Wednesday, October 27, 2010


It's wonderful that the novel has been greeted with such enthusiasm in India. I'm sure The Song of Kahunsha and The Cripple and His Talismans shall follow in time. But first, some of the aforementioned enthusiasm:

“Anosh Irani does for Iranis what Rohinton Mistry did for Parsis. The Irani community comes alive for those who do not know it.” – SUNDAY TIMES OF INDIA

"The soul-searching journey of three generations of Iranis is blended into a heart-warming story…The author portrays [an] unlikely yet compelling romance between a young Irani man and an even younger Warli woman with an exquisite touch. The beauty and purity of their love lingers even when it is violently truncated…The stories of generations as well as of individuals unfold on a sweeping scale, intertwining and coming full circle.”

“… exquisitely plotted, researched and written … a story of intertwined destinies and uncomfortable class divisions crafted in an unapologetic voice.” – MINT LOUNGE

"Anosh Irani's latest offering is a saga of unrelenting tragedy and a tale well told."

“[Dahanu Road] goes beyond sepia-tinted nostalgia to depict the savage wrestling for power between landlords and Warli workers…the plot [is] taut and suspenseful…a chronicle of the eccentric members of one of the world’s most exclusive and quickly declining clubs – the Zoroastrian community…Alternately tragic and funny, Dahanu Road doesn’t lose sight of it all.” – TIME OUT, NEW DELHI


“…Dahanu Road is engagingly written and Irani creates a lovable cast of characters.” – MUMBAI BOSS

"Author Anosh Irani provides us with a unique blend of fact and fiction, interspersing village life with realities of Irani history. A heart-wrenching chronicle of love and loss, Dahanu Road is one man's search for truth in a sea of deception." – THE TIMES OF INDIA

Monday, August 30, 2010


Harper Collins has published Dahanu Road in India. Had wonderful readings in Bombay and Delhi. Even though my work's been translated into many languages and published in many countries, it's a great feeling to finally see the novel in Indian bookstores.

In the photo, from the left, singer/choreographer Shiamak Davar, Anosh Irani, film director Govind Nihalani, and Bollywood actor Boman Irani at the Bombay launch.

The word STATIONERY can be seen above our heads, but I promise you we weren't selling pens. Or anything of the sort.

Saturday, August 07, 2010


With the monsoons finally hitting Dahanu, the hills turn green, shy at first, then suddenly opulent, bursting with color. As mentioned in one of my earlier entries, this is the route to the seven caves where the Iranshah, the Fire Of Victory, was preserved -- and hidden -- for twelve years, when the Muslims invaded Sanjan and forced the Zoroastrians to flee. This fire is believed to be have been kept burning for 1284 years. It currently shines bright and strong in Udvada, Gujarat.
But going back to the photograph, there's something about an Indian monsoon that is unforgettable. The spray of water on your face as you ride your motorcycle, the sudden shiver as the wind makes your shirt balloon, and when you stop riding, and rest, the trickling of water, gurgling, purring away, making you long for a steaming cup of masala chai.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Dahanu turns lush, and the heat disappears. I've heard that in the days before electricity came to Dahanu, the Iranis used to place overturned watermelon shells on their heads to cool things down. Quite an idea; even more fascinating as a fashion statement. But here's Bahrot again, green and inviting. Wish I could be there. Wait a minute. I know that goat.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Dahanu Road is feautured on the CBC with the lovely Sheila Rogers. Listen here:

Also on the show, Ryan Knighton talks about his memoir, C'MON PAPA. When I first came to Canada, in my days at Capilano College, I went to the writing centre as I was constantly confused about the usage of commas. Ryan was the instructor there. And now we're on the same radio show. He has a wonderful sense of humor.

Friday, June 11, 2010


700 years after the first Zoroastrians fled from Iran to the shores of Sanjan, the Muslims hunted them again. A Parsi commander named Ardeshir gathered a troop of fighters and joined forces with the Hindu king of the region, but they were slain in battle. The survivors took the holy fire, which had been brought from Iran and kept burning for centuries, and fled Sanjan to the Bahrot hills. They hid in its caves for 12 years, tending to the fire, which they called the Iranshah, the Fire of Victory. Today, Bahrot is considered a sacred site for the Zoroastrians, and it's only a motorcycle ride from Dahanu. Then one has to leave the motorcycle at the foot of the hills and begin the long trek upwards.

The photo shows the karvi flowers on Bahrot- they bloom once every few years. A stunning sight when it happens.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Dahanu Road has been chosen for the CBC's Studio One Book Club. Hosted by the lovely Sheryl MacKay, and broadcast on her show North by Northwest, I'll be discussing the novel and its colourful inhabitants May 31st. I did my first ever interview with Sheryl MacKay after my play The Matka King was workshopped at the Arts Club Theatre in 2002. The play is set in the red light district and has a eunuch as the main character; when my granny heard the interview back home she said to me over the phone: "You spoke about the brothels so well! Congratulations!" She passed away the next year, but I do hope she shows up for the Dahanu Road discussion. My granny loved to drink. There's a lot of whiskey in the novel, and very little whiskey, I assume, in heaven.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


A recent article in India's Zoroastrian weekly, the Jam-e-Jamshed, caught my attention:

"Each figure on the Totem Pole represents a symbol, which the Native people believe is very meaningful to their culture and traditions. The highest honour is given to the Zoroastrian religion, which is depicted with the engraved figure of the 'Asho Farohar.'"
That's the winged angel right at the top.
As I had mentioned in one of my earlier entries, the fravashi (Asho Farohar) encourages a humen being's soul to take rebirth on Earth and acts as a guiding force. Rebirth is something I naturally believe in. No matter how much we advance technologically, as a race we regress when it comes to what really matters. Humility, compassion, courage -- we seem to need lifetimes to understand, let alone master, these. In this life, if I get even one of these right, I'll consider myself a success.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Sometimes I'd come on my motorcycle and just stand here, watch the trees move. It's a very calming place, one of those spots where no people are visible. There's a line in the book: "The branch of a coconut tree reached for him, and their leaves always made him think of large eyelashes..." I'd wait here a few minutes and the moment a car or motorycle passed by, the stillness was broken and it was time to move on. Just one of those patches of earth you wish you could carry with you when you move to another country.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


To the Iranis, Anna's chai stall is one of Dahanu's most prized possessions. Each morning, after making a round of their chickoo farms, the Iranis gather here for tea, coffee, or Pepsi. Cigarette smoke gives the place a sinister haze, like fog in a cemetery. The crowds have dwindled now at Anna's because some of its regular customers have passed away, but I still remember the raucous laughter, the jokes, the political diatribes, and the conversations in different tongues that made Anna's a brothel of languages. A line from the novel: "All languages knew each other well, were familiar with the twists and turns of each other's bodies, and were not afraid to inhale the pungent smell of each other's underarms."

It was wonderful to see the Iranis arrive on motorbikes each morning -- on Kawasakis, Hondas, Yamahas, BMWs (and a couple of sorry mopeds) -- and line up outside this tiny chai place; giant men with thick forearms and handlebar moustaches sipping tea from tiny glasses. Forget Starbucks. I'm opening a series of Anna franchises in Canada. The Iranis will be part of the decor, like the girls at Hooters. Except that the Iranis are hairy and have handlebar moustaches. But why discriminate?

Sunday, April 18, 2010


The Khordeh Avesta, or "The Little Avesta," is the sacred book of the Zoroastrians. However, Zarathushtra was a poet-prophet. He composed sacred hymns known as the "Gathas", and his teachings were handed down orally through the priesthood. It is believed that Alexandar destroyed a lot of the written teachings and massacred Zoroastrian priests during the seige of Persepolis. All that remains is the Khordeh Avesta.

But here's something that may not be found in any holy book. It's what my aunt told me years ago, and the simplicity of the image has stayed with me to this day:

Our prayers travel upwards in the form of rays of light. If the prayer is genuine, it is intercepted by an angel who is specially trained to answer prayers. The strength of the beam of light depends entirely on the sincerity and selflessness of the prayer.

I love the idea of angels roaming the heavens, watching over Earth, responding to light that, for a change, comes from us.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I'll be reading from Dahanu Road on Thursday, April 22, at 7.45 pm as part of the North Shore Writers festival. Venue: North Vancouver City Library. The event is free, but seating is limited.


And on Apri 26th, a reading with Yann Martel at the Kay Meek Centre in West Van. I did my first ever reading with Yann Martel in 2004 when The Cripple and His Talismans was published. It wasn't good for me. Got used to reading to 400 people.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


A well-written article about DAHANU ROAD (and myself) in today's Globe and Mail:

Bombay and Dahanu do inspire and haunt me at the same time -- perfect catalyst-muses for a writer; Canada, on the other hand, with its wide open spaces and receptive readers, makes for a great canavas. I prefer to write here. This place is designed for creation.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


The Zoroastrians are followers of the prophet Zarathushtra. It is said that Zarathushtra lived in the region that is now Iran or Afghanistan anywhere from 3,500 to 6,000 years ago. His basic teachings include the moral triad of Manashni, Gavashni, Kunashni -- Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds. Zarathushtra was the first prophet to speak of One God. In this respect, he was a pioneer. He received his divine revelation by a riverbank at the age of thirty, when Ahura Mazda (the One God) and six other Amesha Spentas (archangels) appeared before him. The light that emanated from Ahura Mazda was so dazzling that Zarathushtra could not see his own shadow on the ground. Initially Zarathushtra had just one disciple, his cousin Madhyoi-mangha. According to folklore, when Zarathushtra challenged the priests in the court of King Vishtaspa to a spiritual debate and won, they had him imprisoned. When the king's beloved white steed was paralyzed, Zarathushtra healed the horse, and King Vishtaspa embraced the prophet's teachings. Thus began the rise of Zoroastrianism. No one knows how Zarathushtra died. But there is no doubt that his teachings inspired an ancient Persian empire. Today, approximately 140,000 Zoroastrians remain worldwide.

The photograph shows a fire temple -- the Zoroastrian place of worship -- in Dahanu. The winged angelic being is the fravashi, a guardian spirit that encourages the soul to enter the physical world, gather experience, and choose asha over druj, the truth over the lie.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Each Spring, the Persian New Year is celebrated at the exact moment the sun crosses the equator, making day and night of equal duration. Zoroastrian families the world over gather around the traditional Nouruz table, upon which are placed the Haft-Sin, seven items beginning with the Farsi letter "S". (This one is at my cousin's home in Dahanu). As you can see, the picture frame of the Zoroastrian prophet Zarathushtra is garlanded with much love and reverance. And only inches away, a bottle of Whyte & Mackay scotch stands tall and proud. It should have been a wine bottle, but my cousins don't drink wine. Notice that the bottle is half empty. The celebrations have already begun. Happy Nouruz!

Monday, March 01, 2010


This is The Big Boss Hair Salon where my cousins get a head massage. (This photo has been taken after renovation, and the young man with his hand in an unmentionable place is, thankfully, not a relative.)
During one of my yearly visits to Dahanu, as I sat in one of the chairs at Big Boss and sipped chai, I heard about how a Warli farm labourer had committed suicide by hanging himself from a chickoo tree. That, coupled with an image of my great grandfather digging holes in the ground to hide whiskey bottles in the 1940s, were the two starting points for the novel.

But back to the salon -- I'd recommend the head massage. A young man will pour a mugful of oil down your head, his fingers will turn into claws, and they will work on your scalp with the speed of a whirring fan, ensuring that you sink into your chair with a feeling of lazy magnificence.

More on the novel later. Let me enjoy my massage.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I was at a friend's house in North Vancouver about five years ago. His uncle was visiting from Kansas. His uncle told me about how my great grandfather used to dig holes beneath chickoo trees to hide whiskey bottles during prohibition. I knew that someday I would write about this. All my novels have started with a single image. THE CRIPPLE AND HIS TALISMANS began with amputated limbs hanging from the ceiling of a dungeon, and for THE SONG OF KAHUNSHA I envisioned a ten-year-old boy trying to push his ribs back into his chest because he was ashamed of how thin he was. Image and character come together, from the unknown into the known, and that mystery is what enables a novelist to stay with a story for years.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Welcome Note

When people ask me why all my writing is set in Bombay, I say that I am unable to let it go. The city haunts me; it inspires me. The best way for me to describe Bombay is that it is a cross between a nightingale and a vulture: beauty and death. My previous novels The Cripple and His Talismans and The Song of Kahunsha reflect that. But when I am in Canada, my new home, the place that I ache for is about 65 miles from Bombay. It is called Dahanu and this is where my new novel is set.

Dahanu Road traces the journey of my people, the Zoroastrian Iranis, from Iran to Bombay, and then Dahanu, where they set up fruit orchards. They grew just one fruit, sweet and brown, called the chickoo. This novel is my love letter - dark, disturbing and ribald (as all love letters should be) to a place and people that mean a lot to me.

Stay tuned to this blog, and I hope that the music you hear in the coming days will haunt, inspire, and entertain.