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.
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.
The 5th edition of the Zoroastrian Return To Roots Program began in Mumbai, India today on December 19, 2018.
22 Zarathushti youth from USA, Canada, Pakistan, New Zealand and India gathered in Mumbai at the Cusrow Baug Pavilion to kick off the program.
Aban Marker-Kabraji, Co-Chair of RTR Program welcomed the RTR Fellows and briefed them about the history of the program and the ethos and principles on which the program is based. She emphasized the diversity of the program and thanked the institutional and individual donors who have put their faith in this program. Arzan Sam Wadia, Program Director of RTR briefed everyone about the upcoming daily program details over the next 15 days.
The group were given a brief history of the Cusrow Baug, Mumbai’s premier Zoroastrian housing colony by Hoshang Jal, the Secretary of Cusrow Baug Pavilion.
Homi Gandhi, President of FEZANA spoke of FEZANA’s commitment as a MoU partner in supporting RTR as an institutional partner.
The participants then made their way to the legendary Britannia for a scrumptious Parsi meal and a personal meeting with its equally legendary owner Boman Kohinoor.
Later in the afternoon, RTR Fellows were welcomed at Madison World, India’s premier advertising and marketing agency headed by the dynamic father-daughter duo of Sam Balsara and Lara Balsara. Here the Fellows got a masterclass in entrepreneurship, media, advertising and a detailed deep-dive in the story behind the hugely successful ad campaign for Jiyo Parsi.
Over the next two weeks Fellows will travel to Pune, Nargol, Sanjan, Udvada, Navsari and Surat before returning to Mumbai for the return leg.
As is customary, all the pre-planning leading up to this day and the daily logistics of the trip is run by RTR Alumni who come back year on year, to continue the program. Zubin Gheesta and Sheherazad Pavri from Mumbai, Kayras Irani from Auckland, Tanya Hoshi from Toronto and Cyrus Karanjia from Karachi are the alumni who will be assisting with the running of the program
Trail Blazers India, as RTR’s logistics partners since inception were represented by Hutokshi Marker, CEO and Kurush Charna, CTO who will travel with the group for the entire duration.
The Bhuj House is a refurbished homestay that dates back to the 1890s
The daybed in the verandah room at The Bhuj House
A quaint heritage home in faraway Kutch, The Bhuj House is love at first sight. Nestled between the Bhujia Hill and the walled city of Bhuj, the homestay run by Jehan and Katie Bhujwala, dates back to the 1890s and maintains the old world charm of its heydays.
About the homestay
Built in 1890 by Pestonji Sorabji Bhujwala, a prominent businessman of the princely state of Kutch, The Bhuj House is the only surviving Parsi house in a neighbourhood that entirely belonged to the community at one time. While the house had always been with the family, it fell into disuse and was also badly damaged in the 2001 earthquake. This was before Jehan, the great, great grandson of Pestonji Sorabji Bhujwala, and his wife Katie decided to restore it as a homestay. “We wanted to ensure everything in the house was just like it had been at my great, great grandfather’s time, so we had to bring down the modern parts and restore the older sections,” says Jehan while telling us about the long restoration process.
The Verandah at The Bhuj HouseWhat came out of the restoration was a magnificent 19th century home with tiled roof, large courtyard, an open pantry, multiple terraces, and a large kitchen. To ensure that the place had all modern-day comforts, ensuite bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and air conditioning were added, but without compromising on the vintage feel. Spread over two floors, the homestay now has five rooms kitted out with antique furniture, crafts and textiles from local crafts persons, and the family’s personal belongings. An old gramophone complete with vinyl records, welcomes you in the front room. A vintage typewriter occupies the study table. The grandfather clock sits next to the grandfather’s picture on the wall, and the Hichka—a traditional Gujrati swing—adorns the Hichka Room.
Every room has a name in The Bhuj House; and with that name comes a story. The Nano Room, which gets its moniker from the Gujarati word for little, was carved out of a storeroom; the Jafri Room used to be an outdoor block of loos, and Rohee’s, a suite, is dedicated to Jehan’s cousin Rohee, the last Parsi to have lived in Bhuj. The soul of the house however, is in the courtyard. A large pantry, an old swing, shady trees, and lots of chatter make it the favourite of the Bhujwala family and their guests too.
Inside Rohee’s studyAbout the hosts
Jehan and Katie Bhujwala lovingly run The Bhuj House. The couple splits their time between Kanha and Bhuj—when they are in town, they personally attend to every guest and ensure all their needs are taken care of. Else, the property’s caretaker looks after the guests. Jehan grew up in Mumbai but was always attached to the house and wanted to do something with it. After studying geology—a route he identified to escape city life—Jehan moved to the Kanha forest to open a camp resort and finally returned to the family property in 2012 to begin renovation.
“After the Jungle Retreat: Shergarh at Kanha, we were more confident about being able to work with the house,” Jehan remembers. “Katie and I moved to Bhuj for some years to oversee the restoration work,” he adds while telling us how keeping the original structure intact and yet creating a modern space was daunting and rewarding in equal measure. The challenge, however, is far from over. Even though the homestay is doing very well, keeping such an old home running is a task in itself.
The courtyard of The Bhuj HouseFood
Being a Parsi household in the middle of Kutch means the kitchen here is always working. The 24-hour pantry in the center of the courtyard is where you make your own tea or coffee, or help yourself to fruit and lemonade. All meals are prepared in-house by the cook with spices from the manager, Khursheed’s home. Special Parsi tea made with mint and lemongrass is a highlight, as is the Dhansak, Akuri, and Chicken Farcha. The breakfast is a part of the stay; the meals are prepared on request.
How to spend 48 Hours in Bhuj
Bhuj is in the heart of the Kutch district and offers much to do. The Great Rann of Kutch is about 90-minute drive from the homestay and makes for a great day trip. The ship building unit at Mandavi, a coastal town that was once the epicentre of trade in west India, is another interesting place located at an hour’s drive.
Bhujodi village, 30 minutes from the homestay, is a treasure trove of Kutchi handicrafts and textiles. Ajrakhpur, also 30 minutes from The Bhuj House, is home to the world-famous Ajrakh print and houses workshops that excel at the craft.
The walled city of Bhuj itself is a treasure trove of arts, culture and heritage. Bhujia Hill, Hamisar Lake, Bhujia Fort and the meandering lanes hide many a treasure for those who seek. Shroff Bazaar, Ramkund Stepwell, Old Court, Royal Cenotaphs meanwhile are some other places of historic importance that ought not to be missed.
Getting There: Bhuj is accessible by flight from Mumbai. Trains connect Bhuj to Mumbai, Pune, and rest of Gujarat. The roads to Bhuj are excellent and driving to the town is a great idea too. The Bhuj house is located 10-15 minutes from the Bhuj airport and five minutes from the railway and bus stations.
Doubles from Rs5,100 per night. Extra bed costs Rs1,500per person, per night. Tariff includes breakfast and all taxes; lunch and dinner is prepared on request at Rs400 for a vegetarian meal and Rs500 for a non-vegetarian meal. Website
Navsari is a name that is firmly entrenched in the minds of Parsi – Irani Zoroastrians residing in any corner of the world. Navsari has established that it has been the fulcrum around which the community has evolved in India.
The stately Atashbehram at Navsari, is undoubtedly a must on the ‘to visit’ list of Parsi – Irani Zoroastrians from all corners of India as well as those who visit from overseas. However, what many in the community are not aware of is that Navsari has been the epicentre not only of many Parsi immortals but has as many as 54 active Parsi institutions, an unparalleled feat for a city of its size.
Parsi historian Mr. Marzban J. Giara has created a list of the 54 Parsi institutions at Navsari and perceived it would be useful to publish the same as a guide for Parsi Irani Zoroastrians visiting Navsari. WZO Trust Funds have had a map prepared that provides a glimpse of all the 54 Parsi institutions at different locations.
For the convenience of visitors to Navsari these maps will be displayed at various institutions and places of worship at Navsari, Mumbai and other centres.
The Udvada Atash Behram, also known as the Iran Shah, “King of Iran”, is a temple in Udvada, Gujarat on the west coast of India. It is one of the eight fire temples of the Zoroastrian religion in the country.
The Zoroastrian Return to Roots Program is pleased to announce the opening of applications for Return to Roots 5 Trip scheduled to take place from 19th December, 2018 to 2nd January 2019. This will be the fifth tour after the first four very successful tours in 2013-14, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The aim of Zoroastrian Return to Roots is to bring together young Zoroastrians from across the world between the ages of 22-35; to return to their roots, reconnect with their culture, and revive the community. Participants (‘Fellows’) will explore various significant Zoroastrian historical, religious, cultural, and archaeological sites in India over a trip of 15 days.
The itinerary will take participants to Mumbai, Gujarat and Pune.
Hi There, My name is Anahita Irani, I am the author at Sweetannu.com. A pre school teacher, social media influencer, lifestyle & food blogger. Added hobbies are travel, movies and fashion, going for events, socializing, networking and making new friends. Check out her interesting blog at https://sweetannu.com
I can proudly proclaim to be married into a bhakra loving family as l clearly remember my mother-in-law making bhakras in her Dahanu home every Sunday, cooling them and packing them in a big stainless steel box for her son. It was a ritual every Sunday evening, once all the other household work was done it was time to make Bhakras. A big thali was taken and all the ingredients were mixed with a heavy hand. My mother-in-law would instruct the maid to knead with a heavy hand and add according to the recipe in her head. She never used measured proportions yet the bhakras turned out delicious every time.
Just opposite the Netarwalla Sanitorium and Agyari compound is the Dr.K.N. Bahadurji Memorial Sanatorium. The Sanatorium was inaugurated on 15th August 1902 and is specifically for Parsi/Irani community. It is spread over 12.5 acres of land, such a picturesque and sprawling property, once I enter I feel like Alice in Wonderland.