Category Archives: Humor

Parsi Surnames – a humorous look

While most surnames in India reflect caste and lineage, the Parsis had a delightfully modern streak — having landed without caste, history and context, they created identities through professions and urban streets.

Our family moved to Bombay (now Mumbai) from Rawalpindi in 1947. We came as refugees but the family soon settled and by 1953 my father had restarted playing golf at the Willingdon Club. I was eight years old and would walk 18 holes with him every Saturday and Sunday.

The three Parsi gentlemen who made up his regular four-ball were uncles Poonawala, Coorlawala and Colabawala. Very soon they had rechristened my father Pindiwala.

Uncle Colabawala did not live in Colaba but in a penthouse on Malabar Hill. May be his ancestors had lived in Colaba.

I used to spend hours searching the telephone directory to find Parsi surnames and stories around their families.

There was prohibition in Bombay those days. So to get liquor you had to find Mr Dalal, who would introduce you to Mr Daruwala, who in turn would get bottles delivered to your home by Mr Batliwala who would be accompanied by
Mr Sodawaterbottleopenerwalla (the longest Parsi surname I have come across).

Other surnames whose ancestors were in the beverages trade were: Mr Fountainwala, Mr Ginwala, Mr Rumwala, Mr Sodawala and Mr Jaamwala.

We used to have two delightful Siamese kittens in our flat and these were gifted to my mother by her friend Mrs Billimoria. My mother spent hours knitting cardigans for them, with wool she bought from the Unwala family.

My uncle ran the air force canteen in Cotton Green and his partner, yes you guessed it, was Mr Canteenwala. They had this fantastic cook, Mr Bhajiwala.

Their mild and meek manager, Mr Jeejeebhoy, nodded his head and agreed with everything everybody said.

My grandfather was the Sheriff of Bombay. I think the first and only Parsi to hold this position. Being Sheriff it was only natural that he had Mr Bandookwala and Mr Golimarwala as his constant companions.

Grandfather had many Parsi friends who were in politics. There was this squeaky clean khadi-clad Mr Ghandy, and the not so clean Mr Kalaghandy —

My grandfather built Hotel Waldorf on Arthur Bunder Road in Colaba. So for this he naturally used the services of Mr Contactor and Mr Mistry. Yet… He never went to the conservative moneylenders when short of money, but borrowed it from his Parsi friend Mr Readymoney.

Our neighbour and family physician was Dr Adi Doctor — he was only half a doctor. He lived withh his in laws Mr and Mrs Pochkhanawala. My sister swears they ate only poached eggs for breakfast.

I remember going to Dr Doctor’s sister’s wedding. She married one Mr Screwala. What he did for a living, I do not know to this day.


–. Cyrus Broacha Comediwalla


While India’s overall population continues to increase rapidly, the country’s Parsi community faces a population problem of a different kind: It’s decreasing rapidly. Originally followers of Zoroastrianism who settled in India in the 8th century, the number of Parsis in India has halved in the last 60 years and now stands at approximately 57,000. The “Jiyo Parsi” scheme initiated by the government to tackle the issue, encourages the Parsis to go forth and multiply with cheeky taglines like “I’d rather have a dog than a baby. But the really cool ones have both.” It seem to be working as the 102nd Parsi baby was born since the initiative was launched in 2013.

Busybee on Tomato Prices

Stumbling upon this piece by Behram Contractor * aka *Busybee, 26 years ago, I can’t imagine the foresight he had, in a way. With the high price of tomatoes currently, this is a throwback written in only a manner Busybee could. Brings a smile every time…!!! 😊😊😊


One Parsi – Statue near Oval Maidan

Two Parsis – Dolly and Polly tucking into dhansak and lagan nu custard at Jimmy Boy’s

Three Parsis – Mumma, Pappa and 48-year old Behram Baba on their way to Udwada

Four Parsis – A colourfully swearing foursome, in sadra-kastis, playing cards at Cusrow Baug

Five Parsis – A snooty group at the NCPA for a Zubin Mehta concert

Six Parsis – Half of the medical elite of Bombay

Seven Parsis – Half the senior Counsel of the Bombay High Court

Eight Parsis – The Dadar Parsi Colony Cycling Club

Nine Parsis – Willingdon Club members dozing on the verandah sofas on a weekday afternoon

en Parsis – Shareholders‘ meeting of Tata Sons

The Bawa Rap

Watch this Parsi boy rap in Gujarati as he hilariously complains about a good day gone bad

The Bawa Rap takes the viewer into the world of (almost) all things Parsi.

This 21-year-old Parsi boy has 99 problems but having his head in the clouds isn’t one of them. He looks forward to spending more time with his friends and his girlfriend. But then comes a day which refuses to be good to him.

What may sound like a dry, ranting session, the Bawa Rap turns the narration in to a funny rap. In Gujarati. But language shouldn’t be a problem, for the mash up of videos and stop-motion images have a story in itself.

Within two minutes, the Bawa Rap informs the audience that Parsis take their food and leisure very seriously, and family gatherings are a must. But a light conversation always wins the day, insists Yohan Marshall, who plays the role of the confused Parsi boy in the music video. Marshall, who is a Parsi himself from Ahmedabad, is the drummer and vocalist of the band The Family Cheese.

Marshall told, “We wanted to keep the tone light and funny, because we as Parsis are very open to humour. We’re happy that as an indi-band we were able to give more space to the Parsi identity, which is very limited to a few dialogues in mainstream Bollywood movies.”

It’s difficult to ignore the food when Marshall is seen eating a traditional breakfast of sali par eddu – chips with eggs along with sliced onion and chicken. If there’s a lesson from the video, it’s this: when life gives you lemons, why not squeeze it on some sali par eddu and enjoy the breakfast?

Bombay grouse: The House of Tata carried off a perfect surgical strike

Raj Thackeray did it to Karan Johar, and now Cyrus Mistry is singing, ‘Ai dil hai mushkil/ Jeena yahaan. /Mujhey hataya, no-one bachaya /Yeh hai Bombay House, meri jaan.’
Jimmy Gymkhanawala looked as if he’d been struck by a dumbbell. Homi Homeopath looked as queasy as Nux vomica. The two friends couldn’t believe the lightning strike that had fired Cyrus Mistry and set Dadar Parsi Colony on fire. It was even worse for the legendary Bawa image than the warring Trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet acting like gulley taporis.
‘Saala Jimmy, satyanaas! What will people think about us if apro Ratan summarily sacks a chairman like some jhadoo-pota bai?’ said Homi. His friend shot back, ‘Cyrus-virus jahannam ma jayey. What will happen to our Tata Shares? Saala, tu su bak-bak karechh?’
Soli Solicitor poked his hooked nose into the conversation as soon as he heard ‘su’. ‘Toba, toba! I hope the now-ex-Chairman won’t sue the former Chairman who is now interim-Chairman. It’s like apro Charles suing apri Rani.’
Homi-Jimmy pounced on him, ‘Yes, but the board also should not have simply divorced him with a single “Talaq”. We Parsis at least have a code of civil behaviour.’
The three Bawas lapsed into corny humour. Snatches from the conversation:

Jaguar Ratan has turned Cyrus into a Nono.
Boss, he sold off Ratan’s global steel deals, and now he only is scrap.
Haan, I hear the sacking met with a ‘Corus’ of approval.
Naturally, no? Losses and ethics issues made him into Cyrus the Grate.
Ratan-seth had a gem of a strategy. He’d increased the board from six to nine, all on his side. So maybe it was a case of Venu Vidi Vici.
Ha-ha, and Amit of Bain Capital became Mistry’s bane.
Cyrus, 48, had been handheld by father-figure Ratan. Ai su thayu, saala, the lofty House of Tata is looking like some lowly UP politics. Netaji boots out beta-ji.

Alec Smart said: “A book has moved from the Mystery shelf to the History shelf.”

Bachi Karkaria


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