Life without Parsis would be like bun without maska

And for the last Saturday before Parsi New Year, the fifth without Busybee, a few stray thoughts.

by Farzana Contractor | Saturday, March 18, 2006 11:11:0 IST

Without doubt, life without Parsis would be like bun without maska, patia without the prawns. It is a community that lends charm to our living. It would be tough to imagine just how colourless it would be without them. And, frankly, all their idiosyncrasies only add to the beautiful hues.

And what can one say about a community that offers us such a variety in their cuisine, papeta-per-eeda and tameta-per-eeda. No seriously, look at the lagan nu bhonu, apart from the fantastic food, a great concept by itself. For the uninitiated, it’s a wedding banquet eaten seated only on one side of the table. With rows upon rows of people, some facing each other, some backing, the service guys swiftly walking past you serving in great hurry, from large aluminium plates, straight onto your banana leaves, course by delicious course. Patra ni machhi, chicken farcha, kid gosht, pulav dal, my absolute favourite topri ma paneer and raspberry from the bottle, no glass, no ice, please. The best touch, of course, is when the parents of the couple come by inquiring if you are eating well, delicately shaking your left hand ( because your right hand is busy with the sali boti).

As for the Parsi gara, my search for a heavy embroidered one is still on, though kind relatives in Surat did present me with one that belonged to my mother-in-law ages ago. These sarees are beautiful, even to the touch.

I have seen enough agiaries, though all from outside, but through Behram’s eyes I do know a few from inside too including the Atashbehram in Udvada. Udvada, which in itself can be transformed into such a heavenly place. There is so much serenity there. And if there is anything that upsets me so about Parsis who can make a difference, it’s the fact that they have allowed Udvada to go to seed. Such a pity.

But never mind that, come Tuesday and I will be heading to the fire temple in Cusrow Baug to happily remember and thank.
In the meanwhile here is wishing all my Parsi friends Navroze Mubarak.

Especially Rusi Karanjia, Dilnaaz Anklesaria, Dina Vakil, Khushroo Santook, Shirin and Jehangir Sabavala, Kali Modi, Kamal Mulla, Homi Mulla (also Namrata), Roshni and Parvez Damania, Dara Mehta, Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla, Mehroo and Behram Jeejibhoy, Lily Elavia, Vijaya and Farukh Mehta, Dilshad and Farrokh Khambatta, Tanaz Godivala, Zend M. Zend, Jamshed Guzdar, Ness Wadia, Areez Khambatta, Anahita and Yezdi Desai, Khojetse Mistree, Silloo Medora, Farah, Rita and Karl, Dr. Shirin Wadia (also Naheed, Aashish and Soli), Dr. Rashid Wadia, Meher Moos, Rattan Batliwala, Zenia Lawyer, Bhaktawar and Bezan Chenoy, Tehmi, Bejan Daruwalla, Shernaz and Baji Awari, Adi, Pheroza, Jamshed, Smita, Rati, Nadir Godrejs all, Ratan Tata, Dr. Rusi Soonawala, Dr. Tehemton Udvadia, Dr. Rushad Udvadia, Soli and Jehangir Sorabjee, Mickie Soarabjee, Parveez Agarwal, Kerman and Cyrus Rustomji, Jeroo Mango, Jeroo Lakdawalla, Piruz Khambatta, Cyrus Merchant, Shernaz Engineer, Cyrus Broacha, Tanaz Currim, Penaz Masani, Homi and Jimmy Talati, Rasna and Noushir Talati, Shiamak Davar, Bacchi and Jehangir Karkaria, Gulshan Patel, Thrity Talyarkhan, Farokh Jassawala, Mehraboon Irani, Phiroze Havaldar, Dadiba Pundole, Rusi Dhondy, Jehangir Patel, Vira and Dr. Farukh Udvadia, Kate and Rusi Irani, Mehli Cama, Katy Dalal, Adi Dubash, Patsy and Pallon Mistry Dadi Contractor and, of course, my dear friend Hafeez Contractor.

Original Article at Afternoon D&C.

  • Leroy

    I truly believe that Parsis are the most charming people around, have not had too many Parsi friends untill recenlty, but grew up with a grandfather who had a bunch of them and talked very highly of them. Cheers!! to all you Parsis around, you are truly the sprit of life.

  • Of all the arts in which the wise excell…the parsi’s masterpiece is …eating well ! I have enjoyed reading this..and all those familiar names on that list of people,(many unsung heroes too out here !) and theres a lot more to us parsis than just lagan nu bhonu n garas…but i still enjoyed reading this..!

  • Subhash Sampat

    I am trying to locate my good friend and colleague, Shirin who was the letters page editor at the Indian Express at Nariman Point, Mumbai in the ’80s when I was there as a Sub Editor. She knows I left India to live and work in the UK in 1985. If Shirin is still in Mumbai, can someone please ask her to contact me on my email address: haribole2001@yahoo.co.uk or subhaaursam@yahoo.co.uk

    I am also trying to locate many of my old colleagues at the Indian Express in the ’80s like Shola, Ranga, Smita Gupta, Arun Bhatt and many others and also at Rusi Karanjia’s Blitz and the Daily News.

    Subhash Sampat

  • FEROZA HEERAMANECK

    HELLO FARZANA,
    EVERY TRIP TO INDIA I TRY AND GET HOLD OF A MAGAZINE CALLED
    “UPPER CRUST” WHICH HAS SOME SUPER RECIPES AND INTERESTING ARTICLES.I SOMEHOW SEEM TO RECALL THAT YOU ARE CONNECTED WITH THE MAGAZINE.
    WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IS WHERE IN THE U.K COULD I BUY IT, OR, IF NOT, IS IT AVAILABLE
    ON SUBSCRIPTION.
    WOULD APPRECIATE A RESPOND.
    FEROZA

  • adolf creado

    hi farazana, im desperate to get the recipe of our bombay broon/brun pao as i live in australia and really miss it is it possible for you to get it for us id be highly obliged.
    thanks
    adolf creado

  • zarina cama

    Hi Farzana,
    I wonder if you would be related to the architect Hafeez Contractor, who is my son in law’s second cousin. My son in law is also named Hafeez Contractor and he restores vintage bikes in Dahod, Gujrat.
    (I also wonder if the recipes of Brun Pao and Batasas will ever be disclosed..because noone can make them like old bakeries do!)

  • Hutoxi

    You have mentioned “Life without Parsis is like bun without maska”. Which is in a way so true. But I keep thinking of some of our Parsis who are alive but living a life of poverty and hardships.Many of us are ashamed to associate or socialise with our own people. These poor Parsis are” bun with no maska”. Life for them is colourless. Please do not forget to mention them. The community once known as” Parsi thy name is charity” has come to be known as Parsi Panchayat and rich Parsis who care a fig for poor Parsis. We should  look beyond our Garas,cuisine,etc. People who elect the Parsi Panchayat should think before electing their Panchayat. Ideally it should be charity for the poor and not for the panchayat.
    Cheers to the forgotten Parsis of India and a few who make a difference.
    Hutoxi

  • Hutoxi

    You have mentioned “Life without Parsis is like bun without maska”. Which is in a way so true. But I keep thinking of some of our Parsis who are alive but living a life of poverty and hardships.Many of us are ashamed to associate or socialise with our own people. These poor Parsis are” bun with no maska”. Life for them is colourless. Please do not forget to mention them. The community once known as” Parsi thy name is charity” has come to be known as Parsi Panchayat and rich Parsis who care a fig for poor Parsis. We should  look beyond our Garas,cuisine,etc. People who elect the Parsi Panchayat should think before electing their Panchayat. Ideally it should be charity for the poor and not for the panchayat.
    Cheers to the forgotten Parsis of India and a few who make a difference.
    Hutoxi

  • Missmookye

    are you talking about shririn merchant married with Cyrus , she was living in Dadar, Bombay

  • Missmookye

    are you talking about shririn merchant married with Cyrus , she was living in Dadar, Bombay