Villagers in Gorai pride over the fact that they leave the doors of their homes open throughout the day. “Even during the afternoon siesta,” points out a resident.
If you choose to go the village in the afternoon, you will be met with empty roads with most residents enjoying their afternoon nap. “We want to preserve this in Gorai which is not at all like Mumbai. We want to keep Gorai beautiful, calm, without any pollution,” says Sheila Henriques, a resident in her early 50s who has lived here all her life.
Henriques recalls how till about a decade ago, many residents of the village were predominantly involved in farming and fishing. “There used to be farming of vegetables, fruits and paddy. The items would be lugged on a bullock cart and taken to the nearby towns to be sold,” she says. Not many have continued farming.
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Gorai, usually accessed by tourists on their way to Manori, Essel World or the Global Vipassana Pagoda, is a quaint village geographically within Mumbai, but far away from the city bustle.
The village has predominantly East Indian inhabitants, along with the fishing community that lives in the two koliwadas by the shore. The central area of the village has a 16th-century church — Holy Magi Church — which was completed in the year 1610. Apart from this, another church on the way to the village is a structure in a small pond, called the Infant Jesus Chapel, which attracts many devotees.The residents are tucked in localities such as Mudhan Pakadi, Church Pakadi and Morzello Pakadi. The fishing community lives by the shore with their ancestral homes being replaced more recently with two-storeyed brightly coloured structures. Children playing football amidst fish spread out to dry wear club jerseys.
Old-timers say that much has changed here with the coming of resorts, the Essel World and the attempts by real estate developers to enter the village. The village is dead against any disruption in their way of life, even opposing a proposed bridge between Malad and Manori.
“Do you think we will be able to keep our doors open the way we do now? We will not be able to live in such a carefree manner if that happens?” says Cecilia Crasto, another resident.
Henriques adds that the community has been making some demands for basic facilities, which are yet to be met.
“We do not have a hospital. There are medical emergencies when the patient has to be rushed to Borivli on a ferry or the longer route through Bhayander. There are no resident doctors to pay immediate medical attention. The village also does not have a post office. We have been seeking these facilities for years, but the authorities never pay heed,” she said.