Mythili Iyer has always been a word nerd. Games such as Scrabble and Wordscapes have always held a special fascination, and so it is not surprising to know she has taken to Wordle big time.
But adjusting one’s life as per the well-known word game’s daily puzzle, does come somewhat as a surprise.
The Sydney-based grandmother wakes at four every morning to do her Wordle.
“It is like I have an automatic alarm,” Mythili laughs. “I am up at 4, and reach for my Wordle.”
If you are not across this word-based sensation yet, Wordle is an online game in which you have 6 attempts to identify a 5-letter word.
There are prompts as you go along, indicating that the letter you have picked is not in the word, or in a different spot than you have allocated, or in the spot you have allocated. There’s no time limit.
There’s only one word daily, and everybody else is playing to identify this one word. You can share your results on social media, but only the path you took to get the correct answer, not the correct answer itself.
Describing her Wordle journey to Indian Link, Mythili says, “You could say I’m hooked! I was introduced to it by my niece who lives in the US. The first time I played it, I got a score of 3/6, and so was motivated. I couldn’t wait for the next day, to do it again. I was like a little kid!”
Two months on, she still can’t wait for 24 hours, once her daily ritual is completed successfully.
“I try to hold back from rising at 4, telling myself that I should wait for the day to begin before getting on to Wordle, but it’s no use, my mind is fully active.”
She posts her score online every day, often with a comment such as “Difficult word today, not commonly in use” when the target word was – famously – CAULK.
Mythili, who speaks four languages, loves to talk about Wordle strategies, happily describing hers and asking you for yours.
She also loves to talk about the game and its origins, particularly its Indian link. The New York-based software developer Josh Wardle created it for his partner Palak Shah, she’ll describe. “She helped him with the early task of sorting through some 13,000 words,” she’ll elaborate admiringly.
She also keeps up with Wordle in the news – such as when a woman knew something was wrong with her elderly mum because she hadn’t posted her daily Wordle.
We’re sure she gets a thrill from articles about Wordle in which the 5-letter words are written out in all-caps, or when some of them are written with 5 empty spaces for you to fill in. (The temptation was strong in this particular piece as well, and forged a debate about whether we should buck the —–. Oops, we didn’t).
Why do you think Wordle is so popular, we ask her.
“It brings people together especially in these pandemic times,” she offers. “Whatever the reason is, the world has become Wordle-crazy.”
Have there been any exasperating experiences?
“Oh yes – when the word of the day comes in American spelling. I can’t stand it!”
Wordle has spurred Mythili on to other spinoffs, such as Nerdle, a daily numbers game in which you guess a number in six attempts, with each guess being a calculation.
“I’m getting the hang of it now,” Mythili reveals. “It took me a while, as I did not get the thrill of it. But with daily practice, I’m getting there. My daughter loves it.”
We think Mythili will be particularly good at Worldle (where you guess the country of the day), but perhaps she’ll be put off with Absurdle, Squirdle, Squable, and definitely Sweardle and Lewdle (where, um, you guess the rude word of the day).
But she might not want to go there, given she has been indulging even more new passions lately, like painting.
“I have just started painting with water colours,” she tells us. “I attend online workshops, and order my paints on Amazon.”
Classical Indian music has been a lifelong passion (her pieces on local Carnatic music events have featured in this very publication).
“Currently I’m involved with the stage production Kannagi, for which I was one of the Australia-based musicians who composed the score. It is on at Riverside Theatres later this month. My piece, a padam, is based on three different ragas.”
There seems to be no end to Mythili’s interests.
“I aim to keep those brain cells working,” she laughs. “I do love interacting with people younger than me. I find I learn a lot from their world. It helps me stay young too.”
She might be on to something there with Wordle, given experts have claimed it stimulates the centres of the brain that process both language and logical reasoning, fosters social engagement, gives us a dopamine hit following a sense of personal achievement and is a ritual that serves a role in daily life, like prayer.