From Parsi homes to your phones: Chronicles of a community
#TheParsiProject, an Instagram series by Anushka Gupta, is dedicated to bringing the community’s architecture and stories to life.mumbai Updated: Nov 03, 2017 20:49 IST
In 1992 as Bombay was hit by communal riots following the demolition of the Babri Masjid, shops and eateries across the city pulled down their shutters, threatened by violence.
One bakery near Horniman Circle became a notable exception, withstanding the fear by churning out fresh loaves of bread through the night. Parvez Irani Zend, co-owner of Yazdani Bakery, remembers the day vividly.
His story is brought to life with a striking black-and-white photo of Zend manning the counter at Yazdani, on writer Anushka Gupta’s Instagram @anushkagupta5.
The 29-year-old Mumbai resident is behind The Parsi Project, a series chronicling stories of Mumbai’s Parsis. “I’ve always been interested in their culture and history,” she says. “They’re so proud and passionate about what they do. Mr Parvez recalled how he kept the bakery running during the riots, saying people could not do without them – the bread must go on.”
Gupta also conducts heritage walks in Mumbai and began the project on Instagram earlier this year. While she takes most of the pictures herself, she has collaborated with San Francisco-based photographer Alpana Aras for others, like the story of nonagenarian Rhoda and her daughter Hootakshi from Dadar Parsi Colony.
“Alpana is great with portraits while I’m good with architecture and culture. That’s how we thought of bringing in old Parsi homes and the people who live in them,” she says. In the homes, every nook and was filled with character – grandfather clocks passed down through generations and aged wooden furniture like bentwood chairs.
As Rhoda narrated stories of her late husband, how he always brought her chocolates and asked her to guess which pocket they were hidden in, Hootakshi, who used to be a hairdresser in Iran, insisted on doing Gupta’s hair.
“The photographs are of course important but I’m more interested in the stories in their rawest, truest form. Beautiful pictures come easy, but stories are hard to tell.” She plans to incorporate the series into a book she’s working on, The Bombay Book, documenting stories of historical buildings across the city.