A Few Stray Thoughts by Farzana Contractor


December 27, 2006

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Bombay | Books | Opinion

Sweet Dadi, younger brother of Behram is here, all the way from the South of France, St Rapheal, where he now lives

It’s not often that I have house guests. And rarely if ever as welcome as the one I have right now. Sweet Dadi, younger brother of Behram is here, all the way from the South of France, St Rapheal, where he now lives. It’s only his second visit in 40 years, the last being 12 years ago and neither his ‘to do’ list nor he, have changed much. Except that his hair is much longer now, curling over the nape of his neck, like a Victorian monarch. That’s because his wife Monique likes it so, “tres chic, ne c’est pas?”

Dadi has already done his rounds, walked around Fort, Colaba Causeway, Bori Bunder. He walked into the Town Hall Library to read the papers, and after that into the St Thomas Cathedral at Horniman Circle to cool off under the fan. He has eaten his Thali at the Welcome Hindu Hotel (“not very thiku”), visited the old family apartment – where some other people now live, at Rustom Baug. He was happy to go for a Parsi wedding and enjoyed the Lagan-nu-bhonu, exclaiming with glee, “Ah, ma Rotli”, as the bearer half chucked it onto his patra and speeded away. Some things don’t change. And we don’t want them too, either. We all miss the soap and water jug ritual to clean our fingers after some saas-ni- machhi, as it is!

Well, one Bollywood flick (Dhoom II) at our lovely new Inox was enough for him to get the current picture and no, he wasn’t impressed with Ms. Rai. He preferred Bips, the current UpperCrust cover girl – guess real men like them dusky and intense. As for the UpperCrust Show he just could not believe what he saw. He told people very proudly his sister-in-law was so hard working and talented. Naw, Dadi, it’s team work.

Well, he never shops for himself, just like his brother, he says he doesn’t need much, but viola, the wife, she loves all things Indian and so we went shopping for her. A silver peacock broach, some sweetmeats in a tin with pictures of Lord Shiva on the lid, little handbags with beads or embroidery, marble coasters with inlaid flower motifs, sandalwood sticks. After a lot of coaxing Dadi said he might like to buy a ‘Bush Shirt’ !!!!!Now where can I find that?

We went to Panchgani of course, checked out Billimoria where the three Contractor brothers studied, with him reminiscing how both, the Chicki-wala and the Persian teacher in his maroon fez cap, came up from Wai. And the first look he took at the hill near my cottage he went, “Oh my God, Sydney Point is disintegrating!”. I guess it is, but then they have made a complete mess of Panchgani in general.

So there he was relaxing in the sun, reading old Busybee columns, comfortable in Busybee’s old tee-shirts, chuckling away. But the nicest bit was the way he was bonding with young Inshy. “Aloo, ma Cherie, allons”. And Inshy would happily go with him for a walk. Or he would say, “Viens ici” and she would go to him and snuggle up. Didn’t know my girl understood French too!

Original article here