Short stories, Travel and Health Information
I was at the birthday party of a friend the other day (one of the first since COVID restrictions were lifted) and, as traditionally happens at these events, the men were having their pre-dinner drinks in one corner while the women were segregated in another corner of the room chatting among themselves.
This archaic Sri Lankan custom is very good, I imagine, for the livers of those who drink alcohol and the stomach ulcers of all those who have to wait until late in the night to get some food into their stomachs.
Anyway I was holding forth, a bit louder than usual, when I made the mistake of saying loud enough for all around me to hear, “So I beat my wife again yesterday”.
There was pin drop silence, I am told, among the chatting ladies who had heard me loud and clear. I guess they were all waiting for me to continue on this subject of wife beating and domestic violence.
Fortunately, oblivious to the interest generated by my statement, I went on “Yes, since I got this new Scrabble app, I no longer lose to her every time I play Scrabble. I now manage to win the occasional game myself”.
My wife, who was with this group of ladies at this time, felt a collective sigh of relief emanate from them as they returned to their interrupted conversations, relieved no doubt that I was not unleashing domestic violence on my poor wife.
Now even though genteel society in Colombo does not talk about it, domestic violence is not uncommon in our country – as was clearly showed by the 2019 Women’s Wellbeing Survey, published last year by the Department of Census and Statistics.
It is a problem that is prevalent not just in Sri Lanka but all over the world.For example, Ms Hayley Foster, chief executive of Women’s Safety, New South Wales in Australia, reported that “2020 will be remembered as the worst year for domestic violence that we have experienced in this country“.
But that is a topic for another day.
My topic this month is about preserving brain function – and the effect that activities like Scrabble, Bridge, Crosswords, Sudoku and the like have on helping us to keep our brains young as we age.
It goes without saying that as we get older, one of the best way of preserving our brain function – our ability to remember and reason and think – is to keep the brain well supplied with oxygenated blood. Anything that narrows and damages the arteries supplying blood to the brain, like smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, can reduce blood flow to the brain. Moreover, activities such as regular physical exercise, yoga and tai chi that ensure that your blood circulation functions well also help to maintain brain cell function.
But in order to keep your brain sharp as you get older there are a few practical techniques that you can use. Aim to remain mentally active. Challenging your brain with mental exercise serves to activate processes that nurture individual neurones in the brain and stimulate communication along nerve pathways. Even if you continue with a job you enjoy that keeps you mentally active, try learning a new skill or developing a new hobby that encourages you to use neural pathways that you previously did not. Learning a new language is a great way of sharpening your brain. So is playing games like chess, bridge, or Scrabble. Doing crosswords, Sudokus or jigsaw puzzles helps – as does learning a musical instrument.
Having played Scrabble when I was much younger, I decided that taking up Scrabble again would be a good way to activate the inadequately utilised nerve pathways in my brain and sharpen my brain function as I get older.
As I myself did, you too will probably find that undertaking the brain exercising hobby of playing Scrabble with your spouse makes it more enjoyable.
Try it and see.
It will be good for you – even if your wife beats you more often than you can beat her.