Pride of Goans. Pride of Karachi. A Vestige of Great Goan Legacy. Walking past Karachi Goan Association entrance is like entering a wormhole, jumping into a universe which is oblivious to cacophony of competing voices out on Saddar road. Goan Association Hall is a landmark which still plays an active role in Karachi’s Social scene. The entrance opposite Karachi Grammar School is a humble one and trees, as old as the Gymkhana, shadow the front facade, or is it the back. Never-mind both are equally impressive.
In 1886, Goans started the Goan Portugese Association which was later renamed as Karachi Goan Association. The design was entrusted to a relatively unknown ‘Moses Somake’. The same man went on to make his mark on Karachi the way no one else did. The hall immediately became a center of social life of Goans in Karachi. It hosted all kind of events for the community. In the beginning it did not have a boundary wall and it graced the sorrounding area. At its peak it held ten days of celebrations where the top Goan bands performed. During World War II the KGA was turned into Senior Officers Club for US Army.
On a regular day you will find few janitors moping the floor, which has characteristic prepartition tiles. The furniture too has been preserved well. The main hall does not have much of seating area but special arrangements are made for Tambola nights and other social events. There is a statue of Mr Cincinattus in the hall. He had been the President of the KGA for a decade and has a residential neighbourhood, Cincinattus Town, Now Garden, named after him. To the right a small part of the hall is used for hosting table tennis tournaments. there is a small library in the left section which also showcases trophies from different eras. To the left is the billiard room. The adjacent room is used for playing cards. Move out and take the staircase which leads to a big dance floor which has been used for a variety of purposes. The hall is used for holding Christmas, New year and Easter gatherings and has been rented members for ceremonies and commercial shooting. The congregation of the hall has dwindled over the years but it remains a social hub for the community.
A seperate post is needed for what Goans have done for Karachi. The thriving community of 1850s has been migrating for pastures green abroad. There are only about 15,000 goans still living in Karachi. KGA celebrated 125 years of existence this year. Menin Rodrigues of Goans of Pakistan wondered how would it look like when they celebrate 150 years of its existence in 2036. The Karachi walla sincerely yearns for a better promise for KGA and Goans. They made a vital thread of pluralistic Karachi social fabric and the enterprising community has contributed more than its share.
A lot of Goans may have left but they have taken a small piece of Karachi with them. Brian Gonsalves, a Goan from Karachi who now lives on the Island of Margarita, Venezuela, wrote to Goans of Pakistan, “My House in Venezuela is called ‘Pakistan’ – how is that for patriotism!!”