Take a walk around any of the baugs that dot ‘Aapru Bombay’ – Cusrow Baug, Rustom Baug, Wadia Baug, Navroze Baug, Malcom Baug… chances are that you will find yourself enveloped in every possible cliché that is associated with the Parsis! Because, let’s face it, no matter how ‘Western’ our Gen-next consider itself to be, they have unconsciously imbibed the aspects that make Parsis, well Parsis!
Our Very Own Lingo:
‘Parsi Gujarati’ is one of the sweetest dialects of the language, and for sure, it is thriving in our Parsi baugs. If you consider the fact that most Parsis today consider English as their preferred language and compulsorily learn Hindi and Marathi in school, the only place they can practice their ‘mother tongue’ is in their ‘colony’ premises!
Flavours of Us:
Who hasn’t walked down the passages of a Parsi Baug on a Sunday afternoon and been mesmerized by the delicious aromas wafting out from the assorted kitchens? Sunday lunch in a Parsi home is sacrosanct as is the fact that every family has its own special recipe for Dhansak which is a closely guarded secret. But the ‘aunties’ are more than willing to share their experience in making the perfect ‘saus’ for the ‘macchi’; or how to make the amazing ‘lacy cutlet’. Our Parsi cuisine goes so much beyond the ‘lagan nu patru’ and it is in our baugs that youngsters are initiated into this culinary aspect of Parsipanu.
Residents of a baug can bear testament to the fact that little kids who need to brush up on their ‘kusti’ prayers will always find a willing elderly person to help them on their religious journey. Many baugs are blessed to have Dasturjis who are happy to conduct ‘dharma gyan’ classes and parents are grateful to have their kids initiated into the lore of our religion.
Sports ‘R’ Us:
Volleyball, throwball, football…. ‘have ball – will play!’ (pun unintended) is the mantra for the kids who are fortunate to grow up in the Parsi baugs which offer the luxury of spacious open grounds right in the centre of the colony. Regular inter-baug competitions have the sporting spirit running high and give the ladies a chance to cheer for their favourite teams as well!
Ready Marriage Bureau:
Let’s be honest, how many couples in today’s times are the result of having lived and grown up in the same colony? Quite a few, for sure. Baugs are the perfect breeding grounds for romance and helps in its own way to encourage that kids get married ‘jat ma’ and perpetuate the Parsi race. If couples don’t pair off on their own, then there is always the friendly neighbourhood ‘kaaj karavnari aunty’ – Jiyo Parsi Indeed!
Of course there are the not so inveigling aspects to baug life as well. For instance you have an omnipresent ‘Mahila Mandal’ in every baug who other than discussing the day’s menu are also updated with everyone’s lives and their detailed histories – fresh rumours anyone?! Then there are the guys who hang around on the baug benches, endearingly termed the ‘handas’; and every baug has its fair share of these as well.
As one generation gives way to the next, as technology brings with it new pastimes and issues, some things don’t really ever change in our Parsi baugs where we pass on the torch with all our idiosyncrasies intact. Cheers!!