x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Sharing parking costs is one man's ticket to happiness

Dubai driver creates a Facebook page that encourages motorists to give away unexpired parking minutes to the next person.

Eldho Kuruvilla has created a Facebook page that encourages motorists to give away unexpired parking minutes to the next person.
Eldho Kuruvilla has created a Facebook page that encourages motorists to give away unexpired parking minutes to the next person.

DUBAI // Sometimes in life, it's the little acts of kindness that leave the longest impressions.

For Eldho Kuruvilla, 34, one of those life-changing moments came as he was fumbling with a parking ticket machine and was approached by an Emirati man.

"Just as I was trying to pay for a ticket, he came up to me and offered his," said Mr Kuruvilla, a business development manager from India.

"Initially, I thought I was being fined for something and my heart started racing. But when he gave me his ticket I was simply elated. I couldn't stop smiling the entire day."

So moved was Mr Kuruvilla by this and similar acts of thoughtfulness - most of them by Emiratis - that he created a Facebook page encouraging other motorists to do the same; to give "two dirhams of happiness".

"We do not always use our parking minutes completely," he said. "At times, we complete our work and leave before utilising the entire parking time.

"We let the ticket lie on our dashboard or throw it away. Instead of forgetting about it, it would be good to give it to the next person who is trying to park."

Mr Kuruvilla started the Facebook page last week. He said a free parking ticket could help motorists with no loose change or at faulty meters.

"Recently, I shared my parking ticket with a young couple struggling with a faulty machine," he says.

"I thought, 'Why not start a Facebook page and propagate this idea to everyone else?'"

Mr Kuruvilla said motorists could pass the unexpired ticket to another motorist or leave it on the parking meter so anyone who needed it could use it.

"If the authorities could even put magnets on the meters, people could use them to stick their unused tickets on them," he said, while acknowledging the idea was a little far-fetched.

The page, facebook.com/giftyourparkingticket, has only five friends but Mr Kuruvilla said he was optimistic it would attract more.

He stressed the campaign was not intended to offend the authorities but to encourage the spirit of giving, and that it was not confined to the UAE.

"This is a global campaign and can be applicable in any country where people are paying for tickets," Mr Kuruvilla said.

Motorists yesterday said they would be willing to pass unused parking tickets on and that the Facebook campaign will encourage others to do the same.

"I always give my ticket if I don't need it," said Jennifer, an American expatriate who asked not to be identified by her last name.

"I think it's hardly any effort to just hand out the ticket to someone who could use it, instead of letting it go to waste. I encourage all motorists to do the same."

Mary Hall, an Australian, said: "I used to work next to Lamcy Plaza and had to buy a 24-hour parking ticket. At the end of the day, I used to always give it away to somebody. It's nice when someone hands you an unexpired ticket."

Nashwa Hamad, an Emirati, agreed: "I think sharing is caring. It is a generous act."

Mohammad Mudassir, a Canadian student, said: "Sure, I will give away my ticket. Islam encourages being kind to strangers."

But Nadia al Samsam, a Syrian expatriate, said people did not always respond positively when she shared her parking minutes.

"Some of them give me this weird smile then throw the ticket away," Ms al Samsam said.

pkannan@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Amna al Haddad