lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Lost in translation

Some people, sniff, some people just catch colds and shake them off. Not me. The colds I catch invariably mutate into secondary infections and more. And my doctor invariably insists on steam inhalation and worse.

It was no different this time, either. He prescribed medicines, steam inhalation and told me to stay in bed. I could vegetate in front of my computer; it is very restful, I said longingly. Nothing doing, he said.

"I know you." He said sternly. "Just go home, climb into bed and stay there for a couple of days."

Easier said than done. I know I am feeling wretched, but I just can't sleep during the day. So I collected the printout of the latest Genius crossword, and my crossword paraphernalia, a couple of old favourite novels and settled in bed.

Soon enough, I hit a roadblock in the crossword. I have been doing it off and on, it is a toughie and the last six solutions are proving elusive. I can't solve it feeling miserable as I do. I don't feel like reading. In serious trouble, is Missus Em.

Brainwave! Totter out of bed, get the latest jigsaw puzzle. Open the box. Make a beginning. Bed rest seems a wonderful thing now.

Some people don't get the point of jigsaw puzzles; some don't have the patience to create order out of the chaos of the tiles. Some people are philistines. I like jigsaws. I am not a fanatic about them like I am about crosswords, but I enjoy doing jigsaws and the rush of pleasure in fitting the last piece and seeing the complete picture. Read a lovely article about it.

There is something about finding the right tile and fitting it in, seeing the picture forming that is very conducive to thinking things through. As a part of your mind is devoted to finding patterns and colours, and fitting the pieces together another part will quietly tick over, and I find that as the puzzle gets closer to completion I'm closer to solving some entirely unrelated question, which has been nagging me, too.

This is a 1000 piece puzzle, Van Gogh's Café Terrace at night.

It's a lovely painting and considering it's a night scene, the colours are amazing. The warm yellow light, the way it colours the cobbles, the blobs of stars, and the texture of the tree and the awning…There is no true dark here, the luscious violets and greens and deep blues are hypnotic.

Now the thing to do when you tackle jigsaws is to get the perimeter sorted out first. So I spent a happy half an hour fishing out all the pieces with a straight edge, and I laid my feverish hands on all four that had two straight edges with great glee. I haven't found the corners this quickly ever. Ha. Bed rest has its uses.

Looking at the picture of the puzzle, as I sift the pieces for straight edges, is an education: I handle the pieces and think 'ah ha that is part of the tree, the café, the cobbles, the sky', and can't wait to get started.

Once most of the perimeter pieces are found, assemblage starts. I find that sorting pieces by colors piling them separately helps, as it helps to finish the part of picture that uses them. So I next grouped all the pieces I could find of the tree, the sky, and the cobbles, the greens and yellows of the awning. This also helps to switch from a part of the picture to another. When you just can't make any connections in one area, you find that working on another area refreshes the eye, and the jigsaw grows.

Jigsaws are not a hobby for impatient people. I take four or five days to complete a 500 piece puzzle, as I do have other things to do and my Sacred Duty as well. But this is the biggest I have attempted.

I have the tree assembled, and the darkest of the cobbles are coming along nicely and when I can't see the patterns in the cobbles I am piecing together the luminous sky. I am having much fun and the infection has mostly cleared up. I am back online and will get back to you soon.

And about the title of this post, go here.



Anonymous Ash said...

Sorry to hear you are unwell, Lali. Intersting links, and that's wonderful picture.

5:49 pm  
Anonymous Rajesh said...

Present, mam.

And I agree, it's a lovely painting. have fun. But don't neglect us.

7:54 pm  
Blogger JCR said...

I hope you feel better soon.

7:58 pm  
Blogger Rimi said...

Now I shall tell you what you don't know. The title of your post is ALSO the name of a movie. An Oscar nominated vun at zat. I forget if it won.

I've never done a 'proper' jigsaw in my like. Only paltry less-than-100 pieces kid stuff. Done, admittedly, when self was kid. Hehe.

12:13 am  
Blogger Rimi said...

And you stay in bed now! I didn't go to a doctor and see where that got me. A week at home in bed!

12:13 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ash- :-)

Rajesh- What was that again? *grin*

Katnuk- Hi there again. Thanks.

Rimi- Staying in bed only, being good only, Miss. Being very good only, Miss.

So they made a film out of the title? Fascinating. :-)

8:26 am  
Blogger Speech is Golden said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:16 am  
Blogger Speech is Golden said...

Lost in Translation' was a movie by Sofia Coppola (daughter of Francis Ford Coppola). It starred Bill Murray and the gorgeous Scarlet Johansson. As I recall it won Sofia the Oscar for best writing (and got nominated for a few more).

10:16 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ram- You are a storehouse of general knowledge, it is clear. I'm sure Rimi appreciates this. Tell me, has the script come out as a book? ;-)

11:22 am  
Blogger icarus prakash said...

my crossword paraphernalia

lalita : what does it comprise?

4:39 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Icarus Prakash- Pencil, eraser, sharpener, Crossword Companion, Concise OED, and Roget's.

I don't always need the books, but I keep them at hand, just in case. :-)

5:02 pm  
Blogger icarus prakash said...

Righto. thnx :-)

5:24 pm  
Blogger Priya said...

Heyyyy, this one's for G, I know;) Will keep this one in mind, when she gets stuck with hers. Right now, she's off jigsaws for a while and hooked to her kitchen set. Gaaah I hate when she gets into her "girly" moods:P

6:06 pm  
Blogger Rimi said...

Lali--good child ;-)

Ram--thank you so much. Saved me Googling :-)

7:11 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Icarus- Don't mention it, especially if you are going to make a post of it in chaste Tamil that I can't read. :-) Crossword-minded people are always welcome here and all that. :D

Priya- Just leave her be, will ya? I will teach her the basic guidelines when I see her next. She already knows waht is what, and so don't crib, darling.

Rimi- Ah, the Princess visits again. Thank you muchly, dear.

11:14 pm  
Anonymous badari narayanan said...

Heard this earlier? A guy is overflowing with happiness. He has finished a jigsaw puzzle in a mere two days although on the box, it is written 'for three years and above.' : )

9:53 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Badari- Indeed. I haven't heard this one. :D

11:44 am  

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