On 3rd August, 2019, ‘OH! THOSE PARSIS!’: A to Z of the Parsi Way of Life’, written by eminent lawyer and writer, Berjis Desai, was launched by Senior Counsel and former Advocate General of Maharashtra – Darius Khambata, at a glittering function held at the Gallops restaurant in Mumbai. “Every age has its bard. The rapidly dwindling Parsis have got no less, in the form of Berjis Desai. He caricatures without ridiculing; he maligns without malice,” said Khambata, at the unveiling.
A message to Desai from the Hon’ble Justice Rohinton Nariman of the Indian Supreme Court, which was read out, stated, “I anxiously await each issue of Parsiana to read Berjis Desai’s inimitable satire on the Parsi eccentrics of yesteryear. May he continue to release his readers from a grim, humourless world so that they may snatch a few moments from their humdrum lives to laugh!”
Desai’s introduction was delivered warmly by Counsel Somasekhar Sundaresan, who termed his style as reminiscent of the late Khushwant Singh. Ramjee Narasimhan of Zerodegree Publishing, Chennai, shared how he was greatly enthused with the response so far – with nearly a thousand 000 copies of the book already pre-sold on Amazon and elsewhere.
English theatre actor, Nizwah Karanj and the author regaled the gathering by reading extracts from the book, described as ‘irreverently ribald’ and ‘infuriatingly funny’. “While the primary purpose of the book is to entertain, the underlying objective is to make indifferent Parsis aware about our community,” said the author, adding, “Late in life, I agree with my traditionalist friends, that Parsis will survive against all odds. A miracle will happen.”
Apart from Parsis themselves, non-Parsis too are curious to know more about the Parsi way of life. The book covers most aspects of Parsi culture, as diverse as maids, mothers and murders; legho, liquor and lagan nu custard; sex, superstitions and swear words; fish, fertility and funerals; goondas, ghelsappas and gadheras; noses, nataks and nostalgia; insanity, occult and xenophobia!