I was invited to a night of celebrating Parsee music and good food at a friend’s place yesterday.
I was the only Non Parsee, but I didn’t feel out of place at all, for the food was very similar to what you find in North India. There were Biriyani, pulao, meat curry, aubergine barta and raita. The only thing that I have never tried until yesterday was the Parsee version of ice cream. Vanila ice cream blended with crushed pistachios, saffron and rose water. Dinner was followed by cardamom chai.
After dinner, music and dancing started. My friend’s 74 year old mother in law did the shoulder shimmying ( belly dance step) !
But what impressed me the most was a 7 year old boy. He played an instrument called Ney Anban ( Iranian version of bag pipe). It felt like he was breathing music. After a while, he decided to play Iranian Santoor, then he joined others and played Tabla. He knew to play every single musical instrument that was there. He knew all the old songs, but he has never been to Iran.
Every single male attendee knew to play a musical instrument and the women sang and danced. None of them have had formal lessons in music or dance, but because they meet often, their children automatically learn all these.
When I had my children, I wanted to pass on my heritage to them. The only things I could have done was to send them for Malayalam lessons, or dance lessons or perhaps Karnatic music lessons. I often had my cousins and friends over for dinner when I was living in Malaysia. There was no music and there was no question of dancing.. Everyone sat around in groups, talked (bitched), ate and went home.
I wish I had something to pass on to my children..