ABU DHABI //For the first time in 20 years, Andaleeb Fatma Mannan was not in her homeland to celebrate India’s Independence Day.
And so the mother-of-three took it upon herself to bring the celebratory spirit to Abu Dhabi by inviting guests to her home in the city’s Madinat Zayed area, cooking traditional food and by decorating.
“My husband and me, along with the children, have been working on it since Wednesday,” she said.
Her daughter Mahak Mannan, 21, and son Abdul Muqeet, 11, also prepared pedas, soft fudge sweets topped with dry fruits; sevai, another popular sweet dish; and coconut laddoo, a ball-shaped sweet.
Ordinarily, the family, including 24-year-old Abdul Mahir, would return home to Jaipur to celebrate with their extended family, but this year is different.
It is unusual because Mrs Mannan’s son has become the only child from the GCC region to be invited to an environmental event in the United States in recognition of his recycling work.
Young Abdul became known in the country for recycling newspapers by turning them into shopping bags, and even won an Abu Dhabi Award in 2011 for his environmental crusade.
Now the family have been invited to Maryland by the Kids Are Heroes organisation to share his experience with other children from around the world.
“We have to stay here to process our visa with the US embassy in Abu Dhabi,” Mrs Mannan said.
The family’s efforts to celebrate Independence Day, regardless of being in India or not, show the pride they have in their country and the freedoms it has provided.
“We have freedom in India because of the many brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives for a brighter future,” the marketing consultant said.
“We need to instil the importance of this day. There are issues everywhere that can be corrected.”
Her husband Abdul Mannan added: “We have freedom but we need to preserve and contain it by our own endeavours and initiatives for a better tomorrow and future for the next generation.”
Every individual should take responsibility to correct the system if there are lapses and avoid promoting wrongdoings, he said.
Mahak said: “We talk freely and walk freely and have all access to facilities and education – this is the real freedom for us.”