Khotachiwadi is a small Portuguese-Catholic hamlet in Girgaon with the kind of colourful bungalows, guitar-playing locals and food that are reminding us of Goa. This hamlet is from an age where landline numbers are still doled out with a serious face, vegetable-sellers know all residents by name and rentals for the oldest inhabitants have stayed steady at INR 1,000. Let's decode this beauty for you.
When we went, residents allowed us to take up time in their home and sat us down and told us stories. The past to them was an idyllic time of children running around barefoot, talent contests, back-to-front parties where the meal began with ice-cream and ended with soup. Kotachiwadi is predominantly composed of Catholics, Maharashtrians and East Indians. Colourful bungalow-cottages built in the typical Portuguese style take up residence besides the tiny lanes here. Where there were 45 bungalows here earlier, there are now just 15, having been replaced by larger, faceless buildings. The cottages that remain each have an identity of its own. Bright and colourful, you’ll find orange walls with a blue railing or turquoise-coloured wooden doors with humbler teakouter doors, blue and white houses and a bright yellow face with awnings and railings of red.
Today, if you come here, a chapel, a designer’s house, a catholic (now open to non-Catholics too) club, an Ideal Wafer's Company,[ and an impromptu guitar lesson awaits you. There is an oratory (a small chapel) where was once a huge tree and people came and prayed during the plague of the 1890s. Next to that is a beautiful wall painting of Mother Mary sitting on a lotus leaf, which shows well how the Catholics and Maharashtrians have lived together and the cultures have subsequently blended. You’ll also find interesting graffiti throughout the wadi.
The best time to visit is Christmas time, up till the New Year when the houses light up their roofs and walls, the streets are decorated and Christmas jingles are sung in Marathi. Take an evening off for Khotachiwadi- to walk here, to pray at the chapel, and gaze at the gorgeous cottages, and maybe sit down at a bench and just read, and for an hour, for a little peace and a little Goa.
How to get there: The nearest train station is Charni Road. Walk up till St Teresa’s church, take a right on to Jagannath Shankar Seth Road and walk into the second or third left.