Reading up

This was when I was in High School. High School in India covers the grades of 8th through 10th. I would rate my memory during those days as very high relative to what I have seen. The system needed us to remember what we were taught – such was the system. As long as we reproduced the text in the books for answers exactly you could make a very high score. Interpretation and analysis would definitely take you to the top. In the English classes, reciting poems by memory was a must. All such memorization helped in other aspects. I was a trivia/quiz buff and a few of friends could routinely remember everything question and answer from the quiz books. At that time, ‘Quiz Time’ hosted by Sidartha Basu was very popular on national television. We often used to have quiz time during on of the classes whenever the teacher thought he or she wanted a break. This was especially during Geography class. The practice of memorization helped to a degree in understanding the content. As you go over something more than one time, your brain remembers and starts to form a picture and helps you develop on that. During my pre-college years (11th and 12 grade), this came into use much. Me and one of my close friends would walk down his home towards the eastern part of our block and quiz each other about known questions and content. Once the college year started, the race would be on to see who would know all of the text the earliest. There were some of the class leaders who would do all the math and trigonometry problems during summer break ahead of the class year! For my part, I would try to enjoy the break, playing cricket, watching games or just another game. Me and my brother would go home after 7 PM close to dinner time in time for some ranting by our grand mother.

The reason I brought up reading is, it mattered a lot later on in my life but in another way. Once I finished Engineering and got a job, during one of the very first weeks, I was trying to learn how to work with the Unix computer we had. There was a lot to learn – vi, Unix commands, terminal commands, C language and the back-end database. As I was trying to write down the commands, someone walked by and gave me a manual stating, don’t worry about memorizing, here is it all! That somewhat was a turning point for me. I realized I didn’t have to sweat trying to remember everything – I always was worried what if I forgot something. The registers in my mind took the hint and from that day remembering more than what I needed to function was out of the ballpark! I, of course, would remember things to get on with my job, but anything that wasn’t absolutely essential was a waste of my energy – that’s how I read it.

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