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Our best kept secret
Photo by Sooni Taraporevala

I often think that Parsis are India’s best-kept secret. Outside Maharashtra and Gujarat, very few people seem to know of our existence, even though we have been in India for 1400 years. I wasn’t aware of our invisibility while growing up in Bombay, the city that has always been such a Parsi bastion. It was only when I left India as a college student that I realised how minuscule we were, how anonymous. I was born in Bombay to a Parsi family of avid amateur photographers. I carried on the tradition as a student in America when I borrowed money from my roommate and bought my first `real’ camera, a Nikkormat. Whenever I’d come home on holiday I’d photograph the elders of my family. In 1982 I was back home and working as a professional photographer when I met the eminent photographer Shri Raghubir Singh, who saw amongst my eclectic collection of photographs, the subject that had been staring me in the face but that I had failed to see, a photographic study of my community. Today there are fewer than 65,000 of us in India. Numerically we are a dying community. In the future will we still be around? I don’t know the answer to that question. Perhaps that is why, despite several detours, the project I began 36 years ago is still ongoing. My photographs are a remembrance, a celebration, and an elegy.

Man in the sola hat, Bombay, 1985

Young priest and video game, Bombay, 1984

My Grandfather, Bombay, 1985

Ayesha Billimoria, Oval Maidan, Bombay, 2013

Mr Kolah at his pickle shop, Navsari, Gujarat, 1982

Dinaz Stafford weds Matt Black, Bombay, 2012

Mr Tata’s Taj Mahal Hotel and Gateway of India, Bombay, 1977

Godrej Typewriter Factory, Bombay, 1984

Marine Drive, Bombay, 1981

Cosmopolitan Bombay, 1985

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