Writers Meher Marfatia and Sooni Taraporevala are compiling a book on Parsi-Gujarati idioms in the effort to preserve the oral history of the Zoroastrian community.
“We are always saying that someone should compile these phrases before they get lost,” says co-compiler Marfatia, referring to the common refrain among the older generation of Parsis. “Sooni and I thought, why not make a start,” she adds, elaborating on how the idea to compile a book on the subject evolved.
Marfatia, who has in the past authored a coffee-table book on Parsi theatre in the 20th century, hopes that the book will serve as more than just a nostalgic look at the community known for its unique sense of humour.
“The present generation is at a disadvantage as they can follow, but hesitate to use these lovely expressions,” says Marfatia, agreeing that language shapes people. “It provides a sense of who you are.”
The book will include “fun, wild, wacky” idiomatic phrases like, for example, ‘Tumboo ma soldier’. “Tumboo is a tent,” explains co-compiler and acclaimed screenwriter Taraporevala. “It’s likening the foetus in the stomach to a soldier in his tent. It’s the Bawa version of ‘bun in the oven’,” says Taraporevala referring to the expression used to describe a pregnant woman.
If the language of a community paints a picture of the people who speak it, Taraporevala says that the Parsis emerge as people who “are wonderfully inventive with the language, combining wildly opposite things with a great sense of humour.”
“Contributions used will be credited” guarantees Marfatia, urging readers to email contributions.