Thinking of Mumbai, what comes first to mind is Bollywood, second, the sea and third may be the sky scrappers. This city of dreams has a speed faster than light and Mumbai looks a bit different from Bombay.
While a lot changed after the renaming from Bombay to Mumbai in 1995, some places did not transition and one such place is Khotachiwadi.
A narrow lane in Girgaum which looks like any other lane ( so please use Google maps) leads to this small hamlet founded in the 18th century by khot, a pathare Prabhu who sold plots of lands to East Indian families.
A village with no city planning and a great enthusiasm for architecture, Khotachiwadi had 65 bungalows in Portuguese style which has now come down to around 28 as old houses are now being pulled to make high rise buildings.
The village is a maze of narrow winding lanes, that begins with a beautiful small chapel.
As we walked inside, we came across these pretty looking wooden houses with arched doorways, carved windows and extended verandahs which looked straight out of rhyme books.
These houses are brighter than the rainbow itself. Hues such as bright yellows, reds, greens, blues, pinks are not uncommon here.
Apart from these lanes and houses, the best part was people playing cricket and hanging around. Their sports is not limited to television and chatting is not limited to WhatsApp and Facebook. This is a place where real friends are preferred over virtual friends.
One special house that belongs mention is Willy’s (Wilfred Felizardo) house, house number 57.
Willy is an artist in all varied forms, from mosaics to paintings, from singing and playing guitar to writing his own lyrics, he does it all.
While we were mostly done with our heritage walk, Willy signaled us to come towards the chapel where he was about to perform in the evening prayers.
A number of older people from the gather their to offer prayers to Jesus and then eat ice-cream. It was lovely beyond words and we can surely say that in this village, the hearts are warmer and souls are kinder.
Willy even agreed to sing a few more songs for us and then headed to Chor bazaar as he has to procure supplies for his art work.
Even we made our way out of the village merrily humming the tune of the carol we just heard.
A village in Mumbai, that is still Bombay by heart!