Dubai: It’s a lazy Friday afternoon but 24-year-old Jeevan Thapa is in a hurry. He’s running late and his countrymen are waiting for him at their usual meeting point, a small green patch in front of Al Ain Centre in Bur Dubai.
“I have a couple of packages to deliver to some of the community members. They are waiting for me over there. I arrived a week ago from Nepal to take up a job as an office boy at a private company in Dubai. These packages were given by families for fellow Nepalese who work in the UAE,” he said, making his way towards the green patch where he is welcomed by three other friends, two of them women.
The place is filled with Nepalese who have come from all over Dubai and Sharjah to catch up with the latest community gossip, share stories from their place of work, play cards and engage in a bit of matchmaking and romance. All of them are from the low-income group.
“From 3.30pm to about 6pm this is our mini-Nepal. This is the best place for us to meet with our community. Dubai Metro, the bus and abra stations are all located nearby. We do not have to worry about wasting our money,” said Thapa.
The community members form groups depending on the villages, districts and towns they belong to.
“It becomes easier for us to interact and help each other. For example, I am from Kathmandu, so are the other three members of my group,” said Ram Sharma, who works as a cleaner.
“I am 28 years old. I found my future wife over here on this green patch of land,” he said, pointing to a young woman standing some distance from him. “You see that woman with long hair, she is my fiancee. We plan to marry next year. Currently we both are building up our savings for the future,” added Sharma.
Sitting behind Sharma’s group were six men busy playing cards. As Gulf News approached them they decided to abandon their game.
“Why do you want to talk to us? We are not illegals. We come here every Friday to meet our friends,” said one, who did not want to be named. “We also help each other. If a community member is short of money to send home he just needs to spread the word. We make a contribution and solve his or her problem,” he added.
According to some community members there is a similar meeting place in Abu Dhabi but they were quick to add the majority of Nepalese are employed in Dubai and the northern emirates.
“We Nepalese are a happy bunch. We are away from our home country and that is why we gather here on this small green patch of land. We feel as if we are in Nepal when we come here,” said Meena Kumari who works as a domestic help for a European family in Jumeirah.