Rattan Gujadhur

[Rattan Gujadhur] Fake Products of Mauritius Inc

Jeudi 22 Novembre 2018

Rattan Gujadhur left Mauritius for higher studies in the US in 1999. He has practiced in the Pharma and Biotech world for over 29 years and is a Dr in Chemistry. He remains deeply in love with Mauritius and has published reminiscences of Mauritius via a poetry collection and a novel


The building was an imposing megastructure of newly acquired wealth, not only because of the fancy roman pillars, but mostly the size it took over almost a whole block of street.

On one of the nicest streets in Port Louis, far from the impossibly humid and hot Corderie or Chausse Street where the now imposing towers have made the clobbering noise of the cars resound even louder, and the scorching heat even more unbearable, as compared to my old experiences of the spatial space I used to call ‘Port Louis’, almost twenty years ago.

Yes, the island is heating up (not just in terms of real estate value) and one does not need ice cores from the north pole to prove to us that global temperatures are abnormally increasing and sea level is rising,or has risen.  
 
On a complete side note, I was appalled to see how no beach is left around La Preneuse and the western shores.  There has been a massive amount of beach development all over the shores and such savage undeterred growth, has affected sand drift and lagoon vitality. Anyone who has seen and lived around the coast will tell you that the beach is (or better still) has technically largely disappeared.

We are not in Seychelles, but still, there is a false sense of ‘oh the beauty of living near the shores’ in Mauritius, when in fact it is a complete horror to know that lagoon diversity is frankly dead in the water. Yet we have plenty of visits of consultants from the UN consulting on the environment every month, and year, and their recommendations, have as much potency as dead corals in an aquarium never jumping back to life.  

No one directly is to be blamed, of course, since we are Mauritians, and are always told to be non confrontational in all we do, but we know deep inside that it has been a long history of ‘don’t care‐ism’ when it comes to proper littoral development planning, drift management, waste‐water management and effluent discharges near the shores that has resulted into this beautiful carnage.

Have we already missed the boat on environmental management in Mauritius?

The heart truly wants to say yes, but the mind knows not everything is lost, and mitigation planning, strict controls, sustainable (the word everyone loves) development can still be relevant.

Who will apply them this remains (and will remain) unanswered, but do we have the will to change? 
 

"FAMILY FRIEND"

So with these feelings running in my mind, I entered the building and asked in a low tone to speak to someone at the highest possible executive level, since I said I was so very much interested in the line of product they offered, which I had heard, cures depression, cancer, diabetes, sleep disorder and many many more, even erectile dysfunction.

When the admin asked me who I was, I just said an admirer, but she insisted I introduce myself formally so she could from her end, not look stupid when she called the Administrative Assistant to the CEO. I had to lie. I said I was a writer of Mauritian origin, who was back in Mauritius, for good, and was greatly interested to represent their product/s as a keen ambassadeur.

Surprisingly, barely had I sat down in the imposing almost Louis X1V lounge, that an overexcited Mauritian guy walks in and it felt like an old family friend overjoyed with pleasure after a long separation. He was jumping around in his excitement, and added, ‘this is why we are here,  right, to serve people like yourself (he meant ordinary beings) who are attracted to us by word of mouth’.

‘Oh yes,’ I said (lying like a snake), ‘I have heard so much about your great products that I took a bus from Quatre Bornes today to come and see you’. He took me to a conference room called ‘Versailles’ and without even allowing me to settle, he started blurping the pitch talks.

So he starts, ‘do you want to be healthy’‘do you want to live longer to see your kids have kids’. I said, euh, ‘yes sure’. But I added. ‘before I live a minute longer’‘can I have a coffee since I want to enjoy this time with you to the very fullest’.

He looked at me suspiciously, and added, ‘Of course of course bien sur’. He buzzed for coffee, and spent the next few minutes looking at his watch presumably according to my poor knowledge of things of value, that would have cost him about Rs 150,000. So yes indeed he was a nouveau riche and obviously well‐groomed in the art of marketing himself and his products.
 

"HERBAL MAGIC’'

So after a few minutes of awkwardness when I waited for the coffee to be served, on cups, labelled, ‘forever dying’ done to imprint brand on the memory of the coffee sippers, I settled and readied myself for a barrage of marketing buzz words. And buzz words they were, 'natural' ‘god sent’, ‘herbal magic’, ‘treatment for all ills’, yes, and yes, he went on to tell me that they have been exploiting his magical plant for ages for the benefit of people of the world (which included poor Mauritians).

I added that I was sure his bank manager was not complaining. He gave me a very faint smile back, and undeterred, continued the lecture on the magic of his herbal sanjivani. When he had nearly exhausted 
himself but not before, listing to me all the benefits of being a future ambassador for his company and to be soon making ‘lots of money’, I gave him time to catch his breath, and in a very low tone, pretending to have already become a ‘converted disciple’ with my eyes glittering, like Paul just saw Jesus coming towards him from afar to share the good words of the Lord, I said. WOW ! THIS IS A GREAT PRODUCT ! 

Then waited for him to bask in the sunshine of his ego like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar basking in front of thousands of disciples waiting to catch a sight of him, I admired the scene, but then my admiration quietly turned to revulsion and rage. I told me I had few questions, and wanted to clarify a few things before I sign the dotted line on the ‘ambassador to be paperwork’ which he had gently slipped towards me as i was giving my ‘wows of conversion’.

I asked that as a science person, and when the words ‘science’ was uttered his eyes popped out, and I could feel a shield being invisibly lifted, like I had said the words ‘Judas’ to the disciples of Jesus. So for the benefit of clarity, I recount here the questions and answers session with Mr Nouveau Riche: 

 

Question: If your products are magical and sell around the world, you must be making it in many several of MT (metric tonnes). So how do you preserve the naturalness without adding additives to your actives to ship them around the world, and how do you know they do not impede the activity of your actives, if at all there is any such activity? 

Answer: We do not use additives this much I know.

Question: Really? Here is a picture of your product label (thank you Steve Jobs and i‐phone). There are colorants, stabilizers, polymers, and salts that are listed in your label, and so you say you do not use additives, and you possibly do not even know the effect they have on your so called magical active? 

Answer: Are you a Doctor or a Chemist? 

Question: Can you reply to my question? 

Answer: Oh the labels, we just add them so we keep the product in good shape 

Question: What you mean good shape, and why even say 100% natural, because this means your product is chemically adulterated and not 100% natural as claimed by your esteemed company? 

Answer: I am afraid you asking unnecessary questions, because we sell hundreds of tonnes and people really really (note he said really twice) do like our products.  

Question: Selling great volumes is not the point, I was asking about your ‘true’ product quality? 

Answer: I am sorry; I must ask you to leave NOW as I have a meeting IN A FEW MINUTES. You can read our brochures; they contain all answers to your questions 

Questions: I have read all of them, there are no answers in them to my questions, they in fact avoid to talk about the commercialization of the ‘natural’ products, where they are sourced from, and additives added in them. 

Answer: I am afraid I have to ask you to leave, this meeting is over. 

I walked out the door, released, on the wide open pavement, and in the background, the jovial cacaphony of students having recess, the future of Mauritius staking their claim.


What future? In fact I was not happy with myself and felt like a loser. This was no victory as I had faced an implacable strong enemy bound never to lose, who was I pitted against, it felt like the whole army of Kauravas was next to me to slice me to pieces?  

I was distraught that Mauritians could be so easily swayed, so easily made gullible, so easy sold. Like we have stopped asking the deeper questions, have become complacent in our little island in the sun, and are no match even for the buzz that some smarty pants have created to hide the crookedness of the culture of corruption ‐ pollution, or pollution ‐ corruption.

In the name of ‘100% organic nature’, so much fakes are sold. Symbolically, we eat fake and we have as a nation embrace fake. At this rate, felt I was to die in a decrepit Island, and this gave me ‘l’envie de crier'. I am forever dying many deaths, at every minute, every second, every hour.

Rédigé par Rattan Gujadhur le Jeudi 22 Novembre 2018