Dubai: Top Expo 2020 Dubai fans have been visiting all the pavilions in the mega fair as many times as possible before ‘the world’s greatest show’ ends on March 31.
One such fan claims to have visited 266 pavilions including all the 192 country pavilions and the remaining special pavilions once, and then repeatedly visited all the 192 country pavilions six more times.
After completing the seventh successful round with stamps from all the pavilions on Expo’s yellow passport and several other objects, Indian expat Shamsheer Tharachandy Keechery is at it again. Currently, the 34-year-old father-of-three is on the last leg of his eighth round of visiting all the country pavilions before the curtain falls on his favourite event.
Keechery said he has collected stamps from all the pavilions on the yellow passport seven times, thus making him eligible for seven white passports (the Expo’s special edition passport issued for free to those who collect stamps from 100 pavilions).
Did you know that Expo 2020 Dubai has a blue passport as well? Well, Shamsheer has got two of them. That was after he managed to collect 17 Global Goals stamps from 17 locations across the Expo twice.
The blue passport, titled ‘Passport to Fitness’, offered him free access to all the sports, fitness and welfare programmes at Expo in January and February, said Keechery.
“I also got the certificate for completing the SDG [Sustainable Development Goals] Global Goals Initiative jointly issued by the Expo and the United Nations as well as two season tickets,” he added.
Keechery has received many free tickets that were given away during the Expo National Day celebrations of different countries. “I have given away more than 100 such free tickets to people to visit the Expo,” he said.
You might have seen some Expo fans taking pavilion stamps on their favourite objects for novelty. Keechery is no different. Along with taking stamps on his yellow passports, he also got the stamps on Expo map, Expo raffle paper, three face masks, a kandoora, three caps, a pair of shoes, an umbrella and a globe. Since he cannot name just one pavilion as his most favourite, he has got stamps of his 32 favourite pavilions on 32-panels of a football.
Currently, he is taking stamps on a white heart-shaped cloth (symbolising peace) which he intends to frame once he completes the eighth round.
He has a huge collection of various countries’ flags, flag pins and badges as well.
His favourite among the Expo memorabilia that he has collected is the white umbrella. “The idea was to bring all the countries under one umbrella just as they are under one Expo here.”
When he wears the cap, mask, kandoora and shoes with stamps and holds the umbrella and bag with pins and badges, Keechery transforms into a walking Expo memorabilia.
When Expo visitors spot him with the stamps and badges, many approach him to take photos and also to ask if he would sell those items with Expo stamps, especially the umbrella. “I have said no to everyone. If at all I will gift it, it will be to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the great leader who gave us this Expo. I hope I will get that opportunity before the Expo ends,” said Keechery, who works as a sales coordinator with a Dubai company.
Though his area of operation is mainly Oman, the ardent fan of Expo said he decided to stay back in Dubai for visiting the Expo.
“I have been coming to the Expo almost every day for the past four-and-a-half-months. My company is very supportive. I am not working full time now and only taking half salary these days. As soon as I become free, I head to the Expo.”
He said he had not intended to become a #Stampholic (how he describes himself on his Insta page) though he is one now. “Initially, I had thought of covering only about 40 important pavilions. But as I started visiting them, I learned a lot about each and every country. There were many fascinating things. New innovations and technological information. I got interested in meeting people from different countries and befriending them as well.”
As his interest grew, he said he became addicted to visiting the pavilions and collecting the stamps. “It is after a couple of visits that sometimes we might notice some interesting facts. I have had such experiences,” he added.
By visiting the pavilions many times, he has also become a repository of several Expo-related trivia. “When you explore more, you get to know more. For example, I saw the smallest 3D model of Burj Khalifa in Lithuania Pavilion, the largest gold coin weighing 130kg in Czech Republic Pavilion and the world’s fastest electric motorbike in Monaco Pavilion.”
Keechery said he wished there was no end to the Expo in Dubai. “I will miss everything about the Expo including the warmth of the people at the pavilions. But if you ask me to specify, I would say I will miss relaxing at the Workers’ Monument, watching the 38 pillars that carry the names of more than 200,000 workers who built the Expo,” he said.