Dreaming in Hindi by Katherine Russell Rich: Book CoverSYNOPSIS:

Having miraculously survived a serious illness and now at an impasse in her career as a magazine editor, Rich spontaneously accepted a free-lance writing assignment to go to India, where she found herself thunderstruck by the place and the language. Before she knew it she was on her way to Udaipur, a city in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, in order to learn Hindi.

In this inspirational memoir, Rich documents her experiences in India ranging from the bizarre to the frightening to the unexpectedly exhilarating using Hindi as the lens through which she is given a new perspective not only on India, but on the radical way the country and the language itself were changing her. Fascinated by the process, she went on to interview linguistics experts around the world, reporting back from the frontlines of the science wars on what happens in the brain when we learn a new language. Seamlessly combining Rich’s courageous (and often hilarious) personal journey with wideranging reporting, Dreaming in Hindi offers an  account of what learning a new language can teach us about distant worlds and, ultimately, ourselves.


“Dreaming in Hindi”, Katherine Russel Rich’s memoir of her adventure in India, about the year she spent in Udaipur living with a Hindi speaking Indian family, for the purpose learning Hindi, is an intriguing and fascinating book. Learning a new language in middle age. When she writes about India and describes Indians, her writing is lively and entertaining.  

She is a keen observer, and her descriptions of what she has seen in Udaipur are memorable. I was impressed with the marvelous description of the marble driveway of her hosts’ immense house:

 ” The driveway, though hazardous to pedestrians when washed, possessed a peculiar grandeur: inlaid circles set against squares, rich browns fitted into mossy greens; a display fit for a museum, a board game leading out to a street of pigs.”

The author has also chosen to write about the science of learning a new language , and interspersed though out the nineteen chapters of this book are the author’s explanations and personal opinions and impressions about the process of learning a language. These passages dealing with the technical aspects of learning a language are sometimes tedious, that is the only drawback I found in the book ..

This is an impressive book, written with humor and wit, and with an abundance of vivid descriptions and memorable passages. I bought this book for myself, and I don’t regret it 🙂