Dreaming in Hindi – Katherine Russell Rich, copyright 2009.
Publisher: Portobello Books
Source: Personal Collection – Purchased New
Reason for Reading: It sounded interesting…?
I love stories, especially memoirs, about people immersing themselves in other cultures. I love laughing and smiling as they discover the quirks of a new world. I also can relate to the immense frustration faced by people struggling to learn a second language. Needless to say, I had really been looking forward to reading Dreaming in Hindi. From the very first page I started to get a sneaking suspicion that this book was not going to be what I had hoped.
From the back of the book:
“Having survived a serious illness and now at an impasse in her career, Rich spontaneously accepts a freelance assignment to go to India, where she finds herself utterly overwhelmed by the place and the language. Before she knows it, she is on her way to Udaipur, a city in Rajasthan, to live with a local family and join a special language school offering ‘total immersion’. What follows is a year of linguistic adventure and cultural surprises in which Rich gradually sheds her foreignness, to discover a new country and a new way of communicating. Both a clever, lucid and funny memoir, and a unique investigation into the science of language acquisition, Dreaming in Hindi offers an engrossing account of what learning a new language can teach us about distant worlds and, ultimately, ourselves.”
Oh dear me, how I was disappointed! I have never put a book down faster. I stopped reading around about page 50 when, for the tenth or so time, I had an overwhelming urge to throw the book across the room. The writing is all over the place. On any given page, Rich goes from talking about one subject to another to another to another, seemingly, without any connection. By the end of the page there are five separate paragraphs, all containing seemingly important topics, that don’t connect. The final straw was when she was talking about being in India on 9/11, her newfound ability to discern Hindi words taken from Sanskrit and, from out of nowhere, a sudden swerve towards possible vegetarianism, all in one page. I am sure that somewhere deep inside this memoir’s 350 pages, it becomes an incredible tale; I just don’t have the patience to get there.