Imagine learning Hindi with this notebook.

I work in Hauz Khas Village, an urban village in New Delhi, which is surrounded by an urban forest, and has within its boundaries the ruins of a 13th century Madarssa and a vast lake that you wouldn’t expect in the middle of a sprawling city. Hauz Khas Village is also home to a very large number of design studios and boutiques, curio shops and art galleries. This post is not meant to be about the Village, but about a nifty notebook I bought myself for my birthday a couple of months ago. What got me started about the Village is the fact that this notebook is both designed and produced by, as well as sold by enterprises that are run from the Village. This reminded me that the neighborhood I work from is an exciting and interesting place, something that I tend to forget because I have to be there every morning.

Coming back to the notebook, it is called Devanagari, and is produced by Suryastra, an integral media agency that provides service through publishing, production and promotion. The notebook is priced at Rs. 150, and comes with the by-line “Imagine learning Hindi with this notebook”. This is what it looks like:

The notebook begins with a short introduction to the Devanagari script, and then a key to the pronunciation of the letters that are used to read/write Hindi. Each spread after that has a letter on the left page with its roman equivalent, as well as a word (starting with that letter), its illustration and roman pronunciation on the right.

It concludes by summing up with a list of vowel characters and signs, consonants and meanings for all the words used throughout the book.

I’ll be honest, when I saw the book on the shelves at Yodakin, I rushed to it like a crazy person. I mean I rarely see anything titled so obviously close to my interests. I flipped through it quickly, more as a ritual than anything else, and bought it. The notebook is an interesting idea, no doubts about that, but now that I have had months to look through it, there are things I wish had been done differently. Wouldn’t it have made more sense if the notebook was called “Hindi” instead of “Devanagari”? I wonder what they’ll do if they design a book for Marathi, Sanskrit or Nepali. Plus, their typeface selection could have been better.

That being said, I’d love it if they would come out with a notebook for a language/script I am unfamiliar with so I can test out if these notebooks really work! 🙂

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