Let us begin with a disclaimer. This column contains several unscientific generalizations and the evidence is only anecdotal. However, those blessed with powers of observation and a dispassionate mind will concur. Those who violently disagree will only prove the point. So our thesis is that Parsi women are considerably superior to Parsi men in all departments of life, barring the armed forces,
judiciary and thoroughbred racing. The jury is still out on the Bombay Parsi Punchayet. Sometimes it is difficult to believe that they are from the same community as men. Being superior does not always mean being nicer. Lord Curzon, a Governor General in British India is believed to have said: "I am Lord Nathaniel Curzon; a very superior person.” Perhaps he was superior but not particularly nice. Parsi men are certainly nicer, maybe out of compulsion.
If we were to assure all unmarried Parsi women in Bombay that even if they were to marry
non Parsis, their children will be regarded as Parsi Zoroastrians and their husbands permitted to reside in the
baugs and they themselves need not worry about their rights, the number of interfaith marriages will quadruple. The reason is that Parsi girls find Parsi boys to be unambitious and without fire in the belly. The only fire in the belly is for dhansak. The cream of the boys have been licked clean by non-Parsi felines (and the why of it is that non-Parsi women appear to be nicer, sweeter, softer and politer) and the remnants are not very attractive husband material. The glamor of airline stewards, pilots, singers, bodybuilders and motorbike enthusiasts has now dissipated. Corporate high fliers and supersmart techies are in demand. Even the high earning Parsi men appear to be namby-pamby, Mummy obsessed, awkward, who are incapable of making the Parsi girls swoon.
The ladies are academically brighter, hardworking, more committed and have a superior work ethic. Boys are engrossed in bikes,
beers and bodies. Women are concerned about their careers; the men, about their carriers. Parsi ladies make good entrepreneurs and Parsi boys make good employees. Women score higher than men in having an ethical perspective and a more finely honed value system. Naturally, the wasters and wafflers do not appeal to their more accomplished female counterparts. How can the same genes and the same conditioning result in such disparity among genders is a question to be debated by sociologists. Parental role models may be an answer. There is often emulation of the same sex parent, resulting in
perpetuation of stereotypes.
Dinshaw Daji and Veera Sorabji in Mua Luchaao
Photo: Laughter in the House, 20th Century Parsi Theatre by Meher Marfatia
Alpha females, like Alpha males, drip aggression. Domineering and dictatorial, the Parsi ladies are formidable. The young Parsi lad witnesses how Pappa trembles in trepidation before Mummy’s relentless onslaught. The child, out of empathy for his inferior parent, either never marries or finds non-Parsi women more malleable and attractive. The Parsi girl emulates the
mother, and thereby remains a spinster who commands many in a stentorian voice or prefers to marry a non-Parsi high achiever. This gender disparity is resulting in more interfaith marriages.
Parsi women are quick and lethally committed to public causes, whether it is animal cruelty or saving Worli Sea Face or keeping the Oval Maidan free from political party meets or fighting noise pollution. Local mafia dons are terrified of unpurchaseable Parsi lady agitators. Parsi husbands would rather spend their afternoons at the races or sundown the evening with two Parsi pegs rather than worry about the fate of some classical music society or stench of Bombay ducks at the Sassoon Docks. The fairer sex oozes public spirit; the men are mildly amused but are inwardly happy at the lady being away from home.
Parsi men certainly have a better sense of humor and greater joie de vivre. They also make better judges, lawyers (with the solitary exception of Zia Mody, the best corporate lawyer in the country), soldiers and horse trainers. Fellow communities do not trifle with Parsi matrons while they are very fond of Parsi men. Few like the straight talking, blunt and uncompromisingly honest females. Perhaps, the only failure of Parsi women is not bringing up better sons.
Berjis M. Desai,
senior partner of J. Sagar Associates,
advocates and solicitors, is a writer and community activist.