Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Excuse Me, But What is This?

The course ended later than the expected time today. One hour late. I put my stuff at my room and Zoe drove me home. Well, actually she only dropped me at the train station near her house. But I am more than grateful to have her done that.

My trip home would costs me $ 12 if I were to travel alone by public transportations - two trains and a cab. Thanks to her, I can cut down the expenses to only $ 2.50, and in just one train! Well, anything that could keep me from taking a cab would be more than good. The cab's fare is killing me at $ 8 per trip (or more if I happened to be unlucky).

I climbed up the stairs to the station. Today's trip was my second with Zoe. The train? This was the third time I have ever taken a train home from the station. The first was back then when I was only 15. The second was yesterday - I am 22 now.

The station is at the end of the route. My stop is the second - at the other end! Zoe did offer to drop me at another station which is supposed to be nearer, but switching train and having to cram into a place so full of people, there is hardly space to breathe, is not really a wise choice. What I like about this station far away from home is the facts that I don't have to switch trains, and I can always secure a seat so I can sit until I reach my stop.

I often bring my Sudoku books and magazines with me, together with a pencil and a small eraser. I often spend the journey home solving some puzzles, just to keep my mind off of the very boring journey home.

Today, just like yesterday, I brought my purple Penguin's Sudoku 2007, a compilation of over 300 Sudoku puzzles, a puzzle to solve everyday. The train had already stopped at several places. Still a long way home. I was concentrating on the book. A few months of not playing the game had somehow made me slow in finishing a single puzzle. Very slow.

It was somewhere near the middle of the route when a girl about my age suddenly interrupted my game. I looked up.

"Excuse me. I was just wondering what is this thing you are in?" she asked politely. "Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you, but you are so absorbed into it, I was just wondering what it is."

I showed her the cover page and some of the contents. She asked me the very question many people have asked me before.

"How do you fill the numbers? Do they add up to some values?"

I smiled and explained the rules in the simplest way possible. I used the answer way too often now. Every row and column and the 3 x 3 boxes must be filled with numbers from 1 to 9, but the numbers must appear just once in every row and column and the 3 x 3 boxes.

She watched me continued concentrating on the puzzles. I looked up and offered her to try one. I know it is hard to explain by words. Most people I met would understand the game only after they tried to solve one themselves. That is the simplest way of learning the rules.

She politely declined. She said she was about to reach her destination. Aww... I thought she could at least try one. I peeled my eyes away from the book. I asked her where was her stop.

"Here, right after this," was her answer. Oh. That was fast. The train stopped and she stepped out of it. I didn't see where she was going. The train was full anyway.

I continued staring at the puzzles. My hand was scribing numbers in the boxes. My mind was on the conversation I just had. That was not my first. I often receive questions. Questions from friends and strangers alike. Questions from people who are amazed at my high level of concentration, and wonder what is so interesting about the numbers and boxes in the book or magazine I am holding. Questions from people who are curious with my addiction.

Sudoku is not new here. But then again, some people are just not exposed to such craze. Probably because they don't know what it is. Come on, who loves numbers? Most of us don't, except when the numbers are in the form of money. The bigger, the better.

People who knows me knew well just how much I would spend on getting Sudoku books and magazines. And how I tried to spread the craze to just about anybody. And how I had been successful into turning some numbers of friends into Sudoku fans.


I really hoped that the girl had actually asked me earlier, so that I could show her the fun of playing Sudoku. Especially for train trips.


~ t o u r n i Q u e t ~ said...

u know what, i played sudoku too for the last 2 days
n dol asked me how to solve the sudoku puzzle
it get me back in those times u, n faira played this thingy n i was just stared @ u guys and wondering bout it
but now i am addicted to it :P

buTTerFLowEr said...

hehe... i remembered that too. it's easier to explain when you have your hands on it. beware of the addiction. mcm ila, trus bli killer nye level. wargh kah kah...