Our airport experience at
Antananarivo was a bit hairy and annoying. Cheuk had to play
“fixer” guy again but we got through OK without having to pay
any bribes. David is horizontally down and out with a nasty case
of Montezuma’s Revenge. I guess I’m going solo as my own sound
bitch for the day.
No one here speaks English. Everything is
old, smelly and broken. The place plays like a worn out Tom
Waits song on old scratchy vinyl. The infrastructure is as bad
as its food. Soupe chinoise translates as “flies floating in
wonton soup”. The impossibly low minimum wage makes
exploitation, corruption and a “parallel service sector”
The heat here makes Mauritius a child’s play. We each take a pousse pousse through the dusty pothole booby-trapped roads to
Boulevard Joffre. We meet Mrs. Chan, our potential subject and
boss lady of Restaurant Cantonnais. I immediately fell in love
with her funky noodle shack full of frontier flavour. She is
also a tough little old Chinese lady who I can picture throwing
out any bad ass that might dare to give her any trouble.
But unfortunately she is
throwing us out. Somewhere along the line, she’s decided to have
nothing to do with the film or us and there was nothing anybody
can do to change her mind. But she was kind enough to re-direct
us to another Mrs. Chan at Restaurant Le Jade. I was nonetheless
disappointed to miss out on an opportunity to film her.
With David down and losing our story, we head back to escape the
afternoon heat after lunch at Hotel Joffre. We pick up some
street ambient along the way. Our shooting time here is limited
by the extreme heat and sun. We only have so many tolerable
hours in the morning and less into the early evening after the
heat dies down before we lose the light. We’ll have to make
tonight an earlier exception so we don’t miss the kids at the
local Chinese school.
Many of the teachers are Métis. All the kids were Métis as far
as I can tell. I film a couple of classes in action. The kids
are extremely well disciplined and smart. I was really impressed
by how they have retained the culture including the language
skills. I film some of the older children writing their names
skillfully in beautiful Chinese calligraphy on the chalkboard.
It makes me ashamed for slacking off and forgetting most of mine
after leaving Asia… in my exile.
We are going around in circles this morning looking for Le Jade.
This particular part of town doesn’t seem to have any signs.
With everything closed, it’s like being in the twilight zone,
impossible to remember landmarks. We eventually stumble upon it
by chance just before lunch. I’m famish.
After getting thrown out by the other Mrs. Chan, Cheuk is a
little bit more gun shy this time. We’re spending a lot of time
massaging the situation before dropping the bomb. It wasn’t
until after lunch… then dinner… before Cheuk asked Mrs. Chan
about shooting there. We didn’t roll any tape until the next