04 April, 2007

For Shakti

If you would like to leave a remembrance here, please use the comments space, or mail for.shakti at gmail dot com. If you have written about Shakti elsewhere, do leave a link, and let us know if it's okay if we reproduce your post here. Likewise for photographs, audio or video.

Thank you.

Some links:

The Afternoon Despatch and Courier (A diary item with some inaccuracies. Scroll down to the third entry.)
Vanessa Gebbie.
Round-ups by Global Voices and Blogbharti.
John Mathew, & 2.
Peter Griffin.
Deepika Shetty.


Anil P said...

I never met her, but from reading posts by bloggers recalling their memories of Shakti's drive, enthusiasm and vision in breaking new ground makes her untimely loss especially poignant.

Only those who knew her closely will ever know what pain her passing left behind.

Condolences to Jeet and may he find the strength to cope with her loss and continue realising her dream.

Anand Thakore said...

The last thing i said to shakti, before she and jeet left my place for Delhi was : yes, i'll brush my teeth. She had just dictated to me a long list of things that needed doing: get rid of old flowers, cut your hair, use cockroach repellents and of course- brush your teeth. Few people have been able to do this to me without making me feel defensive.Shakti could.When she sensed that i liked flowers and tea, tea and flowers was what she got for me.We discussed the words and tunes of old garba-s which we sang together: we danced, clapped hands and turned meticulously on every sixth beat.There was fun wherever shakti was, and life: gentleness and intelligent arguement.We talked about rumi, exhanged notes on fashion and the anatomical niceties of various women and men.She was a friend. I will miss her

Unknown said...

Here's a link from my personal blog which has a recent picture of Shakti taken during the Kitab Festival.


I think the best way we can honour her is by imbuing the decency and kindness she displayed in such abundance.

My condolences to Jeet and her family and friends!


Colin Fernandes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J said...

It's terrible to lose a wonderful person.

Unknown said...

Its sad to hear the sudden loss of a wonderful person like Shakti. I had an opportunity to know her when I had just moved to New York in 2002 and she was staying with her cousin, I guess this was before she met her husband, Jeet. She was rearing to get a break in the journalism world. I remember her excitement about her first article in I think it was India Abroad. She was person who could change a dull moment into something fun with a snap of her fingers. Her distinct voice and smile are something one cannot forget. My heartfelt condolences to her family. May her soul rest in peace.

Colin Fernandes said...


circa 17/12/2006..jungpura extension

me: so im thinking of writing a book.. *puff puf pass*
shakti: oh what's it about?.. *puff puff pass*
me: well.. y'know a treasure quest, this grandson n his grandfather *puff puff* the end of the world.. *puff puff pass*
shakti: wow ya.. you should write a book.. *puff puff pass*
me: ya i know, im writing one now.. *puff puff pass*
shakti: really what's it about? *puff puff pass*
me: its about this grandfather n this grandson n this treasure quest that leads to the end of the world.. *puff puff pass*
shakti: hmm.. i think that idea's already been taken...

Anand Thakore said...

The last thing I said to Shakti was: ‘Don’t worry, I’ll brush my teeth’ I was seeing her and Jeet to a cab outside my house where they had been staying for a couple of days. Shakti had spent an hour in the morning dictating to me a list of items that ‘needed doing’: Cut your hair, use cockroach repellant, brush your teeth (of course…….), get rid at once of old old flowers ( ‘dead flowers are favourable breeding grounds for unborn mosquitoes….’), decide which clothes you want to keep etc. I took her instructions down in a large black notebook Few people have been able to make me do this sort of thing. Shakti could.
She had a way of disarming people that made even things like instruction-lists and advice sound like fun; though I bet she was dead serious about every one of her numerous commandments, her ‘suggestions’ towards more evolved forms of domestic well-being.
She insisted on tipping the servants, though I had warned her not to ‘spoil’ them.
Shakti was vibrant, caring and dead serious about having fun. When she learned that I like flowers and tea she bought me tea and flowers. I sang verses for her from old Gujarati folk-songs, which she seemed to remember better than I do. We danced garba in my living room, spinning with the abandon of dervishes on every fifth beat. We talked about plays and books and of course, people: primarily how they looked, walked and dressed, but also how they seemed to think, and if they were writers, how they wrote. She was a friend. I will miss her.

Sam said...

After some months of their meeting, Shakti and Jeet dropped by for a weekend. This would be the first time we would meet her. Jeet was still courting her and evidently needed to move matters forward. And so, one crisp fall weekend, in a little flat in a little town in Central Pennsylvania, we supped on a dinner prepared by Jeet for Shakti. If food is the music of love then, on that clear night, we witnessed a glorious song. To us she seemed as an improbable gift: beautiful, charming, and wise beyond her years, a sharp intelligence wrapped in a warm wit, a shard of light around which many could gather. She was forgiving--when we could not attend their wedding in New York; she was hospitable to a fault--when we risked a journey to the big city to see them; she sternly prodded and poked as only a motherly editor would-- when she heard we might have something to write about. We met her about once a year and each time we parted we left heartened, lifted.
And now we miss her. And now we weep for him who she has left behind. And now we take joy in the memory of her.

Sleep well sweet sister,

Sajay and Samar

Anonymous said...

In Praise of Shakti Bhatt
My earliest impression of Shakti is that of the young beauty who dazzled my friend Jeet
Thayil when they met, changing him, and charging their lives, and our lives in New York, with a rare and infectious delight. She stepped into our community of poets and writers in Manhattan with a grace and presence few failed to notice. Shakti was a steady mate to Jeet at readings, parties, events, all the while establishing herself, with an uncommon zeal, as a journalist, art maker, and curator. She filmed and edited a documentary of our poetry collective, 7 Carmine, with the precision of a seasoned professional, though (to my knowledge) this was her first venture in this genre. She impressed me and many among us with her keen knowledge of contemporary American poetry and fiction. When they returned to India, Jeet and Shakti left a void, and in the intervening years it seemed we might lose the thread of what bound us so tightly together. When we learned Jeet, accompanied by Shakti, was granted a fellowship at the Bellagio Center in Italy last fall, the poet Curtis Bauer, living in Spain, and I agreed to meet in Milan and drive north to spend a few days with them. The four of us shared an intense few days sharing and critiquing new work, smoking cigars and drinking Chianti in their comfortable quarters overlooking the lake. Exploring the grounds and the narrow roads from town to town skirting Lake Como, we were enchanted by the place and what drew us there. To say we savored every moment understates how charged and lucky we all felt to be together. We had just discovered Shakti as a writer of fiction. Still a bit shy about putting her own work forward she put our poems ahead of her stories, always enthusiastic, generous and insightful in her remarks. One could see, clearly, she was a fine editor. In a few weeks, upon returning to Delhi, she would begin work on her own imprint after this month-long hiatus with Jeet. When I last saw her she was brimming with talk of several new authors and the prospect of finding new work to usher into print. Her enthusiasm for the heady art and literary world of Delhi was so fierce that she had both Curtis and me convinced we were crazy not quit our jobs and move there immediately! My last correspondence with Shakti was an email exchange on a beautiful & complex story she drafted at Bellagio. Those of us who knew her in New York are still reeling from the news of her untimely death. The loss of someone so vital and young, just beginning to exercise all that imagination and energy on so many worthy projects is unspeakable. Shakti leaves an indelible mark on me as a fledgling friend, and on so many others as an author, editor, confidant, and devoted partner to Jeet - roles she filled with a magical grace.
- Elaine Sexton, New York, NY, USA

Unknown said...

I don't knw much abt Shakti.....but frm the blogs and frm her frnds she is seeming wondeful person who can take up any challenge and live upto it

I pray may her soul rest in peace and Lord gives Jeet, her family and frnds a strength to live without herr.

Priyanka Khot said...

I have written a post remembering Shakti on my blog.


would really appreciate if you could pls publish it on this page as well. I am unable to figure out how to upload the photo through the coment blog


Priyanka Khot

QAvePress said...

It was evening when I heard the news, a phone call from my friend, the poet Elaine Sexton in New York, to me in Seville Spain about dear Shakti’s death in India. I had just returned to my apartment after wandering the streets, weaving between the Holy Week marches and processions of masked and robed men and somber music, incense and candle wax. It was all surreal, none of it seemed to have actually happened; none of it made sense, but it all made me feel numb. The next morning I walked back downtown, feeling a need to retrace my steps for some reason I couldn’t explain at the time. There were wax paths winding through the city center; I followed them from Plaza Pilatos to Plaza Alfalfa, past my favorite church, La Basilica Del San Salvador, which is run down, has grass and weeds growing out of its roof tiles, but in that state of disrepair and quiet beauty that stops me every time I pass it. The streets were deserted except for the previous night’s drunks and a few early tourists. Then I saw a South Asian couple wandering in the plaza, away from all the major tourist attractions, pulling a suitcase, deep in their coats and scarves and hats, but they were laughing and holding hands. And they gave me the memory of Jeet and his Shakti on a street in an Italian village as it rains, or as rain threatens and cars squeeze through the narrow streets of Bellagio Italy and Shakti is struck by something in a shop window and steps into traffic absentmindedly and Jeet shouts, pulls her back and holds her arm, pulls her close and scolds her, but before we walk much further we’re all smiling again, laughing at something she’s said. And then my mind was swimming with memories of that place and the days we were together in New York City. In John Berger’s book ‘And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief As Photos,’ he says that history, our past, is never lost, but it spreads around us, and deepens our present experience. And just a moment ago my wife tells me that she’s happy she didn’t see Shakti in Italy, that there is greater distance in her memory of Shakti’s smiling face, her energy and beauty, and that her heart doesn’t hurt as much as it would have had she seen her in the fall like I had. I suppose she’s right, but I’d not give that up, that last moment looking out the car window as she stood with Jeet at the gate of the palace where they were staying in Bellagio waving to me and Elaine as we drove away, those recent, now distant days we spent together walking to the lake and eating, reading and smoking in their apartment, or our picnic on the roadside or coffee in some mountain cafe where she ordered a whiskey and we all sipped it, four friends reunited in a foreign place, living together briefly, piecing together a friendship that distance had deteriorated. I still have trouble believing that Shakti is gone; I have these memories of her, as well as those of the 7 Carmine readings she filmed in the Pink Pony in New York, dinner with her and Jeet in the East Village, at Elaine’s house…. I think of Shakti, her energy, her life and laughter and her absence overwhelms me.

Curtis Bauer
Sevilla, Spain

Priyanka Khot said...

“Priyanka, I am impressed with your CV. You can join us on one condition.”
“What ma’am?”
“Call me Shakti! No ma’am!”

With that sentence and a huge smile Shakti Bhatt made an entry into my life on 13th April 2005. She was my first boss. She gave me my first job as a part time reporter in Lifestyle Trends. Her first editing job since she arrived in India as I later came to know. An amazingly chilled out person she was someone I looked up to as almost a mentor (though she was not that much older to me). Pointers like what to read, what to listen to, where to hang out, films, theatre, art exhibitions you name it and she gave me exposure to them.

What I remember about Shakti is her skirts. They were AWESOME! She even told me about a shop in Bangalore to go skirt shopping. Managed to actually make me eat karela and like it too. Shared lunches, chocolates in the office, the tack board with words of wisdom, art, photographs… leaving her CDs with permission to listen to what I would want to. Teaching with every word and action. A fair boss. A great friend with a sense of humor that makes me smile behind the tears that are rolling down my face. Shakti also introduced me to Dostovosky’s work, Shahid’s pain. And Jeet’s poetry.

I remember listening to her talk about Jeet. She was so much in love. I had never seen anyone so much in love. Once she gave me a lift to the Osian’s film festival. On the way we went to her mom’s home to pick up Jeet. When they both met after the days work, I knew I was in the presence of LOVE.

I write all this not because I want her to know that I remember her. But to make sure that I thank God for her presence in my life even though for a very short period. And most importantly to remember all that I can about a beautiful lady with a beautiful heart who encouraged me enough, corrected me enough and praised me enough.

The last time I saw Shakti was at a poetry reading at IHC. Wearing white, I remember her looking like an angel. In all the calls in the past year she always asked to meet for coffee and I always said sure will meet you the next time I am around. Sadly enough for me she is not around anymore…

This was the last mail I received from Shakti---

Dear Priyanka,

Hi. Doing fine - enjoying the break from work. Trying to see what I can do and what I want to do. Meanwhile, doing some freelancing writing and appearing for a couple of interviews. Will let you know what happens.

Meanwhile you keep in touch and anytime you're planning to be in Khan market, gimme a call and we'll meet for a quick coffee,

One thing that I learned from Shakti was the art of Googling. She had given me a golden tip of Googling people. I was in my office today. I remembered Shakti out of the blue. I thought it would be fun if I google her. Find out what she has been upto and then talk to her straight away about what’s happening with her. With this thought on my mind and all happy to call her soon I Googled her name today sure to meet her up for coffee, only to find a blog written in her remembrance.

Shakti I’ll always be waiting for that coffee. May you party hard in heaven. Will miss you very much…

Whitney-Miller said...

I am Jeet's college mate, and recently received this news via a mutual friend. I have never met Shakti, but had heard about her..and after reading all the posts I feel like she and I would have hit it off right away.
JJ, you are in my thoughts...my daughter arrived into this world the day after your Shakti left...so it's especially poignant.
You remain in my thoughts..

Anonymous said...

i just chanced upon the news of Shakti Bhatt's death and I am shocked and unsettled. I did not know her at all but emailed to her a few times because I have written a novel and was looking for a publisher. She had responded to me encouragingly mid-February, saying that she would get in touch with me soon. I am still waiting for her email. This is unsettling and very very sad and unreal.To read the news of her sudden death on the internet is unnerving and too tragic to seem true.

May all associated with Shakti have the strength to bear this loss.

priti aisola

abha said...

It is rest full of light, neither fever nor languor, on the bed or on the road.

It is the friend, neither ardent nor timid. The friend.

It is the loved one, the fond, neither tormenting nor tormented. The loved one.

The air and world all unexplored. Life.

-Was it then this?

-And the dream breaks afresh.

--Arthur Rimbaud, trans. V. Watkins

Shakti, you are missed.

Padma Rao Sundarji said...

I didn't know Shakti at all, only her mother Sheela, one of the best and most hard-working journalist-colleagues I have ever met anywhere in the world. Sheela is one of the few on the beat who care for other colleagues and is always ready to lend a hand, loan her expertise. From the many touching posts on this site, I can imagine Shakti was very much like Sheela. Sheela, my love, my deepest condolences and may God give you peace of mind. I am a mother, so I know exactly how you feel. Please stay in touch, Padma

Anonymous said...

Remembering someone I had never met!

I did not know Shakti Bhatt personally, but had interacted with her mother Sheela Bhatt when I was working in Delhi. Sheela is a friend of Mr.B. Raman, with whom I was working. On April 11th, I sent an email to Raman Sir. I was upset about a former colleague's behaviour. Sir, sent an email back, asking me to forget about it and move on in life. Then he mentioned Shakti's sudden death in his email. I was deeply saddended by the news. A young, promising Shakti Bhatt with her entire life ahead of her.....to die like that...it was cruel, unbelieveable!I could feel the anguish and sorrow that Sir had expressed. He was devastated. She had convinced him to write his autobiography. She died days before receiving the manuscript. But the book has seen the light of day! The Kaoboys of RAW, by B Raman is a tribute to Shakti Bhatt!

The tragic news about her death, came to me at a time when I was worried and upset. That's when I realised, life can be cruel, and take away all our dreams and hopes all of a sudden. I have thought of Shakti so often since then.....someone I didn't ever meet but who seems like someone who lived each day, someone who wanted to make every moment of her life worthwhile....I cannot even begin to imagine the void she has left in the lives of her family and friends!

I'm sure the Gods who conspired against her are regretting her absence in a place she could have made a real difference to. All I can say is that in her life she made friends! In her death too, she has made friends!!!!

Karen Da Costa said...

I wasn't one of the fortunate ones to get acquainted with Shakti but from from what I read, she leaves a very deep and strong impression.

Heartaches and long sighs are companions now
Every time they think about how
You were taken from them - It was all so sudden

They stand up tall ‘coz knowing you
was the fortune of a chosen few.
They are a part of this special group
And never will forget…

A model perhaps of what a person should be
I never knew you, but you’ve more than impressed me
I hope many more take a cue from how you lived
And carry in them always the Shakti to be…

Loved by all, RIP

Suchita said...

I met Shakti at kitab festival in mumbai, for a very brief while talking about my book and in that few minutes i had instantly connected to her. Was in touch with her over a few mails and then couldn;t get through her.. was shocked depressed when came to know about her sudden demise. god bless ber soul.

Rajat Chaudhuri said...

May your soul rest in eternal bliss, Shakti. These pages say that we all miss you and will keep the fire burning. ``To live in hearts we leave behind,Is not to die.''

Anonymous said...

I was leafing through a book at Landmark yesterday, and I came across a thank you to Shakti Bhatt (1980-2007) in a novel. I was hoping that it was a mistake, I was sure that it must be a mistake - how could she be no more? It must be some other Shakti...

And then I googled her name and found this.

God, life is so weird. She was so sweet and young and lively... I can't believe that she is no more.

My heartfelt condolences to Jeet, her parents and all her friends.

I remember the first time I met her. It was a cold and wet day in January. I was waiting for her in the conference room of her Random House office in New Delhi, clutching my manuscript in my hands. I'd got an intro from a common friend, Sarnath, but I was still feeling intimidated. Especially when she walked in, wearing a glamourous white suit and purple lipstick. And then she smiled that bright, wide smile of hers - and it was OK.

She was so sweet to me - although my book, Trust Me, was published by another publisher, Rupa, she spent hours talking to me on the phone, advising me about the marketing, the cover, even about how to reach the middle ground when my editor wanted some changes I wasn't very keen on... Thank you, Shakti.

I met her for the last time at the Kitab festival in Bombay. She was full of energy and enthusiasm about starting a new imprint...

I'm so, so sorry that she is no more.

Unknown said...

We met on Thursday at Bengali market over some papri chatt and her favourite raj kachori, Staurday morning she texted saying what fun it was and we should do it more often. And Sunday night she was gone. Shakti and I worked at Random House together before she left RHI to start her own imprint at IBD. She was one of the most talented, energetic, kind, funny, and compassionate people I've met till date. I can never forget the lovely sunny afternoon at her Def Col house. The evenings at 'The Blues'. The book events we organised and the time we spent together, loitering around in CP and she insisting on buying cheap pink plastic sunglasses from the roadside, surprising they looked so classy on her. Its unfair, sad and unfortunate that she had to go,its been a year and I still wish that it's a sick April fool joke and that she would come back and ask me what I have thought of her idea of becomimg a freelance publicist, which she always - always encouraged me to do. Shakti I will always miss you.

Julia Dutta said...

I did not know her, but her face seems so familiar.....sad she is no more. My heart weeps for a young life lost....

Unknown said...

I don`t know her but my parents always said that she was so kind. Even Shela auntie told me about her. I am really sad. I saw her pictures and she is really pretty. I don`t have much to write because i am only 12yrs.

Anonymous said...

I once met her. She was an angel sent from above. God may bless her soul.

Rose /Magpie said...

I chanced upon mentions of Shakti in one blog which then led to another and then here. She seems like a truly wonderful person. I wish I had known her.