Rayomand Coins

From Pipon to Parsipoly

During the pandemic lockdowns our three, award winning, work-and-play-from-home columnists Alamai, Aflatoon and Letap, instead of frittering away their time watching Hindi soaps on television, devised a board game to further Parsipanu among community members. Titled Parsipoly, the game enables players to buy property, construct houses and dharamshalas on them and charge rent to other players who land on their premises. The object of the game is to bankrupt the other players and emerge the number one Parsi property monopolist. We found the game very similar to Manipoly and inquired of the trio whether they were guilty of any copyright infringements. "Not at all," responded the three whose extensive history of litigation qualifies them as para-lawyers.

Manipoly, they pointed, out was created by their "dur na saga (distant relatives)" from Vyara, Mani and Poly Boardwalla in 1903. The couple’s heirs had given their blessing to any venture that would popularize the great Parsi religion and culture, especially its cuisine. While up to eight persons can play Manipoly, Parsipoly restricts the number to four as Parsis are a dwindling community and the average Parsi household has a density of three or less. While anyone can buy Manipoly, Parsipoly is sold only to Parsis, both of whose parents have to be Parsi Zoroastrians (an affidavit to this effect has to be submitted along with any order).

The fear of our traditionalist columnists was that if non-Parsis played the game which enables players to theoretically buy Parsi properties, they may one day aspire to actually do so, undermining the Parsi-only covenant. Owning property, they noted, is one of the hallmarks of Parsipanu and what it means to be a true Parsi.

To demonstrate the game, our columnists proceeded to remove from the editors writing table, without his consent, piles of unpaid bills, partially read books, yellowed newspapers, pencil butts, chocolate wrappers, biscuit crumbs, etc. In their stead they placed their scissor cut, crayon colored, handwritten Parsipoly gameboard. Names of roads inhabited or frequented by Parsis, Parsi colonies, hospitals, senior citizens’ homes, Parsi-founded schools and other such institutions were scrawled along the four borders of the board. Tokens, sandalwood replicas of pugrees, fetas, topis and mathabanus were placed on the first, right hand corner square of the board named "Mumbai Parsi Punchayet (MPP)." Two dice were tossed on the board by each player in turn and the tokens moved accordingly. If the token landed on a square titled Bhaji Gully, for example, the player could proceed to buy the lane from the paper money distributed at the start of the game. If two other neighboring properties were purchased by the same player, she or he could then proceed to build houses, dharamshalas, etc on the plot and charge rent to the other players who landed there.

Every time a player completed a round of the board and passed the MPP square they could collect Rs 300 Parsipoly money from the trust. In the event the MPP did not have ready cash, being perennially broke, an IOU (I owe you) would be issued. This IOU would be honored at the Parsipoly Bank and accepted as legal tender by all players. They could use it to buy property, pay rent and where applicable, service charges as well.

Should the token land on a square titled "Trust," the player would proceed to pick up the top card from a pile placed on the center of the board. These cards issued instructions which had to be observed. For example if the card read, "As elections for MPP trustees are to be held (after various ploys to delay the voting indefinitely failed) you are exempted from paying rent for the next six months." Another card read, "You have married a non-Parsi. Go to jail. Do not pass MPP, do not collect Rs 300." You would then languish behind bars until you rolled two sixes and submitted an affidavit that you would not have your children’s navjote performed. But perhaps the most dreaded card noted, "You have opted to be cremated. Surrender all your property to MPP and remove your token from the board."

Some dissenters and enemies of the religion objected to this clause and took to court Ala, Afla and Let (as they are affectionately known to their admirers and Aafat to their detractors). Following extensive mediation recommended by the apex court, a compromise was reached by which all parties agreed to let the hapless players remain in the game but refrain from playing the next three turns so they could attend religious classes. The only reason the trio accepted the proposal was because they had received advance bookings from members of several Parsi WhatsApp and Facebook groups such as "Your race is your religion," "Parsi women: children of a lesser God," "Only Parsis," "Parsis first, always," and so on.

We pointed out that if they sold only to Parsis and four could play at a time the sale would be limited to around 12,500 assuming there were 50,000 Parsis in India. Manipoly, in contrast, had sold millions.

"We’re looking at quality, not quantity," replied Alamai. "We don’t want any and everybody playing Parsipoly. There has to be a cutoff. For example, we may not sell to known, reformist Parsis. On the other hand, traditionalist bodies like the Pipon Club have ordered 150 sets for their 600 or so presumably fee paying members." They wanted "to wean their members away from cosmopolitan games like Housie to a wholesome Parsi pastime." (At the beginning of this column we referred to our three columnists as "award winning." This July they were conferred the Tobel Prize for Literature by the Taliban. Our columnists outshone rival contenders with their latest column extolling the Pipon Club trustees and managing committee for their decision to continue barring membership to married women and full membership to unmarried women. Pipon was requested to open a branch in Kabul. Alamai was barred from attending the award ceremony in keeping with the local custom that women should neither be seen nor heard; she said she would not have it any other way!)

We wondered, naively, whether we would receive a complimentary copy of Parsipoly. It would be unseemly to ask, as though we were beggars (which we actually are). So we said we would like to buy the game, anticipating they would say it’s a New Year gift for Yazdegirdi 1392 in recognition of our yeoman services to the community. Instead the trio replied, "We don’t want pseudo Parsis playing Parsipoly. Stick to Housie."

Pipon Club, here we come!






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Refreshingly jolly with subtle message!
- Sunnu Golwalla
- 10-Aug-2022

- Yezdyar Kaoosji
- 08-Aug-2022


Villoo Poonawalla