Prisoners of the free world

This image was taken at the Alcatraz prison, which is just 1.5 miles away by sea from San Francisco city. Walking through the matchbox sized cells with rusty metal bars, it made me wonder how the lives of the inmates of this prison would’ve been like. The prisoners had this beautiful view of the Golden gate bridge on one side and the SF skyline lurking on the other.

The tour guide told us, that the smell of chocolate from the famous Ghirardelli factory nearby, used to spread across the island. The irony for the prisoners here was that they could’ve had everything that one could wish for, just 1.5 miles away. And yet, because of the burden of their crimes, this small distance kept them away from the real world.

Alcatraz Island, California

I also happened to stumble upon a prisoner’s cell (above image) who’s art made me stop and wonder that, if he was out here in the real world, he would’ve definitely made it as an artist! Such a waste of talent. When I come to think of it, we as humans, sometimes imprison ourselves in this crazy web of life, that we forget about the beauty that lies underneath. I mean, this one life, wouldn’t you want to make it big?

This guy, he was stuck in one place and yet, he tried to make something out of literally nowhere! And here we are, free as birds, yet caged by these shackles of a monotonous life, societal pressures and procrastination. One of these days, I hope you break free from these chains and paint a beautiful picture in real life as well!

Friendships lost and found

Isla and me decided to meet at Pebble beach. She always loved the beach. Probably because her name itself meant an island in Spanish – Isla. I faintly remembered our beach getaways during college days. It had been 10 years since our last rendezous at the beach. Since the Californian winds blew quietly that day, we decided to directly head down to the beach.

For the longest time we just sat quietly on the sand, staring at the deep blue ocean in front of us. The sound of the crashing waves being the only sound amidst the awkward silence. I suddenly remembered, this place was called “Pebble beach” and I saw all these pebbles lying around. I grabbed some pebbles from around and started stacking them one above the other. Isla joined in too. We both got engrossed in placing the pebbles on top of each other, trying to maintain their balance. While we were at it, I said, “You know, people stack these stones to make a..”. “Wish! I know”, she said and smiled. I smiled as well, amused at how she remembered this random thing I once told her.

Just like that, here we were, 10 years later, skeptical if we had lost our connection and wondering if our friendship could ever make sense again. Yet, we were back to being those same two kids who used to run off to the beach, where we would stack some pebbles together, wishing for future adventures together.

I didn’t wish for anything that day and I know she didn’t as well. Maybe, one of our wishes from the past did come true. Because here we were, reunited as the best friends we always thought we were.

The guy who sold happiness.

They told me about a guy who sold happiness. Every person I met would talk about how the old man made them the happiest person in the world. I looked everywhere and he seemed nowhere to be found. I was left wondering if this town was full of crazy clowns. So, I stopped an elder man and asked him, if he had seen the guy around. He just smiled and said, “You will find him when you are really looking for him.”

I finally met the guy after a lot of soul searching, he was sitting under a tree with just a book in his hand. I simply walked towards him and asked him, if he is the guy who they say sells happiness. He said to me, “I’m not a rich guy to “sell” you any kind of happiness nor poor to take money from you. All I ever did was help the people realize that what they were searching for in the extrinsic world, was with them all the time. I just made them see the light within them.

I always ask them, what makes them the happiest – is it a thing, is it a person, is it a place? I tell them – don’t tell me if you’re currently happy with what you do, or how the person you’re with is great or about your beautiful new house or car. Don’t overthink it.

Tell me about that one thing which you know has always brought you pure joy, which without any doubts makes you feel like the person you truly are. Just place your hand on your heart and think about it. Because you can fill the void in your life with a lot of materialistic things. But, if you have that one thing in your life, even if everything else doesn’t work out, you will still have YOUR happiness with you, wherever you go, whatever you do.”

This guy never sold happiness, he simply helped people find it. 💫

To shine..

All I’ve ever know in my life
Is to shine
Amongst heads held high and hearts full of pride
Even through dark night skies
And peeking through skyscrapers so high
Anything that tries to dim my light
Only witnesses how bright I shine without putting up a fight
For I never learnt how to dull my sparkle even through time
Coz all I’ve ever know in my life
Is to shine. ✨

Ashwini

P.S : This picture was taken at the Bryant Park Winter Village in New York. It’s almost Spring in New York and I was surprised to see the Winter Village at Bryant Park still lit! Loved how glorious the Empire State building looks from here. Hope everyone’s excited about Spring!

About friendships that were lost

“Friends forever” were the words we sketched under our desks
For we never even thought our lives will ever be a mess
My partner in crime and my friend in need,
Me for you and you for me, that was our world indeed

We didn’t live for tomorrow, coz our present itself felt like a beautiful dream
We laughed our hearts out and celebrated each other’s wins
Holding hands, we ran with the wild winds, stuck with each other like glue
Look at us now, jumping into the phases of life without any clue

They say heartbreaks are tough but what about friendships that were lost
None of us can put a value on the pain they cost
For love may come and go, but true friendship is one of its kind
Which comes with an unsaid promise, to be together through space and time

To my dear friend, even though we may have drifted apart
You and our friendship had a happy place in my heart
And if I ever come across a picture of us, your hand on my shoulder and us smiling together
I’ll cherish the memories and pray that you don’t lose that smile, it’s all that matters!

– Ashwini

Do your thing.

“Just do your thing, girl!”, that’s what my best friend said to me today. And it got me thinking, how important it is to hear these words even when you think you are on the right path. This wasn’t some deep advise, but just some encouraging words to get you going. At times, our own judgement gets clouded because we get lost in the ongoing chaos around us. When we watch multiple things, listen to contradicting podcasts, talk to people with different views, we begin to wonder about our own life choices. Sometimes, we judge ourselves so much that we begin to doubt our entire purpose in life even when we have found it.

To me, a healthy debate is important. I like to listen to what other people have to say, it gives you a different perspective to life. But, we also need to be careful about how we are reacting to all this information that we consume. The most important part you need to realize is, these are the other person’s views. They choose to believe in these things because at some point they too, had a revelation. Maybe through another person or any other channel. Whereas you have to decide what knowledge to keep and what to discard. It’s okay, if you want different things from the world and realize that you think differently. These differences are what make you, YOU.

Honestly, I tell myself that I believe in me more than anyone else. Because I know I am willing to work hard for the things I really want. It took me a lot of years to finally accept the person that I am, with all the good and bad combined. And let me tell you, that has been the best part! Because now I know what I am, who I am and what am I built of. This has helped me to be myself, trust my own instincts and go after the things I really want.

So, keep the good parts from what you see and hear and altogether discard what is not helping you. If you believe in something with all your heart, why not give it a chance to come true. The world will be judging you no matter what, the good and the bad. So, why not give them something good to talk about. Choose yourself, just be you and do your own thing. And I bet the chaos of this world will vanish into thin air when you do so!

PS: I chose this picture because the sun always reminds me that it will rise and shine, no matter what!

Let’s go live on a tiny island..

Let’s go live on a tiny island filled with people like you and me
A place where the winds sway as they may, and the people breathe free

Where on days when it rains, we go dance with our favorite songs playing in our heads instead of trying to find a shelter
And when the sun comes out, we sit under a tree and bury our faces in books, sipping a seltzer
And on the coldest of days, when there’s nowhere to go, we’ll ignite the dried logs of our memories
Let them provide all the warmth we’ll ever need to get through a cold breeze

If you wonder what will happen to the people you would want to see
The ones that care would even walk on thin ice just for one more meet
The houses won’t be fancy, but for all their guests, they’ll always offer a seat
Where they all grab a bite together and drink some lemonade to escape the midsummer heat

It’ll be a home for lost souls who are wandering around looking for something
And it’ll be a solace for us, a paradise for our dreams to cling
For this island would welcome all those who dare to dream
And for the ones who don’t, a distant utopia it would seem

It might not be a place where there will be millions of things for you to do
But it will all be enough to last you a lifetime or maybe even two!


Ashwini

Love in the time of Corona

We are close to completing a year since the COVID-19 pandemic started. How it has affected all our lives is yet to be fully measured. But I can’t seem to ignore the simple things that we usually forget to be grateful for. Most importantly, it helped us to recognize the value of love that already exists amongst us. Looking back, I couldn’t help but think about the people who reached out to me throughout the crazy phase and helped me stay sane.

There was a time when you couldn’t hug a friend but the 6 feet distance didn’t matter anyway. To see long forgotten acquaintances reach out to you to ensure you’re safe and healthy. The people who constantly checked up not only on your physical health but mental health as well. The long video calls that called for a happy hour or birthday celebrations and let’s not forget the Zoom weddings! For those staying away from family and friends, living a solitary life, how the anxious phone calls strangely seemed to calm down your nerves, being thankful to hear the voice of your loved ones. You didn’t feel the need to teleport through the laptop screen because the love that already exists was enough to endure through it all. It took us a pandemic to realize that the ones that care do find a way to show their love despite perilous circumstances.

Love could never be a weakness when all it has done is given us strength. To endure, through it all, together. These strange times reinstate that there exists a love that transcends space and time. There’s you and there are your people. The ones who cared and the ones who dared to love in the time of Corona. ❣️

P.S: I’m never gonna forget about the time when I was too scared to eat a slice of pizza!

A color for the sky!

Let’s choose a color with which you would want to paint the sky
How about the yellow that brings with it all the warmth and cheer?
The scorching orange ignites a fire, allowing to embrace my fierceness just how it spreads throughout the sky
Yet, the soft pink hues make you forget about everything and simply look up at the cotton candy world
The grey sometimes matches with the gloomy clouds of doubt, that later subside to make way for sunshine
And the dark black sky with its shining stars and the moon, reminds me of the universe where in we reside
I love how the blue sky brings out the different shades of the deep blue sea, almost feels like a cosmic love affair
So, how about we choose a sky that unfolds its own magic and we just sit and stare?

What would you settle for?

I was watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix and I came across this dialogue where the protagonist’s mother says to her daughter -“It takes a strong woman to stay by herself in a world where people will settle for anything, just to say they have something”. I feel it holds true for men and women both. We tend to settle not just in terms of people, but things, places, goals and dreams as well. In most cases, it happens so because you go for the easy choice or what society deems ideal for you. We are just so keen on having something to call ours that we forget to question ourselves – Do I even want it? Can I do better? Do I want to do better?

This also has a lot to do with circumstances that force us into settling. But it also takes a lot of courage to fight for what you want despite the circumstances. In the end, it’s really about choosing the battles you’re willing to fight for and dropping your weapons and armor to the ground for some. Don’t ever believe anyone who tells you that you don’t deserve something. No one. Not even yourself! Just because you’ve set your standards high doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a shot at what’s best for you.

To not settle for less also means being able to realize and recognize your own value. To not be afraid of your own shadow. In life, there won’t always be another person making you realize your worth. But it will be the person you see when you stand in front of the mirror everyday. You need to decide what is best for you. And you don’t have to lowball yourself just to be with someone or for the sense of some kind of accomplishment. Think about how many times before you choose other people are you willing to choose yourself. Remember, the pursuit of happiness always begins with you.