Here’s an entertaining story about Yazdani Bakery and Zend Meherwan Zend that was told to me by the blustery Irani baker who passed away on Sunday. He was my friend. And I knew him from when he was a much younger man. Strapping, with a roaring voice, as crusty as the crackling Brun that Yazdani baked. But Zend was also a droll man. I had experience of that. Yazdani was near my newspaper office. Zend would often come over with Mawa Cakes. And stay for a chat.
Once he came red in the face. His Irani excitement bubbling over. He had gone to Tata Theatre the night before. Outwardly, he was big and brawny, with rough and ready ways. But Zend had evolved tastes. For Western classical music and theatre. Weekends you would find him at NCPA. In baggy bakery trousers and half-sleeve shirt. A red muslin cap on the head. Hobnobbing with the elite gentry. Zend was strangely very informed on the performing arts.
The concert was by a virtuoso violinist. I cannot remember his name. He was from Austria, Israel or Russia. Lot of their musicians performed here because there was a vast and appreciative Zoroastrian audience. That night the violinist played such soulful music that two members in the audience got heart attacks. In Tata Theatre were several eminent Parsi doctors. Mumbai has two generations of them. They managed to save one life. The violinist was distraught.
Our Zend went backstage to commiserate. They got talking. It turned out the violinist’s parents had been bakers. With a wood-fired stone oven. He had grown up eating a crunchy bread like our Brun. His parents were dead. The bakery was gone. He missed them. He missed their bread. He had tears in his eyes. This was a big night for crying. In the audience and backstage. But Zend had a twinkle in his eye. And a remedy for the disastrous night.
He took the violinist to Yazdani on his red Kinetic Honda. The man holding on to his Stradivarius. Bread was being baked. Zend took a Brun hot out of the oven. He broke it, spread butter, and gave it to the violinist. It was the same bread his parents baked! He was overwhelmed. “Let me play for you,” the violinist said. And he lovingly did. The music piercing the silent night sadly. It made Zend’s workers weep. The music reminded them of home. Of the families they left behind. “Those rascals took their money and ran!” Zend said laughing uproariously.”
Write up by MARK MANUEL