When the world was all Down and Across!
“1a 6d 30a”
These would be my first messages from my phone every day. My daily ritual used to be simple. After getting up, I would go to get my cup of coffee and the daily newspaper. Missing either one of these would make my day incomplete. Sipping on my cup, I would eagerly turn to the crossword page to see if I could make out at least one on the first glance. My assumption was that no matter how tough the crossword, I could make out at least one of them on the first glance. Usually I did. Then comes the routine of going to class. It never varied too much. Every morning I would take off the crossword page and set off to class. Once I settle on to my seat, I would open the sheet of paper and start pondering. That would set the tone for the day.
Crosswords were never my first love. Not even my third or fourth for that matter. I got smitten by crossies since KS’07. It was the first cultural festival in the college and so we decided to take a shot at the English events. I fondly remember the days when we formed a team of three – Myself, Thatha and Boraat. Our performance was pathetic to say the least. The one that we faired the best was in etymology. I loved solving the anagrams and stuff. So from the day after the event , I decided to give a shot at the Hindu Crossword.
I have to thank people who chipped in with me from the first day. Amrith, Gaddam, Borat and thatha were the original partners in crime. How can I forget days when we would take the crossword to every classroom and lab that we attended? Initially I would come up with two to three answers every day. Amrith would get around 6 atleast. Gaddam was brilliant, he would solve the cryptic ones along with Borat. (Now Borat would otherwise be engaged with the hibernation experiment that he conducted for the three years of class that I spent with him.) As days went by, we got better and so did the clues. Some of the clues would be well framed. My most favorite one would be – “A little bit of weight added to spoil the rules of the language (7)”. Some would be downright baffling. We would break our heads the whole day trying to figure them out. I remember going from one room to another in the hostel trying out possibilities on the dictionary software to solve clues. I was practically absorbed into crossies. As days went by, we got better. We used to dream of solving the crossie completely at least once.
In the third year, people like Bounce, Pathsarthi became classmates. Though the concept of classmates may be controversial with bounce , he was more of the hostel co-inmate, if you could use the word. In class we would spend hours and hours on crossies. If there was a time when we would forego them it would be the Bhajji break. Those days were great . And One day we did manage to finish a crossie. Happy days. Thanks to Nita Jaggi, who we are not sure is male or female. Years rolled on, we would do the same. The classroom environment was very conducive to solving crosswords. Nowhere else could I find the kind of ambience required to concentrate.
All credit to all my friends who have made my college life so beautiful. I will and do meet these people regularly (online), but it will be hard to find the situation that we found ourselves in. I still try solving crosswords every day, it relives the memories of a classroom where we would spread that black and white sheet of The Hindu on our tables to solve that little thing in black and white (at least most days!)
p.s – I may have forgotten TP kaapi and thatha’s role in our daily quest. But it would be hard to forget their collective responses. Thatha being the senior citizen was the repository of non-answers. You could eliminate his responses J. Just kidding thatha would stun me with some blinders too. As with TP, the wannabe kangaroo, he was more intent in listening to class and hence he was not too much of a regular.
As for our terrible trio at the cults, I remember sneaking out through the window during an event!!!!! J.