The Prelude

Yellowstone — an iconic national treasure — a volcanic hot spot and a living entity whose raw, wild and rugged ways beckon your soul. Yellowstone is adorned with lush forests, dramatic canyons, alpine rivers and is home to fifty percent of the world’s geothermal features — geysers, hot springs, mud pots, fumaroles and travertine terraces. It’s also home to diverse wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, bison, elk and antelope. I had to take my parents to visit this otherworldly and formidable place.

With that, we set off to explore America’s first national park in spring, just as Yellowstone “awakens.” Bears emerge from hibernation, newborn bison and elk calves make their debut and lush landscape unveils itself in green. It didn’t take long to encounter herds of bison and be in awe of the enveloping wrath of geysers and stunning Caribbean blue hues.

As a photographer, I was undoubtedly in paradise and quickly realized that photographing the bison in snow, an element that speaks to the power, ferocity and hardiness of bison, was a must. Clearly, I would have to come back in winter for the photographic capture I was beginning to salivate over. And then, it happened!

The Close Encounter

On Day 3, we woke up to snow showers. Oh Em Geee!

Within a few hours, Yellowstone had transformed into a winter wonderland. The hills, trees, rivers, roads and landscape that were beginning to breed familiarity became instantly unrecognizable. The white blanket got thicker as the day progressed; it snowed all day and all night without intermission. As we drove through the park to explore, the sights and sounds were a feast for the senses. My parents felt like they had been transported to another world. A day to remember for more reasons than one.

We took a gander at Norris Geyser and headed towards the Canyon. The drive was relaxing, peaceful and heavenly when suddenly, everything came to a screeching halt!

A lonesome bison walking on the road. It was a sight to behold. This was the moment. And I knew it! I pulled over several yards ahead of the bison, leaped out, grabbed my equipment and started photographing the bison as it continued walking in my direction. I found myself down on the ground and in the middle of the road — exactly where I wanted to be. I looked both ways for traffic. And within a nanosecond decided that was peripheral noise not worthy of further consideration. The only thing important in that moment was the bison.

I indulged! As the bison got closer and closer, it rendered my telephoto lens useless. There was only one thing left for me to do — RUN! I ran away from the bison to create distance between us so I could take more shots. At this point, time slowed down and everything transpired in slow motion.

The lonesome snow-covered bison steadily closed the gap between us. He was no more than two arm lengths away and directly in front of me. I slowly stood up. We locked eyes, and then, he just walked past me! That was the moment.

They say, “eye contact is how souls catch on fire.” He certainly lit my soul on fire!

The power of his glance, the risk of his unpredictability, and the distance between us, or lack thereof, was surreal, euphoric and transcendental — a moment I could live and die in a thousand times. Nothing was said. And yet, so much was said.

The entire encounter lasted no more than two minutes. But in those two minutes, nothing else mattered in the world. It was the bison, the snow, my camera and me. I couldn’t see, hear or feel anyone else around me. This primal beast had me captivated.

And just like that, the moment was over. I snapped back into “reality” as surroundings resumed back to normalcy. Cars began to pass by which led the bison to change direction and head into the woods. Passersby stared at me in bewilderment while I carried a harmoniously gratifying smile, knowing how special that moment was, and a feeling of being alive oozing out of every pore of my being.

I jumped back in the car and quickly found out Mom had been screaming a little as she witnessed the encounter. Just as well that she was contained in a soundproof box!

Reflection

I replayed the encounter for the rest of the day and could not contain myself. I replayed the encounter all night and could not go to sleep. It was a feeling of intoxicating rapture — similar to your first date, except, so much better.

As I reflected in the safety and comfort of my bed, paradoxically, I was overcome with fear. Why was I not afraid of the bison? Why did the notion of fear not enter my consciousness? The fact that I wasn’t afraid in the moment was scary. Was I completely oblivious and stupid (perhaps not a stretch :)) or was I in a space of uncanny awareness and in synchrony with the bison?

Whichever one it may have been, I do know this unequivocally– all the stars were aligned in that moment. For a busy park with road closures and limited options, it was nearly impossible to have no cars pass by, no park rangers and no over zealous straight-laced visitor to interrupt our moment. But that’s exactly what happened. And to keep the theme of unreal chugging along, just one minute after the bison faded away into the forest, a park ranger drove by! Yellowsmokes!!!

At the risk of sounding cuckoo, it was as if the angels were watching over us and facilitated that moment to ensue.

The Aha's

The thrill and fulfilling aspect of photographing wildlife is the connection — the ability to connect and trust each other; the ability to understand each other with unspoken words. In fact, there is an innocent purity to the interaction because we don’t look the same or speak the same language. Connection transcends all barriers.

That close encounter was so much more than just a photographic opportunity. The rugged beast left an indelible mark on me. In those two minutes, I felt alive! It was akin to having electricity run through your body and becoming hyper-aware of every cell in your being. All that ailed me prior to that moment became irrelevant and trivial. The encounter jolted me to regain perspective on what truly matters in life and what makes me happy.

He allowed me to understand that it’s not about how much time we spend together, as much as it is about how we spend the time together.

Published: October 26, 2017

Twizted Myrtle is sustained by readers like you. As a solo creator, crafting each piece demands significant time, money and resources. Your ongoing support, big or small, makes a real difference. If the content here enriches your life in any way, please consider becoming an ally as a  sustaining patron.

Twizted Myrtle is sustained by readers like you. As a solo creator, crafting each piece demands significant time, money and resources. Your ongoing support, big or small, makes a real difference. If the content here enriches your life in any way, please consider becoming an ally as a  sustaining patron.

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Dangerous Liaisons


WARNING — Newsletter content may cause discomfort. Overdose will result in head explosion. If symptoms occur, there’s no turning back.

From Global Roots to Unearthed Truths

Asha was born in India, raised in Oman, and lived in London before settling in the U.S. Her multi-continent, multi-cultural, global experience was a clear predecessor that fed her insatiable curiosity – and the inspiration for her defining Twizted voice.

As a rare breed, she’s truly mastered the art of metamorphosis in body, mind and soul. In her first adult incarnation she graduated Magna Cum Laude from ASU and pursued a vibrant career in the hospitality industry. Then, she grew new wings. Ever intrepid and intrigued by the unknown, she launched and helped grow a thriving e-Commerce technology company with her business partner, proving herself as an entrepreneur and demonstrating both the skills and resolve required of a woman intent on succeeding in a male-dominated industry.

In 2014, she boldly stepped into uncharted territories again, starting a new venture, Twizted Myrtle, in pursuit of her undeniable thirst to confront and create consequential social change. Few understood why she would leave behind a burgeoning e-Commerce business that served marquee clients like Amazon, Samsonite, Viacom, Pokémon, Red Bull, Taylor Swift and other household names – all during the pinnacle of a successful career.

The impetus for leaving the traditional business world for a less conventional path was intensely personal; a deafening voice and inimitable force inside her told Asha that she needed to contribute to the world in a very personal and life-changing way. Asha found herself in the throes of depression and new depths of loneliness. She was acutely aware her “success” was empty. Like many, she had lost her soul in the daily grind of chasing unhappiness.

Ironically, during this time, her depression revealed spiritual clarity; it connected her to the struggles of others who face the same suffocating walls of relenting darkness. Photography became a sacred respite that unleashed a strident voice; like a caged tiger set free, she could never again return to the confined existence dictated by society.

Twizted Myrtle became the multi-pronged platform to confront social issues that we’ve been plagued with for centuries. To break free from these vicious circles, she challenges what we accept, without question, as “wisdom,” and our conventional way of thinking through artistic means – provocative writings, thought-jarring podcasts and captivating photography.

Bringing a refreshing curiosity with the unique empathy of a true global citizen, she speaks with an open mind and unfiltered honesty on a host of issues where most would fear to tread. Her work compels us to see and think differently to help unlock our mindsets from self-imposed limitations. In doing so, she seeks to help people break free from the invisible chains that enslave us as oblivious prisoners. 

Lion cub plays with careless freedom while under the watchful presence of parents in the Masai Mara.

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