The Mumbai Man

Holcim foundation Correa portrait

Charles Correa, image courtesy : Holcim Foundation

So much for me not taking a break from blogging- I didn’t realise how long it has been since I last wrote! In any case, much has happened – that has given me much to write about.

Yesterday I learnt that my favourite architect passed away. The unforgettable Charles Correa, father of Modernist India- who every architecture student across the globe has studied about. My favourite, why?

Vista of Kanchenjunga from the cab

Vista of Kanchenjunga from the cab

Well, we shared a few things:

  •  We both received architectural education in the United States- he was a Michigan alumnus, I’m still studying in Kansas.
  • Ethnically speaking , we’re both Goans (Goa was a Portuguese colony, now an Indian state). Correa? D’souza? Portuguese names, alright!
  • We both love LOVE Mumbai or rather ‘Bombay’. I was born there; it is my parent’s hometown. His biggest projects lie in Mumbai, in fact he was the chief architect of Navi Mumbai or New Bombay, a planned township of Mumbai.
  • But most important of all, I care a great deal about low-cost housing and urbanisation– something Correa was quite the expert in.
Kanchenjunga : Cab picture 2

Kanchenjunga : Cab picture 2

It’s sad knowing that I’ll never be able to go and procure his autograph. In fact, it was only last week that I was in Mumbai, surveying its urban fabric for the hopes of starting a Public-Interest Design or Social Impact Design project, when I was able to catch a glimpse of my favourite Correa project- the Kanchenjunga Apartments, as my taxi squeezed through South Mumbai’s unbelievable bottlenecks. Two-storeyed apartments in a distinctive-looking building that forms part of Mumbai skyline- that came up before most of its modern skyscrapers- Kanchenjunga is a stark contrast to its neighbours, and rather looks like a stack of Jenga! KANCHEN-JENGA!

Haha,okay.

Cafe Mondegar with Cousin Cybil

Cafe Mondegar with Cousin Cybil

While we’re on the subject of Bombay Goans who were artistically eminent, I guess it’s time to bring up my favourite cartoonist Mario Miranda– who also died; a few years ago. Miranda conjured up beautiful scenes of Mumbai and Goa- some of which are brilliantly recorded on the walls of Cafe Mondegar- which I was able to visit during my brief visit to Bombay. I apologise about the picture quality; I’m always high on life when I’m in Bombay!

Mario Miranda Image courtesy:  Findall Goa

Mario Miranda Image courtesy: Findall Goa

But that’s not all. I’ll delve more into my reasons for briefly visiting Mumbai, later. Till then, I must get cracking on packing for my big drive to Dubai tomorrow, for what might just be a new chapter in my life. Tada!

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