Dhobi Talao to Washington in one piece

A Parsi entrepreneur passionate about delivering eats sourced from origin that members of his ilk crave from back home has made a successful business out of nostalgia and quality service

How does a Parsi gentleman sitting in America’s capital reduce wait time between dreaming of flaky buttery khari biscuits and plump bhakras and having them land at his doorstep just in time for afternoon tea? Members of the Zoroastrian community in India, several of them now scattered across the world, love their traditional eats, and most of them are particular about the sourcing.

Mumbai’s best kharis are baked in the ovens of the modest but legendary Paris bakery in a lane off Princess Street in Dhobi Talao. Started in the 1960s by an Iranian migrant, its front show counter is unadorned, stuffed with plastic packed goodies. But it can’t accommodate the khari biscuits that fly off so fast, they must be stocked in giant plastic crates stacked atop one another. Proprietor Danesh Nejadkay will tell you with pride that his kharis are brushed with pure butter and ghee, its layers so flimsy, you can see through them (almost) when you held against the light.

Washington-based Cawas Commissariat was craving the bhakras. And making his dream to dip them into chai come true, is entrepreneur Jimi Driver. Picking up bhakra packets from the bakery, Driver will head to his office, meticulously cling wrap them, place them in a carton and ship them off to the US. In 72 hours, Commissariat will untape the box to find a piece of Bombay he left behind. Driver, who runs 24×7 Express Courier, has clients in the UK, Australia, Dubai, Singapore, and the US, all of them WhatsApping their wishlist to him now and then.

A former FedEx and DHL employee, Driver’s experience in the courier business has come handy to transform him into the Parsi goods genie. He quit his job in 2014 to look after his ailing grandmother. It was while bumming around in the hospital room that he drafted the plan to start this business. From delivery boy back in the 1990s, he rose up the ranks to leave his last job as Associate, Customer Financial Services, before he turned entrepreneur.

Dhobi Talao’s Paris Bakery is famous for its batasa, khari and cheese sticks

Driver says the requests are always specific. “I want Kolah no sarko [palm vinegar by Navsari’s oldest brewery dating back to 1885, E Kolah & Sons] from Grant Road’s Motilal Masalawala, someone sitting in a distant part of the world will say. And I say, consider it done,” says Driver, who will personally pick up the goods from location, pack, and courier them to any address in the world, with appropriate paperwork.

Service with a smile is at the core of Driver’s business, which is why Nejadkay, who proclaims that he’s a stickler for quality, recommends Driver to his customers. “It started when one of his [Danesh] customers had food items delivered abroad through my service. No courier will take on the headache of ensuring flaky khari biscuits and fragile batasas reach addresses across continents safe and without breakage. I use airtight containers so that the freshness stays intact and the goods are safe in air transit.” While an order to the UK takes between two and three days, for Australia and the rest of the world, it takes four working days.

Driver’s first interaction with customers was at Adarsh Mithai, Nana Chowk, from where he ran his office, delivering dry food items. He had just one delivery boy, while he took care of the documentation and running around. He continues to do the paperwork personally. Word of mouth has helped him along the way. “Without the support of people, you are nothing. Gratitude is a big thing. I would be nothing if the late Jimmy Gazdar wouldn’t have supported my family or if the kind Parsi lady at one of the HDFC bank branches hadn’t given my services a shot. Every customer who has given me business has helped spread the good word.” His clients include leading institutional businesses from across the city, including Bay Capital. Its owner Siddharth Mehta regularly uses Driver’s services to send documents and personal household items from India to London and Mauritius. Going by the book and following protocol has helped Driver negotiate transit to locations usually considered difficult. “They say it’s tough to send medicines to the UAE. You can send anything, anywhere, including the UAE if you follow the regulations, in this case of the UAE health department,” he tells us.

Driver packs the goodies in airtight boxes before placing them in a carton to retain freshness and buffer them from breakage

For now though, all his attention is focused on delivering Parsi speciality eats in time for Navroze (March 21), the first day of the Iranian calendar, celebrated by Zoroastrians the world over in time for spring equinox. Restaurateur Cusrow Bhada from Los Angeles has called for a stock of batasa and khari from Paris Bakery and dar ni pori from Nana Chowk’s Parsi Amelioration Committee shop. In Driver’s office, packets of bhakras and jam-filled naankhatai from Paris, Ratan Tata Institute’s poris, Parsi Dairy Farm’s mawa ni boi and homemade badampak and vasanu sit neatly packed, waiting in line to reach someone somewhere around the world, yearning for a taste of the old times.

+91 75063 71247

Source: Click Here