Author Archives: yazdi

Transitions! Pune to London

Having lived in India and UK I find both places have their pros and cons. I lived in India all my life and spent my childhood to adulthood in Pune. When the opportunity presented itself, 15 years ago to tour UK (London), I did not know what to expect, except took it as a new experience. As I’ve lived in London and Pune, I cannot comment for the rest of the UK or India but from the little I know Pune and London have their own interesting quirks. To clarify, there is no bias for either place, this is purely based on my experience and time spent there.

If it’s the Work setting -obviously the first thing to sustain one self is to work, and moving abroad makes it no different. At the time, for a girl (who had barely travelled from Pune to mumbai alone) to explore the job market in London, it was not only daunting for me but simply put terrifying. Upon landing up a good job, the first thing that dawned on me was the work culture. Yes a lot of work places in London are micromanaged, bureaucratic and politically driven but a majority are pretty relaxed, employee motivated and interesting to work at. The good thing is work done well here is appreciated, applauded and rewarded, something which is important for the employee morale. Have you heard of Thank God It’s Friday (TGIF)? Working in London, I realised companies mostly follow the TGIT – Thank God It’s Thursday rule! Well in London the weekend well begins from Thursday afternoon, with jolly good humoured colleagues (well mostly) all through Friday – all in anticipation of the “much needed” DRINKS.. heading to the pub! People work hard (or hardly) all week and spend their weekend enjoying it off, thereafter once Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday come, they are weaning off hangovers and the cycle happily continues! Not to say a similar culture doesn’t exist in India – a place where the older generation believed in saving their earned money, their kids and grand kids would want to spend and enjoy life. Kal kisne dekha or kal ho na ho (thanks shahrukh khan eh!)
A lot of corporates in India work with international companies and follow their working hours- with employees doing their bit. It’s important if it’s a “work horse” environment they should be rewarded or atleast appreciated.. Companies are playing catchup to this, as for the employees- the ones that deal with situations proactively and tactfully survive. The rest? well might just change to another job and another until they get what they want!

Moving on to children’s education; London boasts universities colleges attracting millions of students every year, however their basic primary education was questionable until schools tweaked syllabus and now are decent to say the least. Yes their high schools and universities are still worthy of the attention they receive. An interesting aspect is their methods – these are very different with focus on practical learning, logical thinking and understanding what is being taught. It’s not a run of the mill “mugging up” like few Indian schools. Again I’m not berating. It is this very education in India that has made me what I am today.. the kids in India are brilliant so if the Indian education boards incorporate more practical, logical aspects in their curriculum, I imagine the kids will find learning more fun than a chore. When I speak of the competitive nature in Indian schools it’s unbelievable. It’s a rat race where everyone wants to be the best. In this queens land, it’s more easy going, a focus on children’s ability and enhancing of their strengths while working on their weaknesses. One way this is possible is their classes have around 18-20children max which means the teachers can concentrate better. Think of that as opposed to 50-55 kids? A Taare Zameen par moment!
I’m no one to Judge but the strange thing is some of these clever kids in India study their hardest, give high level exams and few of these end up working abroad, possibly as they understand the prospects or know the life-work balance that exists or simply see the £ or $ clinking. Well it is what it is and may not require delving deeper.
Coming to regular life; beautiful Pune, once flourishing with trees and bungalows is slowly converting to high rises, has crazy traffic and becoming commercialised. What’s not changed is the afternoon siesta times for some shops to remain closed and once reopened staying open till 9pm or so. Most people own a 2 wheeler in Pune and that makes commute so much easier, though crowded and busy. So life here is pretty much relaxed and hectic and interesting.
In London some shops start by 9amand close by 6pm. Again timings in summer for few differ with them remaining open for longer. What’s interesting is the accessibility and infrastructure in London which is pretty impressive and with a decent income one can live well here. On the flip side though, most of the items are imported from various countries so the post brexit transition will be an interesting one! Also demand for our “Indian” products is high and many of the things we take for granted in India be it spices, masalas, Ayurveda to simple mangoes is restricted to “Indian recognised Wembley or southhall stores.” I have seen gunny sacks with vegetables like muddy potatoes are considered to be “ordinary” in our Pune markets, while in London such sights are rare. If potatoes of this status are found, they are respected, elite, organic and highly priced. keeping different customers financial considerations in mind, supermarkets in London have the “basic” title to many of their products. Here quality is not compromised and remains affordable. Always a plus I think.
In many places, it’s all about the presentation. As they say you are paying for the idea and clever marketing. However ordinary a product is if it gets spruced up and presented well, you have a win win!
In every place, different people are different. A bit variations in thinking, mentality but overall most  demand respect and give respect where it’s due. Again as in other countries, London sees the favourite cultural divide where however secular a country tries to prove itself to be, the small niggle will always remain. Understandably so, as how would we personally like if “outsiders” came in and took our jobs! Well if some of the immigrants are more qualified than local applicants for a position.. Who do u think will get hired to do the job well? That seen in occasional scribes           non British residents face.
In London, there are people in the Indian communities that stick together and encourage their own community/people to progress professionally. Simultaneously, in British culture there is no favouritism (or so we believe) it’s black or white and by the book, leaving little or no room for exceptions.
Concluding, I can’t stress the importance of grandparents. Many families abroad, also in India feel that void. That’s Something that can be logistically overcome by either of them travelling to the other. It’s a matter of choices one makes and ultimately how it’s managed or balanced.
I do believe, wherever in the world we remain, the Basic values of honesty, integrity, good manners and respect to name a few are important to instil, both within ourselves and our young ones.
London
Published in Jame Jamshed 21st June 2020

The original Made in India success story: a soap so good, even Tagore modelled for it

In 1919, an entrepreneur responded to the call for Swadeshi by inventing the world’s first Ahimsa soap

This is the story of a feisty entrepreneur who paired business acumen with a higher purpose, and proved to the world that Made in India brands can stand the test of time.

Meet Ardeshir Godrej

For various reasons, including unimpeachable integrity, Ardeshir Godrej’s career as a lawyer never took off. And so, in 1895, he set up a company to make surgical equipment. But when his most prominent client refused to accept a “Made in India” branding on the tools, Ardeshir backed out. Two years later, Godrej went on to set up a lock-making factory which gave him his first taste of success.

World’s first vegetarian soap

At the turn of the century, Godrej got involved in the Indian freedom struggle. Among the many things that piqued his interest was soaps. Now, soap is a relatively modern invention—the first soap was manufactured in Europe some time in the 19th Century. Ardeshir noted that all soap used animal fat, a substance deeply resented by a large section of the Indian population.  (The Mutiny of 1857 was triggered by the use of fat in rifle cartridges, remember?).

Up until then, it was considered impossible to substitute lard and tallow in the soap-making process. But Ardeshir seized upon the opportunity and in 1919, launched the world’s first pure-vegetarian soap, made from vegetable oil extracts. The brand was called Chavi, a nod to Godrej’s lock-making venture, and was pitched as cruelty-free and a Swadeshi alternative to sacrilegious foreign soaps. Naturally, it worked.

The Turkish Bath Soap from the Chaavi range of soaps
The Turkish bath soap from the Chavi range of soaps. Courtesy: Godrej Archives

The Godrej marketing genius

Godrej also had another marketing trick up his sleeve. The first Chavi brand of soaps carried the tag “Godrej No. 2”. And why not “no.1”? “If people find No.2 so good, they will believe No.1 to be even better when it launches,” Godrej reportedly said. Three years later, he launched Godrej no.1, and proved himself right.

The Swadeshi soap

By this time, Mahatma Gandhi’s Swadeshi Movement was in full steam, and Godrej was an active contributor to the cause. While several leaders believed that Indians must adopt homegrown products even if they were inferior, Godrej believed this wasn’t sustainable, and that Indian entrepreneurs must up their game and offer comparable quality to consumers. On this, he publicly crossed swords with some of the leaders.

However, Gandhi deeply appreciated Adershir’s contribution to the struggle. Perhaps why he rejected a request for an endorsement from a rival soapmaker. “I hold my brother Godrej in such high regard… if your enterprise is likely to harm him in any way, I regret very much I cannot give you my blessings,” he wrote. (Another reason could have been that Gandhi himself didn’t use soap—not in the latter half of his life at least. For more than 25 years, he used a stone scrub gifted by his associate Miraben. That’s a story for another time.)

But another national icon did endorse Godrej No.1. It was the man who gave Gandhi the title of Mahatma. “I know of no foreign soaps better than Godrej’s and I will make a point of using it,” read the ad starring Rabindranath Tagore.

The Guru wasn’t the only one to swear by Godrej No.1. Dr Annie Besant and C Rajagopalachari also endorsed the Swadeshi soap.

Dr Annie Besant's endorsement
Dr Annie Besant’s endorsement. Courtesy: Godrej Archives
An ad for Godrej soaps featuring Rabindranath Tagore
An ad for Godrej soaps featuring Rabindranath Tagore. Courtesy: Godrej Archives

Now, over a hundred years after it was launched, Godrej No.1 is among the most popular soap brands in India, with over 380 million bars sold each year. It is among the longest-running Swadeshi brands. And it all began with one man who truly believed in the power of Make in India.

Bahadurji Memorial Sanatorium For Parsis at Deolali

The Dr.K.N. Bahadurji Memorial Sanatorium For Parsis at Deolali was inaugurated, and dedicated for service to the community on 15th August, 1902. It is spread over 12.5 acres of land, centrally situated on Lam Road just opposite the Agiary. The lush green compound celebrates nature at its best with a large variety of trees and plants.

There is a centrally situated Library building which consists of old heritage Parsi epics such as the Shah-Nameh, Jamaspi etc. A table tennis table and carom board is provided for those who would like to hone their skills. There is a pleasant sit-out designed on the terrace of the library building, where visitors can spend their evening in a manner most enjoyed by Parsis! The library also has an old Tower Clock which is still ticking and a Brass Bell which is rung every hour to signify the time.

On 28th Sept, 2014, as a tribute to Late Dr. K.N. Bahadurji on his 155th Birth Anniversary, the Trustees furthered the cause of dedicated service to the Senior Citizens by opening a “Doctor’s Clinic”. A Doctor visits the Clinic twice a week, examines all the Senior Citizens and is also available to the occupants residing in the Sanatorium premises.

The Clinic is equipped with the latest technology consisting of Fouler Bed, Oxy Generator, Nebulizer & Bi-pep Machine etc. kindly donated by the present Managing Trustee – Mr. Feroze D. Neterwala, in loving memory of his Late Father Mr. Dhanjishaw M. Neterwala.

Click Here for the entire history

PLACES TO VISIT
TEMPLE HILL  ●  SUMMER WINES
ARTILEERY MUSEUM  ●  KESHAR BAUG
SULA VINEYARDS  ●  KASHYAPI DAM
YORK VINEYARDS  ●  ASHOKA ADVENTURE PARK
SOMESHWAR PICNIC SPOT  ●  SHUBHAM WATER PARK
GANGAPUR DAM  ●  SOMA ADVENTURE PARK
PANDAVLENA CAVES  ●  BOTONIC GARDEN
GARGOTI MUSEUM  ●  DECETHLOAN SPORTS MALL
WILLSON DAM  ●  SAPUTARA
SANDHAN VALLEY  ●  TRIMBAKESHWAR TEMPLE
ROOM TARRIF & OTHER CHARGES W.E.F. 01.05.2018
S.N. Cottage No. Peak – Season Non-Peak Season
1  # 18 (Deluxe A.C.) 6 People 3500/- 2500/-
2 #16-A, 17-A (A.C.) 2 People 1600/- 1300/-
3 #7,8,9 (Non – A.C.) 6 People 2500/- 1800/-
4 #20-A (Non-A.C.) 2 People 1100/-  800/-
5 #16-B, 17-B, 20-B (Non-A.C.) 4 People 1800/- 1500/-
Check-out time- 10 a.m., Half day charges upto 6.00 p.m., full day charges thereafter.
* PEAK SEASON
15th April to 15th June, 15th Oct to 15th Nov, & 15th Dec to 15th Jan.
Kerfegar B. Anklesaria Sohrab K. Irani
Administrator Manager
Mob.: 9673554342 Mob.: 9552397701
Tele.(R) 0253-2491320

Dr. K. N. Bahadurji Memorial Sanatorium for Parsis
106, Lam Road, Deolali Camp, Nashik. Pin – 422 401.
Tele. No. 0253-2497132 / E-mail: drknbms@rediffmail.com

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How the name of a Gujarati language printer and publisher who died in the plague lives on in Mumbai

Jehangir B Karani’s business rose, fell and then rose again posthumously.

Jehangir B Karani (1850–1897)

Descending the broad steps of the Town Hall of Mumbai after spending a few hours at the Asiatic Society of Mumbai has always felt like walking on history. The layout of the roads branching from the grand circle laid out in front of the building is exactly the same as it was in 1860, when the vast open space called the Bombay Green was truncated into the Elphinstone Circle, later the Horniman Circle. Many of the buildings also date from the same period, while a few are older. The roads and buildings might have new names, but the old ones linger on.

As I walk past the Mint, built in the 1820s, turn on to Pherozeshah Mehta Road, and head towards Dadabhai Naoroji Road, I am transported to an almost mythical Parsi Land. Both these political heavyweights have been dead for over a hundred years, but their presence still looms large in the city. On my right is Modi Street, a name which can be traced to the last decades of the seventeenth century, when the Mody or Moody family were ship-chandlers to the East India Company.

Further up is Bazaar Gate Street, now Perin Nariman Street, which leads to one of the main exits of the erstwhile Fort of Bombay whose ramparts were demolished in the early 1860s. To the right is a structure, part-clock tower, part-water fountain, erected in 1880 in memory of the businessman Bomanjee Hormusjee Wadia.

Topped by a flame eternally burning in stone, guarded by lamassu – larger than life sculptures that are part-animal, part-bird, with a heavily bearded human face – and adorned with cuneiform inscriptions of the Zoroastrian credo, it was the first attempt to leave a Parsi architectural imprint on the city. On my left is Homji Street, “an old street, named after Behramji Homji (died about 1750), a rich Parsi Merchant,” according to Samuel T Sheppard in his Bombay Place-Names and Street-Names (1917).

Right ahead is a major intersection where the road meets Parsee Bazaar Street. As its very name suggests, it was a market in which most of the shops and establishments were run by Parsis. In the 1890s, the neighbourhood was populated by printing presses, bookshops and newspaper offices, many of them owned and run by Parsis, such as the Frasho-gard Printing Press and the Fort Printing Press.

Most of these names have long disappeared but there is one that is still around: the ground-floor shop at Behramji Mansion bearing the name Jehangir B Karani’s Sons. A prominent printer and publisher of Gujarati books in the nineteenth century, Karani was struck down by the plague in 1897. How has his name survived for over 120 years?

The present shop at Pherozeshah Mehta Road | Image credit: Ganesh Raghuveer

A Bombay childhood

Jehangir Bezonjee Karani grew up in a city which was rapidly transforming itself into a metropolis of the British empire. After experiencing an unprecedented boom in the first half of the 1860s, which swelled its population to over eight lakhs in 1864, the city’s economy collapsed in 1866 but was on the path to recovery by the early seventies when Karani entered business. Karani’s childhood, representative of that of most lower class Parsi men in the mid-nineteenth century, is best described in his own words, which appeared in the introduction to Jehangir Karaniwali Navi Arabian Nights.

“I was born in 1850. My father was a respectable merchant and my mother was a sweet-mannered, innocent soul with a measure of intelligence. As the youngest son of my parents, I was showered with love but in no way was I ever pampered. As was usual in those days, my early education was in a local school run by a mehtaji…In spite of being quite a mischievous boy, I managed to reach the fifth grade under the guidance of a mehtaji named Baldevram.

With some luck, I was able to join the Seth Rustomjee Jamsetjee School at Dhobi Talao with a scholarship. I started learning English in the class of Hormusjee Master. Though he was good in every other way, this Hormusjee Master had a great fault. Once he worked himself up into a mood, he would administer beatings on any student in his line of sight. It did not matter whether you had done your lessons or not; if his jaundiced gaze fell upon you, there was no escape, no argument! Having survived this onslaught for about six months, I was promoted to the class of Dadabhai Dorabjee Master. Under his excellent tutelage, I was able to acquire a little knowledge of English and was generally ranked either first or second in the class.

Around this time, I had to pitch in quite often at my father’s shop. The business was not doing too well at that time and as my presence seemed to be rather useful, I used to take leave from school. My father was toying with the idea of making this arrangement permanent but my mother had other ideas. She was keen that I study further and disapproved of this proposal. However, my father’s resolve was getting stronger by the day, and after the summer vacation in 1868, he never sent me back to school. When he began to take me with him every day to his shop on Parsee Bazaar Street, my distraught mother tried to dissuade him…My dear mother’s protests were swept aside by my father who soon transferred the entire responsibility of the business to me.”

Within two years, Jehangir Karani bought out his father’s stake in the shop at Parsee Bazaar Street and started a small bookshop in 1870. There were perhaps two other independent bookshops in Mumbai for locally published books in Gujarati and Marathi at that time.

Karani initially catered to the school market and stocked a wide range of textbooks and exercise books. He quickly built a reputation such that his name became shorthand for a bookshop among school-going children. Soon enough, author-publishers began to stock their books in his shop. By the mid-1870s, Karani began to enter into pre-publication deals with them and his name began to appear on the title pages as sole bookseller of the book.

Within a few years, Karani had acquired the appellation of “Book-Seller”. If this had happened a few decades earlier, it might well have become the family surname like numerous other trade-based Parsi surnames.

Becoming a publisher

Even in the 1870s, when printing had been established in Mumbai for nearly a century, there was little or no specialisation in the literary food chain. More often than not, the printer doubled up as the bookseller, while the author or creator was the publisher who underwrote the expenses. Sometimes, all these roles were subsumed in one person. Furdoonjee Murzbanjee, the pioneer of Gujarati printing and publishing, whose literary career spanned over three decades until his death in 1847, was also the creator of most of his imprints as author, translator or editor. Furdoonjee printed, published, and sold his own books.

Most authors, however, had to publish their own books and pay printers to get them printed. Alternatively, the author could extend an advance to the printer and in return would get an agreed number of copies, while the rest of the print run could be sold by the printer on his own account.

The three biggest printing presses in Mumbai which focused on Gujarati – the Bombay Samachar Press, the Jame Jamshed Press, and Duftur Ashkara Chhapakhana – were all owned by Parsis and had been in existence for several decades. Their mainstay was a portfolio of magazines and eponymous newspapers. Though they had been publishing books, mainly related to the Zoroastrian religion, on their own account, most of the books printed at these presses were commissioned print jobs.

It was only in the 1870s that the role of the publisher began to evolve in Mumbai when the city experienced a fresh phase of growth. Besides the construction of public buildings, private investment in real estate and industrial infrastructure provided an impetus to all sectors. The increase in the city population from 644,000 in 1872 to 773,000 in 1881 was ascribed by the Bombay City Gazetteer (1909) “to the general progress of trade, particularly of cotton spinning and weaving industry, the extension of railway communication, and the advance of urban administration.” The increasing demand for books in a variety of genres created conditions where publishing could become a profitable business.

For Jehangir Karani, it was just one more step from being a sole seller of books to becoming a publisher. There was a thriving market for guides and tutorials and Karani first began publishing these books which had an assured market among students. Perhaps the first popular book that Karani published on his own account was Hindustani Gayan Sangraha in 1879catering to an insatiable demand for Urdu poetry among the Parsis.

Jehangir Karaniwali Navi Arabian Nights (published 1897)

This was followed by many others in the coming years on topics as varied as the constitution of England, Indian classical music, folk tales and popular stories, medicine, history, astrology, and Zoroastrian religious texts. Many of these books sported titles which emphasised his personal brand; for example, Karaniwalo Ragastan (1882) was a collection of ghazals, lavanis and other musical pieces.

Karani also began to build up a portfolio of periodicals as part of his publishing business. In 1880, he acquired the Gujarati monthly magazine Dnyan Wardhak, which had been in existence from 1873 and was already popular for its articles on drama, history, literature and practical skills. In January 1882, Karani started a weekly newspaper titled the Mumbai Punch, which was intended to provide a humorous take on the week’s events with cartoons and satirical pieces. It, however did not last more than a year.

In 1888, he acquired the Pakhwadiyani Majah, a fortnightly magazine in the same genre. Occasionally, his longer books, like Gujarati translations of classical tales like Don Quixote and Arabian Nights, would first be issued in monthly segments before being published as a book.

A publishing conglomerate

Karani had been getting his books and magazines printed at various Mumbai presses, such as the Nirnayasagar Press and Ripon Printing Press. By the mid-1880s, his publishing business had grown large enough for him to consider setting up a printing press. In 1886, he established the Standard Printing Works, where he printed his own publications besides doing job printing for others. This venture was so successful that he set up a type foundry in 1889 to support the press. Karani’s business was now comparable to that of the three largest Gujarati print establishments.

His original trade of book selling seems to have paled in comparison to the meteoric growth of his printing and publishing business. Karani however had bigger plans. In 1892, he acquired the printing press of the magazine Indian Spectator, owned by the Parsi social reformer BM Malabari, and recast the entire business into a joint-stock company, Jehangir B Karani & Co. According to the prospectus published in The Times of India (4 April 1892), Karani hoped to “bring greater profits when aided by the capital and resources of a company than by the limited means and resources of a private firm.”

While the other directors of the company were Parsis, Karani was the chief executive officer of this company. His family firm Jehangir B Karani & Sons, the designated managing agent of the company, would receive a ten per cent share of the profits besides a percentage of the sales. It had all the makings of a large publishing company with interests across genres, a portfolio of periodical publications, and control of all aspects of the business from printing to distribution.

Gujarati translation of Gulliver’s Travels (1930s edition)

However, not all his associates were happy with this development. They felt that he had relinquished control over an established book selling and publishing business for too little a consideration. The Kaiser-i-Hind (3 April 1892) noted that it was rather courageous of “Mr Karani, who had started his business on a very modest scale, and grown it to its current size by his personal efforts and dedication, to convert it into a public limited company to accelerate its growth.”

Karani began with a bang by establishing branches at Medows Street in the southern part of Fort and on Kalbadevi Road besides the main bookshop at Parsee Bazaar Street. As he had acquired a printing press with expertise in English, Karani began printing and publishing books in that language, besides expanding his Gujarati offering. He also started dealing in books imported from England and began issuing advertisements in newspapers like the Times of India. It did seem that the Karani brand would become a major presence in the Indian publishing industry.

Reversal of fortunes

Towards the end of 1894, however, Karani’s business imploded, likely caused by too rapid an expansion and a mismatch between cash receipts and expenses. Perhaps the other investors were not happy with its prospects under Karani. The business was taken over by three Bhatia businessmen through their company, D Lakhmidas & Co, and Karani had to completely disassociate himself from it in 1895. To ensure that he had a regular income, he began managing the Saraswati Printing Press on behalf of its proprietors from February 1896.

Karani was now neither a bookseller or publisher, but his personal brand name still had a cachet in the Mumbai market. In March 1896, he decided to make a fresh start by restarting the small bookshop at Parsee Bazaar Street under his own name. Like his father did thirty years ago, he installed Manekshah, his eldest son, who was just sixteen then, to handle the shop which was named Jehangir B Karani’s Sons.

He also began to consider publishing projects and decided to issue the third edition of the Arabian Nights, which had been one of his most popular books. But he seems to have had a premonition of worse things to come when he wrote the introduction to the book in April 1896.

“The circumstances under which the first edition of this book was published were very different from my current situation. However these things cannot be helped; change is the only constant. Everybody has seen the changes which have taken place in the fortunes of Jehangir Karani and only God knows what the future holds for him!

If he is still alive, Jehangir Karani will write the introduction to the fourth edition of this book, else my heirs will do so.”

Much of the printing for the book had been completed when the city of Bombay was swamped by the plague epidemic in September 1896. Most of the working population of Bombay under the colonial government was “migrant labour”, whose employment conditions and minuscule wages precluded even a toehold on the city.

They fled the city at the first sight of the disease with its characteristic symptoms: high-grade fever accompanied by swelling of the lymph nodes. Many printing presses had to shut down as there was no one to work the machines. The Saraswati Printing Press also shut down in January 1897. Karani was out of a job and his book project also had to be suspended.

Meanwhile, on 29 November 1896, his wife Deenbai died suddenly. She might have died during childbirth as was the fate of many women during those days, or perhaps she was an early victim of the plague. Karani did not have much time to mourn the loss of his wife, as he had to take care of his eight children.

He moved them to Baroda for their safety but did not stay there for long himself. He returned to Bombay on the 24th of January when the first wave of the epidemic was at its peak. By the 31st, he was afflicted by the disease. When his condition deteriorated steeply, he was admitted to the Parsee Fever Hospital at Byculla where he died on the 4th of February 1897.

Seal of Jehangir B Karani’s Sons

Afterlife of a publisher

The bleak situation of the eight orphan children who had lost their parents in quick succession can best be imagined. However, Jehangir Karani’s eldest son, Manekshah, stepped up to fill the breach. With the help of his father’s friends, he completed Karani’s unfinished book project and published it in June 1897 as Jehangir Karaniwali Navi Arabian Nights.

The firm continued to publish Gujarati novels and books connected with Zoroastrianism on a modest scale. In 1911, Manekshah started the New Art Printing Works, where he printed a variety of greeting cards to be sold at his shop. Designed specially for Parsi festivals, these cards in the Gujarati language proved to be extremely popular.

Hormusjee Bomanjee Memorial (erected 1880) | Image Credit: Rajesh Agrawal

In 1937, over forty years after Karani had lost control of his publishing business, Manekshah purchased the defunct D Lakhmidas & Co so that he could acquire the rights to the books published by his father before 1895. By the time Manekshah died in 1940, the focus of the business had however evolved to stationery, diaries, and cards – embroidered, perfumed, photogravure, Indian views – for every occasion from Christmas and New Year to Diwali and Navroze.

After moving across a few locations on Parsee Bazaar Street, the shop settled at its present location on Pherozeshah Mehta Road in the 1920s. Drawing on the prestige of its founder, it has always retained the name Jehangir B Karani’s Sons, thus becoming one of the last links connecting the city to a time in the nineteenth century when Parsis played a major role in the printing and publishing world of Mumbai.

 

This series of articles on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on publishing is curated by Kanishka Gupta.

https://scroll.in/article/965861/how-the-name-of-a-gujarati-language-printer-and-publisher-who-died-in-the-plague-lives-on-in-mumbai

1971 war hero Sqn. Ldr. Parvez Jamasji passes away

He was awarded the Vir Chakra for gallantry during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war

Sqn Ldr Parvez Jamasji (retd), who was awarded the Vir Chakra for gallantry during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, has died, family sources said. He was 77.

Jamasji, who used a walking stick due to the injuries he sustained as a helicopter pilot while conducting heli-borne operations during the war, is survived by wife, two sons and a daughter.

The former Air Force officer, a resident of the Parsi Colony in Dadar here, died on Thursday night after a brief illness.

His Vir Chakra citation read, “During the operations against Pakistan in December, 1971, Flight Lieutenant Parvez Rustom Jamasji was serving with a helicopter unit. His Helicopter flown by him was attacked twice by machine gun and twice by mortars. He showed great presence of mind and brought back his aircraft to the base.

“On one occasion his helicopter had engine failure over enemy position, but he brought it safely to a post within our territory. Throughout, Flight Lieutenant Parvez Rustom Jamasji displayed gallantry, professional skill and devotion to duty of a high order.”

The former pilot was commissioned in 1965 and retired in 1985.

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