An Intimate History of the Parsis – Coomi Kapoor

The Parsis are fast disappearing. There are now only around 50,000 members of the community in all of India. But since their arrival here from Central Asia, somewhere between the eighth and tenth centuries, the Parsis’ contribution to their adopted home has been extraordinary. The history of India over the last century or so is filigreed with such contributions in every field, from nuclear physics to rock and roll, by names such as Dadabhai Naoroji, Dinshaw Petit, Homi Bhabha, Sam Maneckshaw, Jamsetji Tata, Ardeshir Godrej, Cyrus Poonawalla, Zubin Mehta and Farokh Bulsara (aka Freddie Mercury).

This revised and updated edition—engaging and accessible—is the most intimate history of the Parsis ever written. The book by senior journalist and columnist Coomi Kapoor, who is herself a Parsi, explores the names, stories, achievements and the continuing success of this tiny but extraordinary minority. Kapoor delves deep into both the question of what it means to be Parsi in India, and how the community’s contributions –from Tanchoi silk and vaccines to chikoos—became integral to what it meant to be Indian.





‘Anecdotes and tidbits infuse life and vibrancy into the book . . . the volume is rich with painstaking research and unusual

Coomi Kapoor

details . . . A treasure trove of moments from lost times’—Shabnam Minwala, The Hindu


‘For colour, drama, endurance and originality, this tiny endogamous community is like the much-loved Parsi charity—truly a Time and Talents Club’—Sunil Sethi, India Today


‘Veteran Indian journalist Coomi Kapoor has penned a definitive book about her community . . . an insight into the Indian Parsis, whose meritocracy outweighs their rapidly dwindling population’—Joydeep Sengupta, Khaleej Times


‘The book offers its own well researched account of the great Parsi Battle Royale—Ratan Tata v. Cyrus Mistry and Nusli Wadia and the control for the house of Tatas. Kapoor in a coup of sorts was able to interview all three opponents’—Vaihayasi Pande Daniel,


‘An insider’s account, the writing flows well and is readable, the research is thorough’—Madhulika Liddle , New Indian Express


‘A riveting account of some of the famous members of the Parsi community who have brought much accolades to India in the past century’—Reshmi Chakravorty, Deccan Chronicle


‘Coomi Kapoor explores the history of the Parsi community through its prominent names and how they transformed cities with their entrepreneurial genius . . . The cast of characters in her book is as wide as it is varied’—Jane Borges, Midday ‘It is a delightful easy read—well researched with many nuggets thrown in that even most Parsis would not be aware of. What sets this book apart from other works on the community is that Coomi has focused on the Parsis of the last century and included some of the newer and younger enterprising ones’—Niloufer Billimoria, Tribune


‘Written in a racy entertaining style, it holds the readers’ interest throughout. The book is largely a celebration of the material and cultural legacy of the community’—Bakhtiar Dadabhoy, Parsiana.

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