The internet, every now and then, throws up great surprises—The Satyajit Ray Film and Study Center at University of California, Santa Cruz makes available scanned images of over 200 book, magazine and journal covers designed by Satyajit Ray. Covers such as this one for the book Khai Khai written by his father, Sukumar Ray.


The collection includes about two dozen and a half covers of the literary and cultural journal, Ekshan, founded by Nirmalya Acharya and Soumitra Chatterjee. For every issue of Ekshan, Ray drew or wrote the journal’s name afresh.


There are also close to forty covers of Sandesh, the children’s magazine started by his grandfather, Upendrakishore Ray, in 1913, run later by his father and uncle and revived by him in 1961 after 27 years of being of going unpublished.


Satyajit Ray’s calligraphy, lettering, illustration and graphic design works keep making an appearance on the internet, but this is the most comprehensive online resource of its kind that I have found till date. All the images for this post were sourced from this collection and it can be accessed in its entirety here. For those looking for some context to see these images in, Jayanti Sen’s Looking Beyond: Graphics of Satyajit Ray would be well worth the read.


Eenadu, a Telugu daily from Andhra Pradesh

I woke up today to the news that the International Herald Tribune is going to be known as the International New York Times from tomorrow. And since I was going through my collection of newspapers for some work, I thought it would be a good idea to scan all the nameplates and collect them in one place. My copy of the International Herald Tribune didn’t make it to the scanner today, but a handful of Indian newspapers did.

The growing collection of images is available on Flickr.


Loksatta, a Marathi daily printed in Devanagari script

Sakal Bela

A Bengali daily, Sakal Bela

So many people around me love and work with computers and computer science that their passion has slowly rubbed off on me. I’ve picked up things along the way, and with every tidbit my fascination has only been fueled further. Lately, I’ve begun to feel the same way about FOSS. And just like computers, the more I’ve learned about FOSS, the more interested I’ve become.

In the last few years, there has also been an influx of work and commentary around “free” and “open-source” typeface design. It was, after all, only a matter of time before this movement caught steam; I remember reading the Free Font Manifesto when I was in undergrad. For some time now, I have been thinking about the intersection of FOSS and typeface design from the sidelines. Reading what I can find and engaging in the one-off conversation with friends who are lawyers or software developers who work in FOSS. When I heard about GNOME foundation’s Outreach Programme for Women (OPW), I thought it was a great opportunity to finally get my hands dirty and mind jogging.

Come June 17, and I will join a group of fifty-odd women from around the world to become a participant in the latest round of OPW. In my three months as an intern, I will contribute to further development of GNOME’s UI font, Cantarell (designed originally by fellow Reading alumnus, Dave Crossland). There is a lot I hope to gain from this experience. The first is, of course, the chance to work with and within an open source community and to witness, first-hand, how they operate. After consultation with my mentor Jakub Steiner, I have decided to work on Greek and Cyrillic extensions to Cantarell. Working on non-native scripts is always a challenge, and it will be great to add to the limited, but growing experience I have with these two scripts. Through my interaction with the community online (and also offline if I end up attending GUADEC, GNOME’s annual conference), I will have the opportunity to be an advocate for good typeface design. Finally, being involved in the OPW will, hopefully, give me exposure certain to ideas in the FOSS community that could help me think more critically about typefaces, what they are and how they can be understood as software.

If you’d like to follow my FOSS summer adventure, I will be blogging about my work for the OPW at a separate, dedicated blog. Every now and then, I will also cross-post, like I am doing today and those posts will all be collected here.

Amar Jyoti

Last year, the Delhi Typerventions group put up a Devanagari-Bharati Braille installation at Amar Jyoti School, an institute for the visually-impaired, in Delhi. I, of course, was in faraway Cupertino then, but it didn’t stop me from making a small contribution—designing the Devanagari lettering and composing it with the Braille.

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 9.14.04 PM

The most challenging part of this project turned out to be figuring out how to accurately convert the Devanagari poem that had been selected for the installation to Bharati Braille. Tried as I did, it was impossible to find any comprehensive resources online or a converter that would let the lay person convert short texts (most converters I did find were proprietary and prohibitively expensive). I shared my woes with Nirbheek, who helped me a great deal in doing this conversion. Pretty soon, we were discussing the idea of making our very own Bharati Braille converter. A few months of work, a lot of research and many hiccups later, we are finally ready to release the first version.

Introducing Devanagari to Bharati Braille Converter!

The converter is fairly basic at this stage—it can only convert text, and not mathematical content, for instance. We hope to make it more comprehensive with time, and also add support for more Indian scripts. What’s more, it is free and open source. Please do give it a try and spread the word to those who you think can benefit from a tool like this!

Since I got back to India a couple of months ago, I’ve spent a lot of time going through boxes in my parent’s house and sorting old books. In these boxes I’ve found a lot of unexpected things (the highlight, a 1893 edition of Chambers’ etymological dictionary) and some old favorites, like this set of two books called “Tales from Indian Classics”. I grew up reading these over and over again. One of the reasons I loved them as much as I did were the illustrations—bold and expressive, and in just two colors, black and orange. It is only today while flipping through them did I realize that they were drawn by Pulak Biswas, an illustrator I have come to adore in adulthood. Who knew I had been a fan for twenty years!


These books were first published in 1965 by Children’s Book Trust, cartoonist Shankar’s children’s publishing initiative, and my copies are a reprint twenty-four years later. Along with Amar Chitra Katha and mythological television shows on weekends, they were my source for stories from the Hindu epics. In my imaginary box of things in which I collect things I’d like to pass on to my future children (or nieces and nephews), these books are right on top of the pile!


After weeks of not being able to make it, I finally spent a day at the Computer History Museum in Mountainview. It was one of the places I really wanted to visit before I head back home after the internship. The museum is currently home to a working model of Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine No. 2, and has an exhibition about the history of computing called Revolution on display. Here is a collection of images of some of my favorite objects from the museum:

Analog computing machines such as the Difference Engine, and a great collection of slide-rules and mechanical calculators.

1. Printing apparatus from the Difference Engine No. 2
2. J. Amsler-Laffon’s Mechanical Integrator, 1883
3. Coptometer, Felt & Tarrant, 1890
4. Monroe LA5-160 Calculator, 1940s

And early digital computers like the UNIVAC and ENIAC, and a charming display of robotics.

1. UNIVAC I Supervisory Control Console, Remington Rand, 1951
2. UNIVAC Unimatic Terminal, 1970
3. SAGE, IBM, 1959
4. Omnibot 2000, Tony Kyogo, 1985


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