Tales from Firozsha Baag
Rohinton Mistry
Rohinton Mistry (1952~)
 Born in Bombay, Mistry 
lives in Canada now.
“His works portray diverse
facets of Indian
socioeconomic life; as well
as Parsi Zoroastrian life,
customs, and religion.”
Suspected of being Muslim
during the post-911 period.
The Good Parsi
 identified with the 'symbolic discourse of colonial authority'.
 They internalized the powerful side of colonial self-representation
to create an image of the 'Good Parsi' who, like his British rolemodel, was 'more truthful, more pure, more charitable, more
pregressive, more rational and more masculine than the Hindu-ofthe-masses'.
 As with other elite Indians, the Parsis shaped their ideals and
aesthetics around British values. However, their sense of self
became frozen at a particular moment of communal ascendancy
 Now there is a notion among the Parsis that they have themselves
become ineffectual and emasculated, overtaken by the majority
Hindu population who now manifest the qualities of a dominant
group. (Morey 12)
 Parsi: Homi Bhabha, Salman Rushdie, Bapsi Sidhwa.
Tales from Firozsha Baag
Auspicious Occasion
One Sunday
The Ghost of Firozsha
Isolation from
the environment
The Paying Guests
Lend Me Your Light
Condolence Visit
The Collectors
Swimming Lessons
Of White Hairs and
Death. Change
and loss
as exile or escape
Examples of Britishness or
“Eurpoean/Western” cultures
Rustom – nostalgia for Lifebuoy soap and Johnnie
Walker (15)
Najamai—the strains of “The Blue Danube” (32)
-- fondness for introducing new English words into his
stories, for exposing "young minds to as shimmering
and varied a vocabulary as possible" (146)
-- owns a Mercedes-Benz, has cultivated a Clark Gable
moustache, and likes to whistle the march from The
Bridge on the River Kwai.
 Kersi – My Fair Lady 175
Story Cycle
 Definition: a set of stories linked to each other in such a
way as to maintain a balance between the individuality of
each of the stories and the necessities of the larger unit [...]
[so] that the reader's successive experience in various
levels of the pattern of the whole significantly modifies his
experience of each of its component parts.
 formal materialization of the trope of doubleness as the
between-worlds condition is presented via a form that
itself oscillates between two genres [novel and short
 Formal hybridity or fragmentation of identity
 Other examples: The Dubliners, The Woman Warrior
Tales from Firozsha Baag
 The growth the artist Kersi from a boy to a
young man.
Firozsha Baag in Bombay//
an apartment building in Toronto
Dolly in British Columbia, Vera in Alberta,
Kersi in Toronto, Ontario and Jamshed in
New York
Narrative Hybridity
 Nariman: unpredictability was the brush he used to
paint his tales with, and ambiguity the palette he
mixed his colours in [...] Nariman sometimes told a
funny incident in a very serious way, or expressed a
significant matter in a light and playful manner. And
these were only two rough divisions, in between were
lots of subtle gradations of tone and texture. Which,
then, was the funny story and which the serious? Their
opinions were divided, but ultimately, said Jehangir, it
was up to the listener to decide.(147-48)
Nariman’s stories about Savukshaw and Sarosh:
 How are the two set in contrast with each
What does “squatter” mean?
Is Sarosh happy to be back to Bombay?
What is the function of the narrative frame (of
Savukshaw and Sarosh
Savukshaw 146-53
A cricket player, a
hunter, a pole-vaulter
and a bicyclist
Success does not mean
Emigration a good choice?
 10-year term
As Sid –wants complete
Dependence on the old way
Other related Problems:
wonder bread (158), CNI
(160), fired (163)
Squatter vs. CNI
擅自佔用他人房子(或土地)的人, but Sarosh’s
squatting is both literal/physical and symbolic.
 “And if the one outside could receive the fetor of
Sarosh's business wafting through the door, poor
unhappy Sarosh too could detect something
malodorous in the air: the presence of xenophobia
and hostility”.(Tales 156)
Crappus Non Interruptus – once implanted, one can
never pass a motion in the natural way—neither
sitting nor squatting. // Canada’s Multiculturalism
Sarosh’s Return
Sense of Defeat 164
 bowel movement
“Must get off the plane”?
 calm
“forlorn and woebegone” (167)
Nariman’s role: 1) comic-heroic
A parody of Othello's last speech
The original here
"I pray you, in your stories [...] When you shall these
unlucky deeds relate, speak of me as I am; nothing
extenuate, nor set down aught in malice: tell them
that in Toronto once there lived a Parsi boy as best
as he could. Set you down this; and say, besides, that
for some it was good and for some it was bad, but
for me life in the land of milk and honey was just
a pain in the posterior."(168)
Nariman’s role: 2) multiple
 He himself is Westernized
 Starts with indicating two examples of
successful migration.
 ambiguities and mixing of seriousness and
comic tone.
"Lend Me Your Light"
"your lights are all lit--then where do you go
with your lamp? / My house is all dark and
lonesome,--lend me your light.“ Tagore
Kersi-- in between two worlds: “I, Tiresias,
blind and throbbing between two lives, the
one in Bombay and the one to come in
Toronto ...(179-80)” – examples of his inbetweenness?
Kersi’s in-betweenness
A. In-between Jamshed and Percy
His responses to Jamshed’s letter (181-82)
 distanced from Percy’s actions ()
Connected with the Parsi community in
Toronto 183
Bombay—dirtier -- “It was disconcerting to
discover that I'd become unused to
[Bombay]“; the drama of Reality (187)
"Swimming Lessons"
 What does swimming lessons mean?
 What does Kersi learn here?
 How are the two parts of the story connected
to each other?
The parents’ views
 Sense of racial inferiority: "We've seen advertisements in
newspapers from England, where Canadian Immigration is
encouraging people to come to Canada. Of course, they won't
advertise in a country like India--who would want these bloody
ghatis to come charging into their fine land?" (178).
 Disappointed at Percy in “Lend me your Light” 188
 after reading the first 5 stories –
 she—sad; he must be unhappy there
 he – “all writers worked in the same way, they used their
memories and experiences and made stories out of them,
changing some things, adding some, imagining some, all writers
were very good at remembering details of their lives.” (243)
 After reading all—hope that there are more Canadian stories, feel
that they know their son better, wished there were many more
stories. (245)
Kersi’s epiphany
For me, it is already too late for snowmen
and snowball fights, and all I will have is
thoughts about childhood thoughts and
dreams, built around snows-capes and winterwonderlands on the Christmas cards so
popular in Bombay, my snowmen and
snowball fights and Christmas trees are in the
pages of Enid Blyton's books.(244)
 "My snowflakes are even less forgettable
than the old man's, for they never melt" (244).
 Davis, Rocío G. "Paradigms of Postcolonial and Immigrant
Doubleness: Rohinton Mistry's Tales from Firozsha Baag." Tricks
with a Glass: Writing Ethnicity in Canada. Ed. Rocío G. Davis.
Amsterdam, Netherlands: Rodopi, 2000. 71-92. Rpt. in
Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Vol. 196.
Detroit: Gale, 2005. Literature Resource Center. Web. 14 Mar.
 Morey, Peter. Rohinton Mistry. Manchester UP, 2004

Tales from Firozsha Baag