‘Zenobia Mistri: Teacher Par Excellence’

A young girl, with gritty determination, pursues her college education in Bombay, then goes on to successfully obtain her doctorate from the prestigious Sorbonne University in Paris, France, not a given in the Bombay of the 1920s and 30s, when most girls were destined to a life of domesticity. On her return to Bombay (now Mumbai), she, in turn, offers the gift of education to women aspiring to a better life. Through teaching – her profession of choice from an early age – she acquires something loftier – the power to transform lives, to enhance the independence and self-esteem of young aspirants, rich and poor alike, through learning.

Thus did Zenobia Mistri (née Bamboat) not only pursue an exceptional path on her own but went on to become one of the most iconic teachers of French language and literature in twentieth century Bombay. Over a period spanning fifty years, scores of her students benefited from her brilliant grasp of the language and her unique ability to teach it. Her generosity of spirit and commitment to her work touched many hearts. Through teaching, Zenobia found her own voice which she used to brilliant effect.  In revealing the merits of the language and its poetic beauty, she became a link between east and west, India and France, creating a powerful legacy and proving a unique ambassador for that country.

The book has been authored by Shireen Isal, an Indian resident of the UK, who has extensively researched the life of the inspirational force that was Zenobia Mistri, in a fluid and easy manner. The book has been described as, “A vivid and sensitive portrait of the aspirations and possibilities as reflected in the spirit of Zenobia Bamboat Mistri, a talented young woman from a Parsi family in Karachi; her inspiring search for an intimacy with French language and literature; her unwavering commitment to family and friends; and the art of making teaching a compelling experience several times a day. The author has portrayed all this with economy, grace and warmth’, by Homi K. Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities, Department of English, Director, Mahindra Humanities Center, Senior Advisor on the Humanities to the President and Provost, Harvard University.

Available for Rs. 399/- in the Parsiana Bookshop at KK (Navsari) Chambers, 39B – Ground Floor,
(Opp. St. Cathedral School side entrance), Fort, Mumbai 1. [Tel: 22078104 / 22077543 / 22072624) or you can buy it online at

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