The year 1938-39. Calicut was in the grip of fever. My sister who was all of 5 years was also down with fever. The usual home remedies and ayurvedic treatment did not have any effect. Meanwhile, adults and children all around were dying of fever. My father then took the ultimate step of bringing home Dr. Mugaseth, the civil surgeon of Calicut and the last word on modern medicine in Calicut. The good Parsi doctor also could not save my sister. But according to the Medical History of British India, Dr. K D Mugaseth had effected a cure of Bronchitis and fever with pneumococcus vaccine in Calicut. Dr. Mugaseth's visit to our house was part of the family folklore. That was my first encounter with the name of Mugaseth.Our website page on Parsees of Calicut (http://calicutheritage.com/parsees_calicut.aspx) contributed by friend Maddy gives a detailed account of their chequered history, including that of Dr. Kobad Mugaseth. But this post, inspired by the publication of an extract from Raghu Karnad's book in yesterday's (20th June 2015) LiveMint: :(http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/bmXVh4EAFeIR44f4Z6y04M/War-and-teenage-in-Calicut.html) is more about Kobad's brother and his progeny.
The extract takes us through the story of how Dhanjibhoy Mugaseth arrived in Malabar in the 1850s to set up business. 'On the broad Beypore he had built Malabar’s first steam-powered sawmill, turning its estuary into one of the busiest timber yards in the world, and himself into the patron of Calicut’s industrial and civic life.'
He was an entrepreneur if ever there was one. He realised that the rich coffee planters of Wynad had difficulty of transport between the plantation and the coast. 'Dhanjibhoy had an inspired solution: a camel caravan. He purchased a herd from the Rann of Kutch, had it transported by boat and equipped in Calicut. But there his animals perished, unable to tolerate the tropical climate'.Dhanjibhoy had two sons - Kobad Mugaseth, the successful doctor who had a large practice among the European families and was also President of the Cosmopolitan Club (Incidentally, the Cosmopolitan Club is located in Valappukadavu paramba which was then in the possession of another scion of the Mugaseth family, Mr. Maneck D Mugaseth who agreed to sell it to the club. The design of the club was got prepared by Rarichan Mooppan, another leading public figure of Calicut)Dhanjibhoy's other son, Khodadad, was less illustrious and ran his father's business empire. He had three daughters and a son. The son Bobby (Godrej Khodadad Mugaseth), third in the line, joined the defence forces and fought the Japanese. But it is the daughters who concern us here. At least the elder two who distinguished themselves in ways not fully approved by father Khodadad. We have no information of the youngest Khorshed, yet.
Subur the eldest child was a regular bluestocking and went on to join Oxford University in 1932. She returned four years later with not only a Masters and B. Litt, but a brilliant young Iyengar boy who studied with her at Oxford. The Mugaseth family and the Parsi community of Calicut were scandalised. A Parsi woman who married a non-Parsi lost her religion and her community. There was no way the pious Khodadad could accept an Iyengar boy into their fold, forget his credentials. This was no ordinary Iyengar - Gopalaswami Parthasarathy, the son of N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar, who had served with distinction in the Provincial Civil Service in the Madras Presidency and later as Dewan of Kashmir, as a member of the Constituent Assembly and then as a Minister in the first Cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru. G Parthasarathy distinguished himself as a diplomat, India's ambassador to Indonesia, China, Pakistan and as the Permanent Representative to UN. He was best known as the quintessential trouble shooter, responsible
|G.Parthasarathy coutesy: The Hindu|
Nargis followed her sister and join
|Girish Karnad courtesy Google|
Quite an illustrious family, the Mugaseths of Calicut!