You must have heard of Parsi surnames like Batliwala, Gheewala, Daaruwala. They are unusual and funny, just like the quirky community known for its immense contributions to the city.
But these surnames have a story behind it. During the British rule, to be able to identify and track people, the Britishers demanded a list of Indian family names. So most families decided to adopt their profession as their family name as all the men of a family would be in the same trade. Those who dealt with bottles were Batliwala, those into medicine industry were Daaruwala, daaru being a term used for medicines. Some of the surnames are also a result of the location that they hailed from like Taraporewala, Kalyaniwalla, Thanewalla and some indicate the fondness for a particular food like Akhrotwala, Badamwala, and Kajuwala.
Some even hold a record of having the longest Parsi surnames like SodaBottleOpenerWala, which is 20 alphabets and is currently a popular restaurant chain in India. As Shakespeare’s saying goes, “what’s in a name?” well now you know! So the next time you meet a Parsi after you exchange names, maybe you can skip the “what do you do?” question.