Like a Wong Kar-wai Film

Port Louis, Mauritius
March 18, 2001

Kwan and Colette at Rue Royal-1
Kwan and Colette at Rue Royal

Twelve hours later, swinging London seems a world away. Everything here is lush and green; there are miles and miles of sugarcane fields, feels like paradise even before we disembark. It’s my fortune cookie predicament come true. This is where I’ll retire a gentleman of leisure and devote my time to the art of meditative probability in my very own mahjong parlor. We check into Hotel Le St. George. I’m once again sleep deprived.

After a long deserved nap, we stroll down Rue Royal to grab some chow. I feel a strange and familiar connection here as I stroll along these streets of Port Louis. The colonial architecture caressed by the tail end of magic hour light is reminding me of “Days Of Being Wild”. Alluring silhouettes of So Lai Zhen beckons me around every street corner.

There’s a striking déjà vu of Southeast Asia in the 50’s. The old Chinese signs roll back fond childhood memories of Shumsuipo, my old neighbourhood in Nine Dragons where I grew up. I feel as if the gods have summoned me back to this long-lost land as my nose is led from street to street by the scent of incense from the sprinkling of Chinese temples dedicated to various deities.

This morning, Raj our driver for the week is taking us to St. Julien. We take our time picking up ambient of sugar cane plantations, country stores and village temples along the way. Clouds moving shadows across the road in random patterns… traffic… what’s happening on the roadside… think ahead of yourself… no need to concern about making something original… All ya gotta do is find an expressive and personal voice.

At Chez Manuel, Collette is graciously waiting for us with a fabulous Hakka lunch. Her Hakka menu is an eclectic mixed of Creole and Indian, quite different from our Trini friend Maurice. After lunch, we shoot an interview with Collette in her tropical garden. It was a peaceful garden except for the mosquitoes that tried to eat us alive.

There are still a few good hours of light after we’re done with Collette. Raj takes us to Flacq. Along the way we grab more ambient of sugar cane country.

We head up early today to get as much in the can as possible since we’re catching an afternoon flight out to South Africa. Starting from the playground by our hotel through downtown streets we meander up the market district surrounding Chinatown. It’s like a music video shoot. We find situations… maybe suggest dialogue… and let the subjects do the rest. We’re not sure what it all really means or where and how it’ll work in the story… I’m just working off instincts and the possibilities of the space.

On our way to the airport, I’m a little queasy about not having enough material for this story. Cheuk seems fairly confident that we’ll pick up the rest on our way back.