On this auspicious New Year’s day, I would like to wish my fellow Parsis ‘Navroz Mubarak’. Yes, that’s the correct form, and not ‘Pateti Mubarak’. That would translate into ‘Greetings for Sinning’.
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Pateti is actually the last day of the year, and is set aside to ask for atonement for past sins of commission and omission. Commission does not mean the 30 per cent for brokering that deal. Omission does not mean minusing a clutch of double-yolked eggs from your morning menu. Yes, when the rest of the world is switching (albeit unhappily) to egg-white fritata, we thumb our long noses at cholestrerol, and actually provide a market for this dual damnation.
Naturally, on this auspicious day, we will have eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner along with every other ingredient of excess of course. The sweet vermicelli ‘sev’ we send out to neighbours on lace-covered trays will be ringed with these hard-boiled fellows. If new brides or a baby finally born into the family come visiting, in the ‘achhu-michhu’ ritual to ward of evil, we will circle a raw egg around their head and break it on the doorstep before said entity enters. We will also do the same ‘achhu-michhu’ to the new car we have acquired on this blessed day, but, unlike, ‘tamota/ papeta/ bheeda (tomatoes/ potatoes/ okra) pur eeda’ which we love to eat, this is not called ‘Skoda pur eeda’.
We will go to the agiari early in the morning in brand new frocks and with a laundry list of requests for Ahura Mazda. We will hurry through the set prayers, and then linger long over asking the Almighty for health, happiness, a promotion, a boyfriend, a Punchayat flat, a motorbike, etc. Also for a plague, or at least viral fever, on those damned downstairs neighbours whose ceiling keeps leaking on account of our faulty plumbing and who most unreasonably expect us to pay for the damage. Marerey!
After the agiari, we will go to greet our near and dear ones, though the former may not always be the latter. However, at a time like this, goodwill is the order of the day. And a good share of the will might follow. Khursedji Kaka might still be wearing his father’s frayed daglas and ordering the cheapest daily ‘dabbo’ this side of Dhobi Talao, but the old diehard’s stash of Tata stock could turn apro Cyrus Mistry paler than he already is.
Then we will return home to a splendid lunch. After snoring it off on our four-poster beds, we will go to see a play which hits rock bottom on corn and porn, but will have the auditorium rocking. Yes, our great Parsi sense of humour has seen better days, but it is deteriorating in direct proportion to our health. Still, better to bring in the new year laughing, and forget for a while our dwindling numbers and our increasing controversies.
After that, we will settle down to another, bigger repast, with a larger group of family and friends. Eat, drink, and be merry — for tomorrow you die out. But, on this blessed morn, let me not even mention such a morbid possibility.
Instead, let me wish Saal Mubarak to my old friends: Soli Solicitor, Homi Homeopath, Jimmy Gymkhanawalla, Pesi Purser, Kawas Kawasaki, Daulat Readymoney, Dinsu Dancer and all the fair and lovely and leggy babes of our Parsi colonies who have turned us into a new kind of ‘model’ community.