Followers of The Hindu Crossword Corner blog meet up in Bangalore

“If there is a three-minute or a four-minute delay in putting up the crossword, I get restless. I press the refresh button on my computer screen at least a dozen times until the crossword is put up,” says Gita Iyer, a resident of California in the United States.

Ms. Gita was one of the 386 followers of The Hindu Crossword Corner blog who turned up for the fifth meeting of Sloggers and Bloggers, an impromptu session of crossword setters and solvers, here on Sunday.

Bloggers from Chennai, California, Bangalore, and Mangalore came here to meet their virtual friends and competitors.

They greeted each other by their virtual names and a member was heard asking “Did you know A.R. Devanathan was Arden?”

Right from the names of bloggers, the interaction was in the form of clues and it took them less than a few minutes to warm up to their virtual friends. Every conversation that started with their family, food or career had to have an association with crosswords.

“Long live the blog,” said a member raising a toast to The Hindu crossword blog, started by Col. Deepak Gopinath, who was inspired by a similar venture launched by a Chinese woman which had American crosswords.

“All other Indian newspapers have crosswords that are prepared in the U.S or U.K. The Hindu is the only newspaper that has setters that are Indian and has a local flavour,” the member added.

Apart from offering help in making corrections, the running commentary by bloggers makes the crossword solving experience complete, they said. The answers to the crossword appearing in the newspaper are up on the blog as early as 8.30 a.m.

Sixty-nine-year-old C.G. Rishikesh, a former journalist, is one of the oldest bloggers. He has also been solving The Hindu crosswords right from the first one when it was launched in 1971. He has solved 10,000 crosswords and says he is game for more. Popularly known as Gridman, the setter laughs when asked about his nickname, “I put words into the grid.”

He recollects days when he would use a dictionary to find words to make them fit in the grid “Today, everything is computerised and can be done at the click of the mouse.”

The youngsters of the group hope that the veterans would help them master the art. Khushnoor, a new member of the blog says, “I knew what to expect from the meeting and everybody is exactly like their virtual identity.”

The members say that solving a crossword takes them anywhere between 10 to 40 minutes depending on the level of difficulty. Ms. Gita adds, “Seeing the setter’s name, I can tell you how long it is going to take me solve the crossword.”

The group unanimously agrees that discovering words makes their worlds go round. However, another member Shuchismita Upadhyay says, “Good vocabulary alone is not enough for solving crosswords. Cryptic crosswords require lateral thinking and an ability to decipher indirect meanings.”

The link to the blog is http://thehinducrosswordcorner.blogspot.in/

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