Tabrez Ahmed has found a ‘second home’ at a city’s supermarket where he works. Come Iftar time, he and his colleagues would sit together, though two metres apart, and end their fast. They’re much like a family coming together for a hearty meal.
“I really cherish this time. It’s quite heartwarming to be sitting and eating together with my colleagues while maintaining Covid-19 protocols. The staff here is completely vaccinated,” said the Indian expat who hailed from the city of Chennai.
From 2pm to 8pm, Ahmed works as a section in charge at the West Zone Supermarket in Al Khail Gate. “Every year, our company organises our daily Iftar meals. There are dates, a drink, different types of fruits, and biryani for everyone. It really feels nice. I have my parents, wife and three sons back home. But I feel lucky that I have the chance to make this place my home,” he said.
“Spending Ramadan here has never been any less fulfilling or joyous.”
Since Covid-19 struck, supermarket staff members have been among those who braved the virus and wholeheartedly served the communities as everyday heroes. If they didn’t step out and step up daily, grocery shelves would have been empty.
Ahmed, who has been working in the UAE for the past six years, takes his duty to heart. With a few assistants under him, he oversees shelf stockers, checks items on display, and attends to customers’ needs, among other roles.
“Assisting customers for anything and everything is one of my key jobs. We hand out free masks and sanitisers to customers, too, in case they ask for it. We also give them to children who may come without masks (though almost all customers are very cautious),” he said.
While several others like him work tirelessly even during the busy days of Ramadan, Ahmed underlines that the company shows visible concern for its employees, especially in these unprecedented times.
“There is a secret to our wellbeing. Every staff here is made to feel quite cared for. The entire staff is served hot water with turmeric and ginger twice a day (barring the month of Ramadan for fasting staff), since the start of the pandemic. It’s believed that as we face different customers, the medicinal properties of these ingredients help us ward diseases and strengthen our immune system.”
As the UAE observes the second Ramadan amid Covid-19, with feasts and gatherings strictly not allowed, Ahmed is sincerely praying that this would be the last socially distanced holy month.
“We are blessed to be in a country like the UAE, where the situation is much better than many other parts of the world. As the holy month is marked by intense prayer, I pray to Allah, from the bottom of my heart, that by the next Ramadan this pandemic is completely over,” he said.
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