MIDWAY: Memory magic

I’m no Dorian Grey. Every year, my birthday serves a good reminder that old age lurks ever closer. In due course of time, I will be blowing out the 50th candle on my birthday cake. Years later, I might morph into a replica of my mom, with all her virtues, especially that of preparing lip smacking food, but also in possession of unreliable memory: resulting in misplaced keys to countless trips to the grocery store for the same purpose. Not that I have an encyclopedic memory myself. But you might not have to go through the same plight that my mom does.

According to memory experts, memory is neither inherited, nor does it necessarily deteriorate with age. We are just too indolent to “notice” things in order to remember them. A bit of imagination and a capacity to associate things will do, all right. Enter mnemonics.

Mnemonics, the art of remembering things, comes from Greek word mnemon (mindful). There are various proven techniques to enhance our memory but the “Roman room system” method is most popular.

All you’ve got to do is know your house or locality inside out. Say you’ve got to remember four tasks: to get your gown from the dry cleaner’s and fetch milk, oranges and powdered chocolate from the market. The process goes something like this. You open the main door of your house and lo! You are greeted by my gown (pick it up). When you enter the kitchen, you see your cat licking milk. You then proceed to look into your closet, which, to your horror, is sprinkled with brown chocolate powder. And just as you are about to lick it up, Mrs Sharma, the nosey next-door neighbour barges in to ask for an orange, which, she says, she aims to substitute for a cricket ball. The funnier your imagination, the better.

Yeah, you can always forward an excuse. Why not carry a slip? But the benefits of possessing a good memory cannot be overemphasised. Your self-esteem will get a big boost if you can associate yourself with a wonderful memory. And this is just one of the methods. With better techniques, who knows what is possible! Remember: A mnemonic expert can enhance your natural capabilities through better methods. But he can provide no substitute for your God-given brain.