Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

The compilation that could save a community

Two members of the Zoroastrian community have taken the initiative to preserve the community’s oral history by compiling a book on Parsi-Gujarati idioms. You can contribute too

By Aviva Dharmaraj | Mid-Day

Meher Marfatia and Sooni Taraporevala are compiling a book on Parsi-Gujarati idioms to preserve the oral history of the Zoroastrian community. "We are always saying that someone should compile these phrases before they get lost," says co-compiler Marfatia, referring to the common refrain among the older generation of Parsis. "Sooni and I thought, why not make a start," she adds, elaborating on how the idea to compile a book on the subject evolved.

Marfatia, who has in the past authored a coffee-table book on Parsi theatre in the 20th century, hopes that the book will serve as more than just a nostalgic look at the community known for its unique sense of humour.

"The present generation is really at a disadvantage as they can follow, but hesitate to use these lovely expressions," she says. Language shapes us, agrees Marfatia. "It provides a sense of who you are," she says.

The book will include "fun, wild, wacky" idiomatic phrases like, for example, ‘Tumboo ma soldier’. "Tumboo is a tent," explains co-compiler and acclaimed screenwriter Taraporevala. "It’s likening the foetus in the stomach to a soldier in his tent. It’s the Bawa version of ‘bun in the oven’."

If the language of a community paints a picture of the people who speak it, Taraporevala says that the picture that emerges from the Paris-Gujarati language is of a people who "are wonderfully inventive with the language, combining wildly opposite things with a great sense of humour."

To be part of the project, send them an email. "Contributions used will be credited" guarantees Marfatia.