February 11, 2020
Our family are Parsi Zoroastrians, a minority so minuscule that we are almost an “endangered” species in our own right 🤣!
Recently I came across an hilarious post purportedly by Cyrus Broacha, a famous TV Personality, Comedian and … Parsi.
So, for a little mid-week humour, let me quote verbatim what I read –
“While most surnames in India reflect caste and lineage, the Parsis had a delightfully modern streak — having landed from Persia without caste, history or context, they created name identities through professions and names of places (cities and streets).
Our family moved to Bombay (now Mumbai) from Rawalpindi during the partition in 1947. We came as refugees, but the family soon settled down and by 1953 my father had started playing golf at the Willingdon Club. I was eight years old and would walk 18 holes with him every Saturday and Sunday.
The three Parsi gentlemen, who made up his regular four-some were uncles Poonawala, Coorlawala and Colabawala. Very soon they had rechristened my father Mr Pindiwala (from Rawalpindi – get it!).
Uncle Colabawala did not live in Colaba, but in a house on Malabar Hill. Maybe his ancestors had lived in Colaba.
I used to spend hours searching the telephone directory to find Parsi surnames and stories around their families.
There was prohibition in Bombay in those days. So to get liquor, you had to find Mr Dalal, who would introduce you to Mr Daruwala, who in turn would get bottles delivered to your home by Mr Batliwala (bottle person), who would be accompanied by Mr Sodawaterbottleopenerwalla (the longest Parsi surname I have come across).
Other surnames, whose ancestors were in the beverages trade, were: Mr Fountainwala, Mr Ginwala, Mr Rumwala and Mr Tonicwala.
We used to have two delightful Siamese kittens in our flat and these were gifted to my mother by her friend Mrs Billimoria. My mother spent hours knitting tiny cardigans for them, with wool she bought from the Unwala family.
My uncle ran the air force canteen in Cotton Green and his partner, yes, you guessed it, was Mr Canteenwala. They had this fantastic cook, Mr Bhajiwala
Their mild and meek manager, Mr Jeejeebhoy (Jee – jee bhai) nodded his head and agreed with everything everybody said.
My grandfather was the Sheriff of Bombay. Being Sheriff, it was only natural that he had Mr Bandookwala and Mr Golimar as his constant companions.
My grandfather had many Parsi friends, who were in politics. There was this squeaky clean khadi-clad Mr Ghandy, and the not so clean Mr Gandabhoy — who was invariably being hounded by Mr Kotwal. But he never left home without his friends Mr Barrister, Mr Vakil, Mr Lawyer and their Munshi, Mr Mehnty.
My grandfather built Hotel Waldorf on Arthur Bunder Road in Colaba. So for this, he naturally used the services of Mr Contractor and Mr Mistry. Yet… he never went to the conservative moneylenders when he was short of money, but borrowed it from his Parsi friend, Mr Readymoney.
Our neighbour and family physician was Dr Adi Doctor. He lived with his in-laws, Mr and Mrs Pochkhanawala. My sister swears they ate only poached eggs for breakfast.
I remember going to Dr Adi Doctor’s sister’s wedding. She is married to one Mr Screwwala.
No. He is not a carpenter or a mechanic, so I dare not guess what he does for a living!
Cyrus Broacha Comedywala”
Thank you, Cyrus, for the laugh 😊!