Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language
Katherine Russell Rich never dreamed she would leave her job as a tough-skinned editor in the edgy world of New York City’s magazine publications. Then she was faced with two rounds of cancer—the second bringing her to the brink of death. Just as she came out on the other side of her illness, she was handed a pink slip. A firm internal voice urged her to seek a more artistic life. Little did she know that this voice would take her halfway around the world.
Russell Rich’s first visit to India came by accident. A newspaper editor called with a writing assignment, and Russell Rich promptly lied saying she would be in India. The editor called her bluff by suggesting she write an article about the trip, so she stepped out of her chaotic world and made the journey.
Never in her life had she been to such a place. The smells and colors, the markets and people, and the languages and landscapes swirled inside her head and heart. After returning home, Russell Rich sought out a professor to give her lessons in Hindi, and not long after this, she applied and was accepted into a year-long, intensive, language learning program in Udaipur, Rajasthan. Dreaming in Hindi was born of her experiences there.
The events that took place while Russell Rich learned Hindi transformed what would have been a purely academic book on language learning into a touching and passionate memoir. The book is filled with startling, poignant, and hilarious stories that include a fellow American student being sent home for writing death threats against a Hindu girl who rejected his advances in his school journal, accidentally appearing half-naked in a temple because she did not correctly drape her sari, and developing a close friendship with the Hindu women in the home in which she lived.
Dreaming in Hindi struck a cord deep in my heart, and I found myself longing to visit the country that Russell Rich describes. This book gives us permission to step out of our comfortable boxes, try something new, and perhaps, change our lives.