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What's the good word?

WORD CALL The THC solvers  

They came from California and Salem, Bangalore and Hyderabad. All for the love of The Hindu Crossword ( THC) .

For the first time, a group of 10 to 15 avid THC solvers from India and abroad got together to meet in person, right here in Chennai. All of them know each other — some for years — through the vibrant online THC community, including the popular Orkut group The Hindu Crossword Solutions (going strong with 1,250 members), and blogs and forums dedicated to the crossword. A few had met individually before, but this is the first time such a group meeting was taking place.

“It's all been virtual until now,” said Gita Iyer, who planned her trip down from Granite Bay, California, so that she'd be here in time for the meet.

Making an effort

Getting this geographically-dispersed group together was quite a task, and all of them had to work hard to make sure they made it — D. Srinivasan from Salem, for instance, postponed a planned trip to visit his son in Denmark by a week to be here.

Col. Deepak Gopinath, who runs the well-known blog, The Hindu Crossword Corner, flew down from Bangalore for a day before flying elsewhere for a meeting, and a group of crossword-loving doctors dashed in to meet everyone during a break in their medical conference.

The air of bonhomie at the lunch meeting at Rasam was infectious. Srinivasan drew out ‘the longest crossword ever' (1,000 clues down and across), unfolding it like an extra-long accordion over the lunch table to a lot of laughter and good-natured ribbing.

“It was given to me by a professor in 1974,” he said, smiling beatifically. “I've never finished it, but I carry it around and work on sections of it when I'm stuck somewhere waiting!”

Several newspaper crosswords — local and international — were dissected and analysed for everything from clues and content to placement and font (naturally, THC was the focal point). And then, the conversation turned to their many THC-solving acquaintances online from places such as the U.K. and Portugal, and even a mystery solver from Bermuda.

“I've had someone visiting my blog regularly from Bermuda, and I've asked him to identify himself, but he hasn't yet,” said the Colonel in his precise way (of course, this lead to many a quip about the Bermuda triangle).

Non-solvers such as yours truly learnt quickly that you have to watch what you say around a group like this — words are rapidly interpreted in multiple ways, with word play and puns being the order of the day. And, conversations have a way of veering off into detailed discussions of word-based trivia…

“You have to be careful what words you use around crossword enthusiasts!” laughed C.G. Rishikesh, one of the founder-members of the Orkut group.

But it wasn't just about words — a surprising number of personal connections were discovered as the afternoon wore on (it turned out, for example, that Gita knows Srinivasan's brother in Sacramento), and soon, the group was tracing out common friends and neighbours.

And even when the lunch was over, the get-together continued — virtually, of course. “All the pictures will be online immediately,” said Gita. “I have strict instructions from all the others around the world who couldn't make it!”

BONDING OVER CLUES

Orkut community: http://www.orkut.co.in/Main#Community.aspx?cmm=770537

Col. Gopinath's blog: http://thehinducrosswordcorner.blogspot.com/

THC @ The Hub: http://www.mayyam.com/hub/viewtopic.php?t=13471

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/thehinducrossword

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 10:11:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Whats-the-good-word/article16143582.ece

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