Suniti Mohan Nadkarni, Chairperson of the Auckland based Mohan Nadkarni Foundation, passed away in Auckland on November 13, just four days after her 92nd birthday. She leaves behind a son, The Indian Weekender’s founding editor and Editor at Large Dev Nadkarni, his wife, two daughters and a son-in-law.
Despite her advanced age, Mrs Nadkarni was independent and active, participating in planning events of the Foundation, which was set up at her instance in 2014. She was a regular at Auckland’s classical music events.
Born in 1927 in the state of Travancore (now part of Kerala), she graduated in English and philosophy from Madras University and took up a job as an executive assistant and secretary to the first chairman of Syndicate Bank in Udipi, Karnataka, long before the bank was nationalised.
Following her marriage to well-known author, critic and musicologist the late Mohan Nadkarni, she moved to Mumbai. Owing to a worsening disability in her husband’s right hand that made it impossible for him to write, Mrs Nadkarni typed out all his writings as he dictated.
She typed every word of more than 4000 published articles and about a dozen books, some of which are still available on Amazon. The articles are progressively being digitised and are available on the Foundation’s website for free use. The articles are acknowledged as a valuable record of the Indian traditional music scene of the 20th century, particularly the latter half. The couple moved permanently to live in New Zealand in 2007.
The affable and friendly Mrs Nadkarni had a large circle of friends and well-wishers far and wide, comprising celebrity musicians not only in India but in many other parts of the world besides a wide network of friends and relatives. She kept in touch with everyone she knew over her phone, no matter where in the world. She was particularly interested in helping promote young performing artists.
Having accompanied her husband attending concerts across India and on his lecture tours in nearly a dozen countries, she built lasting friendships everywhere because of her friendliness and her ability to connect with people. An avid reader, she would finish up to three books a week and enjoyed solving crosswords and word puzzles and was a regular reader of The Indian Weekender.
Messages of sympathy have been pouring in from artists, friends and relatives across the world as well as from her wide circle of acquaintances. Mrs Nadkarni’s last rites were performed at Ann’s Funeral Home in Wiri on November 15.