Muscat: Having grown-up in an idyllic village in Kuttanad in Kerala, Dr Thomas Mangalappally had no intention of leaving his hamlet and moving to the Gulf. But due to a quirk of fate, or call it an intervention of a well-intended friend, Thomas ended up in Oman and has been calling it home for the past 37 years.
“I came to Oman in 1984 to work in a clinic in Al Kamil. During those times, there were hardly any super markets, or even proper roads,” he said.
Within two years of coming to Oman, Dr Thomas started his own clinic. “It was a single doctor clinic and more often than not, my consultation for labour camp workers or other poor people were done free of cost. Even today, if a person comes to my clinic and has no means of undergoing some tests, I do it free for them.”
Dr Thomas waited for a year before he brought his wife, also a doctor, and one-year-old daughter to Oman. “My son was born in Oman and they both did their entire schooling here.” Today his kids are well settled in Australia.
“I have witnessed the growth of Oman. It was happening fast and it was happening every day. The road network, malls that sprung up, strides in health care, colleges, and even the perspective of Omanis changed. Education and exposure, the two main factors that shape a human being, brought immense change in the attitude to Omanis.”
The single-doctor clinic became a multi-specialty clinic that employs many doctors and nurses. Al Maha Clinic, Dr Thomas’s labour of love, provides affordable treatment for low-income group people and referral services for treatment in India for those who prefer it. From time-to-time Dr Thomas conducts free medical camps in various corporate campuses across the capital.
“With COVID-19, the concept of camps has shrunk but the basic idea of providing free check-up still continues in our clinic.”
Dr Thomas lost his 94-year-old mother last year in Maradu Kochi, Kerala, where he has built a palatial home. “The house, the village and the simple settings are all reminiscent of my mother who is no more. Yet life has to go on with its cycle. I hope one day I retire and enjoy simple village life of Kerala.”