Oct 2, 2005

earliest memories

One my courses for this semester is "Introduction to General Psychology". We are learning about learning these days. While reading the book, I came across one of those boxes that have information about cultures and people and places. I don't usually read these boxes, not because they don't interest me, but because of time constraints. Today, however, I read the box titled "Cultural Differences in Early Memories". The paragraph suggests (or rather concludes on the basis of many researches) that "the age of earliest memory for Asian adults tends to be about six months later than for Americans. Another striking difference is that for Americans these memories are about self, for example being stung by a bee. Whereas for Asians these memories include groups, for example walking to school with friends. After reading this interesting piece of information, I got to thinking about my earliest memories.

I have a few early memories in mind. They are very clear, but I certainly don't know which particular order they lie in. I know the exact date of only one of these events. I was 3 yrs, 3 months, and 2-3 days old. My brother was born and I was in the hospital. Trying to climb up those huge beds. And I FELL! It really hurt, so I cried a lot and certainly felt very embarrassed. After all, I was a big kid by then - THREE YEARS OLD! AN OLDER SIBLING!

The other memory I remember is of walking back to Divya and Manna Masi's house from the market, holding Chiclets in my hands, shaking it, and making the sound "chhik-chhik-chhik", like in the advertisement. I also remember sitting in Divya Masi's Maruti 800 waiting for her and Bade Papa to return, and being EXTREMELY bored. Another memory involving the Sapra family is of brushing my teeth with my right index finger whenever I spent the night at Maa and Bade Papa's place. And the one involving Nani... how I used to run to her room, get underneath the sheets, wait for her to finish listening to her transistor radio, and then listed to her bedtime stories, often telling her which one I wanted to hear. And you know.. I used to be a character in a couple of her stories. Going to the zoo with my nursery class :) - wow! cute old days!

Now analyzing these memories I notice that although about self, I have other people in these memories as well. In the first one, I know mom was there and once I started crying she held me and made everything better. I also know there were other people and that's the reason why I was embarrassed. But the main character is me, myself, and I. In the second memory, I'm doing the "chhik-chhik-chhik" but Divya Masi and Manna masi are there, both on either side of me. In the one involving the car, I'm the only person in view, but in the back of my mind I know that Divya Masi and Bade Papa are somewhere around there. While brushing my teeth, again It's just me there but other people are also around. With Nani, well it's clear who's in the picture.

It's quite fun thinking about these things. Anyways, according to my text the average age for earliest memory was about 3.5 yrs for the US born adults and about 4 yrs for China-born adults. I wonder what it's like for India-born adults. According the results in front of me, I lie on the left hand side of the normal curve. Cool!

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