There are some words that just fit the feeling or the place like it was curated keeping in mind every single element, every emotion and opinion. They sound beautiful and they make the sentence you utter significantly better, more substantial and sometimes just poetic. I don’t know if it’s just me or there are more people out there who find pleasure in using some words in regular sentences. Using them when you talk to someone, in your writing or just rolling them around on your tongue till it becomes monotonous and mildly psychotic. Maybe that’s just me, then! But ‘quaint’ for me, is that word, among a number of others (see quirky, petrichor, conspicuous, the list goes on)
Now the dictionary meaning of quaint is old-fashioned attractiveness or oddly picturesque. Strange and unusual in a charming way. Like your grandmother’s habit of calling the radio ‘wireless’. Or the way most people describe a quintessential café these days. I am guilty myself, but then again, I genuinely adore this word.
So when my brother told me to visit ‘Khothachiwadi’ in Girgaun for all its so-called “quaintness”, I didn’t think twice. There are many Portuguese-Colonial style bungalows all around the city with their large wooden porches, external staircases leading to bedrooms on the top and coloured walls. They make the city delightful to live in and just a tad bit livelier. Khotachiwadi, with its age old heritage and a culture that its oldest inhabitants pride upon is a small village in the middle of this crazy city.
What really got my attention was this house owned by fashion designer ‘James Ferreira’. With a porch and a bench for people to sit on when they visit or stay at his place (he started a bed n breakfast a couple months back), the house also has his work space where you can see him working on his designs. Wouldn’t it be something really different to stay in a tiny house almost like booking a home-stay in Goa, right in the middle of South Bombay! I personally did not visit the room that he lets out but the interiors of the house are sufficient to gauge the general hygiene and cleanliness of the space. And to be sitting on that bench sipping a cup of hot tea would be divine, irregular and a strangely humbling experience as opposed to living in those towering five-star hotels with their grand facilities.
I visited this place and all I could think of was how my favourite word 'quaint' fits like a glove if I ever had to describe these tiny cottages. The contented residents living a life very much within their means, a life without excessive complications and worldly desires. One that seems to be almost idealistic; far away from material pleasures and seeking comfort in familiarity, tradition and age old customs. A life that you savour and feel as the years pass and time goes on. A life well-lived.