Vasai: Everyday I cross swords with crossword early in the morning. The morning cup of tea, daily newspaper and crossword have have been the daily routine for more than four decades ever since my school teacher introduced me to this game.
For me this was the cheapest form of indulgence and mental calisthenics. Like millions all over the country, I still prefer to play it the good old way on the pages of newspapers, even though the game has gone ballistic, and highly technical, with the advent of the internet.
And also like millions, I have not attempted to become an expert or a professional. I just leave the game when I am not able to complete it. There are days when I complete the puzzle at just one sitting, but not everyday. I have grabbed the offer of highly discounted dailies and subscribed to them simply because I did not wish to discontinue with this routine. Today’s youngsters would prefer to play it on the computer screens.
Some years ago, circulation managers of tabloids used crossword to boost numbers with generous offers of prizes. But then thousands of people bought these papers and solved puzzles only to pass time while travelling long distances on buses and trains, vouching for its popularity.
Crossword is entertaining, attracting generations since 1913 when it was first introduced. Researchers have listed the benefits of these puzzles. They say that it is more than just a pass time activity, a boredom buster, but rather it is beneficial to career growth and mental health.
Playing crossword has improved my vocabulary. The foundation of any language is its words and the capacity of a person can be gauged by his education level, profession and social status just by the way he talks. It’s not difficult to learn any language or grasp its vocabulary. But what is required is using and practicing it, and to some extent crossword helps.
Most of the graduates in our country are found lacking in communication skills because their vocabulary is very limited. When they try to communicate, they struggle with words. They forget and fumble. However, no matter how many times they fumble to use the appropriate words, they ought to complete the conversation. Forgetting is not a problem, but ending up from where they began is the problem.
If they add solving crossword puzzles to their daily regime, it will contribute to their vocabulary enhancement. By reading the clues and putting the words together their mind will be exercised, and thereby their verbal skills will be expanded. They will be able to communicate in a better way, and employers and interviewers will be able to understand them more easily.
Crossword releases stress. Each one of us gets stressed. With everything happening in our surrounding, there is a need to chill out and relax. But before you grab that bottle of beer, think of playing crossword. It is like meditation, or a prayer session. You have only one goal – to complete the puzzle, and you forget everything else in the world and leave the stressful factors behind. You avoid the world, quiet the noises and concentrate, which releases your stress. This improves mental health. When you are free of stress, you are able to lead a happier life.
Crossword improves mental health because the brain keeps working on a continuous basis, and the cells are activated. By doing crossword, the ability to think creatively is enhanced. Since it is a brain consuming activity, it enhances the analytical and cognitive skills. Crossword is not taught, or encouraged, in our schools or colleges. I have come across crossword puzzles in textbooks but these are very simplistic, and do not contribute much for studies.
If our educationists can ask professionals to create crossword puzzles that are tough to crack, that will test the limits of mental stamina of students, and make them go on a wild goose chase all over the internet in search of exact words, it will go a long way in improving the quality of our education system without having to invest in heavy infrastructure. Moreover, it will wean students away from meaningless computer games to which they are now hooked.
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