Charles Correa – forever the genius

By Dr Oscar Rebelo
18 June 2015 09:28 IST

Charles Correa, is a kind of iconic figure, one grew up with. Through school & college, this great Goan's name reverberated in the corridors of our consciousness, by the sheer scale and brilliance of his hard work you encountered and read about.

The legend was already known to me. Seven years ago, I encountered the man. I was privileged and then humbled to be drawn into his world, his wit, his charm and his incredibly simple but brilliant rules of life.

I got to know him up close and personal, when I agreed, rather adventurously (mostly mis-adventurously) to get on to the task force of RP 2021. And in many ways a camaraderie of sorts was forged between a man who had seen and designed it all in the eye of his mind and an upstart who was learning to see, and not understanding it too well at all.

It floored me when I learnt that Charles Correa (and all the rest on the task force) had worked, pro bono, to get our regional plan off the ground. He put in long hours, outmaneuvered some of those tricky (and very sticky) officials of the Town and Country Planning, pushed other members to the limits of their ability (and patience) to deliver, was always thorough with his facts, confident of his vision and would take no non-sense from the political cronies who buzzed around.

He believed that Goa must have an economic plan, an environmental plan and a social plan all working seamlessly to create the Goa of our dreams.

And a master creator he was! From our familiar Kala Academy to the Cidade de Goa. From the talismanic Kanchenjunga in Mumbai to his glorious Champalimaud by the banks of the lags in Lisbon, his phenomenal works of architecture for me were more like sheer works of poetry, a fluid movement in a symphonic aria, a jaw dropping canvas of art.

To the mortals like us his architectural oeuvres always let us breathe, let us explore, let us become one in space. He was the ultimate genius who could blend nature with design, with a style incomparably his own.

But what I think I truly will miss about Charles is the languid conversations on issues as far removed as philosophy and art, religion and politics, Goa and more Goa!

His insight, his wit, his passion and his boundless ability to argue and provoke, laugh and appreciate, reason and disagree was simply an incredible trait that endeavors him to family and friends.

When the dreadful C struck him a few years ago, he refused to be browbeaten by his illness (or his imposing doctors). Despite his frail physical condition he joyfully criss-crossed the globe – from Toronto to Lisbon, Shanghai to Tuscany, this 80-plus live wire lectured and designed, inspired and questioned, shared knowledge and continuously acquired it.

And through all these eventful years, his loyal comrade in arms, was his graceful and elegantly beautiful wife Monica. She was the sparkle beneath the wit, the calm behind the storm, the anchor to his run away free spirit. Charles could have never soared this high, if the wings weren't Monica.

I raise a toast to you my dear Charles, to a life well lived, to a Goa and India well loved, to a passion well pursued and to friendships and loyalties well served.

And whenever your works are studied and admired for generations to come, more than the beauty and the intellectual brilliance that defines it. There is one quality that will forever shine through in all your creations for posterity. The quality of matchless INTEGRITY.

You lived that maxim Charles: Chase your dream, but do always with the utmost integrity at your command.

R.I.P. Le bon fils de Goa!

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Dr Oscar Rebelo

Dr Oscar Rebelo is one of the leading social activist of Goa and a practicing doctor. He led the historic peoples’ movement in 2006-07 to get the anti-Goa Regional Plan scrapped and save Goa from total destruction of Goa’s ecology and natural beauty. He is a Goa-based leader of Aam Aadmi Party. He is also a columnist.

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