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)
(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?)
REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987-
“Beach Luxury Hotel started construction, Partition took place, and the Sind Government once again requisitioned my Hotel. They said that as a Minority Member I will run away and they needed the building for Government Offices. This was somewhere around December 1947, and I gave them a written assurance that I will open the Hotel by our Zoroastrian New Year, 21st of March 1948. One week before the Opening, I had no furniture, cutlery, crockery or glassware.
Always, in my times of problems, God has come to my rescue. I believe in intuition and like the time when I left Quetta the night before the fatal earthquake – because of my intuition – I was once again intuitively led to read every inch of the newspaper that day.
I saw this advertisement of the British United Services Club, which was called the Bus Club. The auction was that day for the sale of the entire crockery, cutlery, glass-ware, linen and furniture. I went and gave my Tender which read as Rs. 1000/- more than the highest offer. The Committee called me and said the highest offer was Rs.8,000/- but they could not accept the type of Tender I had given on the basis of which I would pay Rs.9,000; but if I paid Rs.10,000, I would get everything. So I accepted and opened the Hotel a week later, on 21st March 1948, with the blessings and prayers of Dr. Dastur Dhalla, who was present at that time.”
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.
So, quoting verbatim from Ravina Rawal, here goes …
“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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to add to a possible sequel.”
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.”
“Mix Breed”, based on a Parsi family who have to face “intermarriage” issues, is a light portrayal of the real-world issues our Community is facing. With double meanings and inflections, the cast (90% of whom learnt Gujrati “on the job”!) entertained the Gujrati speaking communities of Karachi.
The Script was written by Mrs Huzan Wadia, who has successfully
acted & directed it in Mumbai; and selflessly extended the script on a
gratis basis to Natalia Karanjia in Karachi, this play being the latter’s directorial
debut. Yay to Natalia!
This is what Karachi, and Pakistan, lacks- ENTERTAINMENT. We have food & drink and …………
hmmmmm. Play and theatre is picking up
in Pakistan but to a very restricted market.
The mainstream citizens do not get to enjoy theatre on a regular basis-
whether drama, comedy, musical. Our cast
explained to me the ‘power’ of theatre – they get their rush when the crowd
reacts with them- it’s a powerful, intoxicating feeling; there are no second
chances for a mistake; and when you make a mistake, you have to think on your
feet and keep going.
In the 2000 decade our media was opened – creating a new source of
employment – for budding theatre artists, actors, directors, writers, film
makers, etc. It’s a growth market but we
have to create more facilities for this talent to be nurtured, taught, portrayed
– AND WITH IT allowing us citizens to enjoy these productions and enriching our
lives. Kudos to the NAPAs, Arts Councils
and other such facilities – but we need more!
(The naatak was sponsored by the 109 year-old Young Mazdyasnian Zoroastrian Association (YMZA) and the Karachi Parsi Anjuman- however it is not meant to be any endorsement or official or unofficial stance of the Anjuman, the YMZA or any individual thereof)