The untold story of Quetta’s dwindling Parsi community

2In the heart of the city, surrounded by beautiful mountains, Quetta’s Parsi Colony is picture-perfect. The lush green trees sway in the breeze. There is a rare feeling of trust: instead of the common elevated walls demarcating boundaries of houses, there are flimsy grills with open, inviting doors.

To the unsuspecting eye, this may not look like a scene from a metropolis in Pakistan, let alone one from the troubled province of Balochistan.

Despite the oft-reported turmoil in the region, however, Parsis have peacefully lived here since before partition. It was during the British Raj that the community was allotted this colony.

Today, of the many Parsis who once resided here, only about two to four families remain. Others have either died of natural causes or migrated out of Quetta.

The presence of Parsis in the provincial capital has not been documented by the mainstream media like that of their counterparts in Karachi. This is understandable, Parsis, after all, migrated from Iran to Sindh as far back as the eighth century. Furthermore, the community is relatively bigger in Karachi as compared to Quetta.

Yet, there are Parsis who prefer their home city to the concrete jungle that is Karachi.

Journey to Quetta
Khurshid Minocher is an 85-year-old resident of the Parsi Colony who was born in Allahabad, India. She fondly remembers when Feroze Gandhi, a Parsi man, married Indira Nehru (later Indira Gandhi) and became the son-in-law of Jawaharlal Nehru. She also remembers seeing Mahatama Gandhi in his iconic dhoti and walking stick garb.

With these memories of her childhood home, Minocher moved to Karachi as a young woman. In 1949, she started working at the prestigious Mama Parsi School, but quit the job soon after. The educationist did not like how, “The Parsi teachers, the Christian ones and the other teachers who belonged to different religions, would sit on different tables”.

After marrying her late husband, Ardeshir Minocher from Quetta, she moved to Balochistan. She found a sense of camaraderie, one which was missing at the Mama Parsi School in her experience, at Quetta’s St Josephs Convent School.

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