If I knew then what I know now

Dear 15 year old MM,

Ammani asked us to write to our teenaged selves and I procrastinated like mad because I didn’t know which year to write to you! As I come to the end of my 30th year (a week more to go!), it seemed like a good time to get a move on the project even though the contest is long over. So I am going back to when I was half this age. Fifteen does seem like a good idea.

Let me begin by telling you not to let it bother you that your cup overfloweth not! People who weigh 40 kilos have no right to boobs anyway. You’ll eventually realise that clothes fall better on women who aren’t stacked, its so much classier to wear deep necks if you’re not spilling out of them and gravity hits the heavier women much before it touches you. Of course by the time you realise all this thy cup will be overflowing and it will be too late, but what the heck!

Love DOES make the world go round. Don’t listen to those who tell you otherwise – and tell you to ‘concentrate on your studies’. It doesn’t guarantee happiness or success. We might think differently at 40 but at 30 I still feel that way and I don’t think that is entirely terrible! Never mind the idiots swotting for hours for their boards.Especially that silly chick Nimisha something who was of the opinion that idiots study economics and management and the brains do engineering (Only in a small town will you imagine that the the engineers rule!). You’ll go on to one of the best colleges in the country and have the last laugh! As for Nimisha, last I heard she was doing a management course post engineering … ahem. So yeah – at this moment, from this vantage point, I don’t see the money coming in and it’s not really bothering me. If your home is full of music, books, plants, friends and the sound of laughing babies, (not in any particular order) you won’t miss much else.

Anyway, getting back to my favourite topic, louuu. Apart from it being a many splendoured thing and all that jazz, it IS what will make or break your life so think it through. No, I won’t ruin the surprise (if you can call it one!)Β  – but let me tell you, it’s going to be your guiding force. You will let your heart guide you right through and trust me, that is the only way to live life. Work, career, money, yaada yaada – they’re relevant, but not important. But I’m not really worrying because I know you already know that. And oh – let me let you down easy – the brilliant, beautifully-brown-eyed boy you’re head over heels in love with? Well, errmm…. that won’t last, but he’s going to stay on in your life in a permanent way and I can’t ask for more. What better than to hold on to your loved ones for life?

Babies. You love them, don’t you? Well you’ll have some. Soon enough. And they’re going to be the best thing on earth even if they run you ragged. And my bit of unsolicited advice since well, you’re me and so I have a right to give you some (!) isΒ  – have them young. Really. Growing with them is brilliant. Being young and energetic and chasing them is fun. Being free at 40 to travel the world with the husband while the kids get their own life will be awesome. Enjoy every moment with them – they grow up too soon. Juggling is overrated and now that I am doing it, I can tell you, no one wins. You neither ace your career nor feel too brilliant about losing out on their growing years. Take your time with them, with life, in the garden, reading a book… everything. Dig your teeth in deep and enjoy every bite of life. There’s no turning back once you live it – all you can do is frantically write letters to your past that no one will read.

Friends. You have some good friends. And you’ll have them for life. And most of all you’re going to go back and get to know better some people you didn’t take the time to get to know earlier. When you’re my age, you”ll encounter a brilliant musician and writer called Monica Dogra. Check out her song called Oops (if you can time travel) and you will know what I mean.

There’s always going to be a bitch at work and it will be your privilege to work with her. There’s no escaping her and my advice would be to get a life beyond work (obviously you’re not taking my advice seriously because I find myself married to a colleague!). Yeah so anyway, get OUT of office. Media is a seductive employer. The work is fun, you meet interesting people at work, you waste time over lunch and coffee breaks and before you know, its midnight and you’re talking about the stock market in your sleep. But if there’s one thing you will do right, it’s to pick the right job after a few false starts (what made you imagine you should be an airhostess, you dimwit?! It’s a good thing you left before you whacked someone on the head with the teapot!).

Take care of your hair. And your skin – there will come a day when you love the colour you are. To quote Baz – wear sunscreen, and a good bra, (No, Baz didn’t say that, I did)! Take care of your friends. And your family. And yes, that damn pesky brother of yours is still going to be your favourite person at 30. Who woulda thunk it?

I’d advise you to learn patience, but that is a mere waste of breath because I haven’t got it down myself, yet! You’re hot headed and impatient and impetuous and quick to judge and frankly, I wouldn’t want you to be any other way. It’s what makes you, you. But do try and forgive. Hate is such erosive emotion. Don’t waste your time trying to get people to like you. Others are as quick to judge as you are (even if they don’t admit it) and once they’ve decided they hate you, there’s not much you can do about it and no point wasting precious time on them, is there?! It’s entirely their loss if you ask me! But even today I’ll tell you that I’d prefer to have half the world love me and the other half hate me than have all of it indifferent to me.

Let me end with your butt! It’s not too big. In about 3 years from now you will be known in the college for a ‘royal butt’ and that isn’t all that bad a thing. Someday you will realise the resemblance to Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez and wonder why the hell you were trying to starve it off! We won’t get into the futility of that notion.

You’re a great girlΒ  – keep smiling, it’s the best part of you – and oh – on a cheesy note – I hope you dance! And oh yeah, I know you won’t believe this, but though you’re still a rocker chick at heart ( you get a tattoo in the future!), you will grow to love jazz like the oldies you turn your nose up at. Fortunately you still don’t understand the big deal with the Beatles!



29062009 026-1

Yes, that is me at 15 – white tee under a blue dress (jokes about my dress sense back then will not be taken well). I had to blur the other girls so that none of them sue me. We’re sitting on top of a rockery in my parents’ garden back home. We shut off the waterfall that ran through it and scrambled up there for a picture.


58 thoughts on “If I knew then what I know now

  1. “You’re hot headed and impatient and impetuous and quick to judge”

    So me.

    “Take care of your hair. And your skin”

    This is something I have been telling myself since I was 15! So me again.

    “Fortunately you still don’t understand the big deal with the Beatles!”


    And lastly but most importantly,
    “Let me end with your butt! It’s not too big. In about 3 years from now you will be known in the college for a β€˜royal butt’ and that isn’t all that bad a thing. Someday you will realise the resemblance to Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez and wonder why the hell you were trying to starve it off! We won’t get into the futility of that notion.”

    SOO SOOO ME!! Your butt got compared to Beyonce’s too?! SO IS MINE!! I can’t even begin to tell you how many MANY comments I have recieved regarding my butt since my college days!

    In conclusion MM, I am what you were at 15 at twenty-something.

    *high five*

  2. that was one of the most beautiful, evocative letters that a 15yo could receive.
    where’s that top 10 list I was making? dang it, its already done, published and sent. print this letter and add to that, will ya? πŸ™‚

  3. Your 15 old self sounds wonderful. I was thinking what would tell my 15 yr old self That I should study more and not get married at 20 and have 4 kids by the time one is 29? But then how boring would my life be..

    I am going to concentrate on this sentence.

    Being free at 40 to travel the world with the husband while the kids get their own life will be awesome

    I will be 40 in 8 years and will have a 18,15,13 and 1l yr old kids.OMG! I am hyperventilating at that thought.Can we fast forward to next 8 years.

  4. What a lovely idea! Have been doing inner-child meditations. A letter to my teenaged self sounds like the perfect follow-up!

    “I’d prefer to have half the world love me and the other half hate me than have all of it indifferent to me.” This was so relevant to me. And I’ve always loved luuuuuuuurve Lee Ann’s words…thanks:)

    You look lovely…as much as I can see of your blurry self!

    Me: really? Lee Ann’s words? You learn something everydays. Me, I picked it up from a very cool grandmom πŸ™‚ And hey – go write a letter to yourself. Would love to read it

  5. Hey, I am not sure if you’ve heard this before, you remind me of Kajol (my all time favourite) in this pic (very faint pic though). Not sure if you bear any resemblance to her now @ 30 ;)??

    me: possibly – same complexion but built smaller than her. and dont have her lovely nose πŸ™‚

  6. Hey MM, that was one helluva letter and you’re right about the Louu thing, wish I could know it back then when I was fifteen. And that s a beautiful picture of you, you look so… beautiful and .. err.. young πŸ˜›
    And I should’ve known about the skin and hair thing back then, which I obviously didn’t so here I stand with frizzle and acne. Sigh.
    I want to go back to being 15 year old and live life all over again. I could’ve lived so much more.
    Thanks for this letter I went back to being a 15 yr old.

    Me: so you write one also na?

  7. wish i had received a letter from my future self when i was 15..would have avoided so many energy sapping, ‘waste-of-time’ people! …but heck atleast at 30 i have laernt to avoid these kind of people!!!

    nice one MM!

  8. that was beautiful πŸ™‚

    loved where you say –
    “Don’t waste your time trying to get people to like you.”

    Me: LOL! Hey Maya πŸ˜‰ thanks – this one i learned the HARD HARD HARD way.

  9. Only in a small town will you imagine that the the engineers rule– haha, too true!

    It’s the lawyers who rule, of course.

    Me: oh gosh. why did i forget the lawyers?! :p specially in my small town – its DEFINITELY the lawyers who rule

  10. Hey MM! Really enjoyed your letter! Really enjoyed your ‘cup not overfloweth’ problem. Similar to my situation those days. Sigh, I have learnt so much over the years, and yet make the same mistakes. But would love to live my teenage self more fully!

    Love and best wishes,

  11. What a letter MM. And I love your dress! It looks right out of a page of a fashion mag complete with the size 0 figure πŸ™‚

    me: LOL! size 0 is right. i used to be abt 40 kilos. as for my dress…errr.. well if you liked it, I can’t complain πŸ™‚

  12. How’d you remember all about you at 15? I reformatted my teen years as soon as they got over!! But yes, a lot of what you said tingled so many memories…

    I wish I’d listened to you and had babies early. So true! It took my wife all her strength to drag me to the altar when she did. Why haven’t the found a cure to Commitment Phobia yet?

    Me: Oh I enjoyed my teens, angst and all! As for commitment phobia, I think its part social conditioning, part biology. The male is meant to spread his genes wide and far and if he commits to one woman, how will he ensure that?!! I on the other hand was dragged to the altar by the OA because he was scared if he didnt, I’d be off with someone else. πŸ˜‰

  13. Loved the letter! Last evening, one of my senior colleagues told me that i should stop being ‘high and mighty’ and think ‘i am the best’ – while i dont think i am any of those, it bothered me for exactly 30 minutes, her comments – then i thought the same thing you said above –
    You’re hot headed and impatient and impetuous and quick to judge and frankly, I wouldn’t want you to be any other way. It’s what makes you, you.
    I am glad and thankful for the hate – indifference is much worse!
    On a different note, I am in Chennai today and went on an early morning shopping spree. Its Kolu time, and Sundari silks has the most lovely looking collection of pretty handmade wooden dolls and the loveliest kistchy blue mirror i saw – thought of you.You like?

    Me: Well honestly I dont mind indifference either. But the truth is that you can either be a person who people are indifferent to or the kind of person who inspires stronger emotions. While I dont aspire to be hated I do know that a lot of people love me deeply and if that means that some others hate those very qualities greatly then I am willing to pay that price.

  14. ok, really, i dont know what i am typing. i meant to ask you if you like the sound of the mirror and dolls – i thought they would look lovely in your house; let me know πŸ™‚

    Me: okay tell me what mirror and dolls sounds like. i am lost!

  15. Great one,MM!loued reading it…I hope you dance..is the song that I copied for my daughters’15th birthday card!Now,I so feel like starting a blog..you inspire!

  16. Dear MM

    As usual, you are brilliant, great way of putting in a 15 year old on paper. Just superb ! I think every one would find a bit of oneself in some line or the other that you have written.

    Too good

  17. πŸ™‚

    beyootiful! my teenage was verry dull really. no angst, no trouble. it was the early 20’s that brought all the changes! is that what they call “late bloomer?” hehe!

    lovely lovely read! i must do this exercise too! nostalgia is mostly fun and to know how far we have come and yet are still so close to what we used to be! πŸ™‚


  18. β€œDon’t waste your time trying to get people to like you.”

    That’s a lesson all teenagers need to have wired into their brain at the onset of teenage. Life really is much easier with that thought πŸ™‚

    Me: Oh I didnt figure that out until I started blogging. Now I know that people who dont like me can go jump! I have to thank you guys for that bit of wisdom

  19. Sheesh, as misguided at 30 as you were at 15 – doesn’t like the Beatles, hmph! :-):-)
    ‘s ok, old sayings about sows’ ears and purses come to mind …. πŸ™‚

    More seriously, love the sentiments, and stop dissing your fashion sense – apart from puff-sleeves, that dress looks very today’s fashion.

    And lawyers rule (quite literally), not just small towns, but the world…sigh. We engineers rule in all kinds of other ways πŸ˜€


    Me: misguided?! gee M, you keeeel me.

  20. Wish I’d received this letter at 15! Especially the ‘Engineer’ part, I wouldn’t have wasted time on something that I’ll never get back to in life..
    And the ‘trying to find people like you’ bit…..so true!

  21. What a lovely post.

    This is something I have been trying to do… penning down something I know now, I wish I had known then.

    But you know what, I think I need a greater distance from that age. Though I am 25, it feels like yesterday that I was 15. And the only thing I feel when I get to writing such a letter to me is that I wish I had done everything I already knew I ought to be doing back then.

  22. Are you sure about the cups? Because it DOES bother me that mine do not overflow…

    Me: I tell you 2 pregnancies and 10 extra kilos and I envy you. No one looks at me uncertainly and says “Ek baby aaya hai – drawing room mein le jaye ya nursery mein?” !!!! Just trust me on this one even if not on the sunscreen – you can rock any outfit!

  23. Hi MM,

    Lovely letter, I would’ve loved to receive something like this from my future self. By the way, I really dont know how you look now, but going by your pictures, I think your little Beanie looks just like you.

  24. do they make them like u anymore ? no, really ! u know, all the girls these days..ALL of them are ‘wise’ enough to take their personal life take a back seat but want their academics/professional lives to rock. to be a success.
    funnily that is what makes their being worthwhile. i mean whatever happened to love making life worthwhile !!!!

    where are the girls ???

  25. so either i am born in the wrong generation, or mebbe i’ll remain single forever.

    : mr. experienced-with-more-than-two-girls-too-many-across-age group 17-26.

  26. u rocked then, you rock now… read this post twice and happy memories flashed through. sheer luck i ended up with you guys and had so much fun.

  27. Hey MM,

    Seen a few of these letters put up by some bloggers and they make for an interesting read.
    Yours was wonderful!

    I was tempted to do it but wanna put it away for another 6 months – unil I attain the big ‘Γ“’:-)))

  28. Pingback: A letter to the future… « Interesting Accounts from a Girl in the Third World

  29. What a great idea? I’ve never wrote a letter to myself πŸ˜‰ A well written post, as usual. You should at least think of publishing short stories/letters into a book. A huge hit for sure πŸ˜€

  30. Just curious but are your parents fans of the Beatles?
    I have a theory that for people of our age ,if their parents were fans and played the music alot at home then you sort of automatically become a fan but if not, then maybe you dont see the big deal.

    Me: πŸ™‚ your theory might work in that case. My parents were more into Black Sabbath and Led Zep. Beatles existed, but they werent die hard fans either. And to me they kinda just ended up being another boy band! But then I guess that holds true for any sorta music. The OA grew up listening to a lot of ancient 50s ka hindi music that I cant stand. so that would mean the Beatles are nothing but habit. Not a great band? πŸ˜‰ am I asking for trouble?

  31. Die hard Beatle fans may be annoyed with you for doubting their credentials but i agree. I’ve found in my case,where the discovery of love for music from an older generation is concerned, i seem to gravitate more towards bands/musicians that had an impact on friends/family and hence were highly recommended and were part of the background music i grew upto.Musical tastes can be set quite early and it is often difficult to appreciate as an adult something we were not exposed to much as a child. I dont find that with music from a later generation though. My parents find it quite easy to enjoy what i do. Of course, all this is just what i have observed and definitely not a hard and fast rule.

  32. I remember that post of yours mad momma and thats the reason I asked you is louuu worth it all…

    Me: πŸ™‚ I guess my answer depends on which side of the bed I got out of. most days I believe louuu is worth it all. somedays it seems even life isnt worth it!

  33. let me take a guess then…10 posts down the line then we can expect a post along the lines of louu not being worth it or something similar to a fight the fight which is worth it…:P

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