Category Archives: Books

More Than Just Surgery

Awarded the Padma Shri, the Padma Bhushan and the OBE, Dr Tehemton Erach Udwadia is widely regarded as the father of laparoscopy in India. From 1951 as a medical student to the present day, he has not only witnessed first-hand the avalanche of surgical progress, but has also seen lives saved as a result of these advances, be it a disposable plastic syringe or a liver transplant.

In this, his memoirs, he painstakingly maps his journey from his student years through residency, research, surgical practice and surgical teaching with a view to sharing the lessons he has learnt. And what they can teach you.

More Than Just Surgery is a warm personal account of people, incidents, mentors, failures and absurdities against the backdrop of surgery. It is also an engrossing historical account through the eyes and hands of someone who has lived through the journey.

નવસારીની આ પારસી લાઇબ્રેરી અમૂક એવાં પુસ્તકો છે જે દુનિયામાં અન્ય કોઈ પણ જગ્યાએ નહીં મળે

#Navsari #Parsi #library

નવસારીની આ પારસી લાઇબ્રેરી આશરે 500થી 700 વર્ષ જૂના પુસ્તકોનો અમૂલ્ય ખજાનો ધરાવે છે. લાઇબ્રેરીયનનું કહેવું છે કે અહીં અમૂક એવાં પુસ્તકો છે જે દુનિયામાં અન્ય કોઈ પણ જગ્યાએ જોવા નહીં મળે. આ લાઇબ્રેરીનું નામ મહેરજી રાણાના નામ પરથી રાખવામાં આવ્યું છે, જેઓ પારસી સમુદાયના પ્રથમ દસ્તૂર એટલે કે મુખ્ય પૂજારી હતા.

Honour Bound – Sarosh Zaiwalla

In this memoir, Zaiwalla looks back on his passage to England at a time when diversity had barely begun to take root in England’s legal circles, to now leading a groundbreaking law firm. His is a story of a solicitor who made his way on his own terms, with creativity but without ever compromising on his values.While he still has many chapters ahead (a lawyer never retires after all), the ones that have concluded have created a storm in India, and feature a diverse cast including Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi, P.V. Narasimha Rao, V.P. Singh, the Hinduja brothers, the Dalai Lama, Benazir Bhutto, and Amitabh Bachchan. In this bold yet measured tale of trial and triumph, Zaiwalla tells all — as much as lawyer-client privilege permits of course.

About the Author

SAROSH ZAIWALLA is the founder of Zaiwalla & Co. Solicitors, based in London. With a succession of high-profile victories in the English courts for individuals and corporations from across the world, he has been regularly consulted by political, business and religious leaders. In 2002, he was honoured by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Indias National Law Day for his contribution to the field of international arbitration law.


A section of one of the letters Zaiwalla wrote on behalf of the Iraq government in an attempt to get Blair to consider a peace settlement prior to the war. 
Sarosh Zaiwalla

Between the years of 2003 and 2011, more than 461,000 people died as a result the Iraq war. In the aftermath of the second Gulf War, a power vacuum allowed the ISIS/Islamic State death cult to flourish.What if this catastrophe could have been prevented?

Sarosh Zaiwalla, a quietly spoken Indian lawyer living in West Sussex, claims that he could have facilitated a deal between Hussein’s government and the West through former UK prime minister Tony Blair, avoiding a huge loss of human life.

At the time, Zaiwalla was in a unique position to act as mediator between the two sides. He had represented Hussein’s government in a legal case in 2001 and is also a personal friend of Blair. Zaiwalla was the future prime minister’s boss for a short time in the 1980s.

Iraqi government representatives told Zaiwalla that they were prepared to do a deal with the US government, and that “everything was on the table” — including the resignation of Hussein.

Zaiwalla sent letters (below) to Blair explaining the potential for a peaceful solution, but the offers in them were declined.

Sarosh Zaiwalla with Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India. 

Zaiwalla was one of five boys raised in a Parsi family in Mumbai, India. His father, Ratanshaw Zaiwalla, was the first Asian to qualify in the UK as a solicitor. After qualifying, Zaiwalla senior returned to start his own small firm in India. From a young age, his son believed in the importance of change.

“My ambition was to become prime minister of India,” Zaiwalla said. “I’ve always believed in evolving the change, not in revolution.”

Coming from a middle class family, Zaiwalla was shocked by the wealth disparity in India. As a child, he insisted that he would eat with the servants.

Zaiwalla with Margaret Thatcher. 

After graduating from Bombay University, Zaiwalla moved to London to complete his legal training at Fleet Street law firm Stocken & Co. He arrived in the UK from India in 1980, with just £60 in his back-pocket.

Zaiwalla enjoyed his time at the firm, but, at the end of his training his mentor, Cedric Barclay, offered some advice: “You’re smart and good. In a big firm, a senior partner will take you for lunch at the end of your first year and say, ‘Good job, old boy.’ Every year, he’ll take you for lunch again and say the same thing. You will still be there while others are going forwards.”

Barclay told Zaiwalla that the colour of his skin would hold him back in the mainstream firms.

So, within seven days of qualifying, using a £10,000 overdraft from Natwest bank, Zaiwalla started his own firm: Zaiwalla and Co.

“It was a brave move, but I believed in changing things,” Zaiwalla said. “I had a silent courage and a clean heart.”

Zaiwalla and secretary general of the UN, Ban Ki Moon. 

Zaiwalla’s first clients were the Hinduja brothers, who are now ranked second in The Sunday Times rich list, thanks to a staggering £13 billion fortune.

After meeting at a drinks party, one of the brothers asked Zaiwalla to join their business. Zaiwalla declined, saying that he wanted to focus on creating his own law firm. Nevertheless, when the brothers decided to set up a bank in Geneva, Zaiwalla was employed as the legal advisor and negotiator.

From there, Zaiwalla’s business grew. His firm employed 23 lawyers at its peak. Zaiwalla & Co.’s tactic was to undercut the rates of more established law firms, while producing work of equally high quality.

In the mid-nineties, Zaiwalla’s firm collapsed. His managing partner, a “nasty chap” who Zaiwalla did not want to name, embezzled around £1.6 million, hid the money, and then declared bankruptcy.

“I just trusted him blindly and carried on with the legal work,” Zaiwalla said. “I had given him the signing power, so I accept responsibility.” He added: “I had to downsize my firm. I had about 19 or 20 lawyers at that time. I had to get rid of all of them.”

Zaiwalla with colleague Ms Zoya Burbeza in the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. 

After paying off all of his employees, Zaiwalla was on his own and in debt. He was forced to start again. “There’s one thing you learn starting a business from scratch: you know where the bottom is,” Zaiwalla said. Zaiwalla rebuilt his firm and now employs 11 lawyers, with an annual turnover of around £4 million.

One of Zaiwalla’s earliest employees was a young Tony Blair, whom he instructed as a barrister. However, Zaiwalla fired Blair after his first case.


“I don’t want to go into that,” Zaiwalla said. “We were all young. When I write my book, I’ll tell the whole story. Tony and I are still good friends.” (In fact, Zaiwalla told London Loves Business in 2014, it was because Blair failed to prepare a shipping case properly.)

Zaiwalla and footballer Diego Maradona both trustees of the charity, “Unity of Faith.” 

Zaiwalla believes it was his relationship with Blair, as well as his reputation for representing international underdogs, which led Hussein’s government to reach out to him for legal advice.

“I believe that the Iraqi government knew that the war was coming and that they had no chance and they wanted to find a solution,” Zaiwalla said. He added: “I believe even Saddam would have gone and that would have saved the Iraq war.”

“They wanted to send a message that everything was open for discussion with the US through Britain,” he said. “Saddam would have stepped down. Everything was on the table. They knew there was no hope. They were putting on a brave face.”

“Anything could happen. In the past, Idi Amin [the deposed dictator of Uganda] was sent to Saudi Arabia with a house and hareem. Something like that.”

Zaiwalla met with Blair in spring 2002, when the prime minister was working with US president George W. Bush to decide on the best course of action in Iraq.

This is Zaiwalla’s letter to Blair, written several months before Bush called for military action in September 2002:

In the letter, Zaiwalla explained his belief that the Iraqi side were looking to find an “amicable settlement.”

Downing Street sent this letter to Zaiwalla in response:
Sarosh Zaiwalla

Zaiwalla was told that the Foreign office would respond to his letter. In turn, he was sent a long document justifying British involvement in the war in Iraq.

Nevertheless, Zaiwalla persisted, and sent another letter directly to Tony Blair:

Sarosh ZaiwallaSarosh Zaiwalla

On this occasion, Zaiwalla send a more detailed letter.  In the letter, he said that “Iraq would be willing to compromise and agree to resumption of weapon inspections.”

The London lawyer added that he had gained experience in “off the record” communication with foreign governments, during two trips with former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine to China.

Zaiwalla added: “All of us have a duty to achieve just objectives without shedding of lives wherever possible. I would be happy to facilitate a dialogue between Iraq and the West…”

Tony Blair’s office responded, declining the offer:


Sarosh Zaiwalla

So why didn’t Tony Blair listen?

“I think by that time Tony had already made a commitment to president Bush,” Zaiwalla said. “Really it was a personal war between Saddam and president Bush.”

So, was the war illegal?

He said that there is “no doubt” that Iraq was an “unlawful war.”

I asked Zaiwalla if this made his friend Tony Blair a “war criminal.”

Zaiwalla denied this. He said: “It’s a matter of opinion. I don’t want to make any allegations.”

Sarosh Zaiwalla z205 Fin
Zaiwalla and Co.’s 30th anniversary reception in the House of Lords. 

Zaiwalla is currently representing Bank Mellat in a case against the UK government, after Britain imposed sanctions on the bank in 2010 for alleged connections with Iran’s nuclear programme. In 2013, Britain’s Supreme Court said that the sanctions were wrongly imposed.

Now Zaiwalla is attempting to prove that the damages from the wrongful sanctions are worth $4 billion.

“We are going to get something out of it,” Zaiwalla explained, but the amount depends on the proven loss.

Zaiwalla praised this as example of the brilliant independence of the British justice system. He said that “no other court in the entire world” would make such a ruling against its own government.

SZ & Dalai Lama
Zaiwalla with the Dalai Lama. 
Sarosh Zaiwalla

Zaiwalla’s reputation went on to attract other international clients. In 2004, the Dalai Lama got in touch, hoping he could act as a mediator in the conflict between China and Tibet.

The Chinese decided against the process.

sarosh and kids
Zaiwalla with his son (Varun) and daughter (Freya). 

Zaiwalla has abandoned his childhood dream of becoming the prime minister of India.

“I will continue as I am,” Zaiwalla said. “I believe in life that one has to have a clean heart in order to one’s best in an honest manner.”

Avesta, A Grammatical Precis

Hello Mobeds and Mobdyars


Raham Asha of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan has offered a free copy of his book on “Avesta, A Grammatical Precis” to anyone interested in writing a review or a note on the contents of the book for its publication.


Attached are a few scanned pages for your reference.


Those interested, please contact Ervad Brigadier Behram Panthaki <>



Ervad Tehemton Mirza.

Avesta, A Grammatical Precis, Raham Asha, Tajikistan Institute of Sciences_2

Audio Book – The Story of the Zoroastrians: An Historical Perspective

I am writing to introduce you to my Audio Book – The Story of the Zoroastrians: An Historical Perspective – that is now available on my website
The story of the Zoroastrians is such an integral part of Iranian civilization that one cannot understand one without the other. The Audio Book is an historical overview. It takes as its starting point the Zoroastrian dynasties of the Achaemenids, Parthians and the Sasanians when Iran was a superpower. It then progresses to the Arab invasion of the Iranian Empire and the Islamization of Iran and the diminishing Zoroastrian population. This leads onto the subject of the survival of Zoroastrians and Zoroastrianism in Iran governed by Muslim dynasties; and the experiences of Zoroastrians into the 20th century. The final sections include the Parsi migration and settlement in India and the community’s interactions with the British and its’ place on the sub-continent post-independence.
The duration of the Audio Book is 8 hours and 10 minutes. When you visit the website, and to ensure the best listening experience, please follow the instructions to make sure you have the correct audio book reader.
In addition to the Audio Book, the .zip file contains:
Table of Contents
Time Line
For your convenience, you may download them directly from here itself:

Map of the Persian Empire

Map of Modern Iran

I would recommend you print these pdfs and the maps; keep them handy and refer to them while listening. For ease of listening, the Table of Contents lists the start time of each section. As you would expect, you can pause and start at any point in the recording.
Please feel free to introduce the website and the Audio Book to friends, family and anyone you feel may be interested in the subject.
It is my hope that you may find the re-telling helpful, and in its audio format, you can keep and return to the Story of the Zoroastrians.
You may download the audio file here and hear it with iTunes or VLC player:
Rashna Writer

Rashna Writer is a political scientist. She commenced her career as a Research Associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London; went on to become a Contributing Editor of the Defense & Foreign Affairs Handbook; Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy. Subsequently, she was Head of Global Risks for a strategic risk consultancy in the UK, where she specialized in advising Lloyds of London syndicates specialty insurance underwriters on war, political and terrorism risks. She was a senior advisor to some European companies. She occasionally contributed on CNBC, Bloomberg and Reuters television on strategic risk issues.

Rashna pursued a parallel career in academia. She is the author of Contemporary Zoroastrians: An Unstructured Nation (1994); co-author, with Shahrokh Shahrokh of The Memoirs of Keikhosrow Shahrokh (1994), and author of The Reshaping of Iran from Zoroastrian to Muslim (2013), and the audio book The Story of the Zoroastrians: An Historical Perspective (2021). She has lectured on ancient Iranian history at Birbeck College (London) and Richmond College (London); was a Research Assistant at Manchester University where she undertook work on the Zoroastrian community in the United Kingdom. Between 2008 and 2019, she was Senior Teaching Fellow in the Department of Study of Religions, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London University, where she lectured on Zoroastrianism in Ancient and Modern Worlds. She has participated at international conferences and lectured in the UK, USA and the Indian sub-continent on Iranian history.

Among her awards were a Commonwealth Scholarship (1973), and a Fellowship of the British Institute of Persian Studies (1988/89). She was a member of the National Employment Panel: 2006-2007, commissioned by Britain’s then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, before his elevation to the office of Prime Minister.

Rashna Writer holds a doctorate from the London School of Economics in International Relations.

New Book – War of the Tribes – Darius C Modi

Journey of the first book
(War of the Tribes)
They never asked to be plucked from their homes. But destiny was something they could not avoid. Somehow, they found each other. After that, it was all about building the team that would be competent enough to stand up to sorcery, deceit, pure brutality and worse.
From the small houses of the teenagers’ families, to the wild and untamed forests of Lasgalan, this team faced the worst obstacles they could ever imagine: despair, betrayal, physical pain, psychological breakdown, animalistic experiences, to name a few. Being kept together for a short while, only to be taken apart and put back together. This group learns the meaning of what they truly are, and whether they like it or not, they have to forget what they knew about themselves, to better Lasgalan. They must get to working together quickly, or else they face fates worse than death.
Brace yourselves. This is a journey you would not want to take. So begins the journey of these teenagers.

The author, Darius C. Modi, is (at the time of writing) a St. Xavier’s college student from Kolkata, India, who loves fiction and is an avid reader. The main inspiration for the series was The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies. He grew up fascinated by European mythologies, particularly Greek, Roman, Norse and also liked Egyptian mythology.

He likes movies and is not afraid to push his writing to extreme measures, to see what it can develop into. He thinks of how the book has to start, where in the plot he wants it to end, and then fills in the middle. Plot twists and unexpected turns are what he enjoys and leaves things open to his readers to think about for themselves, rather than be too specific on descriptions. His motto for writing is: “DO NOT SHY AWAY FROM BEING OPEN ABOUT SOMETHING. WRITE WHAT YOU WOULD EXPECT TO HAPPEN, NOT WHAT SOMEONE ELSE WANTS. YOU ARE WRITING THE BOOK, NOT SOMEONE ELSE.”

Darius writes while listening to a mixed bag of music, from Mozart and Beethoven, to Queen and Led Zeppelin, letting the ideas flow with ease. His imagination is all over the place, and he prefers to be at his books for a long time. His ideas are sometimes bounced around among friends, just to get a different perspective, and see how much of that can be incorporated into the story.

Life & Times of Sir Hormusjee C. Dinshaw – Founder of Zoroastrian Bank

I have much pleasure in writing this Foreword to the life of Sir Hormusjee Cowasjee Dinshaw, an excellent volume so ably written by Mr. A. N. Joshi, BA., LLB., an Advocate of the Bombay High Court.
Sir Hormusjee, who is a well known figure in his community, is the head of the Adenwalia family which has for some generations made a great name as merchants and financiers at Aden and Bombay. The history of their rise from poverty to affluence makes very instructive reading. The kindness and courtesy of the Adenwallas are pro-verbial and Indians travelling between India and Europe can never forget the great hospitality that has always been extended to them by Sir Hormusjee and his family whenever they pass through Aden.
Sir Hormusjee is a very unassuming, kind and liberal gentleman and he has always extended his helping hand to all objects of public usefulness. His silent charity to people of his own community as well as of other communities is well-known in Bombay. For his philanthropy and other acts of public utility he has made himself very popular not only in Aden and Bombay but in other parts of the Presidency as well. A detailed biography therefore of such a personality will be welcomed by the public-

BOMBAY, 10th June, 1939.


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The tale of Indian cyclists who circumnavigated the world of a century ago

‘The Bicycle Diaries’: The tale of Indian cyclists who circumnavigated the world of a century ago

An excerpt from the book’s introductory chapter, ‘Freak fall; Fascinating finds’ by Anoop Babani and Savia Viegas.

When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.

— Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes

Life’s defining moments usually come on a high – a victory, an achievement, a breakthrough, an award or simply falling in love. Mine came with an injurious fall. After three decades of hectic existence, we had moved from India’s maddening megapolis of Mumbai to neighbouring Goa. This idyllic, coastal state was once a favourite abode of flower-children and hippies and now home to some crazy-rich Indians and yuppies.

A few years after moving to Goa, I took to cycling. Savia joined me on my escapades later. We have never been a cyclist – it is impossible to be one in Mumbai. We came to cycling rather late, in our sixties and quite unexpectedly. It began with neighbourly encounters and inspiration by a duo of passionate and professional bikers, Dr Belinda Viegas-Mueller and Richard Mueller. The subsequent camaraderie with Dr Balasubramaniam Iyer (Bala) – my guru and cycling buddy to this day – worked the magic.

I took to cycling almost instantly, discovering not only did I adore it but was good at it. Cycling up the hills and plunging down their slopes – through thick green cover, amidst bird song and morning light filtering through trees – soon became, and has remained a singularly spiritual experience. A bicycle is bound to the road in a way no other vehicle can. Once addicted, you can never cease to be a cyclist.

In 2016, I fell off my bike, badly injuring my rib cage.“No surgery, no medication, only rest” was the medical mantra. Barred from cycling for weeks, we chose to read about it.

How and when did cycling come to India?

Who and from where were the early cyclists? What kind of cycles did they ride and why?

This curiosity about our predecessors gradually unveiled the fact that it was well-to-do Indians, mainly in Bombay and Calcutta, who took to cycling in the 1890s inspired by their British peers. Such was the allure of riding that cycling clubs came up, founded by the small-yet-powerful Parsi community in Bombay and Bhadraloks (educated and prosperous Bengalis) in Calcutta. The cycles were predominantly imported, British-made and heavy on the pocket. These were used for leisure, sports, fitness and global tours.

Global journeys on cycles! That sounded impossible and unbelievable. Digging deeper, we were amazed to discover that a group of six cyclists had actually ventured on such an incredible journey way back in October 1923. All of them were Parsi from Bombay, in their early-to-mid twenties. Three of them – Adi B Hakim, Jal P Bapasola, and Rustom J Bhumgara – went on to complete the global ride over the next four-and-a-half years.

This trio became the first Indian globetrotters to undertake the most arduous journey of their lives.

They pedalled 71,000 km – at times in 60 degrees Celsius, for days without food and some days without water, across pirate-infested territories and in swamplands, through dense jungles and “up 6,600 ft amongst the terrible solitudes of the Alps”.

Framroze Davar and Gustav Sztavjanik before starting their ride across Amazon, in Lima, Peru, in 1928. Photo credit: Author provided

On returning to Bombay in March 1928, Hakim, Bapasola and Bhumgara recalled being “surrounded by people who had come to receive us… and garlanded till we were buried in flowers”. They hoped that “the public of Bombay will not fail to extend (‘unique welcome’) to another son of Mother India – Scouter F J Davar, who is shortly due in Bombay on the conclusion of a similar enterprise”.

They were not the only ones, then, we were amazed to discover. Three months after the Super Six group had commenced their ride, Framroze J Davar – another Bombay Parsi and a sports journalist – embarked on a global expedition in January 1924.

His was the most adventurous, lengthier and partly, a solitary journey. The 30-year-old Framroze initially pedalled more than 9,000 km entirely on his own, till he reached Austria 11 months later. In Vienna, he met Gustav Sztavjanik, his cycling mate. The duo rode 1,10,000 km across 52 countries and five continents, over the next seven years.

Framroze returned to India in October 1931. Eighteen months later, in April 1933, another trio of Parsi cyclists from Bombay – Kaikee J Kharas, Rustam D Ghandhi and Rutton D Shroff – decided to girdle the globe on their humble bikes. They rode for nine years and traversed 84,000 km spanning five continents, before returning home in April 1942.

A year after Kharas, Ghandhi and Shroff had left Bombay, cyclist Jamshed Rustom Mody began his global ride in May 1934. He was only 18 and decided to ride solo all the way. A fortnight later, yet another Parsi cyclist, Manek K Vajifdar also chose the solo global ride. Both Mody and Vajifdar took the reverse route – circumnavigating the world from east to west.

They began biking from Australia and cycled across China and Japan, reached America and eventually Europe.

Mody returned home three years later traversing 48,000 km across continents. But, riding during the years of World War II, Vajifdar got stuck in London and could not make it back.

Considering their extensive travel plans across diverse climatic zones, the cyclists made a wise selection of their baggage. Essentially, it comprised few clothes change, light tent, firearms, leather hoods, basic provisions, medicines and water, besides their constant companions – camera and compass.

Jal Bapasola, Rustom Bhumgara and Adi Hakim on their Royal Benson Cycles in 1923. Photo credit: Author provided

On their journey, however, they acquired additional clothing and provisions depending on weather exigencies – leather jackets to combat cold, snow and light wear as a shield from winds and rains. On an average, their cycles weighed anywhere between 40 kg-45 kg including the baggage, carried in metal boxes attached to their machines.

The cyclists rode single, fixed gear “push bikes”, be it steep mountains, wild jungles or bone-dry deserts. Finally, they were slightly ahead of the age of affordable sunglasses and hence could not use the protective eyewear to prevent bright light and the blinding sun from damaging the eyes. At least one cyclist lost his eyesight during the expedition and died a blind man.

Despite these perilous journeys, the cyclists maintained meticulous diaries and shot awesome photographs. This was feasible, thanks to advances in the miniaturisation of photographic equipment and the introduction of a new Kodak camera that used film rolls instead of glass plates.

According to Kenneth Helphand, Knight Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Oregon, United States, “the development of the bicycle and photography (the Kodak), independently and in their interrelationship, radically altered our landscape perception and experience”.

Each of these expeditions is lucidly recorded and is a story of human ingenuity and courage.

More than that, these chronicles are invaluable anthropological, sociological and historical narratives. They were penned and pictured by a handful of Indians, the only ones to ride the streets of the world in the 1920s and 1930s.

They cycled through a Europe devastated by two World Wars, the Great Depression in America, strife-torn East Asia, the deserts of Sahara and Mesopotamia, the rainforests of Amazon and Southeast Asia and the mountains of the Alps and the Andes.

They observed the world of a century ago – witnessing the material destruction and moral degradation that followed the Wars, the humiliating racial discrimination and persecution of immigrants in the US and elsewhere, civil wars and peoples’ revolutions in East Asia, scenes of abject poverty and homelessness in Asia and Africa and the lives and practices of the tribes in the Amazon, Sahara and other places.

These sun-tanned cyclists were received by the Pope, kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers, statesmen and mayors, innovators and scientists and sports persons and movie stars all over the world. They were welcomed and adored everywhere they went. They could have conveniently stayed back in either Europe and or the US. But they all came back, barring couple of exceptions.

Something was missing, though.

While their adventures and chronicles made a fascinating and insightful read, they did not reveal much about the cyclists themselves. Who were these daredevils? What motivated them? How was their upbringing? Where did they live and work? When and how did they meet and plan these death-defying expeditions? Who helped them financially and materially? What was their post-glory life? Were they recognised by their country and community? Or, did they die as unsung heroes?

Honours are not always honoured. We found ourselves drawn back to the same lingering questions again and again. To seek answers, we needed to find their families, friends and relatives.

Over the last five years, we have been able to trace them – some scattered within India and the rest overseas. They have been extremely kind and supportive, generously sharing their pictorial and documented archives and narrating stories about their fathers, grandfathers or grand-uncles, as the case may be.

In the two decades between 1923 and 1942 – the years immediately after and during the twentieth century’s two Great Wars – twelve Parsis from Bombay undertook five separate global cycling journeys: eight of them succeeded.

In our pursuit to retrace their journeys and getting to know them better, we have cherished every meeting, every chat – in person or online – and every moment spent on reading old books, filtering historical records and trawling through the age-browned pages of personal diaries and the albums of timeless photographs. It has made us even more of a committed cyclist than we were and connected us intimately with that simplest of human inventions: the bicycle.

Though an avid rider today, cycling is not an end in itself for us, it is a ride into infinite possibilities. This story of unsung heroes is a case in point, and we are proud to be telling it – thanks entirely to that freak-yet-fortunate fall of mine, back in 2017!

Excerpted with permission from The Bicycle Diaries by Anoop Babani and Savia Viegas, Saxtti Books.

Savia Viegas & Anoop Babani


With all the upheavals and struggles going around in the world today, the set of predictions made by Jamasp Saheb seem to be coming to life and appear much closer than what we might have perhaps anticipated in the past.

Here is an interesting translation of “The Prognostications of the Last Millennium” from Jamasp Namak:


King Vishtasp asked Jamasp, “what prognostications and signs do there appear for the coming time, for the coming of those my children?”

So the question is about the last generation of the coming apostles Hoshedar, etc.

Jamasp the astrologer said to him that when the time of Hoshedar would appear, these several signs shall necessarily appear.

The first is this, that the nights will be brighter.

The second is this, that (the star) Haptoring (constellation of the Bear) will leave its place and will turn in the direction of Khorasan.

The third is this, that the intercourse of persons one with another, will be great.

The fourth is this, that the breach of faith, which they will make at that time, will have quicker and greater results.

The fifth is this, that mean persons will be more powerful.

The sixth is this, that wicked persons will be victorious.

The seventh is this, that the Drujs (i.e., evil powers) will be more oppressive.

The eighth is this, that the magic and tricks which they will perform in those times, will be very bad.

The ninth is this, that the noxious creatures, like the tigers, the wolves, and four clawed animals will do great harm.

The tenth is this, that misinformed persons will commit great oppression upon the Dasturs of religion.

The eleventh is this, that the injury to the Dasturs of religion will be unlawful; they (the evil people) will take their property by force and will speak evil of them.

The twelfth is this, that the blowing of the summer and winter winds shall not be useful.

The thirteenth is this, that affection for pleasure will be prevalent.

The fourteenth is this, that those who are born at that time will reach death more (i.e., die more) in a miserable way and in untimely way (i.e., they will die an untimely miserable death).

The fifteenth is this, that respectable persons in spite of their respectful position, will practice too much of untruthfulness, injustice, and false evidence. Death, old age, unchecked pride, and strength will overtake (lit. reach) all countries. Then there will come the Dastur of the world (i.e., Hoshedar) The apostle will cleanse the whole country.

The sixteenth is this, that the two caves which are in Seistan will be destroyed and the seas of the cities will carry away the water and the whole of Seistan will be full of water.


We certainly do observe a few of these predictions already coming to fruition and can only wonder and pray that when everything is said and done, the pious souls will go unscathed.

– Ervad Jal Dastur


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