If there was a way I could go back to the July of 2004 when I had just turned 19, in my second year of engineering, which till date remains my toughest year, what would I tell him? He’s at a tough time in his life already with over 4 hours of travelling to and fro to college and for the first time he’s not in the top 10% of his very intelligent class. And things are about to get worse from here on. I wish somehow I could go back and just, you know, tell him stuff that would make him believe that all of this will be alright.

1. The older you get, the wiser you will get. I know you think you know everything, and yes you do know quite a lot, but you will know more things when you are 25 and even more by you are 29. 

2. Money can buy most things in life. But there are 3 things money cant buy. Good food, Good weather and Good women

3. Good food is fresh fruits, vegetables, there are very few countries in the world that have access to such food, yours is one of them. Good weather is rarer than good food. Good women are the rarest of the three.

4. I know how much you have heard about Germany and how much you want to visit. You will work for a German firm right out of Engineering college. And yes, you will end up living in Berlin. It is an amazing city.

5. You know that girl you liked in the 11th Standard but didn’t have the stomach to approach? She got fat. Not that weight is the right way to judge a girl, but it wasn’t exactly her personality you were after.

6. I know you don’t drink and you shouldn’t, not such a good habit. But you will learn to love and respect good Beer and Wine as a form of art that it is.

7. For as much as you hate Mumbai right now, the more you go around the world, the more you will come to love the place. 

8. You will fall in love with Sour bread and Gouda cheese.

9. This year will be your life’s toughest year yet. I am 29 and I haven’t had a worse year that what the 19th would be.

10. But that’s alright. You know, easy years make for good memories, tough years make for good character

11. The older you get, fewer people will impress you, which is great, ‘cause that means you must be getting better

12. Remember how you wanted to buy a Skoda by the time you hit 28? Well, you didn’t buy a Skoda, but an even better car last year. And yes, it’s a German car.

13. You should exercise more, not to build biceps or anything, just to, generally keep fit. And anyway, I have found only 19 year old girls dig biceps. The rest you can charm with your stories.

14. Yeah, we write stories now. You will publish a novel, actually two. (Buy the second novel here)

15. You remember the World Cup last year? 2003? How sad that made you. Well, let me tell you this – We win the World Cup soon and that last ball six, I cant even… You have to watch it dude. It gave me Goosebumps

16. You are not going to have a girlfriend. Not till you are out of Engineering.  Don’t feel bad, it’s mechanical Engineering dude! What did you think? Think of this time as batting on a crumbling pitch, if you can play this out, you will score on your day.

17. You will buy a lake-facing house. It’s beautiful.

18. You will lose some hair and some of the others will grow grey but with each passing year they would bother you less than they did the previous year.

19. The older you get the better you are going to get at charming women. You know that pretty girl in Computer Science you think is out of your league? You will manage to woo women way hotter than her, like wayyyy hotter.

20. You will fall in love with your parents with every passing year. You will come to see them more as human beings susceptible to making mistakes. You will realize they did the best job they could do.

21. You remember that girl from school you used to find cute? Well, she’s still out of your league.

22. And btw, you married her. It is awesome. But still, out of your league

23. Petrol will become three times as expensive in the next decade

24. I know how much you love the Reebok brand. You have so many Tshirts and shoes. The 29 year old you doesn’t own a single Reebok product. Sorry, I just grew out of it.

25. Enjoy your jeans and Tshirts. Casual Friday is a big deal when you start working.

26. You know how you wish you weren’t so shy? Well, you have made some amazing friends. Some of them would give their lives for you. The amazing part is, for all your selfishness, you would too.

27. If I told you my salary, you are gonna freak out. But don’t, remember what I told you about petrol? Everything’s more expensive in 2014.

28. You will visit more than 13 countries. 

29. No matter what you think about life right now, if you keep at it, earnestly, it would get better. Much better than you ever imagined. Life is tough, 19 is a good age to realize it. 

So thank you for everything you have done till now. Right now, I wouldn’t wanna be you but I wouldn’t be me, if at some point in my life I hadn’t been you. So, thank you.

29 things the 29 year old I want to tell the 19 year old meSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
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Of Orkut, confidence and my girlfriend...

"Tu orkut pe hai?" asked Rahul Bhat or Bhatti as he was known. Puberty had hit him late and in his 2nd year of engineering this genius of the class was asking me if I was on Orkut.

I kid you not, I thought it was some sort of software, something related to mechanical design or analysis or something. The year was 2005 and I wasnt too much into anything those years so you could forgive me for not knowing what had already started to become a phenomena in India back then. I called it the #1 thing that changed India in the last 10 years. You can read that blog post here.

But this is not a nostalgic post highlighting the good old days of Orkut and superior privacy and how they didnt conduct experiments on its users. This is a post about how Orkut empowered guys like me. How it made us more confident among other things.

I was a shy guy. I would never be able to walk up to anyone and say hi. It always had to be the other guy. If it was a girl I had a crush on, she would never know till many years later by which she would have already changed two boyfriend and the newest one would have a CBZ (its a bike, kinda big deal back then)

There's this song by Boyzone, dont remember all the lyrics, but it goes - It's only words, and words is all I have to take your heart away. -- Those words could be spoken words, or thanks to Orkut, these words could now be written. Much simpler for guys like me, we could write things down, without having the fear of shot down or laughed at. You like a girl in your class? Or Computer Science class? (if you are an Mech Engineering student) Send her a friend request. If she accepts it could mean only 3 things -

1. She likes you back
2. She has no idea who the hell you are but shes nice so doesnt want to seem smug
3. She just wants to increase the number of friends.

It was usually the 3rd one. But that was okay. Boys like us were one inch closer to girls. Maybe the girls will say hi the next time they meet in the hallway. How could they not, we were "Orkut friends" after all. Even if they didnt, it was okay. We could always send them a scrap - You looked very nice at the freshers' party. 3 other boys would paste the exact same thing below. Demand supply mein problem hai actually...

I found myself on Orkut. Though a late adopter, I was hooked immediately. It was so much fun. You could form communities, troll your friends, scrap each other and the best part - Write testimonials. There were 3 types of testimonial writers -

1. Who write testis only for friends out of genuine respect for friendship
2.Who write testis expecting a testi in return
3. Who write testis only for girls, praising them, hoping they would notice them and talk to them, heck even go out with them.

Mostly 3rd type.

I am thankful to Orkut. It made me the cool guy that you see today and wonder how he can be so awesome. But seriously, I got my long time girlfriend and now wife on Orkut. No, no, I didnt send her a frandship request or anything. We were friends in school and then she moved to the United States. Somehow she found me on orkut and added me.

She was always out of my league. Today, for as awesome as I am, I still think I am striving to be better everyday so that I can deserve her. If I feel that when I am so full of myself today, had I met her in person back then, it would have been impossible for me to woo her. Orkut and the distance between us made sure we didnt meet face to face too much and I got my written words to do the talking for me.

Orkut gave me the confidence guys like me deserve. There are so many of us out there, ladies, its sad most of you would never manage to meet us, had it not been for Orkut. I feel the we live in a much better world now where most of us have a level playing field. And this is not just for romantic relationships.

Now that they are shutting it down, I feel sad. It seems like yesterday Bhatti had animatedly asked me to come on Orkut. I want to thank him for the idea. I havent logged on to the site in ages. But I didnt think they would turn it off. For me, it was something I would show my kids to -- this is where it all started. Maybe they would read this post one day and marvel at the times gone by.

But for this moment, all I wanna do is, save and read my testimonials again and again and again...

-Arshat Chaudhary
Of Orkut, confidence and my girlfriend...SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
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