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3 Down

I was alerted on Twitter yesterday by @somsram with this ‘Say, Sanjay Subrahmanyan reigns in performance (6)’ and hashtagged #crypticcrossword. Further investigation and tweets revealed that this was the clue for 3 Down in The Hindu crossword 13382 in their print edition of 21st October 2021.This brought back a flood of memories about my personal journey with crosswords over the years. The sight of a family elder with a folded newspaper, pen or pencil in hand and the crossword page open was a common sight. I tried my hand first when I was about 7 or 8 and gave up very quickly. Then around 15/16 during a family holiday my dad explained a few things about cryptic crosswords. Things like anagrams, abbreviations, synonyms etc. so the next day I promptly got up early to try my hand at it. I spent ten minutes reading the clues, couldn’t understand anything and gave up. Around lunch time I noticed a few words had been filled in by my dad. Ok so some letters to work with. That was useful. Managed to solve one correctly and filled in the wrong word for another! The next day in school I had taken the crossword to show off to my friends. As I had it open in my desk during a free period, Mr Simeon Mascarenhas (English teacher) came up to me and said ‘ Never do a crossword with a pen!’ I did progress to solving the full puzzle a few times and then one day I couldn’t solve a single clue. That’s when my Father in Law said ‘they’ve changed the crossword setter this week!’The elders in the family had a few big crossword heroes from the earlier generation they always referred to in the same vein as Bradman or GNB. There was a Ramanathan Athimber who could solve a crossword puzzle with a pen as he read the clues out. He was known to give his daughters a 11 am deadline to finish, else he would take over.Then there was Appu Thatha as I knew him, stylish man who drank gin and had a British girlfriend in London in those days. He was the first crossword guide to some of my immediate family who passed on his tips and tricks to me and my siblings. ‘Large Australian bird starting with E and ending U (3)’ was a standard jibe when one struggled with an easy clue! My day was however made when a friend messaged me yesterday ‘Dei I saw your name in The Hindu crossword clue – today only you are a true Sangeetha Kalanidhi’ – So much for singing all these years!


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