Sunday, February 21, 2010

Creativity v/s Memory

I read an article in a newspaper some time back, which stated that, women can be trained to be better chess players than men. The difference, the author cited, was in the way men and women play chess. Men regard every game as a new battle to conquer and hence think of innovative ways to win a tournament. Women, on the other hand, play by memory. If they realize that the status of a game is the same as some other game they had played before, they will try to imitate the moves that had led them to win the previous game. Women generally have good memory (refer to jokes about husband-bashing for forgetting birthdays n anniversaries ;)), so if they are taught several possible game strategies, they can remember those and can win a large number of tournaments. This was the author's hypothesis and I have no idea whether anyone found out if it was true or not. However, it has made for an interesting comparison in my head and I now present it before you. 

I've lamented a million times about lack of rules and order in India, particularly in Pune. Traffic is the best example where every person applies his own set of laws. Traffic lights are missing or off at so many junctions and the impatient people of Pune rarely give way to anybody, leading to congestion and chaos. At times like these I've wondered, why can't they make the system such that it is impossible to break the law? For e.g. now they've started putting dividers on the road for people who want to take a right turn. However, people not in that section of the road still manage to cut across and take a right turn. Especially when one is stuck in a traffic jam, you tend to curse the government for not implementing stricter traffic rules. Every time you need to have a new strategy to find your way out of the mess. Dodge the bus here, cut that rikshawala there, honk at the car and you're through! A sense of achievement prevails, no doubt, but at the cost of mental health!

When I went to Dubai this time, I got a shock! Dubai has completely changed face. It almost looks like US right now. There are a hundred roads leading God knows where and they have used the "Exit" system. When you're on a road, if you want to go to a destination, you choose the correct "Exit", or else you need to go for some 10 miles before you can take a U turn and come back! Very efficient apparently, with accurate road signs, the flow of traffic is extremely smooth. However, you need to be extremely sure of where you want to go. 10 miles to take a U-turn is extremely annoying if you are in a hurry to reach somewhere. The roads are almost impossible to remember and you need to choose your lane a few kilometers in advance to head in the right direction. This is not just the case on major roads, even internal roads have no U-turn signs. So obviously, you need to have an extremely good memory of where all the important roads go. No scope for creativity here. 

So, now the question comes, which one would I prefer? Would I prefer creatively battling my way through a million vehicles, or having a proper rule system, where if I make a mistake, I have to drive around in circles? Obviously there are other alternatives, but after seeing the state my Dad is in when he is driving around in Dubai, I have started cribbing less. At least there is no chance of anyone getting lost in Pune, but it is a real possibility in Dubai. You could end up miles away from your intended destination with no way of knowing how to actually get there. I'm quite grateful that Pune isn't going the Dubai way. I'll battle my way "creatively" through all the mess, oh traffic policemen, but I will hand out chocolates every time you are there to direct the traffic when our red-amber-greens break down. More signals in working order please! Oh, and of course, drive safely dear readers...


  1. Getting lost in Dubai....haven't you heard of dashboard mounted GPS? It won't be of much use in Pune, that's for sure. Also, can't you gals use your superior memoization skills and be the back-seat-driver for guys to avoid getting lost? Oh yes, guys never stop to ask directions - part of their desire to win a challenge. More about it can be found in the best-seller "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus"!

  2. As far as my reading goes Women do more of pattern matching on subconscious level than men. While playing chess or for that matter any other situation men think through more than just pattern matching based on previous experiences.

    Men are from mars ... a good read. However I liked Why men dont listen and women cant read maps. Its a very insightful look into thought process of men/women.

    Keep writing

  3. Heres my take on the same topic written around a month ago i guess.. Titled - All Idiots

  4. @Chinmay: Dashboard mounted GPS. Interesting... :) I forgot to mention a very crucial fact in this post. I have a terrible memory when it comes to roads!

    @Shantanu: I've been meaning to read men are from. Your post is interesting :) We should have a debate on this some time ;)

  5. by the way , it was your review of 3 idiots and some of my other reads which disturbed me and I wrote that Post - All idiots