You Bring Out the Parsi in Me

27 Sep

Another identity, another take on Sandra Cisneros’ You Bring Out the Mexican in Me.


You bring out the Parsi in me.

The choy-foodna-ni-choy and

dhandar patio in me.

The smell of lobaan, eau-de-cologne

and all things from the sea in me.


You’re the one who

draws out my Gujarati, the

dhus-pus bolni and O mora khodae in me.

The tori sasoo kanda khai and

insistence on preservation in me.

Cling to the garas,

dry-clean those kors,

lovingly wipe Granny’s pearls in me.


You bring out the Parsi in me.

The Sunday kavaabs and aapro Zubin

in me.

The Bachi Karkaria and Sam Bahadur in me.


scarves and frocks and

gout no dukhavo,

the refugee from Iran in me.


Take me to Udwada,

Where food and worship blend.

The doodh-na-puff and din no kalmo and

orgasm-worthy kharia in me.

The nasal chants of the dastoorjis in me,

The love of antiques, heritage anything and spiffy vintage cars in me.

And half a dozen boomlas for breakfast,

jara limboo aapjo ji.


Only you, only yours.

Love me the way lagan-nu-bhonu does,

all four glorious courses of sit-down perfection,

post fox-trots and cha-chas with Dinsa and Dorab.

Caress me like the kusti skims my waist,

the sadra white from Ala bleach

and an obsessive mother’s scrubbing.


You bring out the Parsi in me.

The saaf-safai and chappal pehro in me.


love of pegs and bawdy jokes

and koyla nataks on Navroze in me.

Whip out your fingers

Play tuj-khalloo-peejun-savak

Speak esmem-tesmem to me

Marere mua, what will the ghatas know?

Aapri rani su sojji majheni!


You bring out the Parsi in me.

The BPP politics, orthodox-reformist wars, the

silently dying breed in me.

The visits to Doongerwadi get frequenter.

A community is passing on.

The parjaats are eyeing our land.

Aapri colonies, aapri ketli jameen,

pun aapra Hindoos are always docile in me.


Run to Sai Baba

and Mahim Church

and whoever listens to the

South Bombay bred-missionary schooled-elocution-trained-haw, you don’t read Chaucer-English accent

in me.

Life membership at the NCPA is mandatory.

They give you a free form with your birth certificate at

The Parsee General.


You bring out the Parsi in me.

The pale skin, green-veined thighs and khar-khar laughter in me.

The majha masti, the salaamati, the

khushali na jashan in me.

(Only if malido follows).


Love me, hold me, say

I’m special.

Call your friendly neighborhood Parsi now.

Soon to be extinct but

never down-and-out,

grab your slice of history

before she walks off

for another helping of



Jamva chalo ji!

20 Responses to “You Bring Out the Parsi in Me”

  1. Kiran Manral September 27, 2010 at 9:45 am #

    What could I write, you bring out the Catholic Muslim Hindu in me? LOL.

  2. adarkcomedycalledlife September 27, 2010 at 10:15 am #

    I already know this is going to be the best thing I read all week 🙂 Usually you could expect me to have no context, but I’m reading Rohinton Mistry’s Family Matters right now, so some things clicked. Really a treat to read this one!

  3. Orange Jammies September 27, 2010 at 10:27 am #

    Kiran Manral: The truly Indian founder of India Helps in me. 🙂

    adarkcomedycalledlife: Thank you, that is such a generous compliment. Nariman Vakeel’s story broke my heart many times over. Just fished it out and read the first couple pages. And now I’m late for work! 😆

  4. Aunty G September 27, 2010 at 11:09 am #

    This was delightful
    At times insightful
    You made me chuckle
    At our roots, suckle
    Is the thought of extinction frightful?

  5. Parul September 27, 2010 at 1:55 pm #


  6. Anamika/Thinking Cramps September 27, 2010 at 3:03 pm #

    Wow. Though I really wish I understood more of the references. But I could feel the meaning simmering under the surface, as I stood just this side of full understanding.

  7. ofbunkyandbobban September 27, 2010 at 4:33 pm #

    It’s lik w’r one prson 😀
    Sorry, th lttr E is working only sporadically on littl lappi

  8. sukanya September 27, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    second Anamika…a masterpiece OJ! You have raised the bar, yet again!
    The gradual extinction is scary..when i think about mumbai, one of the first identifications that come to my mind is your community.

  9. Orange Jammies September 28, 2010 at 1:12 pm #

    Aunty G: Not half as frightful as seeing the lengths some people will go to, to “preserve” the community.

    Parul: Thanks, P! 🙂

    Anamika: I did realize not many would understand the cultural references. At the same time, I just wanted folks to enjoy the sound and flow of the words. Feel free to shoot me any specific questions you may have. I’ll answer right here.

    ofbunkyandbobban: 😆 We are identical, aren’t we, the lot of us?

    sukanya: Really? 🙂 I hadn’t thought of that. But yes, I suppose South Bombay without the Parsis is unimaginable. (Confession: I like to go around singing “We built this city on rock and roll.” 😉 )

  10. dipali September 28, 2010 at 3:38 pm #

    This was great, OJ.
    You bring out the poetry lover in me:)

  11. sukanya September 28, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

    and i will sing along happily with you…even though am not a parsi!anything for preservation..

  12. Marc Damania September 28, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

    full power!

  13. Nino's Mum September 29, 2010 at 12:50 am #

    and you know that I truly mean it when I say that this brought out the Parsi in me!

    Related to this more than the UP-walli version – odd because there are some UP dna traces in me, and none of a baavi.
    But then: I’ve had as much dhansak as sambar.


  14. Banno September 29, 2010 at 8:06 pm #

    OJ, you made me remember all my Parsi friends, and the food, and all of it. I don’t have any Parsi in me to be brought out, but you put in some Parsi in me. Lovely!

  15. Orange Jammies September 30, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

    dipali: Aww, thanks, Dipali. 🙂

    sukanya: Oh no-no-no-no-no, not *anything*! Anything but anything!

    Marc Damania: To you too.

    Nino’s Mum: Yes, you’ve mentioned your bawa tendrils. 😉

    Banno: Glad! 🙂

  16. aneela z October 2, 2010 at 12:40 am #

    sigh after John Abraham I am sure a lot of us out there would like some Parsi in us 😉

  17. Orange Jammies October 4, 2010 at 11:13 am #

    aneela z: Not Rahul Gandhi? 😉 Aapro Rajiv no dikro?

  18. aneela z October 5, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    With only 25 % Parsi content? One has to be careful what one puts in their body.

  19. the mad momma October 7, 2010 at 2:29 am #

    and then these idiot sena types pull Mistry out of the Bombay University course.

    And ROFL and nudge nudge wink wink at Aneela’s comment

  20. Orange Jammies October 9, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    aneela z: Quality over quantity, as my beloved, insanely insular community in Bombay likes to say. 😉

    the mad momma: I have a theory about the idiot Sena types: They exist to remind us we’re not much luckier than Bihar.

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