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!

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