Category Archives: Books

Mr. Darayas Kavina’s talk on Firdausi & Shahnama

Darayas Kavina, hails from Ahmedabad in Gujarat, the youngest of five brothers and one sister. Darayas is an arts graduate, an ex-banker, a father of two, a Mohammed Rafi aficionado, a classical tabla player and a former body builder.
Ask him about what led to his passion of the ancient Persian texts and that’s when the details start emerging. Like all young children, Darayas and his five siblings often begged their father, Hoshangji, for a late night story after dinner. What emerged, day after day, year after year, were a series of tales & epics from all faiths & religions, involving saints & sadhus, maharajas & mahatmas, peers & fakirs; and above all, the magnificent Persian epics – all narrated by the master raconteur, Hoshangji, in the ancient narrative tradition of oral story-tellers (now sadly extinct) and imbibed and absorbed by young Darayas, from the age of nine onwards.
Like many of his kind, all of Darayas’s talks are delivered purely from the heart without any written script. And like many artists he believes that it is often not the individual himself who is writing or painting or performing, but a higher power doing it for him. Often times, while compiling his father’s narratives in form of a book that he published some years ago, he would not recognize the next morning, what he had written the night before.
Having lost all their family wealth and possessions due to an unscrupulous business partner in early childhood, Darayas attributes all that he has today to his mild-mannered, deeply religious father, as well as his caring mother, Veera, who sold away her jewellery to educate her children. Shortly before he passed away, Darayas’s father handed him six volumes containing excerpts of scribblings that he was in the habit of jotting down, and said: “this is all I have to leave you. It is not money but far more precious, which no one will be able to steal from you.”
Interestingly – and rather unfortunately, Darayas says – while most religious texts have been written by people from their respective faiths; in this case, the Shahnama was written by a Muslim.
And that is what he is here to share with us.

A few words about Firdausi and the Shahnama itself: Firdausi or Ferdowsi, who lived from the year 940 – 1020, was a Persian poet and the author of the Shahnama. Except for his family name, Firdausi, which means ‘Paradisic,’ nothing is known for sure about his full name. He was also given the title of ‘Philosopher.’ He is celebrated as the most influential figure in Persian literature and one of the greatest in the history of literature itself. Little is known about Firdausi’s early life. He was born into a family of Iranian landowners and aristocrats, who flourished under the Sassanid dynasty, the last pre-Islamic dynasty to rule Iran. They saw it as their task to preserve the pre-Islamic cultural traditions, including tales of legendary kings. The Shahnama or Shahnameh, which means “Book of Kings,” is the world’s longest epic poem created by a single poet, and the national epic of Greater Iran. Consisting of some 50,000 couplets or two-line verses, it mainly tells of the mythical, and to some extent, historical past of the Persian empire; from the creation of the world until the Arab conquest of Iran in the 7th century. Modern Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and the greater region influenced by Persian culture (such as Georgia, Armenia, Turkey and Dagestan) celebrate this national epic. The work is of central importance in Persian culture and Persian language; regarded as a literary masterpiece, and definitive of the ethno-national cultural identity of Iran. It is also important to the contemporary followers of Zoroastrianism, in tracing the historical links between the beginnings of the religion and the death of the last Sassanid ruler of Persia during the Muslim conquest, which brought an end to the Zoroastrian influence in Iran. An interesting little snippet here: the early Persians were known for the equal rights they bestowed upon their women. Firdausi supposedly completed writing the Shahnamah on 8th of March 1010 which is celebrated today as – Women’s Day. Co-incidence?? You decide!

Author Murzban F. Shroff to speak at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

Mumbai-based author, Murzban F. Shroff, will represent the city of his inspiration at the Emirates Literature Festival in Dubai. Shroff, a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize shortlisted author and a 6-times Pushcart Prize nominee, will have three events on 8 and 9 March 2019.  

Shroff is the author of three books: Breathless in Bombay, a collection of short stories, rated by the Guardian as among the ten best Mumbai books; Waiting for Jonathan Koshy, a postmodern novel which qualified as a finalist for the prestigious Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize in New York; and Fasttrack Fiction, a book written specifically for the cell phone reader.

Shroff publishes extensively in the U.S. and UK with premier literary journals and has been invited to speak about his work at universities such as UC Berkeley, UCLA, and the University of Southern California. His work approach and contributions have been acknowledged and featured in a book titled “The Parsi Contribution to Indian Literature,” published by the Sahitya Akademi.    

Zenobia Mistri, Teacher Par Excellence

Dear friends,

I am really happy to inform you that my book, ‘Zenobia Mistri, Teacher Par Excellence’, is now available worldwide on Kindle. The Kindle version can be accessed at Amazon. Simply go to the Amazon website and type in my name, Shireen Isal. To cite a few examples:

In India – (Rs,329)

In USA – ($7.99)

In the UK – (£4.75)

In France – (5.52 euros)

In Canada – (Can $ 9.99)

It is also available in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and a host of other countries worldwide via their Amazon websites.

I have been advised that putting the book on Kindle would enable easier access and thereby increase its readership. I really hope this will be the case. Accessing the book has certainly just been made easier; you may even purchase a Kindle copy and directly gift it to a friend.

Thank you for your continued support. And do inform your friends and contacts.

Zenobia with her husband, Pirosha Mistri. Credit: The Mistri family

The book, ‘Zenobia Mistri, Teacher Par Excellence’, was the focus of a gracious event organised in Mumbai on 12th February 2019.  Shireen Isal, the author, read extracts from the biography, followed by a Q&A with a small but enthusiastic audience.  The event, arranged by Mehli and Saker Mistri and moderated by Firdaus Gandavia, Ph.D English Litt., was attended by, amongst others, students of Zenobia Mistri, one of the most iconic teachers of French language and literature in the Mumbai of the last century.

 There were moments of nostalgia, when many of those present recalled their teacher with affection. Moments of humour too at her lovable eccentricities.  But, above all, an all-round acknowledgement of her immense teaching talents,  from which scores of students over five decades greatly benefited.  

Teachers devote their lives to the cause of their students’ education and well-being, moulding and framing who they are without their even realising it.  Zenobia Mistri was one such teacher and this was unanimously acknowledged at this reunion.  

The get-together around Shireen Isal’s book, ‘Zenobia Mistri, Teacher Par Excellence’, was at the residence of Mehli and Saker Mistri, ‘Belmont’, Dubash Marg, off Napean Sea Road, Mumbai 400 006. Mehli is grandson of Zenobia Mistri and has related how Zenobia as a teacher literally transformed his life.

‘Zenobia Mistri, Teacher Par Excellence’ is available at & in the Parsiana bookshop, Fort, Mumbai (in India);  (in U.K. & Europe) (in USA & Canada).

Danny Khursigara Awarded

Our Dear Clients, Friends & Family,

It is with great joy and humility that I inform you that our (tiny little) company, FreedomOne International Executive Coaching was awarded theMost Impactful and Upcoming Life Coaching & Corporate Training Brand for 2018 by Global Brands Publications UK, at an international awards ceremony that was held in Macau recently. I must admit that we were very pleasantly surprised that we won amongst a very strong and established peer group, I am told. 

There were representations from over 18 countries and 25 different categories of business lines.

I would like to express my deepest, deepest thanks and appreciation to all of you for your willing support, care and respect to us over the last few years. We could not have done this without each one of you and your trust in what we delivered for you. Thank you so much !

I was also a speaker at the event and spoke on ‘Branded for Success in the 21st century’ which was very well received by a diverse audience. The topic covered the 4 essential elements that companies would absolutely need if they aspire to go from being Good to Great in this modern age.  

We so look forward to serving you in 2019. 



Danny Khursigara

CEO, FreedomOne International Consulting 

Executive Coaching & Business Transformation, 

Award winning Author / TEDx Presenter / Emmy Nominated co-producer

L19, IFC , Central 

Cell: +852 93766672


A Community at the Cross Road – Sapur F Desai

This study affecting the tiny but important Parsi Community discusses for the first time varied questions like demography, housing, health, poverty, nutrition, race biology, eugenics, etc. The book contains 58 tables and 8 figures. Numerous references to Indian and world problems of identical nature make the reading interesting and useful for all students of population problems.

Written in 1948, the problems and solutions are still relevant to the present generation of Parsis

Click Here for the entire book digitized with the kind permission of Ms. Armaity Desai –

Three books on Tata Group launched in its 150th year, at Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest

Mumbai: In the 150th year of the Tata Group, three independently written books on the Group are being published. The books – ‘The Tata Group: From torchbearers to trailblazers’, ‘The Tata Saga’, and ‘Titan: Inside India’s Most Successful Consumer Brand’ – featuring interesting insights, case studies and success stories as also challenges faced by the Group, were launched today at the 9th edition of Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest at the National Centre of the Performing Arts (NCPA).

The book launch was followed by a riveting discussion titled ‘Tata@150: A Vision for a Nation’ between Mr. Harish Bhat, Brand Custodian, Tata Sons, Ms. Rama Bijapurkar, acclaimed business-market strategist, Mr. Vinay Kamath, author of the book on Titan and Dr. Shashank Shah, author of ‘The Tata Group’ book with Mr. Govindraj Ethiraj, journalist, as the Chair. The power packed panel held an insightful discourse on the challenges and opportunities facing the Group as it keeps in step with changing times in the current economic and social milieu.

Mr. Harish Bhat, Brand Custodian, Tata Sons, said, “The Tata Group is proud to be associated with Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest. This is in line with the Group’s commitment to the community. An important facet of this commitment is the nurturing of art, literature and ideas, which has always stimulated society to a greater good. A large number of books which are popular today are non-fiction titles about the corporate world. These business books provide us rich readings in relevant and interesting areas such as inspiring leadership, transformative management ideas and defining voyages of corporate history.

This year, as the Tata Group marks 150 years since its founding, we are delighted that three new books about the Group are being launched simultaneously, at this literature festival.  We hope this new trio of titles will soon become a welcome and essential addition to the canon of business books.”

‘The Tata Group: from torchbearers to trailblazers’ authored by Dr. Shashank Shah is published by Penguin Random House. Dr. Shah is a researcher with Harvard Business Review. Researched over ten years, the book presents an insider account of achievements, conflicts, adventures within the Tata Group, spanning various eras and how it has successfully sustained its diverse businesses over the years.

‘The Tata Saga: Timeless Stories from India’s most Iconic Group’, an anthology of the best writings about the Tata Group published by Penguin Random House, is dedicated to 150 years of the Tata Group and includes chapters by R M Lala, S. Ramadorai, Harish Bhat and others with a foreword by Mr. Bhat.The book talks about the legacy of J. N. Tata, J. R. D. Tata and Ratan Tata and the pioneering work done by them in steel, aviation, automobile and other sectors.

‘Titan – Inside India’s most successful consumer brand’, authored by Vinay Kamath, Senior Assistant Editor, The Hindu Business Line, is published by Hachette, with a foreword by Mr. N. Chandrasekaran,Chairman, Tata Sons. This is the first book ever on the journey of Titan and commemorates 30 years of the brand this year.

The Tata Group has always placed the community at the core of its businesses and has practiced strong business ethics coupled with social responsibility. Over the past 150 years, this vision has propelled the Tata Group into a global powerhouse, which has made an immeasurable contribution to India’s economic progress.

Mistry’s movie memoirs

From Mumbai to Dubai to Bollywood to Hollywood by Rustom Mistry. Published in 2018 by Notion Press, Old No. 38, New No. 6, McNichols Road, Chetpet, Madras 600001. Pp: xiv + 108. Price: Rs 200.

In his memoirs entitled From Mumbai to Dubai to Bollywood to Hollywood Rustom Mistry gives a very factual account of his childhood in Bombay, his job and life in Dubai and his countless roles in Bollywood rising from a background crowd model to a character actor and finally his role in a Hollywood production.
Mistry makes it clear in his preface that this is not a work of fiction and is a truthful and honest account of his life. Some editing would have helped as what is significant for an author may not interest the reader.. There is nothing really memorable about his childhood which is narrated in too much detail and in flat prose. A resident of Malcolm Baug in Jogeshwari, he attended the St Blaise’s High School which was located near the Filmalaya Studio. Mistry devotes several pages in describing the usual childish pranks, driving his car surreptitiously while he was still underage, cycling with his friends without informing his parents, visits to the cinema hall which seem to be an obsession with Mistry since childhood. 
His next stop was Dubai where he worked successfully for several years and drove fancy cars, till he was forced to return to India as a result of the Gulf war and personal circumstances. Then follows a never-ending laundry list of all the films in which he has taken part. Often titles of films and roles he has played are merely mentioned without any anecdotes to make them interesting. Whereas it is evident that Mistry holds Bollywood actors and actresses in great awe and respect but the constant practice of following their names by “saheb” and “ji” as well as the repeated reference to him and his friends as “devils” or the strange expression, “with due respects to everyone” becomes a bit repetitive and monotonous.
The most interesting part of the memoir are the difficulties he faces as a minor actor and the demeaning and atrociously inhuman behavior meted out to him. He is called for shoots at unreasonable times, made to wait for his turn for hours. Very often he is not paid by unscrupulous coordinators and has to make repeated calls for his payment; the coordinator frequently shuts off his cellphone or does not respond to his calls. On one occasion, fairly late in his career when he is in his 60s, to get his dues, he had to wait at the bank from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when rain was pouring and he was running a temperature; the amount, he wryly remarks, has yet to be received.
Mistry describes two similar incidents vividly and in great detail when he was shabbily treated. When a leading actor suddenly could not be present for a shoot, a coordinator called Mistry and asked, at short notice, to step in. The appointment was for noon and Mistry waited patiently to be called but none was forthcoming. Finally, when lunch was served at 2.30 p.m. on a “beautiful buffet table,” he was stopped and curtly informed that he could not eat with the other actors even though several other background crowd actors were helping themselves at the table. He was led down a narrow pathway to a spot where “the film’s miscellaneous workers, like carpenters, painters, light men, helpers, etc were already having their lunch.” Mistry went on a hunger strike and refrained from eating. On one of the occasions, Mistry went off in protest and refused to return to the set, in spite of several calls from the coordinator as well as the production team.
Compared with the chaos and disorder of Indian auditions, Mistry describes an occasion when he was called for The Letters, a Hollywood biopic on the life of St Teresa. The audition was carried out in a polite, orderly and efficient manner, there was no waiting around pointlessly doing nothing, the script and the scenario were provided to him and he was given a short time to prepare. When he did finally get the role and was called for the shoot, the foreigners were very friendly and time-schedules were strictly maintained.  “It was really an amazing, enriching experience to work with this professional and meticulously organized Hollywood team.”
It is this glimpse into the life of a small-time actor, narrated without bitterness or complaint, which makes the memoirs interesting.                   

– Firdaus Gandavia



Dear Friends,

As you know, the Kerala floods have been the worst floods experienced by humankind in the last 100 years. The floods have left 250,000 people homeless, 900 dead, and the state reeling under damages to the tune of USD 2.7 billion. It will take 5 years of consolidated effort and investment to rebuild this once-bountiful state of India. As one who has benefited amply from the loyalty and hospitality of Malayalees (the people of Kerala), who has chuckled at their ingenuity and marvelled at their intellect, I have pledged to donate the full sum of my earnings from my novel WAITING FOR JONATHAN KOSHY retailing worldwide on, from today till the end of this year. Coincidentally, the novel is about a high IQ Malayali, Jonathan Koshy, who can make a difference to everyone else’s life save his own. Anyone who purchases a copy of KOSHY from an Amazon site has my assurance that my part of the royalty will, in entirety, go toward this noble cause. Do buy a copy from any of the links below and then help spread the word through your network of friends and contacts. After all, there can be no greater joy than when the power of words translate into humanitarian actions – Murzban F. Shroff, AuthorBreathless in Bombay (stories) and Waiting for Jonathan Koshy (novel).

Waiting for Jonathan Koshy is available at the following Amazon sites:




























Physical book, India:

How this woman overcame 2 strokes at 29, ran half-marathon 10 months later

Dina Pestonji published a book about her struggles to inspire other women

A Toronto woman has written a book about her struggles with an eating disorder, recovering from a car crash and two strokes, hoping her challenges will inspire other women.

Despite having plenty of love and affection from her family, Dina Pestonji, now 35, still felt different from other girls with “pale skin and blue eyes,” according to her book, Surviving Myself.

The book explores her ensuing decade-long battle with anorexia, a near-fatal car crash and a pair of strokes that nearly crippled her.

Pestonji has gone on to give two TEDx talks and is now a motivational speaker.

Pestonji says she did not talk about her issues as a child, in part, because of her Indian heritage.

“You brush it under the rug and move on,” she told CBC’s Our Toronto. “I never really took the time to heal.”

Surviving Myself is a book about Dina Pestonji’s struggles and how she overcame them. (Lisa Xing/CBC)

Despite graduating from the University of Toronto and later earning her master’s degree at ESCP Europe Business School, as well as successfully working in the financial sector, it wasn’t until she suffered two strokes at the age of 29 and wrote about it that her worldview started to change.

2 strokes

In late 2012, Pestonji was hospitalized after she started slurring her speech, and got severe headaches and shooting pains along her entire body.

Doctors found a mass in her brain. She was in hospital for a week undergoing tests, but the physicians could not pinpoint what was wrong. Pestonji was sent home with medication.

The next day, the first day of her new job, she was hospitalized again.

Dina Pestonji suffered two strokes at the age of 29. (Provided by Dina Pestonji )

“My parents didn’t know when I would wake up,” she said. “I had to have emergency brain surgery.”

When Pestonji eventually awoke, she had lost her speech and ability to function on her right side.

“It was a month or two after when saw myself in the mirror and I remembered I had a job, a condo, everything,” she said.

“I had lost all that. That point was the worst day of my life. I’m literally starting from scratch and I need to learn the alphabet.”

Half marathon

When asked how she went from learning the alphabet and how to walk again to running a half marathon merely 10 months later, Pestonji is humble.

“I needed to be myself again and show myself I could do it,” she said.

“It was just me proving to myself I’m the same person. I had to have something to say at the end of it.”

Dina Pestonji ran a half-marathon 10 months after her strokes. (Provided by Dina Pestonji)

She credits having a loving family and friends and a team of physical therapists who pushed her.

“I was lucky to have a supportive team. I’ve never thought anything I’ve ever done is really remarkable,” she said.

“I was given a circumstance and my body and mind worked together. I’ve learned to love myself and be kind to myself which I never was before.

“I was always going after goals and goals and goals. I never took the time to stop and reflect and be thankful for what I’ve been able to accomplish. Hopefully, that inspires other women and girls to do the same.”

Buddy in New Zealand by Nazneen Bustani – children’s travel adventure book (animated trailer)

Kula… Kulo… Kulapa… Buddy says the magic words. It’s time for a new adventure with best friend Peggy. Join Buddy and Peggy in New Zealand as they discover new friends and new places. Meet the wise Tane Mahuta, the friendly glow worms and a Maori Chief. Enjoy the adventure!

Buy this book at

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