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:
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.fridaymagazine.ae], 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.
Manju Nath Shabnam Sanad
Sanchita Guha likes to take clippings of her favourite stories from Friday and save them in a scrapbook