We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 7

July 31, 2020

(7 of 12)

REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987-

As Mr Wyseman used to only show a profit of Rs.18,000/- per year, I showed Rs 19,000/- by cooking the accounts and got them passed *. Next year I again made a net profit of well over Rs 1 Lac because this was the only hotel not out of bounds for American Soldiers.

(*more on this later)

In order to reduce the Souvenirs being taken away, all my Crockery and Ashtrays, which were imported, had the words ‘Stolen from Bristol  Hotel’ on them. This made all the soldiers buy these items by paying fat sums to me and I put a board so that other Souvenirs would not be taken from the Dining Room. This big board read ‘KNIVES AND FORKS ARE NOT LIKE MEDICINE TO BE TAKEN AFTER MEALS’.

Deciding to build my own hotel, I went to Mr Bushby, Chairman of the Port Trust for a plot of land on the seashore. He asked me how much whiskey I could sell. I told him I could give him a case of Whiskey and sent him Black Label. He gave me this whole plot where we are today.

At the Governor’s House, my wife Khorshed heard my friends speaking to each other that ‘Avari is a damn fool – building a hotel where even the dogs will not stay’. She was most upset and did not eat or drink anything at the party and came home and cried to me that all your dear friends say you are making a mistake and why won’t you stop throwing all your life savings away.

This property, which I have got on 100 years lease, will be useful to my son Byram and to my Grandsons and we will never give it away.

(to be cont)

(previous (6th) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/06/18/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-6/)

Parsi films that never made it to the big screen



So, lets start our weekend with a chuckle, and who better to poke fun at than ourselves …

(alert- you have to know us Parsis or the Gujrati language to appreciate this)

QUOTE

The classic Shakespearean remakes:

*Rumi and Juliet.

*Much Sali Par Eedu About Nothing.

*Taming of the Kekashrew.

Other classics:

*Moby Dikra

*Cama Sutra

Classic World War 2 films:

*The Battle of the Bulsaras.

*Guns of Navroji. 

*The Bridges of Sarkari. 

*Where Edelji Dares

The perennial all time favourites:

*Pearl Harbourwalla. 

*Kersiblanca. 

*The Good, the KekoBad and the Dagli.

*Bend it like Baman.

And last but not least:

*One Flew over Cusrow Baug

Unquote

(Author unknown but many thanks to him/her for the laugh)

“Reason should frame a good politician’s goal to persuade”

July 9, 2020

(photo credit- shutterstock.com)

On a recent online course, I was made to read one of the most POWERFUL essays (by Amy Gutmann) “The Lure & Dangers of Extremist Rhetoric”, a topic so so prevalent worldwide.

The speech is so profound that it actually made me sit up and take notice of my very own actions and reactions in arguments; and while these principals apply in politics, they are prevalent in family, work and society in general!

Excerpts-

Going as far back as Aristotle, he maintained that –

The proper task of rhetoric is to drive home the logic, the truth and the evidence of an argument.

Reason should frame a good politician’s goal to persuade.

The opposite of a sound democratic argument is demagogy: manipulation and deception in order to divide, demean, deceive and conquer [citizens].

Extremist rhetoric blatantly disregards and devalues truth-seeking understandings upon which citizens [] may make informed judgments.

It also undermines a basic value of representative politics- When politicians use extreme rhetoric to mobilize their base [] they strip the moderate middle of a voice in governance (excludes all those who might join a more moderate [] political coalition)

(photo credit- magoosh.com)

By its very nature, extremist rhetoric excludes from consideration important public values-

  • Liberty
  • Consideration of equally competing values
  • Constructive conversations that improve decision making
  • Denigrates & degrades those who differ
  • Blocks constructive examination of rhetor’s own values and beliefs

When we argue about controversial issues, we should defend our views vigorously while expressing mutual respect for our adversaries [] and competing viewpoints.

We can do this by not preemptively rejecting everything for which our political adversaries stand.

It makes room for moral compromise over reasonable differences.

So, what’s the SOLUTION…               EDUCATION!

(Which reminds me back of an earlier opinion “https://dinshawavari.com/2019/03/15/common-sense-has-left-the-building/”)

Schools, colleges and universities are the natural ARMIES at the forefront to teach our citizens the art of rhetoric, in the words of Amy Guttman –

In searching for antidotes to extremism, there is therefore no substitute for a better democratic education in robust, reasoned, and respectful political controversy and debate. We need to teach students how to engage with one another over controversial issues. Students must first learn how to recognize demagogic rhetoric and then how to counter it, both individually and institutionally.

Well-designed democratic institutions can dramatically reduce the toxic effects of extremist rhetoric. We need to support institutional structures whose incentives encourage respectful controversy. Well-structured debates and factcheck blogs can expose extremist and extreme rhetoric that is deceptive and subversive of the democratic pursuit of the public interest.

This is the start of ‘War Against Extremist Rhetoric’!

Black Money Love- more than just a movie review!

June 26, 2020

One of the effects of the COVID lockdown was an increase of movies my family was watching, primarily being Black Money Love, a Turkish soap opera.

Besides the ‘eye-popping’ beauties (which I won’t go into in this paper 😊), the serial is actually very interesting to watch.

(photo credit- youtube.com)

Its directing and acting is on par with any Hollywood soap; alongwith scenes, production sets and story line; and the actors … 💓💓💓💓 va va voom!

Naturally, like many soaps, there were moments of being “over the top” 😊 and crying ☹ (the latter, not my cup o’ tea) … and my!  LOTS OF SMOOCHING 💓!

However, besides being an action drama it shows the culture and character of modern Turkey –

  • It is a conservatively run country
  • A moderate society
  • A MODERN society!
  • Western & Eastern cultures exist together
  • Conservative & Liberal outlooks live alongside each other
  • High standards of living
  • Educated & talented youth

Turkey is a Muslim state, with a conservative government, but a progressive & modern outlook.

No country is ideal but similar cultures can adapt best practices and standards from each other. 

It is not an overnight change- it is a generational one

…but it can happen.

(The villain’s acting is SUPER! 😊 – he absolutely outdid himself!)

(Photo credit- https://anne-raevasquez.com/?s=black+money+love , http://www.Whatsnewonnetflix.com, http://www.shutterstock.com)

We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 6

June 18, 2020

(6 of 12)

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.

(to be cont…)

(previous (5th) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/05/26/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-5/)

HOW ABOUT SOME LEVITY FOR A CHANGE!?

June 6, 2020

The world is going through some of the toughest times it’s ever faced – and things are just not in our control … Nature is in control!

…and just like that, I came across this absolute riot of a book review by Ravina Rawal.  It’s not new – it’s from 2014 – but I thought it was just the thing to lift spirits (pun-intended! 😊) and poke fun of our microcosm of a religious community in these trying times.

(Article & photo credit- https://www.pressreader.com/india/the-sunday-guardian/20140223/282759174580097)

So, quoting verbatim from Ravina Rawal, here goes …

QUOTE

The levity and longevity of mealy-mouthed Parsis

The Sunday Guardian · 23 Feb 2014

Sooni Taraporevala and Meher Marfatia’s new book is an exuberant, laugh-out-loud collection of “insults, endearments and other Parsi Gujarati phrases”, writes Ravina Rawal.

There’s almost nothing on earth I enjoy more than a disgruntled Parsi. Or, well, a Parsi in a good mood. Or a Parsi celebrating his/her 95th birthday. Or a Parsi after his/her fourth whisky, at a funeral. Because through all of life’s many celebrations and disappointments, through life’s many moods, theirs is just the same.

I don’t know if it’s the secret of some ancestral, evolution-affecting drug that’s still making future generations trip hard, or if it’s what happens to your genetic makeup when you only marry and procreate within the same 20,000-odd people. Either way, never have I met a people bursting with more enthusiasm, applause and outrageous sarcasm than this curious species of happy maniacs. (And I’m Punjabi.)

They will tell you proudly, “Mummo chuch cho vugur ‘seerpa’ nahin” (If you don’t swear, you are not a Parsi).  And they’ll be right. While the rest of the world is busy getting offended at everything that comes out of everyone’s mouth, the Parsis are having an absolute riot, roaring with laughter at the wicked names they’re calling each other (and their mothers and fathers and aunts and grandparents and house pets).

They don’t care how insulting or politically in correct it is, their brains work relentlessly to conjure up the most imaginative insults the rest of us have ever heard.

“Chumna jheva pug” (feet like pomfret), they’ll remark of a person with large feet. “Who? Boman? Evun toh photo frame thai guya (he became a photo frame)!” they’ll tell you casually about some one who just died, a phrase also substituted with “Kolmee thai guya” (he’s be came a prawn). And some how it isn’t disturbing at all that you’ll of ten hear a mother squeal, “Tuhree kule jee khau!” (I’ll eat your liver!) to her child — because it comes with a generous side of love, laughter and kissy-koti.

“Oont nee gaan ma jeera no vughar” literally means “a sprinkling of jeera in the bum of a camel”, used when referring to a big eater who’s been given too little food.

“Tum boo ma sahib,” they’ll say without a second thought to a pregnant lady, referring to the “boss in the tent”.  

Which reminds me of a famous Parsi actor, who once spoke to the baby in my cousin’s belly for well over two hours over the course of a single evening. Not a word to my cousin, just a very fascinating conversation with (at) her stomach.

One of my closest friends not so long ago was Parsi, and I’ve spent endless hours grinning from ear to ear at her house at the dinner table where every dish was topped (or bottomed) with eedu (egg), and every bite punctuated with a quick bitch and moan about relatives (or friends who are really relatives because, Parsis). I may also have been the most enthusiastic of all her friends about accompanying her to family gatherings she herself so reluctantly showed up at, because I am acutely aware that 150 Parsis all at once is the sort of party you’re never going to forget, or other wise get invited to.

These guys also all seem to live for…ever?  A near 100-yearold Parsi man or woman isn’t the “mado murgho” (sick hen/ sickly person) you’d expect them to be.

And there’s a tiny seed of senility that seems to set into them at a fairly young age (if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say age 10?), so the full blown happy madness that stares back at you from the eyes of a 98 year old, for instance, isn’t new or unsettling in any way.

Despite their ridiculous life-span, there are so few of them around in the first place — and some of them are even getting crazy enough to start marrying out side the community — that somewhere they’re all worried that their wildly evocative, some times bizarre and always funny vernacular will get lost for ever.

So, photographer-filmmaker Sooni Taraporevala and writer Meher Marfatia took up the cause, rounding up everyone they knew in the community for their contributions to what has resulted in a delightful archive of Parsi Gujarati.

(Photo credit- goodreads.com)

Parsi Bol is a little handbook of over 700 “insults, endearments and other Parsi Gujarati phrases”; its pages peppered with lovely little illustrations by cartoonists Hemant Morparia and Farzana Cooper, bringing to life some of their choice picks.

Split into chapters that include picture phrases, sarcasms, insults, endearments, food, twin words, character traits, anatomy and advice, it’s a great book for everyone who’s ever been curious about the Parsis. I guarantee it will make you laugh out loud and share the things you read with whoever else is in the room.

If you don’t mind your favourite phrases in this book, the authors ask that you e-mail them to parsibol@gmail.com to add to a possible sequel.

UNQUOTE

Day 2 at the Karachi Literature Festival

March 1, 2020

The “ills” of our times date back to the 1700’s East India Company!

In yesterday afternoon’s fascinating book launch “The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company” at the Karachi Literature Festival, William Dalrymple identifies the source of global corporate corruption and rot in society … The East India Company.

Darlymple’s style of delivery is OUTSTANDING!  He’s humorous, easy to listen to, succinct and energetic.  It was a pleasure to hear his two presentations yesterday and I hope we have the opportunity to hear more from him in future.  For a Saturday morning session, he had an excellent turnout.

Forgotten Masters – Indian Painting For The East India Company

Starting from “… a five room office, smaller than the Beach Luxury Hotel…” and 3% of global trade, the East India Company grew to cover almost 40% of global trade.  It was, pure and simple, in the business to make a profit.  CSR practices were never on it’s agenda … there being it’s eventual downfall.  It bought politicians, favors, influence and it’s own army of sepoys with the sole aim of emptying the coffers of South Asia and profiting from global trade – and it did this very successfully.

“Enlightening” would be the term I would use to describe William Darlymple’s book launch. 

As an aside, in the 8 years I’ve been a participant at the Karachi Literature Festival, never once have I found it to be an “elitist” event– and I don’t say this just because it’s being held at my family’s Beach Luxury.  Over the years I’ve heard this term over and over but I don’t believe this to be true of KhiLF.  There is absolutely NO VIP culture, you rub shoulders with people from all walks of life, speakers interact with participants freely, the entry is absolutely free and no one is restricted (bar time reasons) from asking questions … with one common objective of enhancing KNOWLEDGE.  For a city of 27 Million inhabitants, it’s an absolutely outstanding weekend!