Solving jigsaw puzzles is a passion for Arvind Gokhale,who spends months at-a-stretch on solving ones with 5000 pieces
Arvind Gokhale’s hobby of assembling jigsaw puzzles might seem unusual for someone,who is in his late 50s. However,a look at the three-feet-by-two-feet jigsaw puzzle of pilot transfer of a wooden ship caught in rough weather framed and hung in the living room of Gokhale’s residence catches you by the eye. It is not just the vastness and clarity of the puzzle,but also its importance. “This puzzle depicts the first wooden ship that arrived at Madras port,” Gokhale says.
It was the very first puzzle of about 2,000 pieces assembled by Gokhale five years ago. “I took four months to assemble it,” he proudly says.
His friend’s daughter staying in the US used to get puzzles of 100 to 200 pieces. “I tried one and my interest developed. I also got to know that there are bigger puzzles,up to 12,000 pieces available in the market. Later,when my daughter traveled to the US,she got me this puzzle of the wooden ship,” says Gokhale.
Today,Gokhale boasts of eight such assembled puzzles between 2,000 and 5,000 pieces,seven of which are framed in his and his son’s flat in Kothrud. These include one of a Monalisa,Seven Wonders of the World,a palace in UAE constructed with interlocking stone blocks and an Italian palace among others. “Each has some historic importance attached to it,which makes it all the more exciting to assemble,” he says.
However,Gokhale admits that not everything is fun with assembling these puzzles. “I work on them for at least eight hours a day. I begin early in the morning with fresh mind and sometimes drag on till three in the afternoon. Once the tempo is set,I continue till the pieces cease to match,” he says. Giving eight hours to assemble the jigsaw puzzle,Gokhale takes about three to three-and-a-half-months for one 5,000-piece puzzle.
“It is a hobby that taught me concentration and increased my capacity to sit at one place for long hours,” Gokhale said. There are several difficulties he encounters in the process. To begin determine the right place of a piece,with,one piece of the puzzle does not necessarily fit at only one place. “It’s correct place is determined when at least 30-40 pieces around it fit perfectly,” he said.
Gokhale follows a strategy while assembling the puzzle. “The very first step is to sort the pieces by colour and number of corners in each piece. Later,I begin either with the border pieces that are easy to identify with one side flat or with that part of the puzzle which are likely to have the minimum pieces. This could be the part with a unique colour,” he explains.
Gokhale’s wife Lata Gokhale,son Atul and daughter-in-law Shubhalaxmi help him sort the pieces and point out the misfits. His daughter Durga Nirgudkar who is settled in the US gifts him puzzles every year.
Gokhale who hails from Nagpur was a supplier of foreign research publications to universities and colleges. He shifted to Pune around six years ago when his son Atul,a software engineer found job in Pune. Gokhale also plays the synthesizer and mouth organ and reads issue-based Marathi novels.