Indian expat to leave UAE after 50 years, says country has given her everything

Kathleen Randhawa. — Photo by Juidin Bernarrd
Kathleen Randhawa. — Photo by Juidin Bernarrd

Dubai - Kathleen Randhawa, who arrived in the UAE on May 3, 1971, says she met her husband here and both her children were born here

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Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Wed 16 Jun 2021, 7:27 PM

Last updated: Wed 16 Jun 2021, 11:01 PM

Kathleen Randhawa, who arrived in the UAE on May 3, 1971, says she met her husband here and both her children were born here

At 72 years, Indian expatriate Kathleen Randhawa cannot imagine leaving the UAE — her home for 50 years — for good. Her love for the country led her to stay on even 11 years after her retirement, and now, she plans to return to her native town of Margao in Goa, for what she hopes will be a brief stay.

“The UAE has given me everything. I met my husband here, and both my children were born here. Even though my late husband had spent over a decade in the USA, I never left the UAE. Instead, I stayed back here and raised my kids. I cannot imagine another country providing me with the safety and security that the UAE has provided,” she told Khaleej Times on Wednesday.

“I have seen three generations of Rulers transform this city into what it is today. From the days of the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.”

“Now, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, is taking this city to a future unimaginable,” said Kathleen.

The septuagenarian was born and raised in Bandra, Mumbai. She and her sister Queenie arrived in the UAE on May 3, 1971. The sisters followed their brother Ersel D’mello, who was working as a drummer for a band at the Ambassador Hotel in Al Fahidi. Even though Kathleen had no intentions to leave India, she changed her mind when Ersel returned home for a holiday in 1971.

“I was working as a teacher when Ersel came back to Mumbai for a short holiday,” she explained. “He came back with a bag full of gifts and goodies. The quality of everything he got for us left me enchanted. The spices, the bags, the sarees, and the make-up. It felt like he had brought the gifts back from London,” she said.

When the sisters arrived at Dubai International Airport in ’71, she said it was a small structure that used to operate just three to four flights a day. “Even when we arrived here, I felt like I had walked into an Expo. And now, I feel so proud that the UAE is hosting the World Expo,” she said. Queenie and Kathleen took up jobs at the Ambassador Hotel. “In a matter of three months, I was shopping the products our brother got for us with my own money. It was an incredible feeling,” she said.

‘We lived in the same apartment for 45 years’

Shortly after, Kathleen met her husband Amar Randhawa, who also happened to be an employee of the hotel. “We got married three years later in 1975. I remember, we would go for dates at the Special Ostadi Restaurant in Bur Dubai, which still retains its old-world charm,” she added.

“After marriage, we moved into an apartment in Al Shaab Colony in Deira. We lived in the same apartment for 45 years. We moved out of the apartment a few weeks ago,” she said.

After leaving Ambassador Hotel, Kathleen worked at International Marine Services for 13 years and then went on to work at Zurich Middle East for another 15 years. Currently, her daughter Karen has completed 15 years in the same company.

Her daughters were born here and were baptised at the St Mary’s Catholic Church in Oud Metha. “I had great trust in the country’s healthcare system. I remember I was three days away from delivering my elder daughter when I went for an overnight camp to Al Dhaid. I had the confidence that if anything happened, hospitals were nearby,” she stated.

‘UAE’s healthcare services are the best in the world’

“On that note, I am very happy to say that I suffer from no ailments such as diabetes, high BP or cholesterol. Also, when the vaccine for Covid-19 was announced, I immediately called the DHA and took the Pfizer vaccine,” said Kathleen.

After spending many happy years, Kathleen lost her husband to diabetes-related ailments in 2015. “He was 66-year-old when he passed away,” she said. “After his death and my retirement, I’ve spent time travelling to Mumbai and Goa,” she said.

“I am leaving for India on June 24 to complete some long-pending work. After that, I will return. My daughters, Melissa and Karen live and work here; so, I feel I will always have a home here,” she said.

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