Bombay central

by Haseena Jethmalani in the Indian Express.

Come December and I await invitations from our Parsi friends with bated breath. For me, it’s more about the food, though the bhonu is to die for and the badam pak better than any tiramisu in Italy.

I find the Colaba Agiary simply charming and have some beautiful memories, as a child, attending my friends’ navjotes and weddings. As we eat off banana leaves and sip, rather slurp, the Mangola, it’s the ultimate dining experience for me. Way past their bedtime, children are running around like holy terrors, boys with their jackets thrown and girls with their salli-chicken hands wiped over their tulle dresses, as they poke fun at the band crooning Killing me softly, nothing can be quite so heartwarming.

Coupled with this is extreme hospitality and warmth as every guest is greeted as they enter and leave.

This year was a bonanza for us. At Lata and Vispy Patel’s daughter’s navjote, red roses beautifully brought out a sense of mysticism. It was a pleasure to the Vispy’s school and family friends of over four decades just as much part of their lives as before.

Likewise, at Simone and Farokh Pundole’s daughter’s navjote. Having been in class together for 12 years and our families having age-old bonds, I couldn’t help but smile at the memory of Simone’s own navjote. A variety of beautiful, exotic, white flowers and chandelier transformed the agiary into a dreamy and romantic visual delight, though hardly a surprise as she remains one of the most sought-after and low-key interior designers in the country.

Next was Anju and Farhad Taraporevala’s son Tjar’s navjote. Having seen Tjar from the day he was born and travelled together to Disney World, he will eternally remain close to our hearts. I met Farhad while I was still in school and I quite can’t remember when I met Anju, but I am sure glad that I did. The girl has a penchant for perfection and innovation. She displayed her charm and generosity ever so effortlessly on this day. I am a bit partial, but when it comes to glamour, the Sindhis are a hard community to beat. We dazzled and shone on par with every Parsi heirloom. The orange tree at the entrance and the life-size collage of family navjote photographs may have had us in awe, only until you saw Anju—she had us breathless with her breathtaking beauty.

I hope my daughter values her friends and learns to treasure and cherish her relationships. I hope she attends her friends’ weddings and they grow up and then attend their children’s navjotes. These are sacred bonds much like the ceremony itself.

My respect for my friends only goes up as I see Simone smiling with abundant joy with Monisha, Radhika and Nisha— her best friends from school—Vispy and Pheroze, best buddies from Cathedral and Anju and Farhad laughing heavily with Dr Feroze Soonawalla and medical college friends.

In a society where what you have is of utmost importance, I think that as long as the person has love you’re a winner all the way. And these families are certainly winners.

I can’t help but wonder if Raj Thackeray has ever attended a Parsi bhonu, for a man can’t live by vada pav alone.