Bonds of the Heart

e663a1f6-f5c9-45f0-b9ac-8de9bdaa5cd6It is surreal as well as magical how we meet some people by chance, soon that meeting turns to acquaintance and friendship and before we even realise, they become family to us, our family by choice. I feel blessed and grateful to have such a diverse family that’s been expanding over the years.

This boy I met, way back in 2009, while I was at an ayurvedic retreat for a few weeks. I was there to address some of my health challenges, nothing serious, but it did turn out to be a huge turning point in my life afterwards. He was this 17-year-old boy, a bystander helping his uncle, who was recovering from a stroke. His uncle could barely walk, he had trouble speaking, and was learning to communicate all over again.

I welcomed the opportunity to get to know other patients since there was a pretty good mix of people from in and around the country and abroad. Shabeeb was cheerful, friendly and was eager to connect. He would walk into my room now and then, and we would have long conversations on anything that was on the table. He had an endless curiosity, childlike wonder and an air of quiet confidence around him. Our conversations topics would range from my work, photography, his family, his dreams, perspectives about life, my children, his siblings, music, about the books I was reading, and much more. He would accompany me on my photography walks, sometimes oblige by being my subject.
When my boys came to visit, I introduced them to him. He was about four years older than my oldest son.

When we parted ways after our stay at the retreat, we stayed in touch on and off. He would email me, sharing stories about his college life, and friends as years went by. At the time, I lived in Dubai while he lived in India. When he visited Dubai two years later, he called on me again, eagerly introduced me to his immediate and extended family. I admit, it felt a little awkward, being introduced as his friend, especially since I was twice his age. But he didn’t seem to care. To him, I was a very dear friend and was excited that I met his family.

Our communication continued via chat and email over the years, but fewer and far between. Even when we were connected, it was because he made an effort. We also lost touch for a year or two in between, but he tracked me down. Every time we reconnected, I felt more and warmer and affectionate towards him.

When he came to visit me about two years ago, he was no longer the boy I had the mental visual of. It took me a while to readjust the present Shabeeb. He was a grown man now, taller, bigger, but still had the wonder in his eyes, that very same innocent and captivating smile and aliveness in his being. I was now in India and him in Dubai. I am living in a city he lived and worked for a few years ago. Since the place was new to me then, he gave me a quick tour and took me to lunch. It was heartwarming to reconnect and reminisce on our history. We have barely met four or five times in our lives yet had a deep human connection that couldn’t be described in words.

When he called again a few months ago, sharing that he had met this girl, and was looking forward to beginning a new chapter of his life, I was excited and happy for him. I felt grateful and honoured about witnessing him on his journey.

He called me again last week, letting me know that he was going to be in India for a week and that he was getting married the next day. It was a beautiful surprise, and I noticed it was not an invitation to the wedding, but he was calling me for my blessings. When I called on it, he said it was just going to be a Nikah now, a mostly men-only event, and that the wedding reception would be a few months later, where he would bring his bride home. He said that is the event I shouldn’t miss. When I playfully complained that I wouldn’t get to meet his bride, he laughed and commented that we were both on the same boat, since he would be flying out in a few days. He promised to visit me before he flew out.

He called me again a few days ago, to let me know me that he was coming into town for a few hours and wanted to pay a quick visit. My son Aman hadn’t met him until now, so when I told him about this friend’s expected visit that evening, he wanted to know more about him. I gave him a five min account of our story leading up to the present, including his wedding. When I was done with my storytelling, Aman quite sweetly told me, ‘ You mustn’t miss his reception, I will join you too, let’s go.”

0818113c-ff30-4d05-bcef-2df7dcbb4c18A few mins later, the doorbell rang, and when I opened to door, I found him there, standing with his new bride, gleaming with excitement as this was a surprise he had planned. I wasn’t expecting to see her at all. As far as their families we concerned they were out on a drive around town for a few hours after which he would drop her back to her sister’s place. But they drove, two hours and came to meet me instead. He introduced me to her as his ‘oldest’ friend and shared some of our stories from the past.

His bride, Arshii, a third-year student of Dentistry, turned out to be as sweet, warm and open-hearted as him. Since I wasn’t expecting to meet her, and I didn’t want her to leave without a wedding gift, I gifted her with something that I loved. I showed her my bangle collection and asked her to pick anything she liked. I love how she so readily received without any hesitation.

They shared sweet stories about how they first met,  the impact on each other, their first impressions of each other, their first conversations, her dreams, his dreams, their  combined dreams and more. My son was an eager participant in these sharings. It was amusing to watch him. I love how my son welcomed these new people into his life, without any hesitation and how and Arshii did the same with such an open heart, just based the stories we shared with them.

It was an evening that ended too soon, and we soon parted ways but not without filling each of our hearts with love, laughter and warmth.

‘The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched. They must be felt with the heart’, Helen Keller


Sheena Yusuf
Life & Relationship Coach (CPCC)
Professional Photographer

Separate Yet One


Each of us is on a unique journey. We might begin in different places, have diverse experiences and gain completely different insights. Nevertheless, we are all on the journey.

At times, in our relationships, we might want to see the change in another and believe that we have to show them the way. When we know something to be the truth, it is only right that we do so.

And then there are times we might look at another, especially a loved one and say to ourselves – “It is their journey, and I do not want to interfere with their process’. To a large extent, that is so true. We are getting in someone’s way by forcing help or bringing our stories to them, hoping to show them the ‘light’. They need to walk that path alone.

I have functioned from this premise a lot. Not interfered or spoke my piece because I feared that I would get in their way or create a mess. There is another perspective I have been exploring recently. The times we silence ourselves and not speak up, in fact  might be a disservice to the other. By not being open and authentic, we deny them of our feedback or perspective, which would have added value. We get caught in our own stories of who we are and how we want to be perceived.

Yes, we have our separate journeys, but we are also a part of a collective whole. We are all interconnected in the invisible web of consciousness. We are impacted by each other and have an immense capacity to create an impact in another too. The analogy that comes to mind is that we are each a piece of a gigantic puzzle. We matter ! Where and how we choose to place ourselves, makes all the difference.

When we do our inner work; We hold ourselves with love, kindness and compassion, even towards our imperfect selves and we naturally become accepting of imperfection in others.

We speak our truth to ourselves and others, not in blame, but as an authentic, vulnerable expression of ourselves, with our heart at peace. Let us be mindful and conscious of our expression.

We do not hold ourselves back with fear; from fear of creating chaos, fear of hurting the other or fear of facing ridicule, fear of rejection or abandonment.

We stay curious and open to life so that we can co-create with the unknown, discover more about ourselves.

When we show up wholly and authentically, we are also inviting others to show up the same way; we are impacting that collective whole. It is, therefore, our responsibility to show up not only for ourselves but for the sake of the impact we want to have and what we want to in our relationships, our communities and the world.

Let us be the change we want to see in our worlds.


Sheena Yusuf
Life & Relationship Coach (CPCC)
Professional Photographer

The Lotus Lady

unnamedI was feeling a bit rushed this morning. It was already 8.55 am. I wasn’t anywhere close to being ready, and I had a dentist’s appointment at 9.40 am. My son was helping me book an Uber, but none was available at the time. Amidst the rush of drying my hair, finding clothes to wear that felt right and packing warm socks to wear on the dentist chair, I coaxed or should I say ordered my son to go down and call a rickshaw.

As I approached the gate to leave home, I realized he hadn’t had any luck in finding me a ride. I saw many rickshaws pass by and I anxiously waved to each of them, only to soon enough discover that they were already taken. The time was already 9.20 am now, and I started desperately scanning for neighbour friends, heading out of the apartment hoping to hitch a ride with them to a rickshaw. I decided to call the dentists office to let them know that I would be late, and the receptionist asked to reschedule to another date if I wasn’t able to get there on time.

Just then, a rickshaw stopped across the street; I noticed a frail old lady sitting at the back. She and the rickshaw driver waved to me. As soon as I walked towards them, the woman motioned me to get into her rickshaw; she said not to worry and offered to drop me somewhere I would catch a cab, even though she was going in a different direction.

Feeling grateful for her generosity towards me, I settled peacefully into my ride. As she started speaking to me, I paid more attention to her appearance. She looked like she was in her late seventies. Even though she was frail and looked impoverished, the wrinkles on her face and the twinkle in her eyes, told a whole different story. I noticed she was carrying a walker and her feet was swollen, black & blue, almost double its usual size.

She started to make conversation with me, telling me that it was a no brainer, she just had to stop and share a ride with anyone who was stuck on the street. She mentioned that she was on her way to the hospital; she showed me her leg. It looked terrible. When I asked her how she would manage to go alone to the hospital, she told me that a friend was going to meet her there and also help pay for her medicines. The skeptic in me expected her to ask me money, for the help she was offering, but she continued talking about the other stuff.

Our conversation came to a stop as soon as I got to my destination. As I was getting out of the rickshaw, she looked deep into my eyes, smiled and wished me well for the day. Without any thought, I quickly dug my hands into my bag and pulled out some notes, handed it to her and told her she could use it for her treatment. Before any more words were expressed between us, we went our separate ways.

Less than a week ago, during my last trip to the dentist, I had offered to share my ride with someone who was desperately looking for a cab. And today I was the recipient of that same experience. Love how the universe works!

While at my dentist, I recalled that whole experience, feeling incredibly grateful. The divinity in her had bowed to the divinity in me during that brief interaction between us. I suddenly remembered asking her for her name; it was Nalini. I had to urge to look up the meaning of the name. Nalini means Heaven’s calm; Lotus; Sweet nectar. Lotus holds a lot of significance to me. I had been working around the theme of the lotus for a few days now, and today I witnessed one. Coincidence one would say. I say MAGIC!


Sheena Yusuf
Life & Relationship Coach (CPCC)
Professional Photographer

Chronicles of Radha Bai

SYP_3923-Edit-3Meet  Radha Bai

I struggle to find the right word to to describe who she is. As I wait for my fingers to find some synchronicity  with my heart;  for the words to flow without thought, I become aware of the warm and fuzzy feeling inside me when I take her name. In the traditional sense she is my maid.  She spends a few hours everyday at my place, cooking and cleaning for us.  But to label her so, wouldn’t do her or our relationship justice. She does so much more !

She has been with me for over a year now. I was quite lucky to have found her almost immediately after I had to let go of my previous maid. I recall feeling very cautious of  her initial niceness. I wondered how long this ‘act’ last, feeling that eventually her true colours will start to show. And indeed it did, within the first 2 days

During our initial days, When I opened the front door at 7.00 am, I would be greeted by this ever so bright chirpy and loud woman. My senses would be rudely awakened as I am usually quieter in the mornings and  ease into the day with  soft music, yoga and  meditation. It took a while to get used to that level of aliveness that showed up at my doorstep every single day!. It’s an acquired taste,  and now my mornings seem incomplete without it.

There is so much to write about who she is, and more about the conversations she and I have everyday. Some are rib tickling funny, while some others are deeply philosophical and spiritual. We have out bad days too. And there are times what we take turns being the  all wise one. Some many stories, that I even considered starting a separate thread to write about her.

She is in her late forties, barely 5 foot tall, with so much zest, energy and character stuffed into that small package. She has a strong sense of self .She would say stuff like, ‘I know who I am, and I don’t need any validation of that from the outside’. She is quite hard-willed and is a go getter, knows what she wants from life and is ready to shift and transform herself into any form to create it. She is highly opinionated. She is all that and yet quite open to feedback. She doesn’t play small in life because she is ‘just a maid’.

I would like to share something she spoke about last evening. It is actually about her experience with an Uber driver.

There was this one day, that she waiting for an Uber. When it came, a stylishly dressed woman got out of the cab and walked away. She was wearing a long dress with a slit. As she walked away, her dress for caught in the wind, and obviously showed some skin. This was something Radha Bhai and the driver noticed.

When she got into the cab, 

The driver commented derogatively, ‘I wonder what kind of profession she would be in’

Radha Bai, ‘Why do you say that’

Driver, ‘Just look at her clothes and how she carries herself, its obvious! ‘

Radha Bai,  ‘What is your profession?’

Driver, ‘This is my profession, I drive the Uber’

Radha Bai, ‘ Then I suggest you focus on your profession ! Your job to driver the passenger to their desigination, whether they are fully clothed or naked. What they wear or not wear is of no concern to you! ‘

Driver, ‘_______________’ (silence)

Radha Bai, “Did you get paid ?, did she pay you for the ride’

Driver, ‘yes’

Radha Bai, “Then my dear brother, mind your own business! ’ (translation,  ‘Appo ente ponnu chetta, ningalu swantham karyam nokkiyal pore?”’

That was her badass response !

More to come …


Sheena Yusuf
Life & Relationship Coach (CPCC)
Professional Photographer

This moment in time.



To enter the world of wonder
be one with the beauty of ‘this’ moment
Not a fragment more or less.
Just as it is !

No anxiety of the unknown,
nor regret for that has passed.

Heed not, to what the soul craves,
Cherish gloriously the beauty of now,
And beauty there is..
In the abyss too.

For, time stands still.
With all of eternity.
encompassed into this ‘one’ moment.
Holding potential,
To create and decimate.

This moment !  A seed so mighty,
sealing the fate,
Of all moments to come !

Embrace it ever so loving
As a baby on the bosom
and hold it as light as a feather
That falls to the ground
making room for the next…




Sheena Yusuf
Life & Relationship Coach (CPCC)
Professional Photographer


The Path of Least Resistance

Not everything needs to be possessed.

Not every love needs to unify.

Not every whim needs to be met.

Not every dream needs to be realized.

Not every beginning needs to have an ending.

Not every question needs have an answer.

Unfulfilled longings, cravings, wanting, desires, urges, also let-downs, disappointments and grief are amazing doorways to our vulnerability.

It takes us to depth of our core teaching us beauty of form without form, of having but not owning, of holding on and yet letting go. It also shows us the difference between love and attachment.

It stretches us our capacity to hold more than one position at the same time. We can be at peace and also conflicted. We can be grieving and yet experience joy.

Even though I can say that am the same person I was about 20 years ago, I can also confidently say that I have shifted so much over the last 20 years that I am not that same person anymore.

The ‘unfulfilled’ and ‘unrealized’ also breaks down our mental constructs about life and ourselves. It teaches us that we are constantly evolving, we are this and that and everything else. And we will continue to be.

When we make friends with the unknown, we open ourselves to embracing life for what it already is.

Sheena Yusuf
Life & Relationship Coach (CPCC)
Professional Photographer


Divine Timing

IMG_9036Blessings come in different forms. We are all familiar with the apparent ones. And then there are others; so painful, like a kick in the gut that leaves you down for quite a while. It is worse when it comes when you least expect it, rocking your world and turning it upside down.

Such was my experience meeting her, in the most awkwardest and painful of circumstances; for me. I wished I hadn’t met her, and I was sure that my presence brought her also a lot of angst. Yet we had to work together eventually, which at times felt like the blind leading the blind. Getting lost, stuck, frustrated, getting mad at ourselves and the circumstances. We were not here by choice. We were revealed to each other by chance.

Even though we eventually experienced a sense of camaraderie on some levels, we were still pained by each other’s presence as well as pain. I cannot speak for her, but for me, it was a harsh reminder to question myself, my perceptions,  and my assumptions. It also brought me up close and personal with my own insecurities and fears. And that was not a pretty discovery.

Slowly, as I began to see more of her, I truly wished we had met under different circumstances. Had it been so, I would have loved her, adored her, she would have been my tribe, my buddy, my pal. But not now. Not in this lifetime. We eventually parted as neither of us could find a way to relate beyond the circumstances that played cupid.

And there was silence…. for the longest time. It was the time to heal, time to be. Time to reflect and eventually also to be grateful. Grateful for her presence, that it was her and not someone else.. anyone else.

It is said that when we meet someone under challenging circumstances, we bypass the usual niceties to meet at a raw, deep space of no pretension or masks. How we show up under these circumstances really speaks for who we are at the core.

She and I had the privilege and honour of witnessing and holding space for each other under such circumstance, even though our journeys were different.. For sure there was the pain. But there was also love, authenticity, transparency, compassion, integrity, dignity and grace.

And then it dawned on me. We had been brought together by design. I saw the magic of it all, of how we meet the perfect people, under the  perfect circumstances at the perfect time.

Will our paths cross again?  It is all divine timing ! Will see


Sheena Yusuf
Life & Relationship Coach (CPCC)
Professional Photographer