I am a Parsi (“bawa”) – and I love the eccentricities & quirks, we, as a community, display…and I love poking fun at ourselves (as do most of us bawas)! Those Parsis who disagree, my humble apologies in advance.
I received this by email and it was too funny not to post. Read on for a ‘deep-belly’ laugh and if you know us Parsis, you too will tend to agree with our idiosyncrasies, accept them and take them in stride 😊.
(I don’t claim credit for this masterpiece- and I give full marks to the unknown author! “Mumbai” based and minimal gujrati language knowledge may be required 😊)
This is hilarious stuff, especially for people who have exposure to it’s Parsi culture.
Whoever wrote it, thanks bawa….
I, Tehmuras Tehmpton Tarkariwalla (alias T3), being of sound mind [one and only time] and solid body [Dara singh no baap], do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means. Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of pinhead politicians who couldn’t pass 9th grade biology if their lives depended on it; or doctors, who can barely treat my pet Bruno, but are interested in simply running up his bills.
If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to ask for at least one of the following:
Char Double fried eeda with crisp [jalela] brown toast
Bhida par eedu
Marghi na farcha
Ek dajan taajah boomla
Akoori on toast
Dhanshak anne Kachumbar [tarela kabab sathe]
Kolmi no Patio
Chai with leely Chai & Fudino
Sali-ma-gosh with fresh chokah ni rotli
Duke ni raspberry
Lagan nu custard
Kulfi from Parsee Dairy Farm
Scotch with soda
Patra ni machi
Kayani ni pastry
Victory na wafers
Paris Bakery ni butter khari biscuit…
…Then it should be presumed that I won’t ever get better.
When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my appointed person [“BOY” – the kalia who has been my faithful Man-Friday from Billimora] and Soli, my solicitor, to ensure that the attending physicians pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day.
I have lived a good life and am looking forward to meet my Maker… Boy should go to the Cama’s at Mumbai Samachar and ask them to print my departure. And don’t forget to inform all the Ghelchodiyas & Gadheras who I used to drink with at the Parsi Gymkhana, otherwise they will curse me all the way back to Behram Baug.
A dinner must be organised at Dotiwalla Baug for my carrom gang with Godiwalla’s catering and whisky from Parson & Co. [the 1st licensed liquor shop in Bombay, license No.1] and call apro Gary Lawyer [who is not a lawyer but a besooro singer] and ask him to sing “Besame Mucho” for me at the dinner. Most of the carrom gang are deaf and don’t have an ear for music anyway.
Boy should continue to look after my Bruno from the money I leave behind in Central Bank nu khatu.
My Morris Tiger  should be given to Soli, my solicitor and my horse “Knightsbridge” should be sold to a ghorawalla from Matheran and not to a ghoragariwalla in Mumbai or a ghorawalla in Mahabaleshwar as I don’t want the poor animal to gallop on daamar [asphalt] na rasta.
The furniture and fixtures should be given to Pundole’s to auction and the sale proceeds to be donated to the Bai Sakarbai PetitAnimal Hospital.
The Rani no photo should be sent to apro Prince Charles, who is now the husband of Kamaal ni Camilia.
T3. [i.e. Tehmuras Tehmpton Tarkariwalla]
(In the presence of salo dukkar doctor Soli Saklatwalla and fatakadi nurse)
REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987-
“God has been kind to me.
I made money from Beach Luxury Hotel and eventually bought a Hotel in Lahore (Nedous Hotel) on Public auction which I converted from Nedous Hotel to Park Luxury – and I was about to convert it to build the Lahore Hilton.
By this time, my son Byram & I had discussed whether we were content in running the Beach Luxury or wanted to grow (and naturally we chose the latter).
This then propelled me to say that success does not come without pains or losses…
The Beach Luxury in the 50s and early 60s (when we spoke), made its money through cash sales which were not recorded because of the high taxation- and actually became our capital. We agreed that firstly we have to bring all our businesses on the books because without a strong balance sheet we would not be able to leverage our business. This meant having to pay taxes and have less disposable cash.
The second decision we made with this move was to get professionals to join our Company so as to make it grow. This business dilemma proved a success and is part of the learning discipline we instilled in my grandchildren.
However, the Lahore Hotel got requisitioned (once again for our family )because I had been asked to give a portion of the Hotel, free of charge, to an high official, which I had refused because I believe somebody can have a free meal or take a pencil from me, but when I have to give away something which is earned with the sweat and hardships of my brow, then I will fight to the end.
Friends, let me tell you life is very difficult. I have never cheated anybody and God has rewarded me for this. I have worked hard and honestly with integrity and have never forgotten Ahura Mazda for all his blessings.
I persevered and got the Lahore Plot de-requisitioned and built the Lahore Hilton.
This is to explain to you that persistence and honesty of thought and purpose will always succeed.”
Recently I heard Arif Hasan, planner, architect & activist (http://arifhasan.org/about-arif-hasan), on a Samaa News interview (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCb6OIWWsoo). The interview is an eyeopener and very insightful as Mr Hasan traces the roots of the problem, the history of our formal drainage systems, Karachi’s unchecked sprawl from the 1950s and especially 1970s leading to the drainage & sewer breakdown, we face currently. In identifying these problems, Mr Hasan implicitly provides the solutions too.
There are two courses of action required –
I have already addressed rain water harvesting & recycling;
Alongside this, the city’s RAIN WATER and SEWAGE DRAINAGE systems have to be urgently addressed on a professional basis.
Basically, Karachi needs to “get back to the drawing board” by using independent, non-partisan town planners and architects (like Arif Hasan himself). We have ONE YEAR lead time to fix the city- or at least be able to complete some of the main areas of the City – before the next rains hit us.
There are thousands of little drains – nullahs – (some naturally formed) which should feed into 64 large Nullahs which lead into Malir & Landhi Rivers, which in turn flow into the sea.
PROBLEM: When even one of these nullahs are blocked or stopped, it prohibits rainwater to flow into the sea- and instead, it floods the City. This is the root problem.
SOLUTION: So, firstly, the Entrance & Exit points of all Nullahs should remain undisturbed from encroachments, unplanned structures and debris.
PROBLEM: Next, when roads are being built, their drainage is also part of the scope. However, Arif Hasan points out that when the drains are made, they don’t lead anywhere – they end where the road ends … GO FIGURE! So, when the [so-called] drains fill up with rain – from the road itself – the overflow goes back onto the roads again … and … the “ROADS GET CONVERTED INTO NULLAHS”!
SOLUTION: So, the second action is that road drains must connect to the established nullahs, so there’s a formal route for the water to naturally flow into the sea (more on formal drains below).
PROBLEM: In the 1950s, Katchi Abadis (informal housing settlements) sprang up unchecked. There was no planning for their sewage drains, so the katchi abadis drained their sewage into Karachi’s nullahs…a practice which continues to this day. In the 1970s, when the formal housing schemes and neighborhoods were created, they continued the same practice of draining their sewage into rain water drains because no sewage drains or trunk sewers were planned … again, a practice that continues to this very day!
SOLUTION(s): So, thirdly, TRUNK SEWERS leading into FORMAL SEWER DRAINAGE SYSTEMS (& NOT into the rainwater drains) has to be planned & executed.
When this is done, all current formal Storm water drains must be cleaned off all the sewage sludge; all sewage outlets leading into such rain water drains removed and capped; and new storm water drains built to accommodate the City’s sprawl (it is massive task and a daunting one, at that). Storm water drains must ONLY be used for rain water drainage.
Each of these systems has to be physically separate and independent from each other – no one system should be able to lead into another system in case of a breakdown; each of these systems has to have its own failsafe mechanisms in place; have their own access points for repairs, replacements & maintenance in place; and have their dedicated teams ready to fix and clean them.
PROBLEM: The World Bank funded & completed a successful Sewage treatment plant in the 1990s. However, it never started operations. Why … because there were no trunk sewer systems designed or created to capture rainwater which would have flowed into the treatment plants; likewise, nothing was designed to capture the sewage (which instead was dumped into the rain water drains) to drain into such treatments plants either.
SOLUTION(s): Fourth- once these new Trunk Sewers and formal Sewage system captures all types of drains (be it rainwater or sewage), they should ONLY flow into Sewage treatment plants (plants…PLURAL); and then they should flow into new nullahs connecting to Malir & Lyari rivers.
Malir & Lyari rivers themselves need to be dredged and maintained to accept this drainage.
A recycling solution also lies in utilizing waste from treatment plants (after being treated) for watering the City’s green belts instead of letting it flow into the sea.
SOLUTION(s): So, we need to create large swaths of “green areas”;
We have to breakdown this concrete jungle and rebuild public areas with gardens and trees;
Town planning has to be formalized, professionalized and held accountable;
Katchi abadis may very well have to be relocated (like the successful Lyari/Orangi resettlement project) into new, formal neighborhoods- this can be successfully & mutually negotiated by giving these resettlers title to their new properties, instead of the usurious “pagri” and rental system most of these katchi abadi dwellers have to content with currently;
Lastly, roads and current infrastructure will also have be replanned, replaced or even relocated to accommodate these new services.
So, what is the STARTING POINT of all these actions?
A long term City & infrastructure Plan has to be created, agreed by all political stakeholders and implemented & monitored professionally. This Plan will continuously need amendments and updating, which cannot be done without a non-partisan, political approach to addressing Karachi’s problems professionally by the Chief Minister, Government AND Opposition parties working together, instead of the politics of destruction – the destruction to the City of Karachi!
(Comments by Dinshaw: The Author of this piece is unknown to me. I do not take credit for it. While it is written by an Indian Parsi, it’s a lovely, warm and, I believe, a very true-characteristic of our Parsi Community worldwide – and very well representative of us Parsis in Pakistan 😄. If the original author comes across this blog, please do let me know and I will happily place your name in the credits 😄).
I have often wondered: Are Bawas really mad? Of course this question only lasts for a nanosecond. Because even a cursory glance at some of my brethren is enough to convince me of the answer.
I mean, what else would you call someone who parks his beloved motorcycle in his third floor living room? Or someone who has three-tier armrests on his commode so that he can read his morning newspaper more comfortably? Or someone who makes a large loop of his pajama string and slips it over his head every time he has a bout of diarrhea, for quick release, in emergencies?
Of course we’re mad! In fact we inspired the famous Jack Nicholson movie. It was originally going to be titled: One Flew over Cusrow Baug. What remains to be understood is why exactly are we like this?
This is a question that has bothered me on many hot summer afternoons when I feel the insanity bubbling up inside me like some slowly fermenting Dhansak.
After all, I too have felt the urge on occasion: To donate umbrellas to all the Parsi statues in Bombay so that their dignified phetas (traditional Parsi head-gear) are not exposed to the callousness of pigeon.
To run around Dhobi Talao trying to change as many double-Decker bus numbers to 66 (or whatever your most used bus number) as is humanly possible in one entertaining hour.
To convince my poor friend Rustom (name changed to protect his insanity) that they were going to ask him to recite the entire Bombay Telephone Directory in his English Poetry Oral Exam.
Most of the time I can put this predisposition towards madness down to “having a slightly different sense of humor.” But when I delve deeper, I find that there are other dimensions to our madness as well. Like my granduncle who would only wear a shirt once and then give it away to the poor (The Madness of Charity).Or the man who returned a gold brick during the harbor explosion at Bombay Docks (The Madness of Honesty). Or the aunty who thought the TV repairman was trying to throw rays at her (The Madness of Paranoia). I also wonder about other dimensions to our oddness.
Like why are there so many grown Parsi men who live with their Mothers and why are there so many grown Parsi women who prefer not to live with grown Parsi men who live with their mothers? Like why are we so obsessed about cleaning our cars and motor cycles? And where on earth did we get our accent? And why do we cover our fish in banana leaves? Is it to protect their modesty? Or is it to prevent them from hearing the scandalous gossip at our traditional Parsi lagans (weddings)?
Whatever the dimension, there is no doubting one thing. Our madness is a gentle, harmless, twittering kind of madness. The kind that makes other people smile and twirl their index finger at forehead level indulgently.
But after years of introspection and self-analysis I find I am still unable to answer that essential question. “Why are Bawas mad.” Perhaps it is simply to entertain ourselves? After all, we haven’t got Parsi TV yet.
A scientific friend of mine thinks we are mad because of inter-breeding. He could be right, but sometimes I think the answer is too boring for the Parsis. I prefer my more romantic friend who claims “we are mad because if we were not, we would be truly insane, I think we are mad to protect us from the sane.
The word ‘Parsi’ is derived from the word Pars or Persia. Hence, Parsi literally means ‘people who have come from Persia’. And what progress we have made since then! From coming as humble refugees from Iran , to building great empires like Tatas and Wadias; from being persecuted in our own motherland, to carving a niche for ourselves in other’s hearts in a completely foreign country, Parsis have truly come a very long way.
Today, Parsis are one of the most loved communities in the world. Every Hindu, Muslim or Christian is bound to have at least one Parsi friend. And boy! Do the good times roll when Parsis are around! Right from their long noses and fair complexion, to their unique Hindi and witty wisecracks, Parsis are a pleasure to have around you, and are the life of any party.
And oh! Do we have our own unique identity! A Parsi can be easily spotted even in a crowded place. All you have to do is find someone whose petticoat is longer than the dress, who has a scarf on her head and a smile on her face. And trust me, it is so heartening to bump into one of them and hear them ask ‘Arre dikra, kem che? Baccha kem che?’
And while others may turn a deaf ear, the Parsi ‘maaiji’ is ever ready to dole out advice on the common cold, cough and backache, and hand you generations-passed-down, home-made recipes to cure them, which, though awful smelling and tasting, are twice as effective as any medicine in the market. On the other hand, her Parsi husband will come and declare all the ‘drama’ is unnecessary; stating that ‘ek peg Brandy’ will cure all your illnesses!
Parsis by nature are very inquisitive. Visit any Parsi ‘baug’ and you will know what I mean. Scores of Parsi ‘maaijis’ will be sitting in the garden, gossiping about how ‘Framroze in dikri pela Jehangir na dikra saathe fari raheech.’ or ‘Mare, aaje Veera NE toh moti toran che. Kai lagan che su?’
And who can ignore the early morning bargaining with the ‘goshwallo’ and ‘macchiwalli’, old Parsi ‘maaijis’ in their nightgowns and ‘bawajis’ in their ‘Sudreh-Legha’, arguing in their half-broken Hindi, loud enough to wake up the entire colony – ‘Arre kaiko itna bhav bolech, jara kami kar. Lootva bethach.’ or ‘Surmai taazi che ke? Jara barabar dev. Chori mat kar.’
Another distinguishing feature of Parsis is a clean, well-kept house… Because for Parsis, Cleanliness is not next to Godliness. It is as important as Godliness itself. And the doorstep will always have ‘chalk’ and ‘toran’. The bigger and more colourful the ‘chalk’ and heavier the ‘toran’, the bigger the occasion.
And speaking of occasions, no one can celebrate weddings and Navjotes with more fervour and gusto than Parsis, who believe in making merry and living life King-Size! Attend a Parsi wedding, and I am sure you will not leave until you have eaten to your heart’s content, had the traditional ‘chaato paani’, danced like there is no tomorrow, and made friends with every invitee – be it women resplendent in ‘garas’ or men in spotless ‘daglis’. A common sight at these functions are ladies trying to put their match-making abilities to the test by finding out if there is any ‘kuwari chokri’ in the family who cannot find a better boy than ‘aapro Jamshed’!
Another thing Parsis are known for is their cuisine… Ask any non-Parsi what the first thing is that comes their mind when they hear the word Parsi, and pat comes the reply ‘Dhansak and Patra in Macchi’.. ‘Akuri’ is a favourite among many of my non-Parsi friends, and the ‘Lagan nu Custard’ is a delicious end to any sumptuous meal.
Parsis are the only community who are traditional, as well as modern. Only in Parsi households will you know who Elvis Presley is, and also hear old ‘monajats’ and ‘garbas’. Only in a Parsi household will you know that Tulsi was thrown out of the house in ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’, at the same time knowing about Adi Marazban’s Gujrati ‘nataks’.
Yes, we do have our share of problems and controversies (more than enough actually!) but at the end of the day, we all belong to one religion. We all believe in Zarathushtra and Ahura Mazda. We all believe in the power of … our prayers. And that’s what finally matters. Being proud of our glorious past, living in the difficult present times, and believing in the bright future awaiting our community.
On a lighter note – yes, we are eccentric, yes, we are loud and yes, we will voice our opinion on everything under the sun (whether it concerns us or not). But finally, it’s the warm, loving nature that we all have that sets us apart.
Love us, or hate us, you just CAN’T ignore us! And all said and done, I’m very proud to be a Parsi.
(If you are a Parsi reading this, Aren’t you too?)