An Indian wildlife senior scientist holidaying in the UAE got a first-hand taste of the country’s honest nature when his lost wallet containing hundreds of dollars and a gold coin was returned by a supermarket employee.
From keeping the wallet safe for two days to handing it over to the Sharjah Indian Association, the finder, Naufal, went to great lengths to ensure that the wallet was returned to its rightful owner. For tourist Dr (Capt) Parag Nigam, who was left penniless on the last day of his holiday in Dubai, it was a massive relief to get his valuables back.
The walk home after his shift at Talal Supermarket in Sharjah Industrial Area 4 is usually uneventful for Keralite Naufal Valiyaveetil. He was expecting nothing less on June 1st.
“After shutting the shop, my colleague Nifsal and I were walking home,” he said. “It was pitch dark and eerily silent, like it usually is. Nifsal was the one who spotted the wallet. He handed it over to me. When I opened it, I found a lot of dollar bills, a gold coin, credit cards and Indian ID cards. I realized that someone had lost a lot of their important documentation and might come looking for it. So, I took it home with me and stored it in a safe there.”
Eager to reunite the wallet to its rightful owner, the next day Naufal informed all the neighbouring traders that he had found a wallet. “I had some work in Dubai the next day,” he said. “So, I informed all the shops around me so that if the owner came looking for it, they would know where to direct him.”
When another day passed without the owner coming to look for the wallet, Naufal decided to take action. “I felt uneasy keeping someone else’s valuable belonging with me,” he said. “Since the wallet was full of Indian ID cards, I had an inkling that it might have been a tourist from India. So, I called the Sharjah Indian Association secretary who directed me to go to the association office.”
Once at the office, an association employee and Naufal together started going through the contents of the wallet. They found a paper with contact numbers in it. “Calls made on the first two numbers weren’t answered,” he said. “But we got third time lucky!”
For senior scientist at the Wildlife Institute of India, Dr (Capt) Parag Nigam, what was to be a quick vacation in Dubai turned into a sour experience when he lost his wallet.
“I had gone to eat at my friend’s house in Al Nahda,” said Dr Parag speaking to Khaleej Times from New Delhi. “When I got back to the hotel, I realized that my wallet was missing. I started to panic but there was nothing to be done.”
Left with no money and ID cards, Dr Parag braced himself for the worst. “Luckily, my hotel payments had been done beforehand,” he said. “But I did not have any money and I still had one more day to spend in Dubai. Some friends came and took me out. We searched for the wallet in places I had gone but there was nothing to be found. All my meals that day were sponsored by friends because I didn’t have a penny on me.”
A dejected Dr Parag boarded his return flight knowing that he would have to go through the nightmare of applying for all his ID and bank cards. However, a surprise awaited him the next day.
“I got a call from Sharjah Indian Association,” said Dr. Parag. “The man explained that my wallet had been found. To be honest, at first I didn’t believe him. I thought it was some sort of a prank. However, when he started describing the contents of it, I realized that he had in fact found my wallet. I immediately let my friend in Dubai, Dr Shafy, know and he picked up the wallet on my behalf.”
“To be honest, it was a pleasant surprise for me that the wallet was found and that Naufal had gone to such great lengths to make sure it was returned to me. If my government IDs had fallen into the wrong hands, it could have been misused. That is what I was most worried about. Also, the gold coin was of special value to me. I couldn’t thank Naufal enough. That is why as soon as I got back to work, I sent him a thank you note. Now I have a reason to come back to Dubai. I want to meet Noufal and thank him in person.”
“My parents have always taught me to be honest,” said Naufal.
“My father used to run a small business in Qatar. I have heard from his friends and colleagues that if anyone brought back an item which they felt was not good enough, he would immediately refund the money. He wouldn’t ask for a reason, he wouldn’t check if the product was actually damaged. At the time, his employees would ask him why he would accept returned goods without proof. He would say that as a trader it is his responsibility to give them the best goods. So, I don’t think I did something extraordinary. I did what was the right thing to do,” he added.
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