Friday, March 31, 2023


I am a modest person, modestly speaking. I go about living day-in and day-out modestly, without realizing even once that people around me are immodest, or not quite modest at the very least. In fact, I learnt recently that the virtue of modesty (yes, it’s still considered a virtue by some) is dying! If you don’t believe me, here’s the modest article about its demise.

David Mitchell's Column

As we all know, I am sort of an expert in MATLAB. People come from far and beyond to ask me how they can improve their MATLAB figures, codes and apps. In return, the only thing I ask from them is they start using at least one of my MATLAB programs regularly. And then they never speak to me again or they switch to a ‘Mac’. Anyway, since my daughter has not done either of those two yet, I thought of gifting her a MATLAB program on her 5th birthday.

SixDoKu Solver 1.0

Surprisingly, she was more receptive of my program (her present, that is) than I had imagined. That felt really good. A week or so well-spent! Perceptive among you may have realized that I made a 6×6 Sudoku Solver (or Sixdoku Solver) for her and it is not just a copy/paste of my well-known (9×9) Sudoku Solver. Well, the logic behind solving a Sudoku is mostly copy/paste. (I was quite surprised how easy it was to recast the logic code for my 9×9 solver to this 6×6 one, proving how good a theoretical physicist I am since generalizing a specific example is what I achieved here!) But the visual layout: the four buttons, the background, the upbeat colours / emojis / messages / texts and the functional aspect of the 6×6 grid  are totally new and – as Microsoft likes to put it every so often – built from the ground up! Literally so because the Sudoku Solver is built in GUIDE (will be removed in a future MATLAB release) while Sixdoku Solver in built in App Designer (the default app development environment now).

I won’t bore you with any more details about the program but why Sixdoku? I hear you ask! Because my daughter has been subscribed by her mother to “Young World”, a children supplement from “The Hindu” newspaper, and one of the ‘fun’ activities there is a Sixdoku. I saw them ‘struggling’ to solve it and I thought, “Well, well, well… What have we got here!” and the rest as they say is her present. Some of you familiar with my usual Sudoku Solver may complain that my program does not actually help her solve one on her own. As it is not made with that in mind, for example, if she wants to solve a Sudoku with just the notes it is not so user-friendly in that regard. And that’s why I’m Dharmesh and you are not. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the grid has been totally rebuilt from the ground up and it allows writing over the notes to enter a single number. It doesn’t update the notes after that though, but that helps her to learn to remember and see what changes lie ahead. So it not only allows her to solve a Sixdoku on her own, it also ‘teaches’ her to follow the changes in her own mind to solve it faster. (These are not just hypothetical statements. She has indeed explored the functioning of my program by trying to make up her own Sixdokus and trying to solve the proper ones from the Young World on her own after writing the notes.) And that is how one learns to live one’s life.

Talking about living one’s life, I found an inspiring Japanese poem by Kenji Miyazawa about just that topic. What a coincidence, you might say! I will leave you with its Wiki page (with a translation) and a different translation. Pick what you like:

Wikipedia / Kenji-World

Friday, March 10, 2023

Yo! Yo! Yo!

The beginning of the end is again upon us. That is, the last volume of Sketchbook has begun scanlation. Four chapters are out and hoping the rest will be out before the end of this year. Enjoy this particular ‘gag’:

Cold Medicine-1&2

Cold Medicine-3&4

Click the photos to go to the MangaDex website where you can read the full chapter, if you so wish! Moving on to the other thing that’s been in the news for the last month or so: “Bing+ChatGPT” or the new Bing. To test out its “Compose” mode (available in Edge’s sidebar), I asked it to “write a blog post about start of scanlation of the last volume of Sketchbook”, and here is the result:

Hello fellow manga fans! I have some exciting news to share with you today. The scanlation group Sketchy Scans has announced that they have started working on the last volume of Sketchbook, the slice-of-life comedy manga by Totan Kobako.

Sketchbook is one of my favorite manga series ever. It follows the daily lives and quirky hobbies of a group of high school art club members, led by the shy and eccentric Sora Kajiwara. The manga is full of humor, charm, and creativity, as well as beautiful illustrations of nature and animals. It's a relaxing and heartwarming read that always makes me smile.

The manga has been running since 2002 and has 13 volumes so far. The last volume, volume 14, was released in Japan in December 2020. However, the scanlation process has been slow and inconsistent due to various reasons. The last chapter that was translated into English was chapter 131, which was released in July 2019.

That's why I was overjoyed when I saw the announcement from Sketchy Scans on their website yesterday. They said that they have acquired the raws for volume 14 and have started working on translating and editing them. They also said that they aim to finish the scanlation by June this year, which is only three months away!

I can't wait to read the final chapters of Sketchbook and see how the story ends for Sora and her friends. I'm sure it will be a satisfying and memorable conclusion to this wonderful manga series. I want to thank Sketchy Scans for their hard work and dedication to bringing us this amazing manga in English. You guys are awesome!

If you haven't read Sketchbook yet, I highly recommend you to check it out. You can find all the previous chapters on MangaDex or on Sketchy Scans' website. Trust me, you won't regret it.

That's all for today's blog post. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Let me know what you think about Sketchbook in the comments below. Until next time, happy reading!

Let’s analyze the result, shall we? The first para seems like a good start for a manga blogger, which I’m not. But it has a factual error: there’s no scanlation group named Sketchy Scans. In fact, the last 3 volumes or so have been scanlated anonymously, as far as I know. Anyway, let’s not let such a simple fact come in the way of our enjoying this AI generated post. The second para is good, something that I feel about this manga too. In fact, it feels like the AI understands what kind of people read this manga and what it evokes in them. The third para is again bordering on being semi-factual but the collection of all the elements that would give the history of this manga and its scanlation are there. One just has to do one’s own fact-checking which I’m not going to do here (read my Sketchbook tagged posts to learn related facts, like that number 131 should be 191, and so on).

The fourth para is full of fluff because the Sketchy Scans group doesn’t exist but the tone of this para is so upbeat, I want to believe it whole-heartedly and wait for June with bated breath! The fifth para is again pulling at the heart-strings of the readers of Sketchbook. How does this AI know what I want to write / read about Sketchbook? This is too good! The last two para are typical winding up paragraphs for a blog post but note that the info about MangaDex IS true. So it does know where to find the latest (and older) chapters to read. Man, this is really a cherry on top of the already amazing rainbow cake!

Overall, the AI has done a good job of composing a ‘Medium’ length ‘Blog post’ in a ‘Casual’ tone. The structuring of the post, laying out the ideas in various paragraphs, striking the exact tone that a Sketchbook reader can connect to, and to top it all off, including relevant facts (even if wishful) that unaware readers would like to know: these characteristics are really that of a grade A blogger like myself. I can see it replacing my superpartner as a collaborator on this blog in the very near future.

Ending this Sketchbook related post on a general manga note. I have updated the list of mangas I’m reading based on this post from last year. Have a look and if you fancy reading any of those, try your luck at


Sunday, February 26, 2023

Travelogue – Udaipur

What a city! The city of lakes. The city of ghats. The city of temples. The city of havelis turned to hotels. The city where water works disrupts roads and tourists. The city where Ola & Uber go to die. The city where you are always wrong… wait, that’s just any other Indian city! Regardless, we roamed around this city according to our modest plans and covered most of it as planned.

Places to visit in Udaipur

Here’s a rundown of our 3-4 days trip.


Keekoo Udaipur: Where we had our first breakfast. It houses (cages) a lot of exotic birds like macaws, budgerigars, cockatoos, parrots, etc.

Breakfast @ Keekoo

Macaws @ Keekoo

Ambrai Ghat: Since we were early and couldn’t check-in to our hotel, we roamed around the area. Going past all the shops and hotels, through a narrow passage beside a grand hotel, through a ticket guy selling access for half an hour at ₹20 per person, lies Maa ji ka temple and a Hanuman temple and the surrounding area is known as the Ambrai ghat. (The Ambrai restaurant is on the other side, part of that grand hotel mentioned before.)

View from Ambrai Ghat

Bloom Boutique: Our hotel for this trip overlooking the not-so-beautiful parts of the Pichola Lake, but who are we to complain.

Some Context

Hotel Front

Hotel Roof

Jagdish Temple: One of the most elaborate temples in this city filled with as many temples as lakes!

Jai ho...

City Palace Udaipur: Apparently every major city in Rajasthan has one (just like Jaipur has one). This palace hosts a museum as well and one can view a lot of royal stuff including antiques, paintings, artillery, etc. The palace obviously boasts grand architecture which is well-preserved with intricate designs to marvel at all around.

Inside the Palace

Outside the Palace

Boating on Fateh Sagar Lake: Having an allergy to water being around me, I slept at the hotel while the others took, what they tell me was, an enjoyable ride. I take their word for it.

Eager to Boat


Pratap Gaurav Kendra: A park dedicated to one of the bravest warriors, Maharana Pratap. One hour or so is spend in a guided historical tour of Mewar, which includes light & music shows in various rooms and a ~10 minute movie at the end. After that you can climb the hill on top of which rests the huge statue as seen below. Due to shortage of time, we didn’t indulge in this climb.


Saheliyon ki Bari: People may say this site is over-rated but we liked it a lot. Flowers and sahelis and fountains and sahelis and birds and sahelis and a small art museum, what’s not to like!


Us @ SkB

One of the many Fountains @ SkB

La Pino’z Pizza: Better than Domino’s! Maybe that’s what their tagline should be. We reached the Chetak circle area to eat at Domino’s but it doesn’t exist there because the information in Google maps is wrong (it didn’t even let me correct it!). So we entered this place right in front of us and we didn’t regret it. Enjoyed their pizza-ware immensely. Hope you do too!


Under the Sun Aquarium: Now this was a disappointment because it claimed to be the largest public aquarium in India. I have seen ‘public’ aquaria in Busan (South Korea), Boston (USA) and Bangkok (Thailand) and this one in Udaipur could have fitted in just one wing/floor of those! Even ignoring the size issue, it houses mostly fishes, just a couple of varieties of crustaceans and one (literally ONE) sting ray. It does not even have turtles, seahorses, starfish so you can forget about sharks or penguins or other ‘exotic’ species altogether! And even after ignoring the variety issue, by the time you reach the end of the gallery, people have started selling you massages, pedicures, 3D photography and souvenirs which starts feeling real fishy. (Instead, it’s much better to walk around the nearby Fateh Sagar Lake!)

What a Fish!

What a Crustacean!

Silver Arowana Swimming


Karni Mata Temple: A small temple atop a hill to be reached by a ropeway. There’s not much to say about the site though. If it weren’t so hazy/foggy, one might have witnessed a better view of Udaipur.

Karni Mata Mandir

Bahubali Hill: It’s known as “the wedding clickers” on Google. It’s nearly a 1 Km hike from bottom to top. But to actually see the view easily found on the web, you have to trek on a few more rocky and pointy places. Is it worth it? I’m not sure especially if it’s still hazy!

Hiking on Bahubali Hill

View from the Top-I

View from the Top-II

Badi Lake: Also known as tiger lake (I’m told). Quite a serene view and one can sit at the corridor sort of thing constructed on one side of the lake. Enjoy a picnic of sorts with family and friends.

Badi Lake

Badi ki Pal

Sajjangarh Fort: There’s a zoological park too here which we did not visit. One disappointing trip to an aquarium was enough. There’s not much to this fort (also called Monson Palace), one can roam around in half an hour and then sit around having a meal or just taking in the city view if that’s your thing.

Some Context

Sajjangarh Fort

South Grills Rooftop Restaurant: We returned back to the city and went to this rooftop restaurant for a late lunch. Nice view and nicer food. Enjoyed the relaxing food time here.

Rooftop Restaurant

Bagore ki Haveli: The last place on our travel list. It is a haveli-turned-museum which hosts a cultural dance show at 7PM everyday. They sell a limited number of tickets (due to limited seating capacity) and you have to get them at least a day in advance but this was definitely worth it.

Where Magic Happens!

Gangour Ghat: Just beside the entrance to Bagore ki Haveli is this ghat without any entry fee. A brilliant view of the opposite shore at night as you can attest.

Night View from GG!


Gangour Ghat: After checking out of our hotel, we roamed around the streets a bit and visited this ghat again for a daytime look. Sadly no pictures were taken after three days of photography-fatigue. There were lots of pigeons feeding and wedding photographers milling around here. We observed them from afar for a while.

Trilok Anna Restaurant: Our final stop for a quick lunch before heading to the airport. There are more than half-a-dozen tables with 4 times the chairs but it still feels a bit cramped. The food was nice and freshly prepared in the kitchen upstairs. Recommend it if you are in a hurry.


That’s it for this post. For more photos and videos, check out the relevant OneDrive album link on the right. Till next time

Plan Your Own Trips

Saturday, December 31, 2022

In Memoriam, 2022!

So, farewell then, year 2022. I guess no one will remember you in a rush but everyone would like to forget you in a flash. Before that happens, I try to recap some of your major world-wide events.

January: Spent a couple of days in Jaipur.

February: Russo-Ukrainian War begins / escalates.

March: Last day at SNBose Centre.

April: Last day in Salt Lake, Kolkata.

May: Rented a new place in Bangalore.

June: Turkey became Türkiye.

July: Fields Medals announced. (I haven’t yet written the post titled “June Huh is my kind of mathematician”.)

August: Salman Rushdie attacked.

September: Queen Elizabeth II dies.

October: Nobel Prizes announced.

November: World population crosses 8 billion mark!

December: Took a one day trip around BangaloreMOS temples.

Kalpavriksha atop Mandaragiri Hill

Digambar Jain Temple at Mandaragiri

Omkareshwar Temple

Shanmukha Temple

For a much more serious recap of 2022, I leave you with the Private Eye Magazine’s

Year in Review 2022

Thursday, December 22, 2022

A Few Nice Things…

As we wrap this year, I recollect a few nice things. Frist one has to be the resurrection of Sketchbook scanlations. One of the notes in this manga mentions the four fundamental forces like this:

Four Fundamental Forces

Being a theoretical high-energy physicist, I couldn’t stop chuckling at the truth of the last sentence. It’s quite an accurate statement, indeed. But then if you want to know about them, that’s nice too and am glad that Totan Kobako does!

Second one has to be the (Medu) Vada, a south Indian delicacy. It goes well with sambar, coconut chutney, and/or even just like that as a snack. I like a well-prepared crispy vada as much as the next person. So when iD advertises that anyone can make it using their special packaging and magic nozzle, I had to give it a try myself:

Id's Medhu Vada

These turned out to be quite good, taste-wise. Shape-wise, we struggled a bit in the beginning but after a few trials, we realized three things which helped in making a good torus shape:

1. Let enough batter gather at the nozzle before trying to drop it in the oil.

2. Don’t hesitate with the cutter when you decide to drop the batter in the oil.

3. Keep the nozzle oiled up so the batter does not stick to the nozzle.

Regarding the last point, it is instructed on the packaging (and the following video) to clean the nozzle with tissue paper every once in a while. But we figured out that oiling the nozzle after cleaning helps the batter drop much more easily while retaining the torus shape and minimizing spiky protrusions.

iD’s instructional video

There you have it. Two nice things that happened to me this year. Let us leave the rest few such things to the last post of this year which should, by my grace, come out in a week or so. Till then, I leave you with

Shakeel Azmi

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

More Manga News…

I talked about the revival of my best-loved slice-of-life manga in the previous post. In this post I will talk about three more mangas, two of which are spin-offs of one of the most popular ninja-themed manga ever.

Yes, you guessed it right! That manga is Naruto. It has had a few spin-offs till date. The still-running out of those is, of course, “Boruto: Naruto’s Son”. However, now two more spin-offs have been added to that ever-increasing-list. What a prolific mangaka Masashi Kishimoto is! I would say “hats off” to him but since I don’t wear hats, a simple “congratulations” will have to suffice. Please accept it without any ill-feelings. So what are these two spin-offs I hear you ask. They are: “Naruto: Sasuke’s Story” and “Naruto: Konoha’s Story”. The first one is about Sasuke (& SPOILER ALERT: Sakura)’s quest to find a life-saving cure for Naruto because Naruto is helluva sick due to over-use of sage mode or something. The second one is about Kakashi and Guy’s vacation from Konoha with a new character, Mirai Sarutobi, granddaughter of the third hokage (daughter of Asuma & Kurenai) or some such setup. These seem like interesting stories so I’ll read a few more chapters and decide whether to continue or not. That is, these mangas haven’t yet made it to my list of manga/anime that I’ve compiled here (see the tab above?).

The third manga which VIZ nudged me towards is “Cipher Academy”. A completely new (I guess) manga based around puzzles, riddles, cryptography, and brainy-stuff like that, including mystery-stuff like who are all these characters and what are their motivations in attending this academy! What the hell, man? Who introduces boatloads of characters in just the first two chapters! Who does “NISIOISIN” think he is? Gabriel García Márquez? Elena Ferrante? Anyway, the storyline seems promising and intriguing so once again I’ll read a few more chapters and decide whether to continue or not. That is, this manga has not yet made it to, you know what…

New Mangas @

What more to read?

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Sketchbook is Revived…

Woo hoo!!! Finally, after 5 years the scanlation of Sketchbook has resumed. I am not sure about the group doing it but here it is: Sketchbook @ MangaDex. It seems to have resumed around 5 months ago but I noticed it only a week or so ago while searching for something else on Reddit! Talk about good luck. I read all the remaining chapters (150 onwards) of volume 11, and v12, and v13 in one sitting on that auspicious day. Now only one volume is left unscanlated, and I hope this anonymous but generous group or person delivers it before this year ends as X-mas present for this whole wide world. Till then, revisit v14 in these posts.

Sketchbook v14

Enjoy this feeling of impending sketchbook while it lasts.

I hope this generous group or person scanlates Scorebook’s remaining chapters too. I hear you ask what is that! Well, ‘Scorebook’ is a one-volume manga by the author of Sketchbook and here it is:


Sunday, October 30, 2022

Bleak Futures!

I have not written about Nature Futures in a while because most of the stories have been all right. A weekly good read, but not thought-provoking enough to provoke me to write a post here. But last week has been different. Way different because I had somehow missed stories from the previous week and read all the four unread ones together last week. And one of the previous week’s story stood out. I am talking about the story titled “The Family Tree” by Russel Nichols.

Autumn Red Tree

The setup was quite mundane, in all respects: characters, geography, interactions and emotions. Slowly, things started moving towards nothing in particular. So far so dull. Then I reached the last paragraph… and the last long sentence. My reading quickened. My gut felt punched so hard. My heart sank so deep. My jaws dropped so low. My eyes welled up so fast. My brain just couldn’t comprehend what hit it was so incomprehensible… for quite a few minutes! My whole being came to a halt screeching and skidding over very, very cold ice. It started wondering why my body was reacting so weirdly both physically and emotionally while my brain refused to re-read the sentence so that the fog of incomprehensibility could lift.

It was the same sort of reaction that washes over me whenever I even remotely consider of re-watching “Grave of the Fireflies”. I just don’t have enough emotional guts to re-watch that movie ever again. Once was enough. Even thinking about the ending feels like my guts are being knotted, stretched, straightened, and then reassembled but not how they were originally. Something definitely changed after watching that movie.

Similar reactions have occurred after reading Ernest Hemingway’s well-known shortest story: For sale: Baby shoes, never worn. Anyway, enough with my reactions to well-known movie and literature. I am not operating one of those dumb reactionary YouTube channels. Back to the Futures and it’s time to see you react to

That Story

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Happy Diwali…

to those who know what it stands for.

Happy Diwali

We celebrated it the usual way. Cleaning, dusting, cooking, decorating, eating, lighting, praying, bursting, and being happy in general. I just list the verbs because the nouns that go along with them should be obvious! If not, how else do you celebrate Diwali?

Anyway, some other news from other areas of my life. The British comedy-satirical panel show “Mock the Week” has ended after 17 years! Why did BBC choose to cancel it this year of all the time? I mean did the weekly news to mock somehow disappear this year? The ongoings in the world this year could be mocked for decades to come and “Mock of the Week” did mock it well week over week for the past few years. So what gives?

The last episode was something I was looking forward to. It has more than just news, of course. People ‘went emotional’, reminisced, and hoped they appeared on other panel shows equally frequently. The hope that I share as well. Alasdair Beckett-King got inducted in MTW just last season and has done great. He, rightfully, earned his seat in the last episode. Though, that doesn’t mean I didn’t miss Milton Jones in this episode. Angela Barnes and Rhys James were the main people chatting along the whole show. Zoe Lyons and Ahir Shah were quite quiet in this episode but then balance is the key to a show like this unlike the British parliament. Dara and Hugh as always were also there. Wish them all the best for their future endeavours. Hope to see them in expected (see the next para) as well as unexpected places (like in James Bond movies) sooner rather than later, and definitely in 2023.

Well, there’s HIGNFY for the time being. And when will WILTY and QI start this year? How can this year go from worse to worse and still feel like worst is yet to come? What the hell…

Finally, I leave you with some twist in the thread of this story.

Happy Diwali 2022