Hazards of multi-tasking

I am simply amazed at the ability of youngsters these days to attend to multiple tasks at the same time. I think they partition their brains into different zones , each one focussing on accomplishing one task and all of them working together.

 The other day I watched with incredulity my niece reading some report on her laptop, gulping coffee and chomping biscuits alternately, gossiping with her friend on the mobile and occasionally inspecting the frosty polish on her fingernails - all in one smooth manner.

 If it had been me trying to perform all those actions, I am sure pretty soon I would have been slurping a biscuit, spilling coffee on the laptop, dropping the phone on the ground and banging my head on the table in trying to retrieve it.

I think it has a lot to do with memory – the juggling simultaneously of different tasks, I mean. And that is one resource that seems to get more and more scarce with advancing age. I should know and, of course, my wife never tires of pointing it out.

 Like the other day when I came home satisfied that I had accomplished all the tasks she had outlined for me, from paying the electricity bill to buying the lemons from the grocer, when she asked, “ Where is the cream?” That put paid to all my sense of accomplishment, particularly when it was pointed out with vehemence that the cream was specially needed to make the dessert for MY friends who were coming for lunch.

I have learnt from bitter experience that undertaking multiple tasks at the same time is a recipe for disaster. Even two tasks seem formidable to accomplish.

Inevitably, when I have settled down comfortably in the armchair to peruse the newspaper, satisfied with myself  that I have put off the rice cooker, some ten minutes later comes a shriek from the kitchen and the condemning words from the missus, “Why didn’t you put off the stove on which the milk was being heated? All the milk has boiled over onto the floor. Can’t you do one thing correct?”

The missus, of course, is a different kettle of fish. She  can be dicing the vegetables, talking to a colleague on the mobile, stirring the sambar on the boil, scolding the servant for not cleaning the drawing room properly – all at the same time and without turning a hair. Women, I guess, are born multi-taskers.

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