THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: He has a way with numbers. Reciting out aloud any number of numerical combinations is a child's play for him. So, when Rajan Srinivasan Mahadevan, a mnemonist by profession, started reciting all the 52 two-digit numbers which were thrown at him by the students of St Mary's Central School, Poojappura, he was met with an 'awestruck' silence. He was in the city as part of a session to sharpen students' memory and improve their concentration skills.
Rajan received a similar reaction from the audience at Mangaluru when he recited the value of Pi, the circumference of a circle to its diameter, to 31,811 decimal places in two hours and broke the world memory record held by Creighton Carvello of Cleveland, United Kingdom who recited Pi to 20,013 decimal places in nine hours and 10 minutes. This earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1981. He has also been featured on Larry King Live and Reader's Digest.
Rajan has been playing with numbers from the age of five. At school, he used to amaze his friends and teachers by repeating cricket scores, railway time-tables and other sets of numbers. By the time he joined college, he could retrieve up to 10,000 numbers. “ I learned everything slowly and gradually. I don't follow any coding system, numbers just seem to flow in my mind and I can even tell when I make mistakes,” says Rajan.
Though born in Thiruvananthapuram, Rajan says this is the first time he is holding a memory session in the city. "After moving to Coimbatore, I never received an opportunity to display my skills at my hometown,” he said. This 64-year-old man's memory processes appear to be as much a mystery to him as for others. He takes just two seconds to memorise a digit and once he has read through a series of numbers, those numbers are permanently engraved in his memory. He can then recite them forward or backwards. He is even able to remember the numbers after several months.
Rajan is also an expert in psychology, criminology and economics. Not only numbers, Rajan is also an expert in remembering faces, words and names. Rajan surprises his students by remembering each of their birthdays and phone members.
This memory champion says that the talent can be acquired by anyone who has the right amount of confidence. He also emphasised the importance of memory and expertise to revolutionize the educational system. “I am trying to create a sensible technique through which students will be able to remember what they learn without mugging up.
The system will enable students to excel in everything,” he said. Filmmaker Krishna Kumar, Sarosh P Abraham, secretary of St Mary’s Group of Institutions and principal Anila Sarosh also graced the occasion.