I used to have a spectacular memory. I remembered everything: lists, conversations, details, names, embarrassing stories.
But now I am getting old, and my memory is getting all Swiss-cheese. Proper nouns are the first things that seem to be getting jettisoned. I can’t remember the name of the eldest son of Pandu in the Mahabharata. I can’t remember the name of the character who begins “Anna Karenina” with his very entertaining dream of “tables who are women.” I can’t remember the name of the actress who played Katniss in “The Hunger Games”!
So I am trying to rely on mnemonics, for what little good it will do me.
One is “the house.” Picture the floorplan of the house you grew up in. Now: walk around the house, in your mind. Put something you want to remember in each room. If you go back later (in your mind), you’ll find those things there.
This works pretty well for me (when I remember to do it). My childhood house had a long hallway, with rooms on either side, and I put things in the beds, and in the toilet, and on the sofa in the living room.
Also there’s the Peg Bracken method: flagpole, underwear, tricycle, pig.
A flagpole is vertical, like the number one. Underwear come in pairs, like the number two. Tricycles have three wheels. Pigs have four legs.
So let’s say you want to buy butter, and yogurt, and flour, and ground beef.
The flagpole is flying a flag made of butter. The underwear has a big picture of yogurt on it. There’s a big bag of flour on the tricycle. The pig is eating a big trough full of ground beef.