This story is as much a sari story, as it is a story of furniture – a Parsi obsession and feature of their traditionally elegant homes. Nilakshi remembers Gustad Noble’s father’s furniture shop, and his love for the craft, in Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey.  We were surrounded by objects de arts and bric-à- brac from generations, especially those handcrafted chairs. She loved the telephone stand and the nest table Furokh’s father had designed to perfection. The white and pink marble topped tables reminded her of Kolkata houses, her mamarbari (maternal uncle’s home), in particular, just as the big wooden cupboards. Here’s an interesting remanence about a black sari that brought back so many memories for the author, exclusively in Different Truths.

Niloufer. Someone I admire. My professor. A Zoroastrian (Parsi) lady. Devoted to excellence in English studies. I’d like to name this black Zardozi sari after her. I like to name my saris and associate some of my favourite ones with fond memories.


I’m sitting on Furokh’s father’s wedding chair. By The Taj on a lovely glass topped wooden table. Elegantly carved.

Zar means gold and Dozi stands for embroidery, in Persian. Thus, embroidery with gold thread is known as Zardozi. It was an ancient art, which the Chinese made popular among the Parsi women right across India, from Bengal to Kutch and other places, and they learnt the art and used it on their gara-s or saris, and kor-s or borders. Though the embroidery has mixed influences from China, Europe, Iran and India, the Zardozi sari is essentially Parsi today. They are on beautiful coloured silk, with fruit and flower embroidery and the older ones have a distinctly Chinese look about them. Many of these are now part of family heirlooms, as they used real gold and silver earlier.

The golden hearted Santokes simply radiate the gentle aura accentuated by the tilted plates on display in their subtly decorated drawing room. Both treasures to last a life time and more!

The golden hearted Santokes simply radiate the gentle aura accentuated by the tilted plates on display in their subtly decorated drawing room. Both treasures to last a life time and more!

Well, I’m wearing a synthetic version, nowhere near the original, but it was popular about five years ago, with little stone bits and golden thread. I decided to wear this to Furokh Santoke and Janki Chogle Santoke’s house, for lunch and adda (casual and or intellectual chitchat).

The telephone table designed by Furokh's father

The telephone table designed by Furokh’s father

Today’s story is as much a sari story, as it is a story of furniture – a Parsi obsession and feature of their traditionally elegant homes. I remember Gustad Noble’s father’s furniture shop, and his love for the craft, in Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey.  We were surrounded by objects de arts and bric-à-brac from generations, especially those handcrafted chairs. I loved the telephone stand and the nest table Furokh’s father had designed to perfection. The white and pink marble topped tables reminded me of Kolkata houses, my mamarbari (maternal uncle’s home), in particular, just as the big wooden cupboards and of course the chairs did too!

My sari looked too bright, and therefore, too dull amid this elegance. But I leave you to judge. I had another one, in a very nice magenta but long taken away by my sari-snatcher sibling (woe be to thy kind!)

When I had read a paper on Rohinton Mistry’s novels and the depiction of Bombay in it, a few years ago, many Parsi members of the audience, at Sophia College, including Hoshang Merchant, the poet, congratulated me for my sensitivity to the core issues of the Parsi identity. I think I was a Parsi in my last birth, maybe of Amitav Ghosh’s Behram Modi’s family, or Gustad Noble’s distant cousin from Such a Long Journey. Oops did I just mention it! Or am I Miss Kutpitia reborn?

Now the story of the chairs: Parsis get married in chairs, therefore there are pairs of them in every household, plus the ones that get carried down the generations. The Santoke household has these pairs which look so pretty that you don't need any decoration. The rich dark and the lovely elegance of the wood gives texture, depth and class to the white interior room decorated by Janki Chogle Santoke, the Vedanta practitioner, interpreter and philosopher.

Now the story of the chairs: Parsis get married in chairs, therefore there are pairs of them in every household, plus the ones that get carried down the generations. The Santoke household has these pairs which look so pretty that you don’t need any decoration. The rich dark and the lovely elegance of the wood gives texture, depth and class to the white interior room decorated by Janki Chogle Santoke, the Vedanta practitioner, interpreter and philosopher.

This post is a tribute to the Parsi community, especially to my friends the Santokes and Khursheed Ardeshir-Vatcha, and Rhea Mitra-Dalal and Kurush F Dalal. I love them just that much more. Their saris, food, theatre, writing and their dedication to making lives better.

Thank you, dear friends. Please forgive, I have no intention to hurt anyone or misrepresent anything.

This story is as much a sari story, as it is a story of furniture – a Parsi obsession and feature of their traditionally elegant homes. Nilakshi remembers Gustad Noble’s father’s furniture shop, an…





The Global Working Group brings together representatives of Federations in the diaspora. The GWG met in Hongkong on 15 and 16 December. As per tradition, the meeting was presided by the host Federation Chair which this year was Mr Neville Shroff of Hongkong. The meeting coincided with the AGM of the WZCC which was also graciously hosted by Hongkong. The GWG regretted the absence of any representative from the BPP though Mr Farokh Rustomji from FPZAI was indeed participating.

The GWG discussions took on from the previous meeting in December 2015 at Udvada which preceded the  landmark 1st Iranshah Udvada Utsav. In retrospect the GWG consensus was that the 1st IUU had been a great success and congratulations were tendered to the Organising Team led by Vada Dasturji Khurshed. The GWG looks forward to the next IUU scheduled for 23 and 24 December 2017. Mr Dinshaw Tamboly briefed the GWG about preparations and the progress in the regeneration of Udvada, with help from the dynamic Central Minister Mrs Smriti Irani. The GWG welcomed the proposal to establish a Museum in Udvada as a milestone towards regeneration. Mrs Meher Bhesania was delegated with progressing this idea, based on suggestions received from the Prime Minister himself and Mrs Irani and the help and encouragement coming from that direction. There was also a suggestion to examine if the museum could be established in Mumbai rather than in Udvada but the balance of logic was in favour of Udvada – considering the cost of land in Mumbai. The Museum Project would be developed in conjunction with Dasturji Khurshed and Mr Tamboly while calling upon the technical expertise of Dr Shernaz Cama, Mrs Pheroza Godrej and Mrs Firoza Mistree.

A proposal to enable overseas Anjumans and Donors to donate in each case One Year’s supply of Kathi to Agiaries that require such assistance was also taken up.

The GWG received an update on preparations for the 11th World Congress to be hosted in Perth, Australia – from Mr Firoz Pestonji and Mr Jimmy Medhora on behalf of the Organising Committee. Details will be released in due course by the Organisers.

The GWG has appointed a committee to handle the 11th WZC Awards programme

The GWG has also appointed a committee to select the venue for the 12th World Zoroastrian Congress

The GWG also decided that Mr Yazdi Tantra will expand the portal to disseminate information on Demographics, Opportunities, Activities and related Developments worldwide and the Regional Federations will publicize this portal to their memberships. This should ensure a Single Window of Information.

It was mooted that GWG should appoint an Administrator to oversee progress on its decisions and be a central point for communications. Initially Mr Neville Shroff of Hongkong was requested to take up this assignment subject to the agreement of the Hongkong Board.

The GWG has initiated the following sub-committees with individuals charged with reporting their work;

Women    Mrs Behroze Daruwalla and Mrs Katayun Kapadia

Youth        Mr Arzan Sam Wadia

Resettlement and Information   Each Region to appoint one Coordinator and report the name within the next 30 days

Arts & Culture   Mrs Meher Bhesania

Education    Mr Farokh Rustomji

As regards Entrepreneurship, it was felt the WZCC was the right forum to progress this initiative. Subsequently several members and well wishers have continued this dialogue and will be taking forward initiatives to Change the mindset of Zoroastrian youth and more importantly their parents towards Risk Taking.

The GWG reiterated the view that it was most important for leaders and in particular elected officers from the diaspora to meet and talk periodically because the contacts and frienships that are made in such interaction serve dramatically to improve relations and tackle problems.

Neville Shroff and his team were profusely thanked for their hospitality and for hosting these twin events with great warmth and professionalism.

Further details can be obtained by the media from Dorab Mistry, Dinshaw Tamboly, Homi Gandhi or Rohinton Rivetna.

Many thanks and best regards

Dorab Mistry OBE

How food inspires names of India’s Parsis


It is no exaggeration to say that Parsis, the Zoroastrians of India, take their food seriously – very seriously.

Love of good food and drink plays a central, oftentimes quirky, role in nearly every aspect of our culture.

When our babies sit upright for the first time, we celebrate by making them sit on top of laddoos (Indian sweet). At Parsi weddings, the clarion call of jamva chaloji (let’s eat!) has a hypnotic appeal.

Weddings are judged almost entirely on the quality of the pulao dal (rice and lentils) and the freshness of the patrani macchi (fish steamed in chutney).

For any other occasion or milestone, we scrupulously avoid fasting, proscribed in our religion as a sin.

Food is etched into our identity, and in many cases it is quite literally written into our names. Indeed, Parsi surnames provide a veritable smorgasbord of edible associations.

One family, with its roots in the western Indian city of Surat, evidently failed spectacularly in the art of cooking and, therefore, earned the surname Vasikusi, which means stinky food.

Other Parsi last names include Boomla, the Gujarati term for the Bombay duck, a slimy fish which has a dedicated fan following in the community, and Gotla, which is a fruit seed.


One particularly unusual variant of surnames ends with the suffix khao, suggesting a desire to eat or greediness.

A Papadkhao, therefore, could be a devoted consumer or hoarder of crispy fried papadums.

The existence of Bhajikhaos (vegetable-eater) demonstrates that not all Parsis were raging carnivores.

Curiously, a number of surnames revolve around cucumbers (kakdi): aside from Kakdikhaos, we also find Kakdichors (cucumber thief).

Click Here for the full story

A nice niche entrepreneurial opportunity as Hotels are increasing rapidly

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The 1947 Partition Archive – Need for Interviewees



My name is Udayan Das and I’m reaching out to you on behalf of The 1947 Partition Archive, an international research organisation dedicated to preserve and curate a people’s history of the Partition of the Subcontinent through the methods of Oral History.

We at the Archive interview and profile biographies of people who were born before 1947 and have some memory dating back to the event- before and after. Not only Partition, through the interviews, we emphasize on the cultures, traditions and values of the interviewee’s background and attempt to see how the survivors of the Partition see the event and the changes alongside it, how lives were before and how it went about it after. The whole idea is conserve and preserve these fading voices and along with them the history they possess attached to their communities and social order, circumstances and time period as it exists in their memory. We conduct interviews globally and from all sections of the society. Each interview is archived in our interactive story map in the website and is shared across social media platforms through our Facebook Page and our Twitter Handle. The Archive has been lauded by the likes of Al Jazeera, NDTV, The New York Times and more.

I would first like to congratulate you for the effort that has been put in the website which is an excellent resource for scholars like us who like to learn about various communities. I would be really interested to conduct interviews and record narratives of the people from the Zoroastrian Community in and around West Bengal. It would be great if you could lead me to concerned people or networks if they are known to you. As we are approaching the 70th year of Partition, we are increasingly heading towards losing these accounts forever, hence there is a race with time.

In case you need any additional information, you are free to reach out to me at +91 9007727665.



Oral History Apprentice, 
The 1947 Partition Archive

Shenaya Jambusarwala, Corporate Director – Career Planning and Performance Management, Taj Hotels

Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces is proud to share that Shenaya Jambusarwala, Corporate Director – Career Planning and Performance Management was awarded the second runner-up trophy at the prestigious National Human Resource Development Network (NHRDN) – Prof. Ram Charan Young HR Icon Awards 2016.

The award recognized her as one of the top talents in the human resource space who display the potential, aptitude and attitude to be future HR leaders. Expressing her thrill on this feat, she acknowledged the culture of nurturing and encouraging talent at Taj Hotels. Taj Hotels is looking for talented professionals like Shenaya.


The inimitable Nadir Godrej at WZCC AGM in Hong Kong

WZCC Hong Kong – By Nadir Godrejnadir-godrej

17th December 2016


A new millennium was about to dawn

Seventeen years ago.

An organisation was then born

But little did we know


That where community seniors led

Everyone would go

And WZCC would spread

And over the years would grow.


And I was there to sing it’s praise

On that fateful day.

And back to Houston if we gaze

This is what I did say,


“The Internet is now at hand

And all can have a shot,

If only we can understand

What latest trend is hot.


Now Parsis are spread everywhere.

And they can choose their land.

If you in the Diaspora dare

Then once again we’ll stand


In the big league of enterprise

Renowned in every place.

I know we can attain the prize

If we just join the race.”


What I said then, has now come true

The Internet is hot.

Disruptive models that are new

Can strike at any spot.


And politics is not immune,

Big data plays a role.

It’s possible to fine tune

A message for a goal.


And truth is of no consequence

In using this technique.

And lies that seem to make some sense

Are all that readers seek.


Both Trump and Brexit won this way

And Russia played its hand.

What will come next we cannot say

But we must understand


The world’s becoming very strange

And nothing is for sure,

Except that we will see much change

A fact we must endure.

The markets took an upward bump

Much to my surprise.

They very warmly welcomed Trump

But still it would be wise


Not throwing caution to the wind

And being circumspect.

For mavericks cannot be pinned.

Who knows what to expect?


Indeed it may turn out quite well

And yet an ill thought tweet

Could be enough to quickly fell

The euphoria on Wall Street.


And climate change will be denied

And coal and oil will gain.

An energy rush will be supplied

But followed by great pain


Unless businesses take the lead

With green technology.

Fortunately they can succeed

For certainly we’ll see


Technology that paves the way

For a future that is green.

Technology can save the day.

Great progress will be seen.

November eighth is the date

That saw the rise of Trump.

But on that date, such is our fate

Our Mody chose to dump


All bigger notes. He thought it bold

With just a little pain.

The economy began to fold

With little sign of gain.


Most benefits were soon disproved.

The opposition screamed.

The goalposts then were quickly moved.

To most of us it seemed


The secrecy was overdone,

The planning was at fault.

The endless pain was no fun.

Our wounds were rubbed with salt!


The GST might be delayed,

A heavy price to pay.

And when the pros and cons are weighed

There’s little good to say.


And China’s debt is mounting high.

The risks are growing fast.

All sorts of props they can try,

I doubt their growth can last.

And China says that it is one.

Its military is strong.

But Trump will try and have his fun

And who will say he’s wrong?


Trump now thinks he is the boss

And boldly spoke to Tsai.

Convention then went for a toss.

And what will he now try?


Of course I may well be wrong

But Trump could up his game.

His next call might be Hong Kong,

Much to China’s shame.


World affairs will zig and zag.

And business must adjust

Quite rapidly without a lag

Or they might well go bust.


Sudden change will come about

And some will see a threat

But others will then work it out.

The challenge will be met.


Entrepreneurs must be prepared

For a changing world.

They can’t be unduly scared

As new threats are unfurled.

Agility will be required

And innovation too.

Entrepreneurs should be inspired

By trying out what’s new.


But those in WZCC

Have nothing much to fear.

For everyone can clearly see

That here there’s much to cheer!


New training courses are at hand

To help the members out.

Experienced hands that understand

Show how to get about.


Experts are there to give advice.

And they know how to spot

Young talent, which is very nice.

The awards that they have got


Encourage them to rise and shine

And serve the community.

All this of course is very fine

I hope that we will see


That these awards will quickly bring

More youngsters in the fold.

I also hope the Women’s Wing

Will make our Ladies bold.

Those with drive might need a skill

As well as good advice.

A course in business basics will

Most certainly suffice.


When they see it can be done

Some novices will try.

Though it is hard, it can be fun.

Soon more will try to fly.


As a consequence of the China trade

Parsis came to Hong Kong.

And their philanthropy’s what made

This city very strong.


Star Ferry had a Parsi role

As did HSBC.

Hormusje Mody’s funding goal

Was the University.


And to this day they are known

For their Philanthropy.

Their global charity has grown.

A model for all to see.


What better place for us to meet

Than beautiful Hong Kong.

If we work hard and stay upbeat

We will be very strong.



Our numbers now are in decline

But our impact could be great.

If we try hard, we will be fine

Let’s not think it’s our fate.


A prize might stimulate the mind.

Good thoughts should be applauded.

Solutions we will surely find

If action is rewarded.


And some day at a future meet

We will cross a million.

That would be quite a feat.

But there’s no hope for a billion!


Our journey has been truly great

From Houston to Hong Kong.

Together we can contemplate

Becoming very strong!






















Zara Heeramanek’s Adopt-An-Antique initiative is a significant step for the FD Alpaiwalla Museum, the city’s only Parsi museum


The first time 18-year-old Zara Heeramanek saw the crimson-hued umbrella stand at the Framji Dadabhoy Alpaiwalla Museum, the late 19th century antique was quite literally headless.

“It was so badly damaged; the top portion seemed to have been cut off and kept aside. I thought it would be impossible to restore, but the job has been done,” says the 12th grader, a student of BD Somani School. The umbrella stand, one of several hundred antiques at the Alpaiwalla Museum at the Khareghat Colony at Kemps Corner, was the first beneficiary of Heeramanek’s Adopt-an-Antique initiative launched in October this year. Managed by the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, the museum set up in the 1950s is a little known, unassuming space burdened with an overwhelmingly large collection donated over the years by members of the Parsi community.

Zara Heeramanek of the Adopt-An-Antique initiative. Photo courtesy: Milind Shelte

It has been closed to the public for years, but the museum’s grand restoration plans, spearheaded by Pheroza Godrej, Firoza Punthakey-Mistree, curator Nivedita Mehta and conservation architect Vikas Dilawari, brought it in the news two years ago. And it was around this time that Heeramanek, who grew up living in Khareghat Colony, first learnt of the museum’s existence. “My father knew the people in-charge, so when I went to visit the museum, they showed me stuff they don’t really have the funds to showcase and take care of,” says the teenager. One of the main problems that the Alpaiwalla Museum faced was that they had a lot of porcelain antiques, especially vases that are in a very bad condition.

This is what Heeramanek hopes to address through her initiative. “Raising funds to reopen the museum was far too big a project for me to take on while still in school. So I decided to start small,” says Heeramanek. While Heeramanek’s focus is now on eight late 19th century pieces, she’s hoping that the museum can carry the initiative forward even after she leaves the city to pursue her graduation in the United States. “The museum seems positive that it is a good scheme to bring it back to life or at least start the process, because it’s going to be a long one. I’m happy that I started it on the road to recovery,” she says.