Dubai: These are the unsung heroes of every festive event. Invisible workers who put in a staggering amount of work on community duty, just so that others can enjoy the extended holidays with family and friends.
In the long weekend this Eid Al Adha, work of these invisible beavers is even more accentuated as COVID-19 protocols make it even more challenging for food delivery boys, storeroom salespersons, cinema supervisors, the courier boys, the waiters, to serve the people. Special mention has to be made of doctors, nurses and paramedics on front line duty at hospitals and clinics who have swapped their Eid clothes for Personal Protection Equipment donning the stifling work gear for over 12 hours of duty during a holiday season that they dreamed of spending with family.
Happy to serve
However, what is truly humbling and ennobling is the fact that none of these people working through Eid have any complains. They are happy to serve and realise how important it is for some people to come forward and volunteer to work so that others can enjoy a good time.
“Serving patients through Eid is a choice I made,” said Dr Hammad Khan, Emergency physician on duty at Prime Hospital, Dubai. Emergency Room (ER) during the first day of Eid. At 6am when families will begin, stirring to excitedly prepare breakfast and gather for festivities Dr Khan would have left his sleeping daughters to be at the Prime Hospital, Emergency Section to deal with patients arriving in substantial numbers.
“Someone has to sacrifice this holiday so that all others are safe and happy. I knew this and my family — my parents, my wife and two daughters — know and are prepared that I will be away at work during festivals. They are supportive, but I feel sad I will miss out this festive time and not see my daughters dress up in Eid special dresses. In the evening, when my duty will get over, they will already be in bed,” said Dr Khan, 40 who hails from Peshawar, Pakistan but has been born and brought up in the UAE.
Dr Khan pointed out that this Eid, they were expecting many patients with seasonal flu, respiratory tract infections and Gastro intestinal issues (owing to heavy meat eating). “This happens every year, but owing to COVID-19, any slight respiratory discomfort and people do not take a chance. Social gathering have been restricted so we expect a fewer number of road trauma victims. But at the ER one can expect the unexpected and I am prepared,” added Dr Khan, who will be on a 12-hour duty on Tuesday and Wednesday and get to enjoy his days off on Thursday and Friday.
“I want patients to feel happy, safe and cared for through Eid,” said Shakir Varuparambil, 30, registered Male Emergency nurse, front liner on duty in the COVID-19 ward, RAK Hospital, Ras Al Khaimah.
Shakir will be Eid duty on first two days on Eid on July 21 and 22, putting in 12 hours of duty from 7.30am to 7.30pm, wearing the stifling PPE throughout the duty hours. What’s more, this young father of a one-month old baby whose wife, a lab technician at the hospital will be on duty as well on the first day of Eid, is happy to work. “This is pandemic time, and as a nurse, it is my duty to work and serve people. I chose to be on duty last year too, during the pandemic during Eid and am happy to be on COVID-19 duty this Eid too. I chose to be a frontliner and the more lives I save, the happier I will be,” said Shakir, who hails from the Malappuram district in Kerala, India. Both he and his wife will be working on first day of Eid and Shakir will be on 12- hour duty the next day too. “This is the best Eid gift I can give to patients, by making them feel safe, happy and cared for,” added nurse.
Delivering sheer joy through food packages
It is business as usual this Eid for Thanasekaran Karuppan Karuppan, 28, a bike rider and food delivery person for Hari Prasad Pure Vegetarian Restaurant in Dubai. “Eid is usually a busy time. Many people take a break from cooking and order food. On an average, we do 20 deliveries on a normal day, but for Eid, we expect more deliveries,” Karuppan told Gulf News.
Waiting on tables with longer duty hours
Girish Devadiga, 29, a waiter at a Dubai restaurant said it is work, work, and still more work during the busy days of Eid. “With the long weekend, we will be working long hours too. And I am happy that I am available for service to the community,” said Devadiga.
All hands on deck this Eid at the cinemas
This Eid, unlike previous ones in the past six years, is going to hectic for Filipina expatriate Joanna Leis, 31. Working as a cinema supervisor at a Sharjah auditorium, Leis is expecting some good attendance at the movies this festive weekend. However, she is not complaining because of the help and support she gets from her teammates.
“No one is actually taking a break during Eid and other public holidays. We’re all-hands-on-deck because more people are going to the cinemas and we are busy attending to them,” Joanna told Gulf News, “Days before the holidays, we have already fixed our roster — some are assigned at the tills, some will assist the customers, and some will prepare and serve the movie snacks.”
She added, “As a supervisor, I always make sure that my team is prepared for the busy days. I give them a pep talk and remind them that teamwork is the key to making the tasks easy. We have a motto — ‘Together we can make it’.” As for her TOIL (time off in lieu), Joanna said she would be taking in the forthcoming months to spend more quality time with family and friends.
A welcome surge of customers this Eid
Richard Dela Cruz, 43, is happy as his days are packed with customers. As a sales staff at a shoe store in Al Barsha, for Dela Cruz, crowds mean business is back and the economy is rebounding from the pandemic. Dela Cruz, who lives in Satwa, will be working through Eid holidays. He added that they were expecting sales to improve this year in comparison to the previous year. “Days before the holidays commenced, we already began seen more customers coming to our store. That means business is back and customers are now confident to spend,” said Dela Cruz, who has been working at the store for over three years now.
“Days before the holidays commenced, we already began seen more customers coming to our store. That means business is back and customers are now confident to spend,” said Dela Cruz, who has been working at the store for over three years now.
The silver lining for Dela Cruz working through the holiday is the double pay offered to them at the store. “This is really good because it will mean some extra money at the end of the month. Besides, I really don’t mind serving the customers through the holiday season as seeing such large crowds after the pandemic year when we had few customers, is a welcome sight,” said Dela Cruz.