Zenobia Mistri: Teacher par Excellence by Shireen Isal


April 14, 2018

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We are happy to learn that a new book titled ‘Zenobia Mistri: Teacher par Excellence’ by author Shireen Isal

clip_image001A young girl, with gritty determination, pursues her college education in Bombay (now Mumbai), then goes on to successfully obtain her doctorate from the prestigious Sorbonne University in Paris, France – not a given in the Bombay of the 1920s and 30s, when most girls were destined to a life of domesticity – thereby defying social conventions of the time!  On her return to Bombay, she, in turn, offers the gift of education to women aspiring to a better life.  Through teaching – her profession of choice from an early age – she acquires something loftier: the power to transform lives, to enhance the independence and self-esteem of young aspirants, rich and poor alike, through learning.

Thus did Zenobia Mistri (née Bamboat) not only pursue an exceptional path all her own but went on to become one of the most iconic teachers of French language and literature in twentieth century Bombay.  Over a period spanning fifty years, scores of her students benefited from her brilliant grasp of the language and her unique ability to teach it.  Her generosity of spirit and commitment to her work touched many hearts.  Through teaching, Zenobia found her own voice which she used to brilliant effect.  In revealing the merits of the language and its poetic beauty, she became a link between east and west, India and France, creating a powerful legacy and proving a unique ambassador for that country. 


‘A vivid and sensitive portrait of the aspirations and possibilities as reflected in the spirit of Zenobia Bamboat Mistri, a talented young woman from a Parsi family in Karachi; her inspiring  search for an intimacy with French language and literature; her unwavering commitment to family and friends; and the art of making teaching a compelling experience several times a day. The author has portrayed all this with economy, grace and warmth.’

Prof. Homi K. Bhabha
Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities, Department of English, Director, Mahindra Humanities Center, Senior Advisor on the Humanities to the President and Provost, Harvard University

‘For the monumental work you have accomplished with so much love and care and hours of hard work, our deepest appreciation.’

Mehroo Golvala and Gool Mistri, grandchildren of Pirosha and Zenobia Mistri, Mumbai, India

‘What an extensively researched and vivid account of Zenobia’s life.  And how perfectly placed you are to have written it!  Enjoyed the easy and fluid read.  Am sure her spirit rejoices at this publication!’

Yasmin Stafford, student of Zenobia Mistri, Mumbai, India

‘I bow to you. The book is more precious than a Rembrandt.’

Neville Golvala, great grandson of Pirosha and Zenobia Mistri, USA

‘I have already dipped into it and it promises to be fascinating both because of the Karachi connection as well as the link Zenobia forged between India and France, Bombay and Paris and which you now embody.’

Kairas Kabraji, Karachi, Pakistan

‘Ton hommage à Zénobia est remarquable, bien écrit, bien documenté.  Un bel hommage et un vrai travail de recherches. Bravo!’

Geneviève Pascaud Bécane, auteur, Paris, France

‘It’s a true labour of love on your part.  And it takes lots of painstaking research lovingly pieced together to produce it.’

Alaknanda Samarth, actor, London, UK

‘I didn’t know her, and yet you have brought her to life in a way that the reader can actually evoke her from your descriptions. You have also created a picture of her times and the Parsi community in that day…the language is very readable.’

Meher Pocha, London, UK


The image above is of Zenobia in Paris in the early nineteen thirties Photo (detail): Collège de France.  Institut d’études indiennes, Rapport d’activités de lCI 1932-1933, Page 5.  (Collège de France, Institute of Indian studies, ICI Activity Report 1932-1933, Page 5)

The book is available for purchase at www.Amazon.co.uk

Link:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1527220001/ref=olp_product_details?_encoding=UTF8&me=


In the Parsiana bookshop in Mumbai, India (Rs.399/-)

(K. K. (Navsari) Chambers, Ground Floor, (Opp. St. Cathedral School side entrance) 39B, Amrit Keshav Nayak Road, Fort,
Mumbai 400001. India. Tel: +91-22-2207 8104 * +91-22-2207 7543 * +91-22-2207 2624)


Online at www.parsiana.com (Rs.399/- + postage)

Link: http://www.parsiana.com/bookclub/book-club.aspx

To Contact the author Shireen Isal


Shireen Isal

Association Sargam

52 Peterborough Road, London SW6 3EB. UK. Tel:+44(0)7958.312548

E-mail: shireen@associationsargam.comwww.associationsargam.com