Parsis know how to party


December 12, 2005

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By Anish Trivedi

I first met Parvez in my investment banking days. Getting a grip on different sectors in the economy. At that time Parvez was a man who could count his chickens before they hatched, running a poultry business.

Not one to put all his eggs in one basket, he went on to start an airline, one of the first of the privatised lot. A shipping company that ran tourists down to Goa. And changed the way either business was run by the competition. Let’s face it.

If Parvez hadn’t raised the bar, hiring attractive young men and women as cabin crew, having fashion shows on board flights, making travel as glamorous as it could get, we’d still be flying the friendly skies with Indian Airlines. Along the way, Parvez went off to run other airlines. And a television channel. Stand for elections to Parliament. Making him the only Parsi to wear saffron and support the Shiv Sena. Not something that won him too many friends at the Panchayat. But, as young Sinatra used to say, at least he did it his way.

By the time we fight the Colaba traffic and make it to his children’s navjote, Parvez and his wife Roshni are the only ones on stage.

The kids have scarpered, preferring to play with their friends than hang about shaking hands with a bunch of old people they don’t know. I tell Roshni the setup looks more like a lagan than a navjote. And question her sanity in marrying the same man again.

She looks at me in horror. Him, she asks? Again? She may be mad, but she’s not stupid. Parvez chooses to play the gentleman. He tells me he’d marry Roshni a hundred times over. The evening is a tale of a few cities. There is representation from pretty much around the world at the agiary. Designers from Delhi. Booze barons from Bangalore.

Vijay Mallya, off to celebrate his birthday in a bit, pops in. And then stays through the rest of the evening, singing to the strings of a Goan guitar. Louis Banks and Sivamani stop by to say hello before heading off to a friend’s anniversary.

Only Louis can’t get Siva away from the music once it starts. It’s the Beatles, says Siva, keeping time by banging on an ice bucket with a spoon.

There is a large Kingfisher contingent there. Not surprising, since Parvez now heads the airline. Ground crew. Cabin crew. Pilots. Executives. The whole bunch are there.

One of them, with a slightly bemused look on his face, tells me he’s never seen Parvez and Vijay let their hair down quite like this. I tell him he must be new to town. Those two are probably the city’s quintessential party animals.

Siva is still banging away when we turn to leave. Louis looks resigned. I take a look behind me, waiting for the car.

There may be only 70,000 Parsis left in the world. And most of them are there tonight. But lord almighty, they sure as hell know how to have fun.

This appeared in the Asian Age.


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