'I was missing my wife': The story behind the Dubai cleaner who drew a heart on the streets
The poignant gesture by Ramesh Gangarajam Gandi has since gone viral
On July 15, Nesma Farahat was wrapping up her workday at her home office in Downtown Dubai when something outside the window caught her eye.
A cleaner tending to the street had drawn a heart on the pavement, using fallen petals from the trees. After a while, he swept it away. The moment was so sweet, she captured a snap.
“It was so heartwarming to watch him doing it but also bittersweet because you don’t know the emotion behind it. You want it to be happiness,” says Farahat.
The National has located the man, Ramesh Gangarajam Gandi, who works as a housekeeping attendant with facilities management provider Emrill.
Gandi hails from Telangana, India, and came to Dubai 10 months ago to take up his position with Emrill. On the day the picture was taken, he was just finishing his duties when he thought about his wife, leading him to draw the heart.
Gandi got married just a month before relocating to the UAE, and his wife has stayed in India.
“I have been enjoying my work and it has really helped keep my mind busy, but on that day, I was missing my wife and wishing I could spend time with her. I know a lot of people are missing those they love and feel the same way I do,” he says.
Like many around the world, Gandi’s life has been affected by the pandemic in numerous ways.
“I have been thinking about my parents and wife back home in India, and my brothers in Oman, and hoping they are all OK," he says.
“Unfortunately, my father has been taken ill recently, so I will be returning to India on leave to spend some time with him and will come back to my job in a month or so."
'I didn’t even know anyone was watching me'
Since the image was posted on Instagram on Sunday, July 19, it has gone viral. Numerous people have approached Farahat, trying to locate Gandi.
“The Good News Movement account, which has 1.5 million followers, posted it as an Instastory,” she says.
“Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi also shared it as an Instagram Story."
Dubai arts and crafts company The Happy Box reposted the image, describing it as the "best thing we’ve seen all year".
"A bittersweet moment. Think this resonates with us all, we are all longing to be with our loved ones," read the caption.
Meanwhile, numerous people have approached Farahat asking if there is any way they can reach out to Gandi, or thank him for making their day brighter.
“It’s been amazing to see how many people have taken an interest in what I thought was an innocent picture,” she says.
Gandi is also surprised by the attention the photograph has received.
"Someone saw the photograph and got a gift for me, which she passed on to my colleague to give to me," he says.
“I was so touched. I didn’t think something as simple as creating a heart out of petals would be interesting for other people – I didn’t even know anyone was watching.”
The kindness exchange Stop and Help has helped many families across the country since its inception in March. Click here to read the story.
Updated: July 25, 2020 09:35 AM