Entries from September 2006 ↓

The Three Legs Of Persuasion

I recently, came across the writings of Chris on the net which I would like readily to share with you. I would also recommend that you read his books or listen to his speeches.

The article refreshed my memories of the days when I studied and prepared mysellf to deliver ” the 7 habits of highly effective persons seminars” based on Stephen Covey’s book on the same title.

Chris Widener wrote:

If you have heard me talk about leadership at all, you will know that I have a very simple definition of Leadership. Leadership is simply: Influence. That’s it. Simple. When you lead, you influence. To lead others is to influence them through various means to follow you to your vision of a preferred thought, belief or action.

One of the key ways to do so is to increase your ability to persuade people. Now, at first glance you may do as many do and think of persuasion as simply a verbal plea or argument (in the positive sense of the word) that seeks to change someone’s mind. I want to focus in on what I believe to be a much more well rounded view of persuasion, one that has been around for many hundreds of years, and which, when applied, will increase your ability to persuade others, or influence them.

My basic points for this article are found from Aristotle’s “The Rhetoric.” They are what I call the “Three Legs of Persuasion.” Together they enable us to fully persuade people. Miss any of the three legs and it is like trying to sit on a three-legged stool that is missing one leg!

What are the three legs? They are:

Logos, or Logic
Pathos, or Passion
Ethos, or Ethics

In order to master the art of persuasion, you must have:

1. Logic. Your vision must make sense to the person who is following you (or the one you are trying to get to follow you!). How is this done?

o Vision. Do you have a vision of where it is that you want to go? Do you have the destination in mind? If you want people to follow you, you need to have a vision, an end result that you are targeting.

o Clarity. Is the vision clear? Can it be articulated clearly? Is it simple enough to grasp? Does it make sense?

o Communication. Can you communicate your vision so that it is understandable and compelling? Do you communicate it regularly so that the logic of it sinks in?

o Strategy. The strategy for getting to your destination must be logical for your followers. Does it make sense for them to follow you on the journey of your vision for your organization? A well-thought out strategy for getting to your vision is a must.

2. Passion. People underestimate the principle of passion. Today more than ever, this element of being passionate about your vision is paramount to the idea of persuasion.

As we leave the modern era and move into what sociologists are calling the “post-modern” era, people are going to be persuaded less by logic and reason than they are passion. We live in a video age that uses images and music to move people more than sense and reason. For example, think about how basketball shoes are sold today. They ads don’t say, “These shoes are made from the finest rubber and leather and will sustain the shock of x amount of pounds of pressure, etc, etc.” No, today shoes are sold by showing basketball players dribbling the ball to a methodical beat. Image. Passion.

So do we throw out logic? Certainly not, but we understand that the passion we demonstrate is extremely important. Probably more important than logic and increasingly so in the years to come.

Are you passionate about your vision? Does that come through when you speak about it? Does it come through in the materials that you distribute to support your vision?

People want to know that you are passionate about your vision. If you aren’t passionate about it, then why should they be? Your vision must be passionately compelling. After all, you are asking them to put themselves on the line, to give it all to get the group to the vision. It takes a passionate person to move a group toward a vision. And the bigger the vision, the more passion you need to get there!

3. Ethics. This is what I believe to be the most important aspect of these three legs of persuasion. Ethics. Integrity. Character. However you want to say it, people look at you and are constantly judging your character.

You may have tremendous skills. You may have all the logic in the world and passion to fill a sporting arena, but if your followers see a crack in your character, they will run for the hills. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about mistakes. Followers will allow for mistakes. But they will not allow for poor character.

I know what you must be thinking: Wait a minute. We have all sorts of leaders with poor character – just look at the politicians! A few thoughts on that very good question:

Many of the people we think have poor character have many others (and in a politician’s case, they just need 51%) who think their character is fine, or at least sufficient. So for some the question of ethics has been answered, just differently than we would answer it. For example, polls show that most people think that politicians are unethical and corrupt in general. But when polled on their own representative, they answer that that person is just fine, thank you very much.

Secondly, we have seen that very talented leaders are eventually undone by their lack of character, or at least thwarted in their goals of leadership. Let’s take Bill Clinton for example. What do we know about him? What would most people agree upon?

For one, he is smart, a Rhodes scholar. For another, he is talented. Still more, he is passionate and driven. He is winsome and gregarious. We also know that he had a few “character problems.”

“But he was re-elected,” you may point out. True, but he didn’t accomplish what he wanted to because he was answering the question of his character all of the time. And beyond that, many people who were big supporters of his ended up realizing that they could have someone else who would provide leadership without the sideshow, and they abandoned him in droves by the end.

To his major detractors, Bill Clinton was an example of a person who lacked the character to lead. To his supporters he has become a caricature of lost opportunity because of the issues of character. Now, I do not intend to turn this article into a discussion of politics, but I use Clinton as an example of how people who are both opposed as well as sympathetic to him and his vision can agree that character questions were his undoing.

Where does this leave us? Hopefully you aren’t dealing with the kind of issues we have seen in our political process lately, but you should be asking yourself what your character is like.

Am I honest? Am I who I say I am? Do I do what is right? Am I responsible? Am I the same behind closed doors as I am in public? Am I a person of integrity? These are the most important questions. The way your followers answer them about you will determine to what degree they follow you. Will people follow you if your character is less than stellar? Maybe. But all other things being the same, a strong character will put you over the top.

Logic, passion and ethics are the three legs of persuasion. Become a person with a vision that is logical and well thought out, combine that with a passionate pursuit, and you are well on your way to persuading people and achieving the goal for your organization. The key will be what kind of character you have. If you develop a fine, strong character, with high personal ethics, you will have all three legs of persuasion – and you will become an Extraordinary Leader!

Are you wiser after reading Chris? I took so much pain in the past, in reading the Rhetoric of our greek philosopher and teacher Aristotle who is even today pertinent & still very much to the point. I am amazed of the genius of great man of the like mentioned, whose impact on humanity is ever lasting. Hats off Mr.Aristotle and we are so grateful to you for introducing so many concepts and thoughts. There is one that I use very often. It is : the rule of three. Example: Past,Present & Future; The worst scenario, the best scenario and the middle scenario; Left, Right or Center; High,low & Moderate;The good, the bad…and the ugly… HaHaha.. I am told that the Chinese takes the number 3 as equivalent to the word “to Grow”. I am always in search of the 3rd alternative.

An entrepreneur by definition is a leader extraodinaire and he masters the art of persuasion to extend his influence.

Reflexion Dominicale

Les deux textes de la messe du dimanche m’ont amené à une réflexion sur les qualités de l’enfant que nous devrons émuler ! Cela fait quelques jours que çela me trotte dans la tête.

Mc 9,30-37.

En partant de là, Jésus traversait la Galilée avec ses disciples, et il ne voulait pas qu’on le sache.

Car il les instruisait en disant : « Le Fils de l’homme est livré aux mains des hommes ; ils le tueront et, trois jours après sa mort, il ressuscitera. »

Mais les disciples ne comprenaient pas ces paroles et ils avaient peur de l’interroger.

Ils arrivèrent à Capharnaüm, et, une fois à la maison, Jésus leur demandait : « De quoi discutiez-vous en chemin ? »

Ils se taisaient, car, sur la route, ils avaient discuté entre eux pour savoir qui était le plus grand.

S’étant assis, Jésus appela les Douze et leur dit : « Si quelqu’un veut être le premier, qu’il soit le dernier de tous et le serviteur de tous.»

Prenant alors un enfant, il le plaça au milieu d’eux, l’embrassa, et leur dit :« Celui qui accueille en mon nom un enfant comme celui-ci, c’est moi qu’il accueille. Et celui qui m’accueille ne m’accueille pas moi, mais Celui qui m’a envoyé. »

Jacques 3,16-18.4,1-3.

Car la jalousie et les rivalités mènent au désordre et à toutes sortes d’actions malfaisantes.

Au contraire, la sagesse qui vient de Dieu est d’abord droiture, et par suite elle est paix, tolérance, compréhension ; elle est pleine de miséricorde et féconde en bienfaits, sans partialité et sans hypocrisie.

C’est dans la paix qu’est semée la justice, qui donne son fruit aux artisans de la paix.

D’où viennent les guerres, d’où viennent les conflits entre vous ? N’est-ce pas justement de tous ces instincts qui mènent leur combat en vous-mêmes ?

Vous êtes pleins de convoitises et vous n’obtenez rien, alors vous tuez ; vous êtes jaloux et vous n’arrivez pas à vos fins, alors vous entrez en conflit et vous faites la guerre.

Vous n’obtenez rien parce que vous ne priez pas ; vous priez, mais vous ne recevez rien parce que votre prière est mauvaise : vous demandez des richesses pour satisfaire vos instincts.

*L’enfant démuni est soumis.

Par définition, l’enfant est plein de potentiel mais démuni de tout. L’enfant a besoin de tout pour grandir et devient le récipiendaire par excellence des ses parents. Il reçoit tout dans l’innocence, la simplicité, et l’humilité.De son état de dépendance, il accueille tous les dons dans le but de grandir. Ne devons nous pas nous, adultes, nous soumettre à cette même disposition devant notre Père du ciel, notre créateur, et avoir une confiance sans limite et aveugle dans notre Père ?

*L’enfant qui écoute est accueillant.

Quand nous étions enfants, nous passons le clair de notre temps à écouter et à observer plus qu’à nous exprimer. Un temps d’accueil bien plus grand qu’un temps de partage et d’expression. Enfants, nous attendions que notre nécessaire soit satisfait et nous avions peu de volonté propre à nous. L’enfant fait tout pour plaire à ses parents. Je vois dans mon petit-fils de 3 ans, cette faculté d’observation et cette volonté d’entreprendre des actions pour me plaire et me soustraire un sourire ou un éclat de joie. Il n’a pas d’autres convoitises que la relation avec les autres et moi.

*L’enfant qui apprend n’a pas le temps d’être jaloux.

La période de l’enfance (2-5ans), nous disent les scientifiques,

est la plus féconde en apprentissage de toute notre vie. Saurions nous garder cet état d’apprentissage pour conserver notre capacité d’amélioration et de progrès? Quand nous, enfants, étions focalisés à apprendre, nul doute nous n’avions pas le temps d’être jaloux. Nous baignions dans l’abondance de la réception. Nous étions émerveillés par tout ce qui se passe autour de nous.

*L’enfant qui dort d’un sommeil paisible est plein de miséricorde.

Observez les enfants qui jouent. Ils sont des fois en dispute, mais se réconcilient toujours. Ils semblent oublier vite leur désaccord et pardonnent sans embarras. Ils dorment après dans un sommeil sans souci indiquant qu ils sont sans rancune. Des vrais artisants de Paix.

Je voudrais m’imprégner de et conserver cette sagesse d’enfant :soumis,demunis,innocent,simple,humble,confiant,acceuillant,sans convoitises,sans jalousies,émmerveillé,paisible et miséricordieux. Hélas, plus tard je m‘obstine à évacuer cet « ego » grandissant qui étouffe cette sagesse.

Practice Practice Practice

Yesterday morning, I facilitated a short session to a bunch of very interesting young executives who are in the budding years of their working carrier. I guess they were age between 23- 26 years old and many occupy already some managerial positions.Hopefully,they will be the leaders of the tomorrow Mauritius.

For 2 hours we talked about Setting Goals & Time Management.I cooked up Peter Drucker’s SMART Goals method and threw in some of the Brian Tracy spices from his book Goals and added to the sauce to spark the favour some NLP emulsifers. From the feedback I got, the recipe was fine and they delected the session.They would be asking for a second serving at some other time.

For me it was great fun. It took me some hours of preparation which I thought was well worth the while. More over, it was in line with my life objective to help youngsters to get a fast start in life to progress to the maximum of their respective potential.

At the end of the session, some of them told me, the theory sounds simple and yet why are there so many unsucessful attempts. My reply was success is not in knowing but in the execution. Practice, practice and practice. Even the neophyte, athlete or ballerina may know the basics. The virtuoso on the other hand will master the knowledge, skills, techniques, through persistence & practice. He would have the obssesion to achieve his goals.

I quote here an excerpt from Allyn Cutts” article, which support my point

“We’ve been talking about Sam Walton and Donald Trump… two very different men, but each successful. What common thread did they share the made their names synonymous with big bucks?

If you take a close look, you’ll realize that both men were hands-on managers. They both paid a great deal of attention to the details of what was going on in their businesses.

I’m not sure I would want to be around when Trump shows up at one of his hotels. It’s been noted that if he spots a cob web or some dust in the corner, he’ll make a point to check that same corner on his next visit. If the offender is still there, he’ll refuse to move until it has been taken care of.

By the way, he doesn’t use a computer or take notes. He just remembers where the cob web was and hones in on it the next time through. Heck, I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast; much less which corner of my own house has a cob web! His memory for detail must be amazing!

What about Sam Walton? He enjoyed visiting his stores, and inspecting them. He wanted to know if they were meeting his expectations.

There we have it… the common principal of two very different, but outstandingly successful men. The secret is a hands-on-management style.

The next step is to put it in practice. Do you remember the old saying, practice makes perfect? How many times will you need to practice a principle before it works for you? I don’t know, but it’s probably quite a few times!

Think about it. If you’re a salesman, how many times do you need to practice your presentation before you have it exactly right? What about a Broadway performer? I’ll bet they go over and over and over their lines before they are ready to step out under the lights.

Sports heroes, actors, salesmen, comedians, and yes, successful business men and women spend a lot of time practicing. Instead of rehearsing lines for your next play, work at becoming a hands-on manager… knowing what’s going on in your business. Hopefully you won’t drive everyone as nutty as Donald Trump is known to, but heck if that’s what it takes…”

Perfection Practice Persistence Practice Peak Performance Practice Power Practice…so many P ‘S

Zero-Gravity Thinkers

A Quote from AMACOM:

“It’s a harsh, competitive and tough business world out there. And if you want to thrive—or even just survive—you’ve got to innovate. So why is it that so many businesses big and small seem like they’re set up to crush innovation instead of nurture it? Poor planning? Bad execution? Lack of forethought? Or could it be that the real killer of radical, earth shaking and bottom-line quaking thought is . . . our own expertise.”

Cynthia Barton Rabe advocates in her book “The Innovation Killer” that experts are the villians who break innovation.

“How do you know what you do not know?”

I had a wonderful week a fortnight ago listening to Prof. Issac Getz lecturing on installing a management system of innovating ideas. He was 2 years ago, the keynote speaker of the conference organised by NPCC called “Innovate or Evaporate”.He was back last fortnight ago to lecture in the APM organisation.

His basic concept is to get the whole organisation to continously generate innovating ideas and bring these ideas to concrete actions.The organisation thus become transformed and innovating.

I wish that enterprises in Mauritius would take in and implement Cynthia Barton Rabe innovation strategies and Dr Getz implementation systems.

The Innovation Killer

Success has a tendency to create two villains: “group

think” and “expert think.” Group think makes decisions that

people working in a group agree with. Expert think is

perhaps more damaging as it believes decisions can’t

contradict what internal experts know.

These two villains trap themselves into into a situation of

“knowing what it knows,” but it “doesn’t know what it

doesn’t know” – the very essence of innovation.

The innovative process starts with questions. The answers

lead to creative ideas. With group and expert think at work,

companies can’t make the creative leap because the thinkers

are looking through the same old lens.

Innovative thinking requires “zero-gravity thinkers” who

start with a clean sheet of paper every time. They don’t

care where they’ve been or how they got there, only about

what’s going to get them to the next stage. Thinking in zero

gravity requires “psychological distance.” An open mind and

impartiality present multiple perspectives from which to


Source: “The Innovation Killer,” by Cynthia Barton Rabe ( a

former innovation strategist for Intel who founded Zero-G,

an innovation and strategy consulting firm), Amacom

Chaud au Coeur

I was really touched by the email, I received this morning from my brother.


Let me tell you a little true story that I found nice and heart warming.

Last Saturday we attended the funeral of Mrs Marie How, 95 years old, the mother in law of  Mme Chan ,our relatives . She was an orphan at a very young age, lived with a foster mother until she married; was the mother of 9; had 25 grand children and 27great grand children; Including the spouses of the children & grandchildren, her lignée amounts to 90 persons. She immigrated to Canada soon after her husband died in Mauritius.

She had no formal education – never went to school but was a very smart and strong lady and full of love. She could not speak English but the granddaughter shared that she knew 3 English words that she always ended her phone conversation with – “I love you”. It was a beautiful ceremony – a true celebration of her life and of her passage to heaven.

A few years back, she asked to be baptized and took catechism classes in Chinatown and Mam (our mother) was her god mother  

Mme Chan (with whom she lived) shared with me that her mum a few days before she died told her that she was going to a wedding and that her god mother was taking her to the wedding!

I find that so cute and fitting – that Mam her godmother was coming to accompany her to the big wedding feast in heaven! Cela m’a fait chaud au coeur!


Would those who would have left our earthly world be still loving and caring for us? May be one day we shall find out. For now, I choose to believe that it is true.Our departed parents and friends continue to love us as they did just like we may choose to continue to love them in spite of their absence.Yes,we have the choice of living today in this bliss of love. So, make the most of it.

Thank you brother!

Thomas L.Friedman

The world is flat is one of the books which I read cover to cover, almost non stop, in a few days. Some 8 months ago, my nephew Jean Marc who lives in New York, was so enthused with the reading of the book that he had a copied flown to me by express mail. Ever since, I have become a Thomas Friedman’s fan. I read Thomas Friedman’s editorials on the New York Times regularly. I was in heaven seeing him on BBC and Voice of America a few months later.

I propose to you the following comments by Philip Shropshire


The World Is Flat is one of the top bestselling

Business books of all time and has sold more than

1.4 million Copies. It was also awarded the

Financial Times business book of the year award.

As of August 2006, it is number three on

Publisher’s Weekly bestselling nonfiction books list.

The World Is Flat also provides an engrossing

And concise history of the Internet age. It touches

on all of its facets, from the beginning of the World

Wide Web to the meaning of what excess fiber

optic cable means.

The World Is Flat not only identifies six danger

signs regarding United States’ technical preeminence,

but Friedman even lays out a number of policy

proposals, which include an educational

Marshall Plan for the United States, a “New” New

Deal and even retaining insurance for unemployed

workers who have been displaced.

For those who are interested I shall be pleased to email you a copy of Philip Shropshire full review of the book. I do recommend you to read the book.Enjoy a good book.

Sophistication kills Authenticity

Last Friday, I had a wonderful chat with a friend I had not met for years. She has come back to Mauritius to visit her mother who is not enjoying good health these days. She has taken a sabbatical year from her American university teaching job to write on the influence France had on the Chinese society in the years 1850 onwards. Previously she had written a thesis on the Taiping rebellion which would be China of 1850’s. She will be traveling soon to China to collect data for her writings.

During our conversation, she shared her views on how the world is getting more complex and sophisticated, bringing in less authenticity in human behavior. She is for sure a learned person yet she has stayed very simple & humble.

On her trip from Paris to Mauritius, to her great surprise, she was told at the check in counter that she will be upgraded. The biggest surprise was she was upgraded to first class. She really felt awkward during her fight; she was a fish out of water, to travel in such an environment. Although she enjoyed the comfort of the amenities, the armchair turning to a flat bed, she felt uneasy with the put up show of service by the crew. There was no genuineness. She did not enjoy the lengthy bar service, choice of drinks and wines and the 3 course meals offered with much pomp and ceremony. What a waste she thought! What she missed was the warm atmosphere in the din and enthusiasm of the economy class travel where it was possible to exchange with your neighbors and to enter in a human to human conversation.

First class travel to her was physically super in comfort but lacking in human touch. The neighbor was polite but seems to transmit the message, “I have paid a lot of money not to be disturbed”. There was absolute silence and a cold atmosphere.

Like wise, she shared with me her excitement in traveling in public buses from Sainte Croix to Port Louis. The atmosphere though chaotic, noisy, even disorderly at times is lively and full of human interactions. Guys talking to each other across three rows of other passengers, the kids shouting, whilst the conductor was eating his morning roti are all part of the fun. She found there and then authenticity in life.

Indeed the lessons I retained from my friend: humility & simplicity yield authenticity.

East West culture

The Reason, The feelings, The law.

Let us suppose you were asked to rank the criteria elements quoted above, which would motivate your behavior. Your reply could well be it depends for what behavior. These elements were used to establish the criteria used in studies to establish cultural differences. The most often used ranking of the criteria in the different behaviors would give an in sight of the cultural behaviors.

It was found that most Anglo Saxons would use “the law” as the highest criteria in decision making. People influenced by Descartes’ would place “the reason” as the main criteria whilst Confucius influenced culture would be more inclined to have “the Feeling” criteria as the driver. Sophie Faure who wrote Manager a l’ecole de Confucius taught me quite a lot on this subject when she visited us in Mauritius, some time ago last year.

Understanding this hierarchy of criteria do shed light on cultural differences. For example, in the western world, bringing gifts to a counterpart that you meet for the first time in a business situation, could be seen as a form of unwarranted softener. Such an action could be wrongly interpreted. However, such practice in the East would be the norm. As “sentiments” are the highest criteria, it would be natural to start off an introduction with an exchange of gifts to arouse the feel good factor and to show welcoming & start off the sharing.

We are in the “bouillon de cultures”. We are thus able to see the fine lines of the cultural differences perhaps unconsciously. Finding founding explanations to these nuances helps us to act properly and consciously.

I am very interested in the East- West interaction. For a Chinese, I could be a banana. A term use by the Chinese to describe a Chinese brought up in a western culture: Yellow out side and White inside. I need to get better understanding of my unconscious eastern upbringing nurtured by my family environment. I consider my self not too much white inside. Understanding the culture differences and more importantly identifying the source of the difference is very useful & telling. I have read a comparison of Socrates & Confucius philosophies and would recommend it to you. I would also like to read a comparison of Indian and western philosophies to identify converging and diverging thinking.

Le bouillon de culture à la croisée des courants de l’orient et de l’occident, d’Afrique et de l’asie.

When Gambling become Pathological

Last Monday late in the night, I got a phone call from a friend who asked whether Mr. X called me. On further inquiry, I understood that Mr. X had that morning been sacked from his job, as his boss discovered that he had committed a fraud of a few million of rupees. His wife, in tears, called my friend to advice that Mr. X did not return home that evening and that she had no news of him.

Whilst all of us knew that Mr. X had huge debts accumulated from his previous gambling addiction but this time we feared that he was in total despair and could commit the irremedial act. I panicked and ressort to my only tool in these circustances: prayers.

Thank God, my fear did not materialise or God answered my prayer if I prefer to choose. The next morning, I was informed that Mr. X spent the night at the Bouchon on the cliff overlooking the sea deciding to commit suicide.A great relief.

Now the reconstruction work has to start. Life is a constant renewal is n’t it.

La Boutique chinoise de la Reunion

extrait d’images de L’Ile de la Reunion

La boutique chinois
Le créole ne fera pas d’accord en disant la boutique chinoise, mais dans son esprit, il s’agit de la boutique tenue par un Chinois.

Les boutiques sont installées dans toute l’île et font partie intégrante du paysage des villes et aussi des hauts. Elles étaient appelées en général du prénom du boutiquier : “chez Marcel”, “chez Georges”, “chez Jean”. La devanture de la façade était décorée de morceaux de tôles clouées, sur lesquelles il y avait des publicités pour tels produits ou tels autres. Parfois, les autres publicités étaient sur papier, et tout cela mettait un peu de couleur à cette construction banale, il faut le dire. Les boutiques des premiers étaient bien modestes avec des portes qui se fermaient avec un système de levier à bascule. L’architecture des boutiques de ces migrants chinois était reconnaissable aussi bien extérieurement, qu’intérieurement avec la disposition des comptoirs dedans.

Jouxtée à cette construction, était la buvette qui rassemblait de nombreuses personnes autour d’un ou deux “p’tits verres”.

Beaucoup de boutiques étaient construites sur un socle en pierres taillées enduites de ciment et sur lequel était placé le plancher. Ce vide sous ces planches permettait une meilleure circulation de l’air, donc moins d’humidité dans la boutique. Les côtés sont en planches recouvertes de tôles (pour que le bois soit moins humide), mais aussi à cause des rats et souris qui dévasteraient davantage les denrées stockées à l’intérieur. Ces boutiques en général se dressaient à un angle de rue avec son toit de tôle ondulée à quatre pentes et un auvent. Ce dernier courait sur toute la longueur du bâtiment, protégeant avantageusement portes et passants du soleil et des intempéries. Sous cet auvent on pouvait voir se dresser parfois, un petit perron en béton permettant les compagnons de beuveries de s’y asseoir et discuter en dehors de la buvette. Traditionnellement la boutique est un lieu de convivialité où les hommes du village aiment se rencontrer.

L’intérieur c’était une vraie caverne d’Ali Baba, car ce sont de petits commerces de proximité qui proposent toutes sortes de denrées alimentaires et d’articles de première nécessité.

L’aménagement de l’intérieur des boutiques était pratiquement le même partout. Souvent à la porte, recouverte aussi de tôle, se dressaient, alignés, des “gonis” débordant de riz en vrac, de maïs en grains, de tourteau, de café, de sucre, de haricots en tous genre, Un peu plus au fond et à gauche, était dressée une vitrine. Celle-ci, de fabrication artisanale et réalisée en bois de tamarin, constituait un élément indispensable au mobilier du commerce. Le boutiquier se tenait derrière ce comptoir-vitrine. Une porte intérieure, menait à l’arrière du magasin. Cette partie ajoutait aux clients un mythe de l’Orient aux obscurités de cette arrière-boutique. Quand on demandait au chinois une chose rare, il disparaissait dans le “fénoir” de cette pièce et revenait longtemps après, avec la marchandise demandée ou autre chose d’équivalent. Il déballait lentement cette marchandise de son papier journal tout auréolé d’odeur d’épices, d’alcool à brûler et de poussière.

Sur la partie droite du magasin se dressait une autre vitrine. Sur une poutre derrière le boutiquier, à un crochet, pendaient des “cornets chinois” jaunis dans lesquels il emballait les marchandises (pas de sachets plastiques !). Ces cornets étaient fabriqués par le chinois lui-même, d’où l’appellation “cornet chinois”.

Sur la vitrine de gauche trônaient de grands bocaux contenant des bonbons à la menthe, aux fruits, des berlingots des sucres d’orge et autres. Et tout près de ces bocaux, était placé un boulier chinois, (pas de caisse enregistreuse, ni de calculatrice). Parfois, certains boutiquiers ne sachant pas manier le boulier (il est vrai difficile à s’y faire) posaient l’opération sur un papier journal remplis de chiffres, ou bien sur le cornet.

La partie supérieure de cette vitrine contenait les pâtisseries, des biscuits, les macatias de l’époque, et que les enfants ne quittaient pas des yeux. La partie inférieure contenait quant à elle des objets religieux, des outils, et autres. Toutes les marchandises se côtoyaient dans un espace réduit. Des chapeaux de feutre étaient suspendus çà et là pour les messieurs.

Ce commerce était une entreprise familiale tenue par le chinois, son épouse, et aussi les enfants. L’épouse s’occupait surtout de la vente des articles de la partie droite du magasin, soit, la toile, chaussures, boutons, galons, fil, livres parfums . Dons cette partie du commerce se tenait derrière son comptoir, la boutiquière, et derrière l’autre vitrine où des pâtisseries étaient exposées, le chinois se tenait devant tout un mur rempli d’étagères sur lesquelles s’alignaient les bouteilles d’alcool, de liqueurs, d’eau, de sirop aux étiquettes colorées. Les étagères inférieures contenaient des boîtes de conserves, allumettes, bougies, lampe à pétrole, eau de Cologne, Tout ces articles placés côte à côte, avaient leur place sur cette étagère. Des outils, des sabres, de la corde, des sacs de clous, des vis, formaient un coin bricolage. Une autre vitrine abritait les saucisses, le boucané et autres.

Sur un côté, se tenait un réfrigérateur vitré (quand on eut l’électricité) dont le contenu faisait envie à tous les enfants et aussi aux grands. Ce qui intéressait encore plus les enfants, c’était bien sûr, les sorbets avec leurs bois empilés dans le congélateur, que ces petits dégustaient aromatisés à la vanille, au chocolat, à la grenadine, au coco.

Une place spéciale était faite pour la balance Roberval et ses poids. C’est aussi à cette boutique que les enfants achetaient les plus gros pétards, et les plus beaux feux d’artifice pour les fêtes de Noël. Ces objets à allumer sont indissociables aux fêtes de fin d’année.

Ce qui faisait marcher ce commerce auprès de la population pauvre de l’île, c’est bien cette pratique des crédits (basée uniquement sur la confiance), sans intérêt appelé “carnets”. Le commerçant notait sur ces carnets tous les achats non payés de chaque personne vivant avec un crédit. Celui-ci était tenu en double exemplaires, et en fin de mois, quand le salaire tombait, le client venait régler le chinois, et c’était reparti pour un autre mois. Ainsi allait la vie.

Dans certaines boutiques,des denrées de base étaient stockées dans des bacs en bois (casier) dans lesquels les chinois plongeaient d’une main preste, une mesure en fer-blanc ou une sorte de petite pelle arrondie fabriquée localement. Ces caissons étaient surtout réservés aux grains, au café au maïs, au sucre. Dans ces denrées, le maïs était largement vendu, de la farine jusqu’aux grains, en passant par le fabuleux “maïs sosso”.

Pas trop loin de ces bacs, des billots servaient au découpage de la viande, de la morue séchée, dont l’odeur empestait toute la boutique. Il faut reconnaître que cette “boutique chinois” était un capharnaüm d’objets rangés ou suspendus puisque le magasin constituait la boutique d’alimentation où se dressaient des remparts de conserves, des murailles d’étoffes et de mousseline, des cartons de bouteilles ; on y trouvait un coin (pour ne pas dire rayon) bricolage, toiles, mercerie, librairie etc.

La boutique chinois, avec ses diverses marchandises, sa buvette pour le “p’tit coup d’sec” mettait sa grosse balance à la disposition des planteurs pour peser leurs productions de maïs, de manioc, ou d’huiles essentielles (qui sans doute se vendait au kilo !!). Là, s’échangeaient les marchandises mais aussi les nouvelles du quartier. La boutique faisait aussi office de banque avec crédit sur carnet ou avances sur récoltes (le plus souvent sur les huiles essentielles dans les hauts).

Parfois ces chinois avaient plus d’un tour dans leur sac, car au retour d’un enterrement dans le quartier, certains offraient un “p’tit coup d’sec” aux parents et amis du défunt. Ce geste touchait bien sûr la clientèle.

Plus tard ces chinois enrichis, leurs enfants bénéficieront d’un certain capital, et c’est ainsi qu’ils s’ouvriront une quincaillerie, ou une superette par exemple, mieux organisée que la boutique de leurs parents.

Le chinois est toujours en activité, mais le créole dira quand il verra un autre créole s’ennuyer, et revenir, et encore et encore, on lui dira qu’il est comme
« un chinois sans boutique ». Cela veut bien dire que le chinois est indissociable à sa boutique, sans celle-ci, il est perdu.

Pas loin avec les cousins Mauriciens!