Sudoku Master

Pictures of Aiee and Pappa by Arun Shanbhag

My father had his heart surgery in Nov and has recovered amazingly well. Days after his chest was flayed open to replace his aortic valve, he was up in his hospital bed solving Sudoku puzzles. My brother had made large grids and copied puzzles from the web and newspaper – a binder full. Nurses were impressed and wanted to learn too. But with tubes sticking out of him he couldn't speak much. So he had the rules taped to the front of the binder, which he would pass around.

As I had heard of this, one of the things I took for him was a Sudoku book. Soon after we arrived at my brothers in Blackpool, I gave him the book and went to sleep. A few hours later when we came down for breakfast, he surprised me:

Papa: I am nearly done with the book.
Me: You solved all the puzzles in a few hours?
Papa: No, I started on the toughest one and am making progress. What's the point of solving the remaining easy and moderate puzzles!

His logic was irrefutable. When I expressed an interest in learning, he handed me the binder with rules taped on the front. Inside were all the puzzles he had solved, including ones from a national tournament. I started with a couple of the easy ones. By the end of the week, I could take on the moderate ones. After a few years perhaps, the challenging ones.

While his mind is as sharp as ever, age seems to be taking its toll on his physical body. The skinny frame is well hidden under layers of clothing. We bought some wrist weights (3 lbs each) and I showed him a few arm exercises to help him start to build muscle and gain strength. He walks back and forth in the driveway for 30 minutes each day. I think he is going to be fine in Mumbai where the weather is moderate and he has his circle of friends on Colaba Causeway. You may spot him there solving or teaching others Sudoku. Stop and visit, you may learn something. I still am learning … and will for ever!

Thank you all for your wishes.

Oh! On an interesting note, there is actually a town in England called Arun. Please don't call me if your 'refuse' is not collected or the 'street lights fail,' but I will certainly accept your car parking fines! hee hee!

6 thoughts on “Sudoku Master

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  1. Haaa..thts ur humbleness now! The effort and time that goes in doing just that, is worthwhile and is worth a praise. 🙂
    We are doing well, just settling in now.
    So you know where to come, when u will finally make that plan of visiting NZ. I will wait too, for Meera to grow up a bit, so that I meet all 3 of you.
    And thank you for your encouragement.
    Actually the the blog is co-authored by me and my cousin, ur namesake. I write sporadically, but have plans of starting afresh and doing justice to it more often.
    The link is
    Thanks a ton again.
    Looking forward for more reading on your page.

    1. Jayanti – (sorry for the delay in the reply)

      Saw you blog – good to see you all there and the few pics of NZ. Yeah, write more.

      And thank you for the invite; am sure that M&m will be thrilled. that lil’m has quite a traveling stamina.


  2. Hi Arun,

    I just “wandered” here on your site by accident, via a friend’s blog. And do you know the strangest fact of my life. My most favourite cousin, who is in Detroit, MI, is also, Arun Shanbhag and his mom, my paternal aunt (she passed away some yrs ago), is Meera Shanbhag. And I saw,that your daughter is Meera. 🙂
    You write beautiful things and I am really having a blast reading, since thats my passion, reading.
    I have recently moved from Mumbai to Auckland, so get home sick often. Reading your website about Mumbai, Kumta etc transports me back there and its fun vicariously going to these places via your blogs and pictures.
    Please keep up the good work. So many lives are touched, arent they, by your writing?!?!? I think thats a great contribution to humanity.
    All the luck to you and your family.
    A fellow amchi/reader/wannabe writer/home sick mumbaite.

    1. Hi Jayanti –
      you floored me with your kind words. Many thanks, even though I am not sure I deserve ALL the praise. I think of myself as a instrument reflecting the beautiful lives of the people who I meet on a daily basis. And this is my attempt to chronicle “their” sacrifices and joys. And what more can I say about the konkani, I’ve been blessed to be one of them.

      And interesting coincidence with the names ~ life has so many beautiful ways of coming together! and I have to say – Meera has been the bestest thrill of my life!

      Hope you are doing well in NZ. We always wanted to visit NZ and go hiking, but that will now have to wait till Meera can hike with us. ;-P That girl has stamina!

      And there is No “wannabe,” just BE, a writer!
      You can you are one.
      Send me a link to your blog.
      And wishing you fulfillment in your new home.

  3. Arun,
    My dad too is a crazy soduku solver, i too keep getting all the books that i can get to give him a varity , i too have made a grid on a large A4 size paper , got it laminated, so for complex puzzles he can use a marker on that and rub it when done :)..:) aint it a conicidence.


    1. Thank you Lalita:
      Good to know that you father is also a Sudoku maniac. I think it helps the brain be active as they age.

      Lets spread the word about Sudoku amongst our elders! 🙂

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