By Carmita Noronha
Victor Hugo’s personal journey, growth, and development are a fundamentally integral part of the birth and success of Goa Chitra. He took everything from his past professions – the residual anger and disappointment, the love and passion, the experiences and lessons, and the money and resources – and pumped it into the Goa Chitra project. Carmita Noronha and her son, Oscar Noronha were one of Victor’s earliest clients, and in the following story, she discusses Victor’s early restoration days.
It was May 2006 when we came to Goa on a brief visit to complete the formalities that one has to endure on the death of a husband and a father. My husband had bought a monstrous ruin in Loutolim village, South Goa with the intention of restoring it himself. However, he died shortly afterwards and the task of restoring this monstrosity fell onto our shoulders – my son and I.
Then we were introduced to Victor. Having agreed to take on our project, he took us for several drives around various villages to show us his other restoration projects, which were pretty impressive, and that was that – we had decided. It was on these drives that we also saw another side to Victor – his great love for good food. He took us to little known places each specialising in different food items – we had crabs at Esperanca’s in Rachol and a great Goan fish thali at Sharda’s in Fatorda and others I can’t recall. And we thought, “what a great combination – a foodie and a restorer!”
Victor’s planning and organisational skills were absolutely spot on – he gave us his schedule, according to which the entire project was to be completed in 7 months. Simply unbelievable, we thought. Given the state of various other work we had had seen in Goa, we did not believe that Victor would ever complete on time – he did!
Even more amazing was the fact that we were not in Goa for site inspections or to make changes as work progressed. It was distance managing – and Victor did it all. His dedication and attention to detail are phenomenal as is his good taste. He corrected the proportions of the French windows, the flooring, ceiling, extensions in the right places, a grand entrance, and wrap-around balcony. Thus, an absolute ruin was transformed into an amazing Goan house, beautifully landscaped and terraced.
In addition to restoring the house, we had also asked him to furnish it and to look out for reasonably priced antiques. It was on this antique furniture finding mission that Victor also started searching for and acquiring objects for what was to be Goa Chitra. He got us amazing bargains including lighting and other fixtures. I went with Victor on two such trips and found him rummaging into a heap of what looked like old junk. I clearly remember him explaining to us that they were in fact units of measure for grain. He struck a bargain with the antique dealer and took away these items to be painstakingly restored by the faithful Chacha – a great man who was Victor’s man Friday!
Victor later told us that it was the fee he earned on this project that enabled him to take forward his great dream of having an ethnographic museum in Goa – we’re delighted to be a small part of Victor’s amazing project and heritage for Goa.
Carmita Noronha studied MBA in the UK and has worked for British Council as Head Grant in Aid Finance. Her son, Oscar de Sequeira Nazareth, has done his BSc Honours at Cass Business School, UK; is the owner of Licor Armada; and the president of the Indo Portuguese Chamber of Commerce. He has worked at Marsh & McLennan, London and Deutsch Bank, London as an Investment Banker. After living for almost 25 years in Coimbra, Portugal, and London, Carminta and Oscar returned to Goa in 2012.