“I didn’t study. I can’t speak Hindi. I didn’t choose to marry. I belong from the tribal area of Talasari. I live here in Merces with my brother, sister-in-law and their kids. Despite all this, I never feel lonely, I like being independent and enjoy my single-hood. My nephew and niece are like my own kids. I love what I do. I am happy.”

Agnis, a 45-year-old single lady works as a construction worker and is currently renovating the structure of a 4th-century church – “Our Lady of Mercy” in the village of Merces, Bassein.

The sun shines bright, my scooter somewhat trembles down the bumpy road, I miss out on a few lanes and quite unknowingly land up in the quaint and tiny village of Merces lying in the interiors of the town – Bassein which still ponders back to its rich Portuguese culture in some way or the other!

Merces is lined up by beautiful town style houses, bushes and coconut trees shimmering in soft green as the sunbeam passes through it. Passing by the spick and span corners of the village I spot a beautiful church dated back to the 4th century – “Our Lady of Mercy”, somewhere in my mind a thought reminds me of how old the native town of Bassein dates back to! The church lies in a small courtyard guarded by graves on all its sides and baked bricks are drawn up and down the walls.

This is when I talk to Agnis and reminiscent back to the cribs of how we underrate our part of happiness with all the materialism around!

 

Bassein

Agnis smiles in glee as we bid her goodbye and head over to the not so maintained roads of a tiny coastal strip leading to estuaries in Bena, Bassein. With rough and thorny trees guarded by the borders, I can spot the small estuaries and an isolated island standing tall somewhere in the middle of the blue sea.

Bassein

The natives always share a different spark beyond what the explorers capture within their vision! Such was my experience with Thomas D’sea, a 79-year-old former carpenter who was sitting by the pavement of his house sewing fishing nets to utilize his free time as he doesn’t want his mind to be driven by the devilish thoughts! He inspires us to not sit idle and keep oneself engaged.

 

Bassein

As I ride deep down to the interiors of Bassein, all I could fall for is every bit and piece of Portuguese influence staying calm by the tiny narrow lanes of the coastal town. Slow lifestyle, responsible travel and finding happiness in trivia is what I capture as my closest fond memory.

Somewhere towards the tip of the Bassein docks, lies the ancient ruins of the Bassein fort amidst the dense forests of wild bushes and palm trees.

Bassein

The Fort dates back to the 15th century which is now home to the pigeons, wild reptiles, and other ghostly haunts. There is an architecture to embellish in each of its corners, every arc within the vicinity invites me to more explorations, every other staircase drives me to drag up my itchy feet towards the edges of the fortress. There’s a past history that lays up in store in each of its walls.

The corridors, the doors, the windows, the surrounded jungles have all witnessed innumerable events which we fail to see. There’s beauty in all of its ruins. There’s a light in each corner of its darkness.

 

Bassein

Opposite to the fort is the Chimajiappa ground surrounded by beautiful green lands and ruined fort walls with a statue of Chimajiappa (one of the Peshwa rulers) tributing to his memory.

Yet another life lesson gathered from Gajendra Prasad, a 27-year-old juice vendor who vends right near the gate of the Chimajiappa ground, a past migrant from Ajamgad, Uttar Pradesh who has been now living in Bassein for the past 12 years. “I used to work in a company earlier but I left it because there was no say of the employees, since then, I started the business of my juice stall, the best part is I can start the business at whatever time I wish, there’s no boss here; I love my job and Vasai is just like my village.”

Bassein

Essential Information —

  • Vasai Road, formerly known as Bassein, is a coastal town on the outskirts of Mumbai at a distance of approximately 70 km, which can be easily accessed by Virar local trains heading from Churchgate.
  • It comprises of a history rich in its Portuguese, and Maratha influences from the Konkan sides.
  • Languages Spoken – Marathi, Hindi, English, Konkani.
  • Timings of the Chimajiappa Ground – 5:30 am – 12 pm & 4 pm to 7 pm.
  • Timings of the Vasai Fort – After Sunrise and Before Sunsets {Recommended to be visited in groups}.