After 36 years, Indian expat leaves UAE with new life lessons

Ashokan hails from South Indian state of Kerala.- Photo by Ashwani Kumar/ Khaleej Times
Ashokan hails from South Indian state of Kerala.- Photo by Ashwani Kumar/ Khaleej Times

Abu Dhabi - From office worker to senior staffer.

By Ashwani Kumar

Published: Sat 24 Mar 2018, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 25 Mar 2018, 1:08 PM

After 36 years of service, Indian expat Ashokan Kony Poriyan leaves the UAE shores with a heavy heart. He started his stint as an office boy and hanged his boots as a senior insurance coordinator of Dar Al Shifaa Hospital in Abu Dhabi. While looking back, he regrets having not found a balance between his personal and professional life - a simple but difficult thing that he wants other expats to consider seriously.
Ashokan hails from South Indian state of Kerala. His father used to run a hotel in Kannur district, but due to his failing health it had to be shut down. With three brothers and two sisters to feed, Ashokan took over the mantle from his father. He left Kannur and worked at a construction firm in Bangalore. It was 1982 that his Gulf journey began.
"Dar Al Shifaa is Abu Dhabi's first private hospital and started in 1982. I joined the same year as an office boy. After two years, I moved to the cafeteria. By 1986-87, I used to maintain medical files and later worked as receptionist and cashier."
It is the boom of medical insurance companies in mid-1980s that saw Ashokan starting to manage claim forms.
"I was given the training and worked as an assistant. I learnt the medical terms and procedures on the job."
Ashokan is a dedicated staff member of the hospital who couldn't find time for himself or his family.
"It is now that I notice that I don't know most of the places in Abu Dhabi even though I have stayed here for this long. I used to shuttle between work and my room, and couldn't find time for anything else. I must have visited Dubai a few times," added Ashokan, whose work culture and dedication is hailed by the hospital group MD, staff, HR manager and Indian Embassy official.

'I couldn't enjoy parenthood'

Even as everyone appreciates Ashokan's work culture, his inner voice isn't allowing him to sleep easy.
"I got married in 1991. My son is a mechanical engineer and daughter is appearing for Grade 10 exams in Kerala. They always wanted to be here with me. I regret ignoring their repeated requests or bringing them here even once. My inner conscious is hurting me. I couldn't do justice to my wife and children. Now that I am returning home, both my children are ready to build their careers. I couldn't enjoy fatherhood. My wife is a teacher in an Army School in Kannur. I landed here at 22 years of age and spent my youth's prime here itself."
And he has one advice for all expats: "Work hard and earn a living but give equivalent amount of time to your family back home. I regret not having seen my baby girl crawl or help my boy with his homework."
"My inner voice says I failed as a father," he said while breaking down.
A teary-eyed Ashokan considers it a great blessing to be leaving UAE in the 'Year of Zayed'.
"I feel blessed to have hung my boots in the 'Year of Zayed'. The timing couldn't have been better," he signed off.

More news from UAE