ASHENA ASGHAR – a hippie artist in the forests
Ashena Asghar is a hippie musician who lives in the forests of the Himalayas. She was born in Himachal Pradesh and music has always been a hobby since her childhood. She started singing in her school days and that’s where she got her vocals sharp. After school, she moved to Chandigarh for her graduation in Psychology and started enhancing her passion for music. She started playing instruments such as Ukulele and guitar and can sing in many different languages. Life was going good until she moved to Delhi for her post-graduation where she faced an accident in 2020 where she was hit by a car while crossing the road which led to multiple facio maxillary fractures and broken two front teeth. She also broke her jaw and underwent major surgery to fix her broken face and a couple of minor surgeries to fix her teeth. She couldn’t eat or speak for months. She went through a lot of physical and emotional pain for months. Life had changed drastically. No one helped her with the case, no one was interested in this hit and run case. Her parents didn’t want to put up a case and the police were also least interested in any investigation. She moved back home after surgery and started living in the forests of the Himalayas closer to nature. She has started healing from her mental trauma by living closer to nature and making her music online. She hopes by the means of music she can connect with more like-minded people who are in search of healing in music and nature,
Here is Ashena Asghar in a conversation with GOGO Magazine.
1) When did your journey as a musician begin?
My journey as a musician started when i was just a little kid, maybe around 8 . My grandpa taught me a song & I loved singing it and started gaining more interest in music. Then i became the lead singer in my school choir where i sharpened my vocals. All of my cousins played guitar so family gatherings would always turn into jamming sessions. Later I wanted to support my singing so I bought a guitar for myself in my first year of graduation in Chandigarh. Later on I was introduced to a ukulele so i learnt playing that as well as I felt it could give me an edge. During my post graduation in Delhi I was introduced to the gig culture where I started playing professionally at the cafes. On the social side I kept sharing music on Instagram where a lot of people enjoyed and reciprocated with love to my style of covering various songs. I was having the time of life doing something I like and sustaining myself at a young age until one day I met with a terrible accident and my whole world turned upside down.
2) Tell us more about your Hippie life.
You can call me a hippie in the hills. I live in the forests of the Himalayas now. I moved back home after experiencing the toxic life of the cities where people are driven by jealousy, greed and inhumanity. It is better to spend time with mother nature as a free spirit. Being BORN AND BROUGHT UP IN HIMACHAL, I’ve always felt a sense of connection with the mountains and nature. I live a sustainable life where less is more. Nature helps me heal. Listening to the sound of the forests is soothing. Connecting myself with the ground and the moon and the sun is part of the lifestyle. Serving the universe and respecting all the elements within it. I do share my life as a mountain hippie on my Instagram and people really show love and support. There’s not a lot of money living like this but there’s definitely peace of mind and a sense of safety.
3) How did this tragic accident happen and how did it changed your life?
This happened in the year 2020 when I was going to college one morning. It was a hit-and-run, I was crossing the road just outside my college when a fast-moving car hit me and took off without stopping. I was unconscious but some random people took me to the hospital. My whole face was disfigured because I fell on my face. The right side of my face was hanging low. I had multiple mandibular fractures. Two of my teeth were broken too. There were other injuries as well. I had to undergo 3 surgeries to fix all of that. That’s how I have titanium plates in my face. I underwent a four-hour surgery to fix my face and two minors surgeries to fix my teeth. It took me 9 months to heal physically. Psychologically I am still dealing with it. The police were trying really hard to suppress the case and my parents were not interested in putting the case against the criminals but then again it’s India, you can’t expect a lot. I had to forgive the culprit and move on with my life. It’s funny how when you have everything everyone wants to be a part of your life but when you have nothing no one cares. I still remember every single person who came to see me when I was healing. I appreciate them to my core. A lot of people told me that one day you’ll thank god that this happened to you in your life. It’s been more than a year and I have not felt that way yet. I live in the hope that one day I will.
4) Who has been your inspiration?
Nature is my source of inspiration. Nature gives me showers that clear my mind and cleans my thinking process. It presents happiness, encouragement, peace, dignity and hope.
5) Which is your favorite music genre? How do you create your own music?
The song that I listen to is completely different from what I sing. I can go on and on about my favourite genres of music. If I want to sing I like the mantras, country, pop, RnB, reggae, also songs in various languages especially Espanola and Sanskrit and I enjoy listening to electronic music as well. I spend more time listening to electronic music, to be honest. I listen to hi-tech, psycore and darkpsy those are my favourite genres. Apart from that I sometimes enjoy listening to full-on and deep-house. To create my own music I either use guitar or ukulele or keyboard, it depends on the vibe of the day and then I sing a song, I give them my personal touch and turn them into acoustic versions, slow and mellow. Then to post on Instagram I set up my condenser mic, connect it to the laptop and set up the camera to record. After recording, I combine it all together. So basically I am the musician, the singer, the director, the videographer, the producer and the editor of all my musical content on Instagram.
6) How has music helped you in recovering from the mental trauma?
Music has been a therapy for me to recover from the trauma that was caused by the accident. Staying busy by playing an instrument or singing was a good distraction tool. It was a great way to combat negative emotions and stay positive.
7) Tell us about your life in forests of Himalayas.
Life in the forests of the Himalayas is truly magical. I wake up to the sounds of the birds chirping and wild hen clucking. I go for walks in the forest and sometimes just sit by the river to listen to the sound of the water. Loosen up my body and move it in a flow and participate in active meditation. Breathe in the fresh air, it’s refreshing for the soul, and when it rains, everything turns even more greenery and the sound of the rain falling on the ground brings an immense sense of joy and fulfilment to heart and life. The best part of living in the hills is that I haven’t experienced summer living here. I wear warm clothes and sleep in blankets all year long.
8) How different has been your life away from the cities?
Oh, it’s a spiritual journey up here. Admittedly there are good opportunities in the city but no peace of mind. Here less is more. I am a free spirit, I am freedom.
9) What are the things you learned from this accident and what all things would you like to suggest to people out there?
I learnt that all sorts of pain and suffering are endurable by every human being if given proper time to deal with. It also taught me the value of family and real friends. Bad times in life show you who truly is your friend. People will talk about your pain for a day or two but you live with the trauma and pain each day and life still goes on. Seek for healing from within. Do things that make you feel a little better each day. I’d suggest people stay safe, do what is right for them and be wary of other humans.
10) How was life in quarantine?
Life in quarantine was nice and healing for both mother nature and me. I connected myself to the everlasting beauty of nature whilst devoting my time to the music. I provided online/tele counselling to at-risk kids, as I have a Master’s in Clinical Psychology. I was even invited for a musical therapy session online for people interested in that kind of spiritual healing, which I loved doing and plan to do more of in the future. While I’ve been doing all of this, I try to keep posting my covers on Instagram and take suggestions on there as I believe music is truly a healing medium for a lot of people. A lot of people tell me how it helps them through the monotony and depression of the lockdown and calms their anxiety. So I feel happy that I’ve been able to help a lot of people in this trying time of quarantine through my music.
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