First published: 23rd October 2010
Shroff is a word that exists only on signs in Hong Kong. It is not derived from a Chinese word, some sources claim it came from a Hindi word meaning to to examine coins to separate the genuine from the counterfeit, or money-changer. It's meaning in Hong Kong today is the office to pay for the car park. Actually, the usage varies. Some signs say "Shroff", or "To the Shroff", others say, "Shroff's Office". So, is a Shroff the car-park cashier, or the office he sits in?
Updated: 28th May 2014
While on a bus, I spotted a building named after Shroff on Shui Fai Terrace. It seemed to be a building named after a dignitary, not a payment office, so I looked a bit further.
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It turns out that the Hong Kong Tuberculosis Chest and Heart Diseases Association has a distinguished Vice-President called Mr. R.M. Shroff, he is a member of the Parsee Ruttonjee Family that came to Hong Kong from India in the 19th Century. Perhaps an ancestor chose to use his profession as his surname, in the same way as the many Smiths and Tailors, or, for that matter, Dyers in the UK.