Children’s Adventure in Mauritius

I’d like to sit on this beach with my writing pad and jot down notes for my new novel. My guest, Pooben Narayanen, is lucky enough to do this if he wants to, as he lives in this paradise that is Mauritius.???????????????????????????????

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Here is Pooben to answer some interview questions I asked him.

Pooben [1]

 

1. How do you feel about being a writer? 

I enjoy it, but it is tough. You have ideas in your head and then you have to motivate yourself to put them down on paper or type them up on your computer. That is the toughest part.

2. What kinds of things do you like to write about?

Oh wow! There are several things, but here are my favorites starting with fiction: writing for children, also horror or the paranormal, and everyday life. Non-fiction: if I could I’d write about people. All kinds of people, real people. I’d write about what it is they do, what their life is like and what their thoughts are. I mean regular everyday people – no superstars – just people. The goal, I think, is to prove that the social construct – that is race, ethnicity, and all those other divisive elements – are irrelevant. To prove we are all the same.

 3. What is the title of your book?

The Mount Hope Explorers Club and the Great White.

4. Can you tell us in 25 words or less what it’s about?

Three ten-year-olds living in Mauritius meet a great white shark, and they have to save it!

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5. There is a lot of swimming and snorkeling in your book. Did you grow up loving the water? Tell us about it.

 I was taught how to swim in the ocean at a very young age, but we moved a lot, so I didn’t get to follow through in the younger years. When we lived in Mauritius, going to the beach was a big deal. My parents were busy with work and in Mauritius, people frown upon activities such as snorkeling. When you are in school you should be studying. So for a long time snorkeling was not an option. I started getting into it when I got older.

6. Did you have a group that you hung out with when you were about ten years old?

I wish I could say yes but there wasn’t much of a group. I hung out with some of the kids where I lived.

7. What kind of mischief did you and your friends get into?

One thing I remember is playing army in my grandmother’s vegetable patch. It was awesome because part of the garden was like a jungle. We would spend hours playing there. My grandma would get mad because we’d run through the good vegetable patch!

8. What is the motto of your characters in the Explorer’s Club? What is their goal, their aim, as they pursue their adventures?

The motto is “Never be bored.” Their goal is simply to keep busy and keep things interesting. They know, thanks to Dr. Gail, their mentor and curator at the Mount Hope Museum, that the world is full of interesting things – starting with Mount Hope village.

9. Do your characters end up having learned something in the story that has improved them in some way? What values have they learned that will aid in their growth towards adulthood?

My hope is that the characters grow to become citizens of the world. They are open-minded and pragmatic. The main values they are learning are fairness, acceptance, and empathy.

10. What are your favourite hobbies?

If I had the time it would be hiking and snorkeling. One or the other would make me happy!

11. What is your favourite way to spend time with your children?

Right now it usually involves running around according to their schedule. You go through a range of emotions in those moments.

12. Would you like it if your children did the activities that your characters do in your book, if they were the age of your characters? Why or why not?

I think I’d love that. To have that kind of freedom would be amazing but reality is different, right?

13. Do you have another book planned? Without giving away the plot, can you tell us what type of book it will be?

I have started working on the second book. The Mount Hope Explorers Club go to the Red Island: Madagascar. They find themselves involved in a possible coup, international intrigue, and dodgy people.

14. Where can people buy your book?

My book is available on Kindle (click here).  You can also find Mount Hope stories on my blog: www.mounthopeexplorersclub.com

***

Thanks for your visit, Pooben. I’ve read The Mount Hope Explorers and the Great White, and I think anyone with children would enjoy reading this to them or having them read it for themselves. Lots of good adventures with page-turner quality. Best of luck with your books.

Love at the Ends of the Earth

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I asked author Pooben Narayanen to add his thoughts to our Valentine’s Day countdown with a Valentine’s-Day-related story. Here is what he came up with.

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Valentine’s Day related story, eh? Well, I have to admit that my partner and I aren’t into Valentine’s Day. We see it as being a bit too commercial. Over here it’s a big deal. I’m pretty sure that restaurants are booked and cards are flying off shelves, and although Mauritius grows roses, I wouldn’t be surprised if some aren’t being imported from Kenya or Holland.

However, I do have a Valentine story. It goes back to my secondary school days during my O level year (Mauritius follows the British system). It so happened that I was a bit of a whiz when it came to English literature. How did I know this? A few days before Valentine’s Day I noticed one of my classmates writing a letter to the love of his life. I couldn’t help myself and decided to give him a hand. Before I knew it I was helping guys from other classes. I ended up using quotes from Shakespeare. Their girlfriends loved it! Naturally nobody admitted that I was the one who wrote it. Ah, teenage love, eh?

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As for me my Valentine’s will be spent with my wife and two boys. I am an author who is trying to make a go of things. I am based in Mauritius, which for those who don’t know, is located all the way in the southern part of the Indian Ocean. You can find my first book “The Mount Hope Explorers Club & the Great White” on Kindle. I also have a website with short stories: www.mounthopeexplorersclub.com.

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Venison Vindoo – Mauritian Style

Can you imagine a wedding in a place as lovely as this?

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I’ve asked my friend, writer Pooben Narayanen, to tell us how the locals do it.

Venison Vindoo, Mauritian Style

No matter how small or how big, weddings require a lot of work. In Mauritius you almost need to recruit an army of people to help out. When my cousin got married in 2001, wow! Did we have our hands full.

My family in Mauritius is of Tamil ancestry. We tried to keep some of the old country culture, particularly for weddings, although I am told that things are done differently back there.

Aside from the wedding itself there are two important functions: the wedding eve dinner and the vindoo lunch, a post-wedding reception. The vindoo lunch is hosted by each wedding side separately. It is considered bad luck to do it together.

In the days before the wedding, no alcohol or meat is to be served. After the wedding at the vindoo it’s no holds barred and the majority of Tamil-Mauritian families will butcher a goat. They make the most delicious curries you can think of.

Our curries are not as peppery as you would find in South India. We place emphasis on the blending of spices and tenderness of the meat. Chilli hot is not our style. Besides chilli hot does not help in 30+ degrees, when you’re wearing your best sari, dress or suit, and also enjoying a cocktail or whiskey.

On my mom’s side we don’t do goat for the vindoo; we do deer. My granddad was a game warden and supposedly one of the best shots of his time. So my mom and her family all grew up on venison. And when they got married somebody would just go out and bag a deer. So that’s what was on the menu.

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The in-laws' side of the family pay the bride to eat.  Same on the other side of the family where they pay the groom to eat. (Like wedding presents)

The in-laws’ side of the family pay the bride to eat. Same on the other side of the family where they pay the groom to eat. (Like wedding presents)

My uncles got a good deal from one of the game reserves, and the bride’s side wanted to serve deer for their vindoo, too. We were told that they would be bringing in two freshly killed deer on the eve of the wedding. We had been busy preparing the house and marquis for the wedding eve dinner and now we also had to  cut and quarter two deer. One of my uncles managed to get his hands on a huge fridge to store the carcasses. The butchering was to take place after dinner.

As we were setting up decorations that afternoon, when I heard a car horn. Someone yelled that the deer had arrived. One of my eldest cousins sat grinning behind the wheel of a really old rented car. “Where’s the truck with the deer?” I asked.

He just smiled. “We managed to fit both carcasses in the boot of the car.” He popped open the trunk. “Two does, freshly killed this morning.”

They had been gutted, but not skinned. He had placed banana leaves underneath and on top to keep them clean. Whose job was it to carry them to the fridge? That was mine, my brother’s and two other cousins’. The cousin who had brought the deer wasn’t getting his hands dirty!

Now the front of the house was covered by a huge marquis with the tables and decorations set up. My aunt was not going to allow us to bring the carcasses through the front door. This meant going through the neighbour’s yard and carrying them over a wall.

My brother and one cousin and I got the carcasses out of the trunk and over the wall. The other cousin had disappeared. Thankfully we were able to hold onto the deer by the legs. Mind you, it was not that easy to keep them clean. Everyone gave us instructions, but nobody wanted to help!

As we placed the deer in the fridge my brother noticed powder burns from a gunshot on one of the deer’s hind quarters. We spread a rumour that when my cousin had to pick up the deer, they had shot the first one and he was given the honour of shooting the second one which was tied up. He was such a lousy shot that he hit it in the ass!

Our worries were not over yet. These deer had to be quartered and butchered. After the wedding eve dinner, after the dancing, when everyone had bedded down or gone home, it was time to get to work. The garage became a temporary butcher shop. It was one a.m. by then, but it had to be done as we were having our vindoo right after the wedding the next day.

One of my uncles had set up a hook and hoisted one carcass. He had been out hunting a few times so he knew what to do. We first had to skin the deer. I was okay with cutting the meat but I left the skinning part to my uncle, the outdoorsman. My cousin decided that if his dad could do it so could he, and the older guys decided to give him a go. He was pretty good, but then he got too cocky. They kept telling him to slow down, but he wasn’t listening. He kept going on and on that he was going to get it done in no time. Then the knife slipped. Oh man! He had sliced his finger pretty bad. Thankfully, it didn’t require stitches.

“We’d better find that part of the finger,” my uncle said, “or someone might end up eating it.”

When my cousin slipped away, we were all complaining that he had bailed. But nope, he come back with a pan, oil, onions, pepper, salt, small green chillies, some cola and a bottle of rum. He found two big bricks and some wood and got a fire going. He set the pan on the fire. While it warmed up he made each of us a rum and coke.

He chose a piece of filet and chopped it into small pieces, spicing it with salt and pepper. Once the pan was hot he added the oil and fried the onions and chillies before adding the meat. Man! It was perfect.

It had started drizzling and the temperature had dropped so the venison snack was just what the doctor ordered. My cousin and I wanted more. We even went to scrounge some bread, but my uncle was having none of it, reminding us that it was for the guests. It was an excellent night and we finished at around 4 a.m. We had to be up by 6:30 that morning for the wedding.

For the vindoo, everyone complimented us for our cutting and butchering skills, although my aunt, who was in charge of the cooking, complained that a filet was missing. My uncle told her that it was a skinny deer, but she didn’t buy it.

***

I’d say Pooben and his family did well to tear themselves away from the beach to do all that work for the wedding. Just look at what he was missing!

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About Pooben Narayanen

Pooben [1]

Pooben Narayanen grew up in Mauritius, the United Kingdom, and Canada. He holds two bachelor degrees from McMaster University, Canada and a Master’s degree from Sydney University, Australia.

He lives in Mauritius with his wife and two children. The Mount Hope Explorers Club and the Great White is his first book.

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You can find “The Mount Hope Explorers Club and the Great White” on amazon.com

Christmas Interview – Pooben Narayanen

Today, my guest is Pooben Narayanen. He has some very exciting news. His first book is published on amazon outlets. Since Pooben lives on Mauritius, he knows a lot about the island and has been able to use this exotic place for the setting of his book. You’ll soon be hearing more about Pooben and his first published book. 

Welcome, Pooben.

Pooben [1]

Christmas Interview

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

We celebrate the festive side of Christmas, especially for the kids, with the Christmas tree, Santa Claus and gifts.

 2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

I spent Christmas Eve alone once. It wasn’t so bad. I was in bed early because I had to work the next day. After work I got to hang out with my friends which was nice.

 3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

I suppose it depends on where I am. In Mauritius, we might have a BBQ. Lamb, shrimp, chicken and fish, with salad and baguettes. Back in Canada it would be a roast.

 4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I think it’s okay for children. But for adults? The whole thing has become so commercial now that it feels as if it’s only about money. 

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

Going to the beach. 

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

No. 

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

I would have to say my first bicycle! 

8. What is a gift you’d rather not receive? 

Ties.

9. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

Never received one. 

10. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

No. 

11. What would you change about Christmas?

Maybe make it less commercial. Is that even possible? 

12. What would you keep the same if you could?

If I could enjoy it like when I was a kid, I wouldn’t change a thing.

13. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

The Nutcracker.

14. What do you like best about Christmas?

It’s another excuse to eat! 

15. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

Merry Christmas to all!

 

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A Writer’s Paradise

Greetings, writers!

Do you ever wish you could be on an island paradise with your notepad and pen, or better yet a laptop with an ever-charged battery? How about in a place like this?

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Or this?

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Or like this?

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Yes, Mauritius would make a perfect writing retreat.

Pooben Narayanen is a writer who is lucky enough to live here. Of course, it’s not as if he’s on holiday 365/24/7, but almost.

I asked Pooben if he’d mind if I interviewed him and here, for your entertainment are the results.

*Note* I have borrowed some interview questions from other interviewers as I saw no need to “re-invent the wheel” and besides, individual answers will always differ.

Tell us about your work in progress.

Oh boy! I have been working on this book for a while now.  It’s a children’s adventure story that takes place on Mauritius. I’ve changed the story about three times. Hopefully I will not change it again!

What was the most demeaning thing said about you as a writer?

The most demeaning thing was when a guy who couldn’t put two sentences together in English let alone speak it, told me that I had really bad English and I should go back to school. This is a guy whose writing I had to edit and rewrite every day. I kept thinking of Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York when he beats a guy up and tells him, “I’m going to teach you how to speak English.”

Are the names of the characters in your novels important?

Absolutely, so my reader can identify with the characters. I’m also hoping they’ll discover some people from a different part of the world who are not really that different from them.

What about the title of your novel?

The title is what will hopefully entice the person to pick up the book to read!

Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

If my book takes off and I get to write others, I’m hoping there will be some hazards, so it makes it more exciting.

Tell us about where you live.

I live in Mauritius which is in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar and right now it’s winter. It is a popular destination for families and honeymooners. Although it is a tropical island, it’s well developed. There is a decent standard of living which keeps going up.

What is the best thing about living there?

The weather.

What is the worst thing about living there?

The slow decay of the island’s natural beauty.

What’s your favorite fruit?

Mandarins.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A good father and husband.

What is your favorite bedtime drink?

None really.

Do you ever wish that you had an entirely uncreative job, like data entry or working in a factory?

No!

Do you believe in a deity?

I do. He is called Ganesha Lord of Wisdom.

Who would play you in a film of your life?

Myself I guess!

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

Patience and persistence.

Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or a movie?

Of course in Star Wars!

What is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing a novel?

I’d have to say the biggest challenge is sitting down and writing. Speaking from personal experience, the ideas are in my head. I just need to write them out–to put them into words–but that can be a challenge.

Do you research your novels?

Yes I do.

How much impact does your childhood have on your writing?

Major impact. My experiences growing up have a lot of influence.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?

How to act as a responsible citizen. This was taught to me by two teachers who did not see their job as simply teaching in the traditional way.

Do you laugh at your own jokes?

Sometimes.

Do you admire your own work?

I’ve never looked at my own work in that light.

What are books for?

Escape.

Are you fun to go on vacation with? Why, or why not?

I’d like to think so; I’m open to exploring new places and then chilling out with a drink at the end of the day.

How do you feel about being interviewed?

It is interesting!

Why do you think what you do matters?

To take it to the basic level, it’s about taking care of my family. So it matters.

Have you ever found true love?

Yeap!

How many times a day do you think about death?

I am an avid newsreader and death is pretty much what you see all the time on the news. You can’t help but think what a family in Baghdad or the Congo is going through when they have lost a loved one due to violence. So it makes me think about it sometimes.

Are you jealous of other writers?

Not at all.

What makes you cry?

When I see pure happiness and love.

What makes you laugh?

My little boy and my wife.

What are you ashamed of?

I get distracted easily! Is that something to be ashamed of?

What’s the loveliest thing you have ever seen?

My son.

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Pooben Narayanen continues to work on his youth novellette set on the paradise islands where he lives.

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Thanks for the interview, Pooben.  I wish you lots of success with your writing.