Torn between home and society
Manpreet Singh, chairman, Indian Social Club Salalah, is known for his bubbly nature and infectious smile and for always being the life of every gathering. Now under the lockdown in Dhofar, Singh has been balancing his energies between his home and society as he wants to be present at both places with full steam.
Whether to promote new talent or to felicitate dignitaries even as big as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Singh is known for always being in the forefront of social events. The lockdown in Salalah, which got underway just a week ago, has made him take a 180 degree turn from society to his own family but his attention keeps getting divided due to his ongoing social commitments.
“During this lockdown, I got an opportunity to spend quality time with my family, something which I couldn't do for the last so many years because of my busy schedule,” said Singh, adding, “We played indoor games, watched movies together at home and cooked special dishes.”
Admitting that the hearth was not his cup of tea, he goes on to elaborate how he'd rather concentrate on winning hearts in society. “Though I personally didn't take delight in cooking – my wife and my sons cooked – but we often discussed the menu over our evening tea. We also played indoor games like Ludo and Jack Roo. These were very special moments for our family, though in normal times, no one is free for all these things.”
Singh, who is also a honorary consular agent for Dhofar region, under the Embassy of India, did mention that even though he was in a newly locked down situation in Salalah, social work for the Indian community never really took a back seat. “There were four Air India Vande Bharat flights from Salalah to Kerala for which I coordinated, on the advise of our ambassador, H E Munu Mahawar. Later in the evenings, I also distributed foodstuff packets to the needy in Salalah, in coordination with the Embassy of India and the Indian ambassador.
“I wish to thank our ambassador for taking care of the Indian community very well. During the Vande Bharat flights, I also coordinated the ticketing for the passengers at Indian Social Club Salalah. Now, the other management committee members of ISC, Salalah and myself are organising around 4 to 5 chartered flights for transporting stranded Indians in Salalah to destinations in India.
So, though technically caught up in a lockdown situaton, Singh has nevertheless been stretching out his hands beyond his home to reach out to those in distress and wanting to return to India.
“The Ministry of Health and the Royal Oman Police have isolated some parts near the 'Bengali market' area in Salalah,” he further informed, adding, “Please note, no one needs to worry as there will not be any checking of resident cards even if they are expired. This has been done for the safety of all those living there.”
Singh has also called on members of the Indian community in Salalah who might experience COVID-19 like symptoms not to hesitate in contacting him (on 99498939) or the authorities to avail of health checks. “This is for your safety as well as the safety of your family members and your friends living nearby,” he said, adding, “It's our duty to help the Omani authorities, especially during this period of time when all countries are fighting the coronavirus.”
He was also appreciative of the efforts by the authorities in Oman towards safeguarding the health and welfare of expatriates by initiating a string of initiatives to help them cope with the situation, from supporting businesses to offering sops to employees. “All the officers and volunteers in Omn need a big round of applause for the work done to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.” he added.