Crass Word

Written in


Why is The Hindu a dutiful child with bright, shiny and healthy teeth?

Because, it mostly copies The Guardian and pastes a lot.

Update: I am informed by James that the amount of copy pasting is not enough to warrant the joke above. So readers be informed that the above exists just for joke’s sake.

Well, not the news items or editorials, which are creditably original and dreadfully dull, but the crossword, which in particular, is rather unoriginal. I fail to understand why we (Indian cryptic crossword buffs i.e.) must continue to be adept at

  • British pub terminology
  • Scottish Towns and Castle names
  • Pommie boy and girl names (all those “Girl and boy with you in the middle becomes a yearly affair” type clues – ANN U AL),
  • completely Brit acronyms like MO for doctor (Medical Officer)
  • and other anachronistic verbiage.

Don’t we have crossword setters who set their cryptic clues with much more localized context. Imagine the possibilies for subtle and allusive clues with all our diversity.

ps: Readers who are not fans of cryptic crosswords, it’s a little hard to squeeze in a guide in a blog post. But suffice to say that solving a good cryptic is one of life’s great pleasures. Cryptic crosswords stretch one’s brain into interesting shapes and directions as they demand quite a bit of lateral thinking.

For e.g. how would we design a Chennai-centric, contemporary English cryptic crossword for The Hindu? Plis to excuse for the poor quality clues and shady crossword structure for I am not a pro at crosswords. Perhaps she should start doing this.




Click here to see how this would look like in The Hindu

The solution will be posted early next week. Feel free to post answers in the comments section.

Update: Oh well. Looks like Scudie , Praveen and Siddharth have solved pretty much most of it. So here’s the solution, along with the fundaas.


2 Strange matter of GMail failure (5) – GILMA (GMail “failure” (anagram) is strange matter (gilma))
3 Fawn upon the department in charge
of college entrances (4) – DOTE (Dept of Technical Education, “dote” also means “to fawn on”)
6 Auspicious patterns on the floor (5) – KOLAM – straightforward
10 Apostle group show off (5,5) – PETER PARTY (Apostle – Peter, group – Party, showoff = peter party)
12 Gary’s country goes after the water
for general kasamusa activities (5) – JALSA (Gary (Kirsten)’s country – SA, goes after the water (JAL))
13 Invitatn 2 tlk ls, rite mr (4,3) – FREE SMS (Invitation to talk less, write more)
14 Question Tom about insectile barrier (8,3) – MOSQUITO NET (Anagram of “Question Tom”)
18 Aped Senora deliberately and drank
carbonated drink in essence. (6,4) – PANEER SODA (Anagram of Aped Senora)
19 Steamed pancake in horrid lining (4) – IDLI (found “in” horrid lining)
20 Stoical entrant stumbles into a lot
of platforms (7,7) – CENTRAL STATION (Anagram of “stoical entrant”, has a lot of platforms)
21 Paint the town 98410 72571 (1,5,5,4) – P JAMES MAGIC SHOW
22 Amaklamatic Elephant loses illumination (8) – GAJABUJA (Ok. This was a slightly shady one. Elephant – GAJA, loses illumination – BUJA (Hindi) = Gajabuja, which is amaklamatic)


1 Cutting classes to continue to
sleep here, presumably (4) – BUNK
2 Gulf news paper, we hear, is rather dirty (6) – GALEEJ (“sounds like” KHALEEJ, which is a newspaper in the gulf)
3 Divine being crudely hailed for
drink, we hear (5) – DEITY (Crudely hailed – DEI (in tamil) + TEA, we hear, therefore TY)
4 Goodbye. I say no to ridiculously
cheap automobile (4,4) – TATA NANO
5 North Indians say enough to get approval
for ticketless travel (3, 4) – BUS PASS (North Indians say enough – BUS, to get approval – PASS, ticketless travel – bus pass)
7 Where planetary positions are aligned,
union decisions get made. (9,4) – HOROSCOPE MEET
8 It buzzes with complete elevated traffic (7) – FLYOVER
9 Senthil’s “other” fruit (6) – BANANA (reference to the legendary joke)
11 Anglicized Rasam (11,4) – MULLIGTAWNY SOUP
15 Rising Son, or dictator? (6) – STALIN (Reference to DMK’s rising “son” and the russian dictator)
16 Immediately, a betel leaf?
Completely inneffective! (10) – SOONAPAANA (Immediately – SOON, a, Betel leaf? – PAANA?)
17 Sounds like Gallic extraction is
panacea for all ills (6,3) – FRANCH OIL (French – Gallic, sounds like)

38 responses to “Crass Word”

  1. Vijay Avatar

    Even i have felt the same about these cross words over the years.Previously i used to sit down and try solving them but,only end up filling two blocks of them.It even went to the extent of creating a fear of ignorance in me.

    Now,let me try your crossword now..

  2. Lalita Avatar

    The challenge is in learning trivia, about Poms, Ozzies, or learning words like billabong or taramasalata. So is the fun, but perhaps a quarter century of solving cryptic crosswords from the Times London and the Guardian makes it so for me.

    Now how do I submit my solutions to yours? And KA, clicking on your comments is like singing all the verses to the Hedgehog Song and waiting for the egg to boil, it takes absolutely ages and aeons.
    Ashok: Alternatives to the comments section include traditional forms of communication such as email, printout/solve/scan/upload to blog etc 🙂

  3. Arvind Avatar

    Ah. Just finished the Hindu Crossword… A bonus cryptic for today 🙂

    You might want to use Crossword Compiler to set more such crossies. You can feed in your own Madras bashai wordlist and then let it form nice anagrams for you….

  4. Marc Avatar

    I’m just glad someone else sees how dull The Hindu’s articles are.

    The Deccan Chronicles goes one step further and publishes relationship advice columns from foreign newspapers! Even when they are completely inapplicable to Indians!

  5. Lalita Avatar

    No interactive java stuff? Boohoo. I suppose I am spoilt.
    Ashok: Java applets. Nah. Don’t like them much. Could try javascript but strips everything out in the name of security

  6. Praveen Krishnan Avatar
    Praveen Krishnan

    Some that I could crack. Hilarious!

    2 Gilma
    6 Kolam
    12 Jalsa
    14 Mosquitoe Net
    19 Idli
    21 P James Magic Show

    1 Bunk
    2 Galeej
    4 Tata Nano
    7 Horoscope Meet
    9 Pazham (?)
    11 Mulagitawny Soup
    15 Stalin
    17 Castor Oil

  7. Siddharth S Avatar

    18 . Paneer Soda

  8. Siddharth S Avatar

    20. Central Station

    8. Flyover (??)

  9. Sid S Avatar

    20. Central Station
    8. Flyover (???)

  10. Sid S Avatar
    Sid S

    5. “Bus” – Like (???) or Bus – ride ???

  11. Sid S Avatar
    Sid S

    13. Chat Spk

  12. Lavanya Avatar

    Kudos! Your crossword is a sociolinguist’s delight.

  13. maxdavinci Avatar

    surrututhalaiyan! besh besh…..

    sorry I havent been the samathu payyan types who solve crosswords. To me it seems like a chessboard gone wrong…..

  14. bombaygirl Avatar

    Go Praveen & Sid! All I got was kolam and idli. And here I thought I was a crosswords expert. Not so much when it comes to local chennai slang/words. 😦

  15. Ganesh T S Avatar

    As a cryptic crossword enthusiast, I partially agree with you regarding the use of certain outdated and irrelevant acronyms in The Hindu Crosswords.

    The weekday crosswords are not set by a single person, and every compiler has his or her own idiosyncrasies which has probably come through after years and years of solving crosswords from British newspapers and slowly getting used to their style.

    The Sunday crossword is a direct lift-off from a British newspaper, and so you really can’t fault the usage of British-centric terms in it. Remember that the Sunday crossword which goes without solution for a week is supposed to be tougher than the weekday ones.

    As far as Chennai-centric clues go, we had one from 9118 published on 11th Jan, 2008:

    5 Erupt violently after Cooum oddly reveals fancy calculator (8)

    Go figure!

  16. scudie Avatar

    17 D – Franch Oil ( N H enga pa!)
    9D – Banana
    10D – Mulligatwny Soup
    4D – Tata Nano
    15D – Stalin
    8D – Flyover
    7D – Horoscope Meet
    2D – Galeej
    5D – Bus Pass
    16D – Velaikaala

    3A – Dote
    19A – Idli
    2A – Gilma
    6A – Kolam
    18A – Paneer Soda
    20A – Central Station
    12A – Jalsa
    14A – Mosquito Net

    The other ones are making me lose sleep.. Especially Amaklamatic Elephant.. nnngghh!!!

    Praveen.. P James Magic Show! flabbergasted..

    Krish, boss.. neenga engeyo poiteenga..

  17. scudie Avatar

    ganesh, answer is COMPUTER

    indha go figure na enna? sight adikardha apdi stylea solreengla?

  18. Ganesh T S Avatar

    scudie, serious a kaekkareengala, illa leg pulling a??

    Anyways, wanted to add some more thoughts:

    Some compilers also substitute Mala and Gita for ‘girl’, and it need not always be ANN or MEG…

    As I said, it depends on what the compiler has been exposed to in his formative years as a cruciverbalist..

  19. ancient mariner Avatar

    me too a big fan of the THC..though not the Sunday one…

  20. guru Avatar

    late entrant! but had a tummy aching time reading the answers to the clues!

    you should start a syndicated local crossword! only problem is, i don’t see the guys at hindu committing such sacrilege as publishing your crossword! 😛

  21. Ravages Avatar

    Che. Slicha late. I got most of across (except Soda) and the downs (not the feathers) that I tried – knowing that you’d have got answers already.

    Weekly feature in the making?

  22. bugs18 Avatar

    Totally agree with you…worse than the daily ones are the Sunday Literary crosswords!!!

  23. Ramsu Avatar

    You warm the cockles of a crossie veteran’s heart! I grew up doing the Hindu cryptic crossword, and spent much time wondering about their abbreviations. Over the past few years, I’ve been doing the ET crossword semi-regularly, and it is no different. You’d see words like “odd”, which you’re supposed to translate to “rum”. I doubt anyone since PG Wodehouse ever used that term.


  24. Kamath Avatar

    Just saw this one – unfortunately, AFTER all the answers have been put up… would certainly have liked to try it!

    Krish, could you call me or send me your number? Need to talk regarding crossies and similar others in Delhi and fests…

  25. Bikerdude Avatar

    You’d be the samaththu son my parents never had. Many a happy day will you have spent doing various cryptics.

    Needless to say, Sooober apu!

  26. Ambika Avatar

    The Hindu is boring I agree. Hope u come up with more “crasswords”. Super!!

  27. scudie Avatar

    cha, soonapaana nu oru blog-a redulara padichiyum enaku adhu thonaama pochey..

    thanks for the link to my blog, makes me wanna write something regularly..

    commenters, lets have a vote for the best clue (or funniest clue)

    my vote would be for P James Magic Show.. its an indicator of the time krish spends peeeing on the walls on chennai streets.. :p

  28. kavitha Avatar

    from ramayanapedia to crasswords..thx for giving us the weekly dose of entertainment..

  29. Arunk Avatar

    :). As usual extremely innovative.

    Here is a few more for the madras tamil experts. Admittedly, these are shadier than your 22-down.

    An inlet in the sea and a vessel sounds like a conundrum(6)
    Idiot is a cross between Kamal and a Sam (8)
    Mega Ajit hit contains something about cricket batting (5)

    Answers (all spelt backwards):
    rajyab i.e. yab + raj

  30. James  Mylaporean Avatar
    James Mylaporean

    Ashok : I am not the defence counsel for Mount Road Mahavishnu, but I am personally acquainted with a Chennai gentleman who has been devising the MRM crossword for the last 15 years. Perhaps they do copy / paste from The Guardian occasionally but not all the time.
    Ashok: Ah. Updated post to reflect this

  31. James  Mylaporean Avatar
    James Mylaporean

    Ashok : Thanks pa.
    btw, this gentleman is required to submit 15 puzzles at a time to MRM, involving a lot of time / energy / creativity 🙂

  32. Karan Avatar

    Can I sue you for wasting ten minutes of my life? :p

  33. Suraksha Avatar

    Lmao! Had fun with this one – keep ’em coming! 😀

  34. […] In a post on his blog, he outlines his vision for a more Chennai-centric crossword. […]

  35. K.Ramachandran Avatar

    nice one.
    btw, i love hindu crosswords. TOI’s is too tough. This is just right for me. and its anachronistic or archaic only for under-35’s , its fine for ppl above 45 . mebbe Hindu cud come out with 3 x-w’s: over-45’s, youth, and a toughie .

  36. litterateuse Avatar

    Much as I’m out-gilmaed, that’s a good localized version! Incidentally there have been a few localized versions of the cryptic – The Pune Times (and even Bangalore I think) had one. Except, it was so ill-conceived, you just wanted the guy to go back to standard.

    I’ve mentioned a guide & a (now almost dead) mailing list on this page if you like solving.

    1. Praveen Avatar

      Just adding to the above

      iyer boy of french times wearing trouser without hesitation is skillful (12)

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