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Dubai worker draws heart on pavement, wins hearts online
Ramesh Gangarajam Gandi's beautiful gesture goes viral on social media; earns gift pack from Ministry of Community Development.
A photo of a Dubai cleaner crafting a heart out of some twigs, dried leaves he had collected while sweeping the street has gone viral on social media.
The man, who was wearing a fluorescent worker's jersey, was later identified as Ramesh Gangarajam Gandi, who works as a housekeeping staff member with a Dubai company.
It was a regular day at work for 30-year-old Gandi, as he went about his daily routine of sweeping away dry leaves from a street in Donwtown Dubai. Suddenly, a rush of emotion led him to draw a heart on the pavement - not with anything fancy, but with the very dried leaves he had collected while sweeping.
The scene was captured by an observant resident of the locality - Nesma Farahat - who was watching from her window.
"I was just wrapping up my work from my home desk when I noticed a worker crafting something on the pavement with this heap of dried leaves that he had collected. I went to my balcony to look more closely and, as I watched him for a few minutes, I saw him perfecting the shape of a heart.
"It was just such a sweet sight and lasted for just like a minute or two as by the time I went out to see he had almost completed the shape and was just smoothing out the edges. He then just looked at it for a few seconds lovingly and then just swept away the leaves, put them on his cart and went away quietly," she told Khaleej Times.
Nesma then posted the picture on her Instagram account and the response she said she received was "overwhelming". The picture went viral on Instagram and was liked by thousands of Instagram users with heartwarming messages for Gandi.
"My friends liked the picture so much that they requested if they could share it from their accounts too and I was amazed at the outpouring of love and support it received from the community," Farahat said.
When contacted, Gandi, who came to the UAE last year in September to work as a housekeeping staff with facilities management company Emrill, said he was completely oblivious of the fact that someone was watching him in those few moments he spent making the shape of a heart.
'I was missing my wife, family'
"I didn't know that anyone was watching me, so I was very surprised to see the photograph online. On the day the photograph was taken, I was thinking about home. I was wondering what everyone was doing and how everyone was, but mostly I was missing my wife," said the Indian expat, who hails from the state of Telangana.
Gandi had gotten married in August 2019, a month before he moved to Dubai in September.
"I barely spent a month with my new wife - who now stays in India with his parents - when I got a job offer in Dubai and had to leave immediately, so I didn't get to enjoy married life for very long," he said shyly.
Gandi said he was also very worried about his aged parents and was looking to visit them because his father recently had become severely ill due to age-related health issues.
"Everyone has been affected by the coronavirus. We have not been able to travel freely, and I think everyone is worried about the health of their friends and family.
"Although none of my family has caught Covid-19, my father is quite ill at the moment. Luckily, travel is a bit easier now, so I will be flying back to India to spend time with my parents and my wife. It makes me feel happy to know I will see my family soon and can help out at home," said Gandi, who has two other brothers who work in Oman.
When asked if it was sadness that led him to draw that heart on the pavement, Gandi said: "Some people have asked me if I was sad on that day, and the answer is no. I like being in Dubai, and I enjoy my job, but it has been difficult being away from my family, especially because of Covid-19. I worry about them. I am really excited to see my wife again and to be able to spend some more time with her before I come back to Dubai."
Rewarded by Ministry
After seeing his picture on social media, Gandi was contacted by the Ministry of Community Development authority through his employer, and they sent him a gift pack to show their love and support for the young man.
Farahat, who originally clicked his picture, said a lot of people have reached out to her asking the whereabouts of Gandi and wanting to send him either a note of support or just a token of appreciation.
"Me and my friends are now looking to approach the developer of the area to kind of do a small installation of some kind commemorating this sweet act of the worker and just to give it some kind of a semi-permanence to this act," Farahat said.
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