The Mahabanoo Monologues

For the second guest of the day in this session of Jam with Sam, we have the indomitable Mahabanoo Mody-kotwal.
A prolific actor, director and producer in theater, film and radio, she’s also a microbiologist and a change agent who’s highly passionate about women empowerment.
Mahabanoo was chosen as one of the 50 most powerful women in India and one of 200 most inspirational women in the world. She runs her own production company “poor box productions”, has acted in Bollywood films such as “Black”, graced countless magazine covers and made the highly renowned and extremely popular vagina monologues.

Coming from a family of doctors, she got a double degree in microbiology and geology from St.Xavier’s college but had no aspirations to be a doctor herself. She went on to work with the man who made crest toothpaste but realized her calling was in theatre.

Vagina monologues
One day she watched the play vagina monologues abroad after hearing about it from her son, and was blown away by it. She wanted to bring it to India and discussed with Eve Ensler about it, eventually becoming a good friend of hers.

But she did encounter problems with actors and producers, but fortunately never with censorship except by theatres themselves, so decided to invest in the production on her own before she found a terrific set of actors and rest, with over 1000 shows including Hindi version till date, as they say is history.

They’ve been able to give away more than 1 crore through fundraisers through the play, with more men coming to see it these days.
The feud with Alyque Padamsee was touched upon even though she insisted she had no problems, but only felt it was ill timed and badly written. Her cheeky answer to media at that time for the latter’s failure was ” The penis has to flop sometime”

Movie time
Her first movie was set in London, about a boy with brittle bones called ” sixth happiness” where they had got the real life kid to play the protagonist. Her second movie was “Black”.
She loves Rock Hudson and Paul Newman as well as admiring Amitabh Bachchan who stands out amongst everyone else.
She feels theater has changed a lot with audience being more receptive although she dislikes the experimental stuff of the new age. She loves Marathi plays and told a story about how tendulkar was scared to translate vagina monologues in Marathi due to the fear of a political party.
Quick gun Sam
A new and exciting part of the show had Sam asking the guests their first reactions to specific words with Mahabanoo answering the following.
Money – Lovely
Men – Nice
Bollywood – No comments
India – Hopeless
Mumbai – More hopeless
Politics – Bullshit
Karan Johar – Love him
Mahabanoo feels social media can be a great instrument for social change and elucidated an incident where a show for 300 underprivileged children and women was sponsored by strangers from social networks.
She spends her time alone, is socially autistic, loves elephants for their human quality and is against hunting for sport. She’s also a big advocate of NOTA and hopes more people will vote for it to bring a change.
She also said that being alone helped bring about a big change in her life views and overcoming her fears.
Women in India
Mahabanoo feels India is the worst state for women, with us being a misogynistic society, and like a famous oriya writer after watching her play said, it will take more than 100 years to change the mindset. She is trying her best to bring awareness on it and told a heart wrenching story about a woman who escaped an abusive relationship after watching the vagina monologues, which made her really proud.
She feels laws and their implementation have been useless and feels it to be insult to compare ourselves to Arab and African nations.

She’s against the rehabilitation of juvenile rapists, feeling that if they’re old enough to rape, they’re old enough to face the gong and supports death penalty of rapists and murderers. She recited the following poem.

A woman stood at the heavenly gates,
Her face was scarred and old.
She stood before the man of fate
for admission to the fold.
“What have you done,” St Peter asked,
“To gain admission here?”
“I’ve lived in India, sir,” she said,
“For many and many a year.”
The pearly gates swung open wide,
St Peter touched the bell.
“Come in and choose your harp,” he
said. “You’ve had your share of hell!”

What’s ahead

She’s working on new play called emotional creatures, a series of life stories about women around the world and another dark tale about the catholic church apart from her work for social causes and women empowerment.

First Parsi & Indian to become Superintendent of Railway Police

Dear Friends,

This is yet another historic article sent by a friend which is interesting. It is our Parsi history which is little known today. It tells us how brave and committed our ancestors were!

There were many, many noble heroes the community produced but we have forgotten their achievements. Perhaps we should try and remember these brave souls with affection and pride so their memories remain with us, always.


Pervin Mistry

The First Parsi & Indian to become Superintendent of Railway Police of the BB&CI Railways in 1870.
Please note that BB&CI Railways stood for The Bombay Baroda & Central Indian Railways, which is the present day Western Railway.

1.     Khan Saheb Kekobad Navroji Mody was the First Parsi & First Indian to become Superintendent of Railway Police of the BB&CI Railways at the Head Quarters located at Bombay in 1870.  Khan Saheb was the Title bestowed on him by The British along with other Police Awards and Medals, for his Gallant Bravery as he wiped out decoity and raids by criminals on moving trains in India.  His authority extended on the entire length of the BB&CI Railways of that time. He was like a Knight in Shining Armour on his White Stallion Horse on which he rode with Pride, Dignity and Dedication.  For those of you who have not heard about him, you may not know he had named his Beloved Horse Rustom.

2.     He was like a Rapid Deployment Force of his time, a version of today’s SWAT Team. (SWAT stands for Special Weapons & Tactics)

3.     Once he got a message that a train was attacked in a certain area, he would take His Special Train from Bombay which had only 1 engine with a Parsi Engine Driver, 1 wagon for the Police Horses, 1 wagon for his Armed Indian Cops, and a Special Wagon for himself which was like a Mobile Armory, stacked with Arms & Ammunition, food & water, and his hand-picked and trained British Officers who were deployed under his command, and reach the spot of the incident.  Once their train reached the spot, they would disembark from the train, fan out and go on horse backs, with his Armed Officers and men to catch the criminals.  He would camp in the wilderness like an old time American Sheriff, till he either killed the criminals, or captured them and brought them back dead or alive to Bombay to face successful prosecution.

4.     One day while fighting the criminals, Rustom, his white stallion horse on which he rode with pride, was killed in action by an arrow.  It is said that he had disembarked from his horse Rustom, and an active fight was taking place with the criminals when the arrow aimed at him by a criminal was in flight and would have struck him, but his brave and beloved white stallion horse, Rustom, moved in and took the arrow, and saved Kekobad’s life.  He immediately fired his  Webbley & Scott High Power 44 Caliber Revolver and shot and killed the criminal on the spot, who had shot the fatal arrow which killed his beloved horse. Khan Saheb Kekobad Navroji Mody was so much struck with grief and remained heartbroken that he mourned his loss for the rest of his life even after he had retired from active Policy Duty.  Such was the BOND between Khan Saheb Kekobad Navroji Mody and his beloved White Stallion Horse Rustom!

5.     Such brave were the Parsis of the past with real Kyani Blood that they served with Honesty & Pride. They gallantly did their duty to God, The King and the Country.

Henceforth, when we recite our prayers and utter the words, “BEHEDIN Kekobad BEHEDIN Navroji”, we will all know that we refer to the departed Soul of the brave Behdin Kekobad Behdin Navroji, the First Parsi and the First Indian to become the Superintendent of Railway Police of the BB&CI Railways at the Head Quarters located at Bombay in 1870!
Courtesy : Sam Doctor

FEZANA Annual Awards – 2014

FEZANA Announces 2014 Zarathushti Awards

The 2014 FEZANA North American Zarathushti Community Awards

The FEZANA Awards Committee is pleased to announce the 2014 FEZANA North American Zarathushti Community Awards.

The Awardees for this year’s Awards are


Sam Vesuna: Rohinton Rivetna Outstanding Zarathushti Award

Arzan Gonda: Dinshaw Framroze Joshi Excellence in Performing Arts, Painting or Literature Award

Dr. Dinshaw J. Patel: Jamshed and Shirin Guzdar Excellence in Business or Profession Award

Nazneen Spliedt: Humanitarian Service Award

Persis Bhadha & Ervad Poruz Khambatta: Shirin Nariman Dastoor Outstanding Young Zarathushti Student Award

Ervad Rayomand Ravji: North American Mobeds Council Community Services Award


You can read more about the individual awardees on the FEZANA 2014 Awards page

Official Announcement and Chairs Comments

Official Committee Chairs’ report

Courtesy : Parsi Khabar

Ratan Tata to be on board of Interpol Foundation

Tata Sons Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata has been appointed to the board of Interpol Foundation to contribute to its two new global initiatives aimed at combating organised crime and terrorist activities by the international police organisation.

Interpol Foundation said it is “honoured that Tata Sons Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata has accepted to sit on its board of trustee and contribute to the success of the Protecting Cultural Property and Modernising Channels of International Judicial Cooperation initiatives.”

The initiatives are two of the five global initiatives backed by Interpol and aimed at combating organised crime and terrorist activities, the foundation said in a statement.

Read more at:

Book explores Tata Group’s journey

The values at the heart of the Tata Group as well as the role played in its development by the philanthropic trusts that own two-thirds of the company are explored in a new book that is a brief history of the Tatas.

How did Tata transform itself from a family-owned venture to the position it istoday in an array of unrelated businesses? What is the ‘Tata Way’, which has earned it much admiration and respect?

These are among several aspects that the book “The Greatest Company in the World?: The Story of Tata” by Peter Casey looks into.

Today, the Tata Group employs nearly half a million people, and earns revenues of $100 billion. It reported a profit of $6.23 billion in 2011-12, and controls assets valued at $77.7 billion.

“The philanthropic trusts control a majority of the Tata holding company, Tata Sons. The Tata family is a very small shareholder. Yet, the owners are only one of four stakeholders Tata sets out to serve. In addition to the owners (which include shareholders) are employees, customers, and society itself,” the book, published by Penguin, says.

The members of the Tata family have established a set of philanthropic trusts to which the majority of the family’s personal wealth has been dedicated and bequeathed.
Like their father, Dorabji Tata and Ratan Tata also donated the majority of their personal wealth to trusts they established.
The book also talks about Jamsetji Tata’s successor Dorabji Tata’s passion for sports and how he advocated India’s participation in the Olympics as early as 1919, much before the nation had established its own Olympic committee.

Click here for the full story

Boman Irani: I have never seen a photograph of my father

Boman Irani, 55, is emotional, loyal and cuddly, who can cry possibly watching even Tom and Jerry. He started his life as a waiter, went on to becoming a photographer, did theatre and finally made his debut in Bollywood at the age of 44 with Raju Hirani’s Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. Ahead of his upcoming dance heist film Happy New Year, he talks about the extremely driven Shah Rukh Khan, his soulmate and wife Zenobia and how he has landed up doing in his life professionally what his father did as a hobby.

Click Here for excerpts of the interview

Parsis of the RBI

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is nearly eight decades old and was one of the first central banks in the developing world. While a lot has been written about this institution, little is known outside the RBI about the meritorious service by Parsis to India’s central bank. Over the years, a number of illustrious Parsis have served on the central board of the RBI. These include F. E. Dinshaw, Sir Homi Mody, N. A. Palkhivala, Jehangir P. Patel, Ratan N. Tata, J. J. Irani and Y. H. Malegam. The last three served simultaneously on the RBI board. Malegam, a current director, has completed 20 years on the board and is one of the longest serving directors in the annals of the RBI. The RBI has drawn on Malegam’s services for numerous boards, committees and groups and he is virtually a resident external adviser.

Savak Tarapore was executive director of the RBI at the time of India’s economic crisis in 1991-92 and was deputy governor between 1992-96. He assisted RBI Governor Dr. C Rangarajan through the balance of payments crisis and the financial reforms thereafter. The Rangarajan-Tarapore combine is considered to be the prime architects of initiatives in financial sector reforms.


P. N. Damry was the first Parsi deputy governor (1967-73). B. B. Paymaster, chief secretary, government of Maharashtra, served as chairman of the RBI Services Board. A. D. Shroff headed vital committees of the RBI and in fact was RBI governor Sir Osborne Smith’s first choice for the post of deputy governor. However, the British India establishment in New Delhi rejected his name as it was felt that Shroff was too close to the Indian nationalists and was a “Congress economist.”

One of the most highly regarded officers was P. J. Jeejeebhoy, head of the exchange control department, who set exacting standards of transparency in handling the rationing of scarce foreign exchange during World War II. He was an important, indeed indispensable, member of the Indian delegation on the sterling balances, a delegation which included the finance minister and the RBI governor. He was instrumental in negotiating the intricate arrangements on the drawdown of the large sterling balances built up during World War II as also the exchange rate arrangements for the rupee.

K. M. Mehta served the RBI from the 1940s to the 1970s and was eventually appointed executive director. There could not have been a more humane and soft spoken person than K.M.Mehta. True to his nature he would seek out RBI staff and endeavor to alleviate their problems. Similarly, persons from the public who came to him with a problem found a powerful ally. An oft quoted case was of a person trying to retrieve his late father’s equity shares in the then privately owned RBI; Mehta offered his personal surety to enable the person to retrieve his father’s shareholding. A. Thanawalla headed the department of banking operations and his prompt disposal of cases was legendary.

Another leading light is Chandi J. Batliwalla, who for long was the public face of the Parsis in the RBI. Her career straddled the RBI and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Her outstanding work received encomiums from a number of RBI governors as well as managing directors of the IMF. She had not one, but two five-year stints with the IMF, and also wrote the history of the RBI’s role in managing India’s external sector for the the RBI’s official history. But all the achievements of her career in the RBI and IMF pale into insignificance when one considers her outstanding work with the Red Cross over the last three decades. Even now this octogenarian (she is in her late eighties) thinks nothing of venturing into remote areas to help the disadvantaged segments of society.

Pilloo Mirza (the aunt of KekiMistry, vice chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Housing Development Finance Corporation), was the first Parsi to work in the IMF (on deputation from the RB I). She was one of the most painstaking and reliable workers in the RBI and her seniors would often say that once Mirza had processed a case no further examination was necessary. Kara Patel who was a junior officer in the RBI was famous as a reputed homeopath and had his clinic on Princess Street. Top officials of the RBI were his patients.


Courtesy : Bakhtiar Dadabhoy – Parsiana



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