The final press conference
Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's roundup press conference on his four-day Mauritius trip was held at probably one of the country's most exotic beaches (I must confess, I have not seen all of Mauritius).
While the PM spoke on India-Mauritius agreements, India-Pakistan, and other serious issues, deep down everybody's minds was the beach sports activity outside.
Security was unusually tight. Every piece of equipment at the PC was checked, double-checked. Cameras were checked. Were they really cameras or something else Digital recorders were checked. Were they really digital recorders?
Being a press photographer is no easy task. At the Aapravasi Ghat function, all seemed well, till a few minutes before Dr Singh's
arrival on Friday.
The few Indian photographers were in position, ready to get Dr Singh climb up the first steps that the Indian indentured labourers took for centuries.
Suddenly, there were Mauritius photographers all over. A major scuffle ensued. A Mauritius photographer nearly shoved me onto the PM. Some shouted, 'Namaste, prime ministerji, namaste.'
They wanted the namaste pose in return. They got it.
I nearly decided to give up photography after that scuffle.
A few minutes before Dr Singh's arrival at the Ghat, an organiser cautioned all present to keep off the red carpet. ''It is getting
dusty. Please do not step on it,'' she told everybody.
A helper kept moving up and down, keeping the carpet dust-free for Dr Singh.
One, two or three
There were three functions lined up for the media on Friday. Besides the press conference, of course.
So, the media had to make up their minds which two functions they could cover. Visual media, print media, the shuffle was delicate. The
time-gap was too tight. Security was tight in the city, so there was no movement of traffic for long before and after the Indian PM moved from one event to another.
While the PM was working
While the PM was busy signing agreements and holding talks with Mauritius leaders, we journalists had to make time for a crucial aspect of our trip. Shopping.
The spots had to be decided. The spots to cover. The spots to shop. Conversion of currency had to be arranged. It was all too complicated and needed elaborate planning.
I was literally unplugged for nearly two hours on Friday. After the Aapravasi Ghat function, I preferred to leave my papers and my digital camera cable in the official van.
As bad luck would have it, another van came to take us to our next spot.
It took me 10 trips to the reception and five reminders to the new driver. And I still did not get back my cable.
Until I was advised to walk up to the hotel's parking lot, search for the vehicle, and track down my stuff myself. It worked.
And finally, I got reconnected.
The final word
So, did I enjoy myself? Of course. No regrets.
Will I return to Mauritius? Of course. Who cannot return to a country that is a blend of Africa and Goa?