauritius? Let me know below!).
For me, finally going back to Mauritius at this age allowed me to truly understand and appreciate what it means to be Mauritian. I had never forgotten what it meant to be Mauritian, but it just made everything clearer. There are so many aspects of who I am that I can attribute to being Italian, to being Mauritian and to being a moggy; and to see that a little more clearly now is almost liberating. I had been wanting to get back to Mauritius for years, and I think -amongst other things – it was because deep down I knew that there was a lot of understanding and learning to be done.