My thoughts in this article have greatly been inspired by not-so-famous deductive genius brilliant TV series Forever. You probably don’t need to put a gun on my head to make me say that this is by far one of the best series I have watched.

“It’s not the number of years we live that matters. Our lives just add up to a series of moments. We never know when or where they’ll happen, but they stick with us marking our souls forever.”

This quote has home my heart since the time I came across it the first time. It resonates with my soul and propelled me to look life from a different perspective altogether. It taught me that life is not only about making money and living lavishly. It is far beyond that. It is about exploring yourself. It is about realizing your true potential. It is about witnessing what as an individual you can achieve. Nothing is permanent. You can’t be happy all the time. And those sad times too shall pass.

Over the years, I have been trying to explore the things around me to know what I like and what not. There are times when I wonder if I have started becoming a kind of philosophical person. While trying hard to get sleep in late night hours, I often end up questioning myself the definition of a perfect life. And then I hear the echo of a familiar voice in my head telling me that the life needs not to be perfect. We must learn to enjoy imperfections. Happiness is quite subjective and a perfect life is myth. What makes you happy might be worthless for others. The secret mantra is to invest time in things that pump up adrenaline rush in your brain. You can do it for hours without whining about it. I ain’t a morning person. But when it comes to photography, I wake up anytime I want.

When I was ten, all I dreamed was a fleet of luxurious cars and a big bungalow. The reason was simple. I wanted to be happy and those celebrities with big shiny cars and lavish homes always had a big smile on screens. As time passed and I grew up, I realized how wrong I was. While all I still want is happiness, my ambitions have changed. Instead of chasing happiness, I do things that make me happy. Happiness was perhaps, never a thing to be looked for.

“However long you live, even though that might prove a very, very long time, you must tell yourself to live every day, every hour as if it could be your last.”

Today when I look back over my life, I don’t remember every small detail. Things of the past that sounded big and turning point were just small speed breakers in this long journey. You see, memories are slippery things. They have a tendency to fade over time. What I haven’t forgotten is those beautiful moments I lived on the way. Moments that put a curve on my face whenever the brain decides to take a walk down the memory lane.

“Be in company of someone who renders you with the same feeling as when you see your food arriving in a restaurant.”

If there is one thing that saddens me today, it is the void of the special person. Having lived through my fair share of life, I can tell you the most difficult to endure is loneliness. Happiness of achieving something is only worth when it is shared. Life is a game and one that we must play. No matter how careful we are, there is simply no way to go through this life unscathed. But, fortunately for us, it’s a game we don’t have to play alone.

“What kills you is not what causes your heart to stop from beating, but it is what prevents you from living.”

It is said that life is beautiful because it’s finite. People usually wish to live long. The common misconception is that it’s the death that annihilates us. Truth is we die long before if we don’t learn to appreciate the life we have been bestowed. How many of us wake up in the morning and truly appreciate the privilege to be alive and healthy? The moment we start acting like life is a blessing, I assure you it will start to feel like one. Today is nothing but the result of our doings of the past. What we do today, will shape tomorrow.

If you like this, you might like other posts in the Hack your life series.

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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राह चलते वक़्त से मुलाक़ात हो गई,
दिल किया कि कुछ तोहफे दे दूँ,
जेबों में हाथ डाला तो बस लम्हों को पाया,
कुछ हँसी के, कुछ गम के,
कुछ सुख के, कुछ रम के,
वक़्त ने कहा रख ले इन्हे अपने पास,
इन लम्हों में ही तेरी ज़िन्दगी है,
पहली नौकरी कि ख़ुशी, पहले प्यार का एहसास,
माँ बाप के आँखों में खुशियों कि बरसात,
जब तुम बूढ़े हो जाओगे,
जब दुनिया में तुम्हारी जरुरत कम होगी,
तब यही लम्हे तुम्हारे जीने का सहारा होंगी।

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal, All rights reserved.
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आपकी आँखों के पन्नो में,
इतने गहरे राज़ हैं,
लाखों हमने पढ़ लिए,
फिर भी बेशुमार हैं,
उन समुन्दर सी आँखों ने,
हमे यूँ ब्यान करना सिखा दिया,
हमे तो दो लफ़्ज़ों का सलीका ना था,
और आपके इश्क़ ने हमे शायर बना दिया।

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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Sometimes you would find the goal is too far,
Sometimes you would find things to be falling apart,
Sometimes you would feel everything is wrong,
Sometimes you would feel sadness in every song,
Sometimes the world around would seem to down you,
Sometimes noone would understand what you’re going through,
Sometimes your friends would leave you alone,
Sometimes your sorrows would break you bone by bone,
Sometimes you won’t be able to think straight,
Sometimes you would lose faith in your fate,
Sometimes your every effort would seem to fail,
Sometimes you would be left frustrated as hell,
Sometimes you would feel like ending up your life,
Sometimes you would feel you have no choice,
If you’re fond of roses my friend,
Of the nearby thorns, must not you be afraid,
You must believe in yourself and be strong,
You must fight back and right what is wrong,
Push harder, try again,
Whatever you do, must not you loose your sane.

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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If you are wondering how I ended up at Microsoft, well, it’s a long story and if you have got some time, you can read it here:

Journey of a boy from small town to Microsoft – An untold story Part 1

If you like to read about dreams and goals, you might like my journey. I won’t claim it to be inspiring and motivating. Neither would I claim it to be struggling and unique. I will leave it for you to decide. But everyone has a journey and a story to tell. And this my friend, is my journey.

July 15, 2013

Each year when I wake up in the morning and find Facebook reminding me of this very date, I can’t stop myself to feel happy and grateful. I thank god who has graced my life with all the opportunities & happiness and given me an ability to be good at what I do.

4 years it’s been since I joined Microsoft and it feels like it were only yesterday when I wandered the corridors of the humongous campus for the first time. Days bled off into years. I have seen people come. I have seen people leave. Life moves on. Everyone is replaceable.

Continue reading Life of a Microsoft Engineer

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If you haven’t read previous part, it’s right here –  US Diaries Part 1

US is a country of dreams. I could see it shining right through everyone’s eyes. I met one person in taxi who played piano and released his own music album. The other guy Chad writes pilots for TV series and is a good photographer. There was another guy who had done some coding. He knew what python and C++ is. He wanted to work at Amazon or Microsoft. Another guy was a lead manager in an MNC and drove Uber just for fun. They don’t care much about the social status. They do what they love to do.

A really nice country where people greet you and don’t expect anything in return. Everyone you meet is so much open to talk without holding any grudge. Believe me, I had some of the best conversations in just a span of 30 minutes or so.

Redmond = Microsoft

I had heard that Microsoft has humongous office in its headquarters, Redmond. Well, it was true. I was amazed by seeing the area in which it was spread. If I say Redmond is Microsoft, it won’t be wrong. 135 buildings.

Microsoft, US culture

Unlike India where people tend to stay late in offices, Redmond is just the opposite. People come early and leave early. You would hardly find anyone staring at work monitor after 6. People are punctual and highly efficient. Well, I could see where that efficiency comes from. They don’t talk much and confine their conversation to mainly professional stuffs. The hours they put in work are really productive. The culture is so well defined that if you stay late, you would have a feeling that you are working in a zombie village. I, personally liked this culture and I easily embraced it. I had free evenings where I could catch some friends over dinner in classy sounding restaurants.

The world is small

It really is a small world we live in. It is not very unusual that while dining or taking a walk in busy streets, I stumble upon someone who happens to know me. Well, it has happened many times in India. But when you face the same in US, you start thinking that the world is really small. I met an old friend while crossing a street in Redmond, stumbled upon another known face in Seattle while dining with a college friend and had a short chit chat with a guy on shuttle, I used to see in dance classes in Hyderabad.

Seattle diaries

One of the exciting thing about Seattle is incessant rains. Rainy season is something people either love or hate. You will hardly find anyone being neutral on it.

Space Needle

If you’re a Windows user, you must have noticed the tall tower with a big circular head on lock screen. What if I tell you, it is much more beautiful when you look it closely? Well, it is a marvelous piece of human architecture. Standing tall at a height of 184 meters, you can see the whole Seattle view from the top. I could manage to get some pics from my DSLR even though it was freezing cold. My finger nails had turned bluish.

The head of tower

The Seattle view point

Standing on the top of Space Needle and experiencing this view was a treat to eyes.

I always wanted to dine at Skycity Space Needle restaurant. Well, who won’t? After all, dining at such a height has a unique magical feeling. You are sitting and eating exquisite food while the restaurant rotates to show you every angle of the city. Sadly, I couldn’t get a booking. It had 2 weeks waiting time.

Chihuly garden and glass

You can’t miss Chihuly garden and glass if you love art while being in Seattle. This place is mainly famous for its exceptional glass arch, mostly attracted by photographers. I met many photographers there and got a chance to flaunt my skills. Visiting Chihuly wasn’t easy due to shortage of time. The place opens at 11 in the morning and I had return flight on the same day at 5. On the top of that, it was raining like crazy. Well then it’s Seattle. Rains are not supposed to crash the fun. Thanks to Hotel Marriott for making special arrangements.

This picture has its own story. Chihuly Garden and Glass attracts a lot of tourists due to its marvelous, eye popping glass arch. I had a chance to interact with many photographers there and it was fun discussing about various aspects of photography. I wanted to capture whole 25 feet long arch in one frame and for this, I had to wait 30 minutes to capture this due to the huge crowd. Funny to say, due to my corporate ID hanging out of my pocket, few of the tourists asked me if I worked there.

1/50s at f/5.6, 18mm, ISO 1000

North-Bend

Situated at a distance of 30 miles from Redmond, North-Bend is a bliss to eyes. No matter if you are a nature and mountains lover or love long driving on beautiful roads or a shopping spree, North-Bend has got a charm in its own. Built near mountains which are covered with snow in winter, there are many shops where you can enjoy buying stuffs.

The cheese mountain.
I clicked this amazing shot in North Bend, US. Seattle is a beautiful city. Incessant rains, chilly wind, snowy mountain and golden sunshine. A serene heaven for photographers.
It was a sudden plan. The moment I arrived there, the sun was about to set and its dusky golden rays falling on the snow over the top of mountain was giving a perception of molten golden cheese all around.

I am quite fond of keeping a collection of perfumes. When I saw Perfumania shop at the North-Bend, I got a chance to try out all the perfumes I had been researching for years. At the end, I got one of my favorites, one what everyone in US uses, and one which was the choice of the woman who sold me all this.

Heroes of my wardrobe  Recently I have got an urge to keep a collection of perfumes.

From left to right:
Caroline, Armani Gio, Invictus, Playboy, Calvin Klein

Chocolates

A trip to US is not complete until you get chocolates for your loved ones.

To be continued…

In the next part, I would be writing about my trip to Los Angeles and San Diego. Please stay tuned.

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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वाक़िफ़ हम भी ना थे उनसे,
फिर भी हमने हाँ कह दिया,
उनकी अदा हि कुछ ऐसी थी,
ना चाहते हुए भी दिल फिसल गया।

Waqif hum bhi na the unse,
Phir bhi humne haan keh diya,
Unki ada hi kuch aisi thi,
Na chahte hue bhi dil fisal gaya.

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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ये सूरज कि किरणें तेरी रेशमी ज़ुल्फ़ों को चूमते हुए,
ये बर्फीली वादियों कि सफेदी तेरी नूरानी अँखियाँ को चमकाते हुए,
ये हवा कि ख़ामोशी के बीच तेरे हंसने कि आवाज़,
कैसे भुलूंगा मैं,

ये तेरे यौवन कि खुशबू चांदनी को पिघलाती हुई,
ये तेरे चेहरे कि रौशनी तारों को शर्माती हुई,
ये रात कि ख़ामोशी में तेरे गाने कि आवाज़,
कैसे भुलूंगा मैं,

ये तेरे आँखों कि नटखटी मस्तियाँ,
ये तेरे गुलाबी होठों कि मुस्कुराहटें,
ये लोगों के कदमो तले तेरी आहट का एहसास,
कैसे भुलूंगा मैं,
कैसे भुलूंगा मैं।

Yeh suraj ki kiranein teri reshmi zulfon ko chumte huye,
Yeh barfili wadiyaon ki safedi teri nurani ankhiyan ko chamkate huye,
Yeh hawa ki khamoshi ke bich tere hansne ki aawaz,
Kaise bhulunga main,

Yeh tere yauvan ki khushboo chandni ko pighlati hui,
Yeh tere chehre ki roshni taaron ko sharmati hui,
Yeh raat ki khamoshi mein tere gaane ki aawaz,
Kaise bhulunga main,

Yeh tere aankhon ki natkhati mastiyan,
Yeh tere gulabi hothon ki muskuratein,
Yeh logon ke kadmo tale teri aahat ka ehsas,
Kaise bhulunga main,
Kaise bhulunga main.

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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Meri diary ke kore pannon se,
Tum meri chahat ko mat aaqna,
Yeh ishq hi aisa hai ghalib,
Kambakht lafz kam pad jate hain.

मेरी डायरी के कोरे पन्नो से,
तुम मेरी चाहत को मत ऑकना,
ये इश्क हि ऐसा है ग़ालिब,
कम्बखत लफ्ज़ कम पड़ जाते हैं।

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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Har roz diary khol kar,
Bas yahi socha karta hun,
Kya likhun unke baare mein,
Khud se pucha karta hun,
Likhte unke baare mein hain,
Jinhe hum bakhubi jante hain,
Yahan toh barso beet gaye,
Phir bhi hum anjaan hain.

हर रोज़ डायरी खोल कर,
बस यही सोचा करता हूँ,
क्या लिखूं उनके बारे में,
खुद से पूछा करता हूँ,
लिखते उनके बारे में हैं,
जिन्हे हम बखूबी जानते हैं,
यहाँ तो बरसो बीत गए,
फिर भी हम अनजान हैं।

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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