When I moved to New York, one of the first dozen Parsis I must’ve met included Phil and Dhun Shroff. And over the years as I got to meet them more and more and get to know them better, I was always intrigued by this immaculately and (always) fashionably dressed amazing couple, who in their early 80’s globetrot all over the world on work, running their own clothing design business out of their beautiful Dobbs Ferry, New York home.
Needless to say our meetings and conversations are fascinating and range from politics and our mutual dislike for the current President of the United States, to Mumbai of yore, and everything in between.
One such recent conversation, a few months ago; revolved around Twitter in particular and social media in general. Phil then mentioned in passing that in an era a few decades before the invention of social media, he had been published, written about, mentioned or interviewed in over 500 print publications including the New York Times. He said that when he mentioned the fact to his grandsons, they having grown up in an era of social media and a “retweet” and “follower” metric; did not really fathom Phil’s staggering achievement.
That led Phil to put his thoughts, words and media coverage into a beautiful limited edition print (of course) book titled” From Dreams To Reality: From a Small Locale in Mumbai to the Newspaper Stands of New York”.
The book is a fascinating journey of Phil and by corollary Dhun’s life from the bylanes of Dadar Parsi Colony to New York City in the early 60’s and then a whirlwind 6 decades and counting of life in the Big Apple.
Below is a short synopsis of the book. As I read through the book, beautifully detailed in the rich history and fabric of the Bombay and New York of the 1960’s and the following decades, it made me realize, that theirs is a story that needs to be shared with Parsi Khabar readers, and hopefully captured on camera for posterity.
The book is a study in Marketing. It shows the metamorphosis of Phil Shroff from a mere Engineer to what the press refers to as Color and Textile Authority.
As you browse thru the chapters, they will unfold the various steps he took meticulously to create this transformation.
He utilized all his assets at their fullest potential plus more thru synergism. He believed that if you could synch yourself to the heartbeat of the society, you will start feeling the rhythm. He recognized very early in the game that he was at the right place at the right time. To him, that was not luck, but that he was at the crossroads of opportunity and preparation and he did not hesitate to grab it.
Having come from a land of Sadhus, fakirs and snake charmers, he believes in the stars and readily admits that the stars were perfectly aligned for him.
The timing was early 60’s. America was on the threshold of radical societal changes like, women’s liberation, integration, affirmative action and minority recognition; it was the dawning of the age of Aquarius, a free wheeling society. He used an amalgamation of his assets such as his qualifications, his expertise in every facet of the textile distribution chain, his good looks, the exotic image he projected on the Grande Dames of the fashion industry, his extempore speaking ability on all matters of textiles and tremendous self confidence. All this he packaged together to charm the establishment.
He became a sought after speaker and the more talks he gave the more confidence he garnered to project future trends in textiles.
The book has a lot of interesting anecdotes written over a timeline. It is indeed a story of “Dreams to Reality” from a small locale in Mumbai to the newspaper stands of New York.
He has been published in 85 Publications (Domestic & International) a total of 555 times with his photograph 135 times. All these have been fully documented chronologically and a grid is provided for easy reference.
The trade papers have showered on him superlatives like Color & Textile authority, Visionary, International consultant, Neighborhood psychic for corporate America, World renowned, Magician on machines, Color guru, Social commentator, Professional prognosticator and World’s finest colorist and forecaster.