Meet the Fri­day Su­per­fans

They’ve read ev­ery sin­gle is­sue over the past 17 years, have scrap­books filled with their favourite ar­ti­cles – and even en­tire li­braries! Shiva Ku­mar Thekkepat meets the read­ers who say:

Friday - - Front Page -

Dubai-based stu­dent Fa­tima Suhail has been read­ing Fri­day since she was just 10 years old. In fact, she claims credit for con­vert­ing her fa­ther and el­der sis­ter into a Fri­day fan club of sorts. And it all hap­pened com­pletely by ac­ci­dent.

“The first time I saw the mag­a­zine was when it was mis­tak­enly de­liv­ered to our doorstep,” she says. “When I opened the front door on a Fri­day morn­ing, I saw the news­pa­per with a copy of my now-favourite Fri­day. The at­trac­tive cover made me want to look in­side, and from the mo­ment I started read­ing the first ar­ti­cle, I was well and truly hooked.

“I must have read al­most all the fea­tures and col­umns in it be­fore I ran off to show it to my el­der sis­ter, who also fell in love with it al­most in­stantly.”

The sis­ters then showed it to their fa­ther, who loved it just as much.

“I re­mem­ber him say­ing ‘Let’s sub­scribe to Gulf News so we will not miss an is­sue’,” says Fa­tima. Since then, there’s been no look­ing back.

“I am 24 now and still an ar­dent fan of Fri­day,” she says. “Over the years, my love for the mag­a­zine has only grown. My weekend isn’t com­plete un­til I’ve read Fri­day from cover to cover.” Al­though Fa­tima’s 14 years of read­ing

Fri­day is im­pres­sive, Ra­machan­dran Nair has been do­ing so since the very first is­sue came out on May 16, 1997.

The Oman-based qual­ity con­trol man­ager says he hasn’t missed a copy.

“Over the past two decades, I’ve moved house sev­eral times in Oman, but one thing that I’ve al­ways en­sured is that I get a copy of Fri­day,” he says.

“I came across the first is­sue of the mag­a­zine when I was posted in Bu­raimi on the Oman-UAE bor­der,” rem­i­nisces the 50-some­thing In­dian ex­pat. “From that day on­ward, I’ve made sure that I get ev­ery is­sue of Fri­day, no mat­ter where I am. Now in Mus­cat, I book my copy of Fri­day in ad­vance so that I never miss an is­sue!”

But if he thinks he’s our big­gest fan, Dubai-based Manju Nath says he needs to think again. “I’ve read Fri­day since the launch is­sue,” she smiles. And since then the 60-year-old has en­sured she never misses a sin­gle copy of the mag­a­zine, what­ever the cost. “Over the years,

Fri­day has only got bet­ter. “I can’t miss a copy. In case I am trav­el­ling, I make ar­range­ments with my friends or fam­ily to keep my copy of Fri­day,” she says.

She has saved clip­pings of the most in­ter­est­ing, in­for­ma­tive and in­spi­ra­tional pieces from the mag­a­zine over the years.

“The won­der­ful collection of ar­ti­cles and col­umns en­thrall me to this day. I’m par­tial to Suresh Menon’s col­umn, but Sil­vena Rowe’s cook­ery tips take pri­or­ity these days!”

Manju, who is a vo­ra­cious reader, says that a rea­son she likes the mag­a­zine is be­cause, “it has the right mix of real-life fea­tures, profiles, in­spi­ra­tional fea­tures, food and leisure.

“I love to read and re-read the mag­a­zine, par­tic­u­larly now that I’ve re­tired from my job as man­ager in a book store and have more time.”

Un­til re­cently, Manju had saved all the past is­sues of Fri­day in a spare room in her home un­til her daugh­ter, Nee­sha Salian, put her foot down and cleared them all out. “I truly miss my mags now,” moans Manju.

And which are her favourite fea­tures? “I like the sto­ries that re­veal the pos­i­tive side of hu­man na­ture,” she says.

“I also re­ally love the in­spi­ra­tional and mo­ti­va­tional fea­tures. I am sure they in­spire many people to bring about some change in their life and in the life of the com­mu­nity. They are all real eye-open­ers that show us hu­man courage in its var­i­ous forms.”

Mother of two San­chita Guha is an­other Dubaibased home­maker who fell in love with the mag­a­zine af­ter read­ing a copy when she moved here from Kolkata, In­dia, in 2004.

“The hu­man in­ter­est fea­tures were what at­tracted me ini­tially,” says the 45-year-old. Her teenage chil­dren love the mag­a­zine too, for the “in­for­ma­tive

fea­tures and the ar­ti­cles on the en­vi­ron­ment”, she says.

San­chita cut out in­ter­est­ing fea­tures and mo­ti­va­tional sto­ries from the mag­a­zine to make a scrap­book.

“I wanted to pre­serve it for my chil­dren to read when they grew up,” she says.

“I still have a huge file, filled with clip­pings of in­spi­ra­tional sto­ries, which I of­ten thumb through.”

Al­though now the re­cent fea­tures in the mag­a­zine are avail­able on­line, San­chita still prefers cut­ting out the pages and fil­ing them away the old­fash­ioned way.

“It’s be­come a habit,” she says. “I just love to save the sto­ries in my lit­tle file.”

Even though the mag­a­zine comes out on a Fri­day, most read­ers make sure it lasts them the en­tire week. Me­dia man­ager Shabnam Sanad says she can’t re­lax at the weekend un­til she’s got her copy of Fri­day.

“The Mak­ing A Dif­fer­ence fea­tures, profiles of achiev­ers and the food sec­tion are what I find fas­ci­nat­ing,” says the 31-year-old. “I hate to miss a sin­gle is­sue and have even had my­hus­band send copies of the mag­a­zine back home to me in In­dia. But now since Fri­day has a ded­i­cated web­site [www.fri­day­], it is easy for me to ac­cess the con­tent from any part of the world,” she says.

Like Shabnam, who clicks on the Mak­ing A Dif­fer­ence but­ton for mo­ti­va­tional sto­ries, Ra­machan­dran too says he gains in­spi­ra­tion from Fri­day’s hu­man-in­ter­est ar­ti­cles.

“Sto­ries like ‘The man giv­ing am­putees a new lease of life’ [pub­lished in Au­gust, 2012] about pros­thetic en­gi­neer Bob Watts, who de­signed specialist limbs for am­putees, was a heart-touch­ing fea­ture,” says Ra­machan­dran. “He is truly help­ing am­putees have a bet­ter life.

“An­other touch­ing story is the one about the miss­ing chil­dren in In­dia from an is­sue in Novem­ber 2012. The ar­ti­cle about how kids go miss­ing and what par­ents should do to en­sure their safety brought tears to my eyes.

“Then there’s the story I re­mem­ber about Jes­sica Cox [April, 2013] who, de­spite be­ing born with­out hands, be­came a pi­lot. With all the chal­lenges in her life, Jes­sica still fought back to lead a nor­mal life.

“Read­ing Jes­sica’s story re­minded me of a dis­tant rel­a­tive of mine who is also chal­lenged. I feel it is these sto­ries, which touch read­ers in some way or the other, that is Fri­day’s strong point.”

Fa­tima agrees. “Some of the sto­ries in Fri­day have made me look at my life with a new per­spec­tive. They have also made me value life much more than ever be­fore,” she says.

Fri­day has also helped her in her school projects. “I re­mem­ber how other stu­dents and I pored over the mag­a­zine be­fore we gath­ered at our school’s au­di­to­rium and worked col­lec­tively on a col­lage project on health and hy­giene,” she says.

“We thumbed through more than 30 is­sues of Fri­day, pick­ing up bits of in­for­ma­tion and pic­tures, which we in­cluded in our project. Need­less to say, the project was a huge suc­cess.” As well as long-time read­ers,

Fri­day also has a new gen­er­a­tion of young read­ers hooked, if Ra­machan­dran is to be be­lieved.

“Of late, I’ve got to scram­ble to the front door on a Fri­day morn­ing to grab

Fri­day be­fore my 15-year-old daugh­ter Athira gets it,” he says. “And once she has it, she does not put it down un­til she has read it cover to cover. But I am glad she does as it’s also help­ing her with her projects at school.”

Wel­come to the club, we say.

Fa­tima Suhail

Ra­machan­dran Nair

Manju Nath Shabnam Sanad

San­chita Guha likes to take clip­pings of her favourite sto­ries from Fri­day and save them in a scrap­book

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