Thursday, May 10, 2012

Enthusiasm is key to a good memory




Last night I was invited by the Ambassador of Israel and his wife to attend an intimate sit-down dinner in his home for several top foreign affairs officials from Israel who are in charge of Southeast Asia and who are visiting Manila this week.

The Ambassador of Israel and his wife are two of the loveliest people I know, so I was very happy that I could fly back to Manila yesterday afternoon in time to attend their dinner. Their guests consisted mostly of a handful of their foreign ambassador friends in the Philippines plus top officials from our own Philippine department of foreign affairs, including one undersecretary, one assistant secretary, and our current Philippine ambassador to Israel.

It was quite a powerhouse guest list but the atmosphere was warm and entertaining as the Ambassador of Israel and his wife are such warm and down-to-earth people themselves.



ENTERTAINING AT ITS BEST

Madame cooked or prepared most of the dishes herself, as she is an excellent cook and well-known for her entertaining skills. She made all kinds of Israeli dishes, many of them healthy and filled with vegetables, as Israelis love vegetables.



At the dinner, I sat beside Madame, and to my right was one of Israel's top officials for Southeast Asia. We had a very good time discussing the Philippines, Israel and the world in general.

As with most ambassadorial dinners, there were many entertaining speeches. Diplomats are often very good speakers with a wide knowledge on a variety of subjects, so they can talk at length and keep their audience enthralled. It was the same yesterday.

THE BEST MEMORY IN THE WORLD

But perhaps the most enthralling portion was a private preview of the amazing memory skills of Eran Katz, a world-renowned mentalist and Guinness Book record holder for his amazing memory. He was in Manila to perform tonight at the official Israel National Day celebrations, but last night, our small group got a private preview of his pretty impressive skills.

That's the Ambassador of Peru holding up a paper
filled with numbers that we'd just randomly shouted out.
Eran is the guy on the right reciting everything with 100% accuracy.

Eran bagged the Guinness Book world record by hearing 500 random numbers from different people and then repeating these numbers back accurately and in exact order -- which is pretty breathtaking enough -- and at the same time saying these numbers forwards and backwards.

Wow. And, last night, after dinner, the good Ambassador introduced Eran to us and then we gave him perhaps 25 numbers on the spot last night and he did everything perfectly and backwards. I was too impressed to even clap afterwards.

HOW DID HE DO THIS?

Of course we all wanted to know how he did this feat. He asked us: "Do you really want to know?"

I remember nodding like a schoolchild. Then he said: "Well, then you must come to the national day party tomorrow."

So tonight, at the official Israel National Day party, Eran gave a 40-minute demonstration and speech. He does this all over the world for a living -- teaching people how to have better memories -- and he probably charges a fortune for it too; so we were all quite lucky to have seen and heard him tonight, and I was even luckier to have witnessed his performance two nights in a row.

Of course he did his memory performance, which greatly impressed the crowd, and I'm sure to make them realize that he was talking with authority about the topic of memory.

Until his speech, I'd been walking all around the ballroom talking to everyone as I'd been away for seven weeks and there was so much to catch up on; but when he started talking, I found a seat in the back row next to a very prominent gentleman who has always sort of been a guardian angel for Travelife Magazine since its inception almost five years ago -- so he's watched Travelife grow into the country's leading travel & lifestyle magazine.

CONVERSATIONS ON MEMORY



We listened with interest to what Eran had to say, and we engaged in a running commentary between us on what we were hearing.

Eran asked the audience: "Do you want to know what the easiest way is to remember a person?"

Of course we did. So he replied: "Lend him money." The audience erupted in laughter.

HOW TO GET YOUR PEN BACK

So the gentleman beside me gave me his two cents' worth on the topic. He asked me: "Do you want to know how to remember to get your pen back, when you lend it to someone?" Of course we can all identify with this as we're all always lending our pens to people and about half the time we don't get these back.




He continued: "Lend the person the pen but keep the cap. Either he'll remember to give it back as he won't be able to use it without a cap, or you'll remember to ask it back. Especially if it's a Montblanc."

I then told him jokingly: "If it was a Montblanc, I wouldn't be lending my pen out."

GUYS AND CLOTHES

Eran continued: "Do you notice how husbands or boyfriends hardly remember what their wives or girlfriends are wearing? If you ask the average guy what his wife or girlfriend was wearing to a party last night, he wouldn't be able to tell you."

I told the gentleman next to me: "That's because men never notice such things as clothes." And onstage, Eran echoed me: "Men are not too interested in clothes so they're not likely to remember clothes. But they'll remember things like sports facts or stock market information."



The gentleman next to me then said: "But I remember what you wear. You're always wearing these ethnic dresses or these unusual things." Yeah. One time I bumped into him at the Manila Polo Club and I was wearing a very heavy beaded necklace I'd bought from a tribe in Mindanao, and I'd paired this with a black dress. He'd noticed it enough to comment on it on the spot and ask me about it.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT



Eran then regaled the crowd with a couple of teasers although I can't remember all of them -- so much for a lecture on memory. He said: "If someone writes a book about failure and it sells well -- is it considered a success?" We all laughed.

Eran continued: "Are the employees of Lipton Tea allowed to take a coffee break?" We laughed again.

He added: "When I was growing up, we had to learn English, which is basically a foreign language. So I had to devise ways to remember words. For example, the world LICENSE. To remember this I told myself: When lawyers lie, they make sense. Then the word CARPET. When a car runs over your pet, he becomes a carpet."



But eventually he returned to the topic of improving one's memory and he turned serious. "Everyone has a good memory for things they're interested in. So the key to retaining a good memory is simple."

Here he almost shouted into the mike, and if I'm not mistaken he did a little dance/ jump as well: "Enthusiasm! Be interested in life and in people and you will always have a good memory." Wow, that's our mantra for life as well, as Travelife Magazine.

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CLOTHES BY TINSLEY

 And speaking of clothes: I wore two dresses made for me by a home-service dressmaking service called Tinsley, which I discovered almost by accident, these two nights in a row. Tinsley made me three dresses actually, and last night, for the Israeli dinner and EU National Day, I'd worn a yellow dress with hand painted flowers that I'd had Tinsley make from fabric I picked up at a market in Yangon, originally intended for a Burmese longjyi.



I'd walked into the Mandarin hotel last night and a wonderful lady I knew had commented on it. She said: "What a beautiful dress." I whispered back: "The fabric's from a market in Yangon." She then laughed at me and said: "You're always saying stuff like that. The last time, it was from a market in Dubai." Yes, I love exotic fabrics from exotic places.

Tonight I wore a sakura pink beaded dress I'd ordered from Tinsely just before leaving on my seven-week trip; and today, I bumped into a gentleman I'd met just before leaving on my trip and he actually said I looked younger than seven weeks ago.

Now if only more guys would defy the norm about "guys not being interested in clothes," as Eran explained it tonight, and notice what I wear....



AT OUR DOORSTEP
by Tinsley & Carmen Aurora
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