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.”
(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?)
Weather patterns have changed for Pakistan, especially Karachi. We are seeing colder winters, hotter summers … and heavier rains! The last I remember of these types of rains were in the 1970s.
Karachi is facing severe monsoon rains for the first time in decades. It’s a good thing too – it cleans up the city; there is more greenery; the temperature drops; and life is so much more pleasant; and the three major reservoirs supplying water to our City get filled.
Yet, with the rains upon us there is no drinking water in sight! Like South Africa’s current problem, Pakistan is heading for a water crisis in the coming decade.
Rain is God’s gift to Earth and we are rebuffing this free resource!
The time to act is NOW … with no POLITICS or partisanship involved, through micro & macro means. The provincial & federal governments cannot do this on their own- we as citizens have to help out too.
Let’s go back to school – literally – and immediately start teaching water saving to all nursery, kindergarten and primary school children! (Long Term Goal)
Water faucets can and should be changed to modern fittings which save water. I saw a very interesting concept at https://www.alteredcompany.com/ . Their water aerators/nozzles give a mist giving the same cleaning effects but at a fraction of the water wastage. Why can’t our domestic companies follow suit and make it mandatory for all faucets to be of this type?
Implement recycling “domestic” water for kitchen & clothes washing and swimming pool top ups;
Implement “waste” water recycling (from WC’s and urinals) for gardens and exterior washings (can be used for washing cars, external patios, etc).
Implement drip irrigation for all gardens, plants & farms –Middle Eastern countries are proof that such systems work – and theoretically it should be even easier for us to do!
All watering for gardens & plants should be done at/after sunset;
Domestic staff HAVE to be taught to conserve water (for that matter all our utilities);
On the macro side, our federal & provincial governments –
Have to put aside “-1 sum” politics (in this case “-1” referring to provinces) in favour of the citizens of Pakistan.
Like Hawaii, we need to create water catchment areas for rainwater in each province – NO RAIN WATER SHOULD BE WASTED.
Mini DAMS is a must – starting from the north of Pakistan’s main rivers down south to the Arabian Sea – so that our fresh water does not drain into the sea and is instead used productively. Politicians (not us citizens!) have concerns that water from such dams would not be used equitably – but if Pakistan & India’s Indus Water Treaty of 1960 can withstand the “test of time”, I’m sure our own provinces can also reach comprehensive, equitable & binding agreements.
Not a drop of fresh water in Pakistan should be allowed to flow into the Arabian Sea and instead equitably diverted East & West to all provinces as it flows southwards!
Desalinization plants – this is a macro project and while some smaller units have been set up in Karachi, they are not being used. Besides rainwater, ocean water is an absolutely FREE resource- why are we not using it? We take loans to pay off other loans … and loans for building our arms … why can’t we take loans & grants for providing drinking water to our population?
There is a great need for our governments (plural!) collectively to lead the way in collecting & storing rainwater; promoting households & commercial buildings to create water catchments & reuse rainwater; and teach & implement water saving techniques to the population!
THE WATER IS FREE people … we just need to optimally capture this very very scarce resource and utilize it correctly in & for our Country.
… Conflict & strife being at one of the highest points that I can remember in my conscious life.
It basically comes down to “governments” and national policies-
Why are nations encouraging conflict with other nations?
Shouldn’t they be looking at the welfare of their own citizens FIRST!?
Why are nations increasing arms spend?
Shouldn’t they be spending on education & health of their own citizens instead?
What is a “government’s” purpose to come to power?
Is it not to enhance the poor and downtrodden out of poverty instead?
How does a country’s attempt for currency & world domination/hegemony help the citizens of that nation?
Doesn’t it instead dilute the energies & efficiencies of the government from internalenhancement?
In today’s era, how does land acquisition through war & conquest help a nation prosper?
Doesn’t it instead divert resources from otherwise more critical LIFE purposes?
The words in the United Nations’ charter is the ONLY KPI on which governments should be judged & held responsible for by its citizens –
“…committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights”
– and not on how strong a country’s currency is or how many wars it is fighting or how influential it is in world affairs.
Let’s end this diatribe with a quote from Ronald Reagan’s Acceptance Speech at the Republican National Convention on July 17, 1980 [please replace “Americans” with “citizens”] …
“…millions of [Americans] find themselves out of work. Millions more have never even had a fair chance to learn new skills, hold a decent job, or secure for themselves and their families a share in the prosperity of this nation. It is time to put [Americans] back to work, to make our cities and towns resound with the confident voices of men and women of all races, nationalities and faiths bringing home to their families a decent paycheck they can cash for honest money. For those without skills, we’ll find a way to help them get skills. For those without job opportunities, we’ll stimulate new opportunities, particularly in the inner cities where they live…”
…This is what worlds’ governments should SOLELY strive towards…FULL STOP!
COVID-19 struck and we did not lay off our staff or executives. We did this openly, with our hearts in it, and fully mindful of the economic impact to our family & group.
Our reasoning … where will these people go, how will they live, eat, buy medicines – especially our Associates – as there’s no social network or institutionalized setup to support them. It was (and is) our responsibility to look after them and their family.
We didn’t do this expecting anything in return – because that’s not what “helping” is about.
Trust & a helping hand is given implicitly – one should not do charity expecting anything in return.
Little did we know, there always are the bad eggs … the back stabbers … those few people who would take advantage of this good will ☹ … and “stab the hand that feeds him”!
After several months of this closed period, we decided to call back team members in batches from their homes & villages so as to continue – if nothing else – training programs so that people remain more productive.
What excuses did we get when we started …
Some pretend to be ill and don’t submitting any medical proof so as to skip training;
For some, they or their “dependant” were ill – for the last 2 months! – and so could not attend the job;
Some responded that they are out of the respective city or in another province and due to Covid they can’t get transport … (hmmm, last I remember, Inter-province and Inter-city transport started before last Eid);
This last one is classic – “schedule our duty for a continuous 2-3 weeks and then let us go back to our village”! So, not only do we pay them their salary but, it now seems, they will even schedule their own work hours while on our payroll. I’d like a job like that 😊!
My point is, why do we give our trust to others, our hearts to others, our energy and resources for others, only for these “others” to stab us in the back?
It’s sad actually …
it does shake the trust we put in humanity and in our team members
REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987-
“Sir Sidney Ridley confirmed to me that he would protect me and would ensure that the Hotel, if purchased by me, would not be requisitioned during the Second World War for the Army, Navy and Air Force, as was the custom.
So, putting up my entire life’s savings and borrowing the rest, I went to Mr. Wyseman and purchased the Bristol Hotel for Rs.100,000/-. Mr Wyseman agreed on one condition- that Khorshed and I learn the hotel business with him for a few months. So, every morning at 4 a.m. I went to the Empress Market to purchase all the groceries, and the mutton, beef, chicken, fish, vegetables and fruits.
As soon as six months training were over and Mr. Wyseman handed over the Hotel to me and left Karachi – and the Bristol Hotel got requisitioned!
When I went to Sir Sidney Ridley and informed him about this, he phoned the British Provost Marshal of the Army to enquire why this was done. The Provost Marshal said “How can a bloody Indian run an English Hotel?”
Sir Sidney Ridley insisted the Hotel be de-requisitioned and the Provost Marshal accepted only on my written agreement to reduce the charges to Rs. 5/- per room and Rs.7/- for room with all meals. Sir Sidney Ridley said I would go bankrupt, but I agreed. Inspite of all my social status, I was still a “bloody Indian” but I was willing to take the challenge.
Now, the charge for a Chota (small) Peg for a Whiskey was Rs. l/. I immediately doubled it and got the Sargeant at Mauripur Airport to send me as many soldiers as he liked and I would pay him Rs.1/- per soldier, as his commission.
Then, I put 6 soldiers in a room and within one year, with both husband and wife working till 2 a.m. in the morning, we made a net profit of Rs. One Lac in the very first year- I paid up the money I had paid to buy the hotel.”
REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987 –
(5 of 12)
“Mahatma Gandhi who made the British leave the Country, by his policy of non-violence, non-cooperation, asked all the Indians to stop insuring any foreign Life Insurance Companies. The result was that my business dwindled to such an extent that I had to make heavy inroads in my capital. By 1945, I wanted to change the line of work.
Mr Wyseman was a friend of mine, and he was the Proprietor of the Bristol Hotel. My darling wife Khorshed used to like to eat English Food and so off and on, we went and had our meals there.
He told me that the British had decided to leave India and he would like to sell his hotel. He wanted Rs. 1 Lac for all the stock, name and fame, furniture, crockery, cutlery, glassware, linen, etc. but not the building which was a hired property from a Bori and a Hindu jointly.
In those days, the Home Secretary, which today is the equivalent to the Chief Secretary, was Sir Sidney Ridley, who was very friendly with me and who had appointed me on many Government Committees. He was also a Rotarian with me, which Club had only 12 members in those days of 1933. The other members were Sir Montago Webb, (The First President of this Club) who was also the Editor and owner of Daily Gazette, Mr. Voegli, Manager of Volkart Brothers, who was the Honorary Secretary and the only Indian Members were Mr. Jamshed Mehta, Mr. Hatim Tayyabji, Advocate-General and Mr. Hatim Alvi along with myself. I was also the Organizer of Tobacco Fund for soldiers fighting in the Front and hence I was very popular with the British Community. The reason for my explaining you this is to give you an idea of my status because this has an interesting reference later on.”
It’s almost two months for our lockdown in Pakistan and working from home.
The first month went well, working from home I mean.
Started waking up at 7am, instead of 6
You find the time to exercise more
Lounge in your shorts and socks
No shirt, just your vest (in my case, Sadrah)
Come 5pm, put on your shirt and shoes (stay in your socks) and sit in the garden
… It’s fine as long as you keep working, keep at it, stay busy!
But now, now, now …. YAWNNNNNN ….
(forgot what I was thinking!)
Oh yes, I’VE TURNED LAZY!
Today, as I write these words, I realize that working from home is NOT AN OPTION. There is no such successful concept as “an office at home”. The novelty wears away. So does one’s creativity. Office interaction. Office dynamics.
Actually, now to think of it, it felt good going to office – sometimes even being first to open the doors – sticking to a ROUTINE. You then actually enjoy your weekends at home more.