Sindhi Tapestry

Reflections on the sindhi identity

An Anthology

About Sindhi Tapestry

Here is an ethnic group, abruptly displaced by the Partition of India in 1947, who lost everything. Role-model refugees, they went on to achieve pinnacles of success in every walk of life, contributing significantly to the communities in which they settled, in countries around the world.

Having fled a homeland that was quickly occupied by others, their history lapsed. Their language and culture dissipated, and their identity grew nebulous as they merged into adopted homelands, while tenuous connections to places they would never see sometimes lingered.

The dispersal and the aftershocks resulted in a lack of political representation. Their hard work, enterprise and material success faced them with prejudice and resentment in their adopted hometowns in newly independent India. Unflattering caricatures arose, and these served to distort perceptions others had of them, creating a diffidence within them about themselves and the past that had shaped them. Firmly putting that past – including its language, poetry, philosophy, art and music – aside, they faced their challenges resolutely. As they established themselves, many even grew to extraordinary wealth – an unexpected outcome that only served to enhance the negative stereotypes.

In 1947, India was partitioned, and Pakistan was formed on the basis of religion. The Hindu Sindhis, rendered homeless by this act, scattered and settled in different places where they established themselves as an enterprising and hardworking people and became financially successful in a surprisingly short period. Behind this façade, the history of this ethnic community was obscured and has only recently begun to be investigated, and many fascinating facts have emerged. 

About the Contributors

The 60 contributors to this anthology range in age between 24 and 93.

34 live in India, 25 in other countries around the world, and one (the one with the highest number of pages in this book) in Sindh. Most are ethnically South Asian – but we also have an American, a Frenchman, a German, and a half-Filipino. Most of the contributors are academics or in creative professions, but there are also three doctors, three engineers and two from the armed forces. 31 have postgraduate degrees, and 16 are PhD. Quite a few, across this mix, are in business. Of the 60, 30 identify as women and 30 as men.

This distribution over age, location, and gender, has yielded a collection of essays that range from actual memories of pre-Partition Sindh; epiphanies of self-recognition; efforts at locating one’s cultural legacies while living in countries around the globe; affectionate remembrances of real characters who embody Sindh and Sindhiness in so many different ways; patterns of worship, of hospitality, of ways of relating that stand out; all kinds of little-known, or little-remembered, historical realities that fell prey to Partition – and more. What happened in Sindh after the Hindus left? Read that, and much more, in this book.

LIST of Contributors

Anju Makhija

Aroon Shivdasani

Atul Khatri

Dr Bindaas Rolu

Bob Ramchand

Chandra Jethanand Asoomal

Deepak Kirpalani

Devendra Kodwani

Dharmendra Tolani

Dirven Hazari

Dr Ali Gul Metlo

Gitanjali Kalro

Jai Alimchandani

Jurgen Schaflechner

Kajal Ramchandani

Kishore Mandhyan

Kusum Chhopra

Lou Gopal

Mamta Rughwani

Matthew Cook

Maya Khemlani David

Menka Shivdasani

Michel Boivin

Mohan Gehani

Mona Melwani

Murli Melwani

Mushtaq Rajpar

Namrata Asudani

Nandita Bhavnani

Nandu Asrani

Natasha Raheja

Nijram Bhagwanani

Nikhil Bhojwani

Nina Sabnani

Parmesh Shahani

Pir Mohammed Metlo

Pratap Kirpalaney

Raaj Lalchandani

Radhika Chakraborty

Ram Gulrajani

Ravi Tekchandani

Rita Kothari

Ritesh Uttamchandani

Roma Kirpalani

Ruve Narang

Saaz Aggarwal

Sajni Mukherji

Sanjay Mohinani

Sapna Bhavnani

Shakuntala Bharvani

Shiksha Sharma

Smriti Notani

Subash Bijlani

Subash Kundanmal

Sundri Parchani

Tarun Sakhrani

Trisha Lalchandani

Uttara Shahani

Vimmi Sadarangani

Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro

Looking for more books on Sindh?

Sindhi Tapestry

Reflections on the Sindhi Identity:
An Anthology

Doing business, the Shikarpuri-Sindhi way

Nandu Asrani shares his grandfather’s stories about his business failures and success adding, “We Sindhis are not like snakes, we are like spiders!”

It was 1898 when my great-grandfather, Kodumal Mohandas Asrani, and his four partners – his brother and first cousins – started a trading firm, m/s Bulchand Keshavdas, in Bandar Abbas on the coast of Iran. Bandar Abbas had thirty Shikarpuri trading firms in all, one of which was Parmanand Deepchand, whose sons are the four well-known Hinduja brothers.

Kodumal was the working partner, and he conducted a two-way trade: carpets and dry fruit from Iran to Russia, and masala, spices, embroidered goods and handicrafts from Shikarpur to Iran and Russia. From the Iran port to the Russian border, the mode of commuting to recover money owed, was on donkeys. Robberies were common en route, and travellers had to find innovative ways of concealing their money within their clothing.

Business continued to be good even after the Russian Revolution of 1917. However, in 1929 the trading firms faced a huge setback. That year, “Russian ke note” as Sindhis referred to Russian currency, was weakening. Kodumal’s father-in-law was Rai Bahadur Udhavdas Tarachand, a wealthy and influential man, well acquainted with the high-ranking officers of the English administrative services. He received information that the Russian currency was being devalued and would soon be worthless. He sent a telegram to his son-in-law to sell all goods immediately. The manager received the telegram and ignored it (I can imagine him thinking, “What! Has the old man lost it?”) Having received no reply, Udhavdas sent another telegram with the same message the next day. This Kodumal was shown, and he started selling goods at a nominal discount. He replied to his father-in-law that he had indeed sold some stock. Next day a third telegram arrived: SELL EVERYTHING ANY PRICE STOP CURRENCY SOON TO BE ZERO STOP.

Kodumal immediately got to work and started …

Kodumal Asrani
Kodumal Asrani