04 August 2014 Society The Secret Diary of

Rohinton F. Dotiwala

Saala idiot log chhe! Cannot distinguish between dhoti, ‘doti’, ‘lungi’ and ‘veshti’.
Rohinton F. Dotiwala
Illustration by Saahil
Rohinton F. Dotiwala

As an educated Parsi, I do keep a normal diary. But after the recent hullabaloo, I switched over to a ‘secret’ one to avoid persecution from the media and others who link me, Rohinton Framroz Dotiwala, with anyone wearing a dhoti. I was flooded with silly questions like “How many times have you been thrown out of clubs for wearing a dhoti and breaking their dress code?” Saala idiot log chhe! Cannot distinguish between dhoti, ‘doti’, ‘lungi’ and ‘veshti’. If they ever visit Dadar Parsi colony, I could explain the difference.

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You see, ‘doti’ is part of the Parsi surname ‘Dotiwala’, no connection with any apparel. Of course, quite often but not always, the Parsi surname had something to do with the family profession. Daruwala owned wine shops, Furniturewala sold furniture and so on. But there are slight differences. Screwwala may deal in screws but nothing to do with screwing and Bhiwandiwala  belonged to Bhiwandi.

Dhotiwala could refer to someone who wore a dhoti in the traditional style. Don’t confuse that with the typical Parsi surname Dotiwala. That was the surname of an Indian cricket umpire who officiated even in Test matches and was in the company of star Indian cricketers like Nari Contractor, Polly Umrigar and the Rusis (Surti, Modi). Dotiwala was a member of clubs but to my knowledge did not wear the dhoti, either to clubs or while working. It would have been difficult to signal a four, shout “No ball” while holding on to the dhoti on a windy day.

Yet the dhoti is constantly in the news and at the rate it is going could reach the SC which in my opinion is being asked to decide on the most inane questions like what lay behind the choli! Only the Tamilian would link the dhoti with Tami pride and Tamil culture. Both the DMK and the AIADMK are conjuring up visions of a dhoti votebank with the DMK highlighting the fact that Jayalalitha could not wear the dhoti but Karunanidhi and Stalin can. Further, Karunanidhi could rattle off dozens of rhyming couplets on the greatness of veshti and the not-so-great TNCA. Jaya should think of a popular retort like introducing an ‘Amma veshti’. This could truly be a crucial poll issue!

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The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) was goofy enough to raise the dress code on this issue. One of the Tamil stalwarts, former finance minister P. Chidambaram, was always immaculate in spotless veshti and shirt. They lent a special aura to his budget presentation. The debate could now aggravate the differences between the north and south because there were fewer protests from the north. Possibly north Indians believed the insult was only to the south Indian veshti and not to their dhoti which exposed a lot more leg and thigh.

The Mumbai-based satirist is the creator of ‘Trishanku’; E-mail your secret diarist: vgangadhar70 [AT] gmail [DOT] com

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