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On Being Thankful

I have always looked at holidays through the lens of the intention behind them. The food, the rituals, the gifts are all happy bonuses, but the underlying thoughts behind the holidays hold more meaning for me. Diwali- the triumph of good over evil; Navratri- revering the feminine aspects of the Divine; New Year’s eve- learning from the successes and missteps of the past year and letting go; Day of the Dead- keeping alive the memory of those who have passed on; Groundhog Day- imagine living the same day over and over again (not the point? what?..).

With this perspective, I love Thanksgiving. Appreciating what I already have never fails to make my heart feel full. Our minds are generally conditioned to notice what’s missing, and refocusing to see what is actually there shifts our perspective. Gratitude in my thoughts has always helped my actions be effective, and more powerful.

It isn’t the easiest time in human history to think positive, but evolution and progress aren’t always linear. Our own history, as a species and on a personal level, teach us that. What we can definitely do is think and act consciously. Being thankful is a start.

This year, I am particularly thankful for friends. I have friends who I can laugh with, friends who push me to be more. Friends who give me the honor of helping them in times of need, and friends who reach out when I need a hand. Friends who come by other names- husband, daughter, parent, boss. Friends who can tell when I’m not myself, and friends who like me even when I am myself. Friendly strangers who let my car pass, who say kind things, who give their time to make my life easier.

What are you thankful for?


Listen to Sayali on ‘Jhoom Barabar […]

By |November 23rd, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on On Being Thankful

What Really Trumped

It was not a morning I wanted to wake up to. I was afraid of confirmation of what seemed inevitable when I switched off the TV last night. And it was true, it really did happen. Trump won. Donald Trump is the new president of the United States of America. But, nothing felt united, it didn’t feel like America and the only state I found myself was in shock and sadness.I’ve never been into politics. It’s a bit too complex for my simple mind. I’m not sad because Republicans won. I would not have cared if it was another candidate but Trump’s victory makes you question many, many dark realities about the human mind and soul. It shows the power of fear. He tapped into the lowest common denominator of human emotions: FEAR. He ignited those hidden, unspoken fears by dividing, discriminating, and demonizing the basic core value of togetherness. He gave those deep, dark fears a voice. A loud, rude and unfiltered voice. He made it fashionable, cool and impressive to be hateful. Hateful towards everything that is different and not one of us. I wouldn’t have been this sad if he had won this election without raping America of its most beautiful trait: inclusiveness and equality.

This wave has been happening all over the world. BrExit and India are perfect examples. These are calls against globalization, against diversity, against inclusion. These are testaments to societies and nations saying , “We are done with being inclusive, respectful and open. We want to see more of us and less of the “other”. The “other” is no longer seen as a welcome addition to our salad bowl that will add color, flavor and richness. Instead, this […]

By |November 21st, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on What Really Trumped

Interview with Faisal Kapadia, Coke Studio- Guest post by Minahil Nawaz





Ever since its inception back in 2008, Coke Studio has been a trend setter not only in Pakistan but on the other side of the border in India as well. After its first season received praise from all over the world, Coke Studio fast became Pakistan’s biggest platform for music, with a unique focus on the fusion of the diverse musical influences in Pakistan, including eastern classical, folk, qawwali, bhangra, Sufi, and contemporary hip hop, rock and pop music. The show provided a platform for renowned as well as upcoming artists of various genres, regions and languages, to collaborate musically in live studio recording sessions. The voices of Abida Parveen, Noori, Rahat Fateh, Zeb & Haniya, Misha Shafi, Sajjad Ali, Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar and Strings, to name a few, have echoed within this dimly lit studio.

But, Strings not only featured as artists in Season 1 and 2, but also as producers and directors for Season 7 and 8. If anyone still does not know, Strings are one of Pakistan’s most popular pop bands, comprising Faisal Kapadia on vocals and Bilal Maqsood on vocals and guitar. Formed over two decades ago, the band quickly grew into international pop sensations, loved for their music, powerful lyrics and energetic live performances. Strings worked as producers for the last two seasons of Coke Studio, which were both huge successes, and are also attached to the upcoming Season 9, which we expect will make further waves in the music industry.


Minahil Nawaz, our Youth Correspondent in Lahore, Pakistan travelled to Karachi to visit the studio. While there, she sat down with Mr. Faisal Kapadia of the hugely successful band Strings, to discuss the Pakistani music industry and the new season of Coke Studio.

Minahil: Good morning Mr. […]

By |June 15th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Interview with Faisal Kapadia, Coke Studio- Guest post by Minahil Nawaz

Primary Pastiche- guest post by Azra Siddiqui


February 24, 2016

The major primary races are drawing to a close with Super Tuesday less than a week away. In this podcast, I discuss the results of the Nevada/South Carolina Primaries, why Jeb Bush didn’t do well in the Republican Primaries and the best candidates the South Asian community should vote for in the Texas Democratic Primary.


Donald Trump has now won three primaries in a row (New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada) and it seems inevitable that he is going to easily snag the Republican nomination. Everyone is wondering why he keeps winning and in the end it’s because of peoples anger and distaste of the government.  Many of Trump’s supporters feel that the government has done nothing to ease their burdens and they believe someone from outside the government establishment is going to fix our country’s problems.
Personally, I feel it is time we stop ridiculing Trump’s supporters and start understanding what their problems are. Instead of inciting Trump’s hateful rhetoric, we need to start having meaningful conversations on their issues and figure out a way to help his supporters. Ignoring them or casting them off as crazy isn’t going to help our country in the future, it is only going to continue to isolate them. In the end Trump brings the crazy out in some people but we have to be the ones to stop it.
I was really shocked when Jeb Bush dropped out of the Presidential Race but after dismal back to back performances in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina it was expected.  Jeb Bush seemed like a moderate Republican candidate more in line with what the GOP was like during the Reagan administration. He also had an exorbitant amount […]

By |February 25th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Primary Pastiche- guest post by Azra Siddiqui

On making a difference

Yesterday, a very good man passed away. He was not on Facebook, or Twitter, and his communication skills were unpolished at best. His hair was a thermostat of his mood, and his sense of style left much to be desired. And yet….those who knew him shed more than a few quiet tears when they heard the news; not just out of sadness, but gratitude for having known him.

We tend to think that making a difference in someone’s life involves magnificent gestures, large amounts of money or time. We all hear the starfish story and nod gravely, thinking yes, that is so true- it did make a difference to that one. Then we scroll through our social media feeds, turn on the news or watch some inane TV, etc. and so on, and we only have enough energy left to survive our own day, let alone make a difference in someone else’s.

Think back to the people who have made a difference in your own life, though. It could be a teacher, a parent, a relative. There will be more commoners in your list than celebrities, I can guarantee that. What do you remember about them? They did something with passion. They reached out in ways which seemed small, but were magnified by their authenticity and intention. They connected people to each other without any expectations. They did what they did because they followed their hearts, without thinking of practicality or propriety. These are the people who change the courses of our lives, these are the big hearts which help us find our way.

Don’t set out to change lives- just find a way to express what you love through action.

Don’t compare your actions to what others have […]

By |February 24th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on On making a difference

Caught between Saraswati Puja and Valentine’s Day- a guest post by Nandita

When I was growing up, we celebrated Saraswati Puja in the middle of Feb. We had never heard of Valentine’s day. Saraswati the goddess of learning was much revered and we were told that education was the path to salvation. Any inclination towards sensuality was reprimanded. Love was a forbidden word.  My parents like many other parents in small town middle class India were paranoid that matters of heart could distract us from studies and lead us to the wrong path. Watching movies or listening to film music was forbidden lest it should give rise to desire.

Saraswati Devi, goddess of learning demanded perseverance and hard work throughout the year but was much relaxed on the special day of her Puja. I loved the rule that on Saraswati Puja day, it was inauspicious to study. We enjoyed dressing up in saree which was a change from the clothes we wore on regular days. We prayed to the goddess for good marks in exams, ate khichuri bhog and had a good time with friends. My brothers and other boys would use their free time to make and fly kites.

Two articles that I read recently, one by Devdutt Pattnaik and another by Mrinal Pande drew my attention to facets that I had been unaware of. All these years I had thought of Saraswati as one of the many goddesses in the divine Hindu pantheon. Her role and department being education, in my school days, I would seek her blessings when I was not too well prepared for exams. I had never associated her with mutiny or asceticism. Now, I learn that her white or undyed saree is associated with austerity and that she steps away from all […]

By |February 19th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Caught between Saraswati Puja and Valentine’s Day- a guest post by Nandita

Planning a Wedding?- Guest post by Mari

Mari is the creative mind behind “Events by Mari”,  as well as the host of Afghani show “Az har Chaman Samaney” on Radio Azad at 10 am on Sundays. Please be sure to like her page on Facebook!
Many times we attend weddings and events, we sit on a beautifully decorated chair, enjoy our food on a chic decorated table, take a picture with the bride and groom on their nicely decorated stage.
Have you ever wondered what it takes to decorate a full venue? How much planning is required  before the actual wedding/event takes place?
Our design team is getting ready for another beautiful event this weekend and we try to blog here a short and sweet process of how we successfully plan, design and execute a wedding/event from start to finish and ensure a smooth, beautiful transformation of a venue to suit your fancy.
Sometimes it takes weeks even months to plan, design and execute an event depending on the size of the event or sometimes you may only have a day or 2 to decorate an event for that last minute brides…either way a professional event designer should be prepared to handle any situation with utmost professionalism.
Here are a few steps we at Events by Mari take for our events to make sure everything goes according to plan:
1. Setup an appointment. Discuss elements of the design to your bride, visit the venue, exchange pictures, setup a theme/color scheme, price negotiation and sign the contract.
2. Make a list of everything you need. Launder, iron press and prepare linens.
3. Prepare centerpieces.
4. Locate your hardware.
5. Purchase/design flowers
6. Transport design elements to your venue.
7. Timing is everything. Make sure you have enough time to setup before the event starts.
8. […]

By |December 30th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Planning a Wedding?- Guest post by Mari

A Global Perspective on Testing- Guest post

A Look at Final Exams around the World

With final exams right around the corner, we decided to take a step back from stressing about tests to learn more about education in other countries.

Finland and South Korea are two countries whose students perform strongly in global tests, but are substantially different from the United States and have very different perspectives on the role of exams in learning.

Finnish students have little homework, short school days and tons of playtime. South Korean students study non-stop, more than kids in any other country in the world, and their education is very test-driven.

Here is a look at some of the highlights of these 2 High Performing School Systems:


•Finland’s school system has consistently scored at or close to the top in international test rankings. Finland has short school days that are filled with school sponsored extracurricular activities because they believe the most important learning happens outside the classroom.

•A third of the classes that Finnish high school students take are electives, and the education system is seen as a low-stress culture that values a wide variety of learning experiences.

•Instead of taking numerous standardized tests, like students in America do, Finnish students only take one standardized test given at the end of high school which measures students’ overall academic maturity and readiness to continue a university education.

•The exam often covers controversial topics and asks students to show their ability to cope with issues related to political issues, violence, drugs, dieting, and war.

South Korea

•South Korean parents make their children’s education the family’s undisputed priority. Parents, teachers, family, and the entire environment surrounding students are focused on making sure the child succeeds in school. The emphasis is so vigorous that 93% of South Korean […]

By |December 2nd, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on A Global Perspective on Testing- Guest post

Knowing your learning style- Guest post

Enjoy this guest post from Apollo Tutors!
The importance of learning styles in personalized learning
Every student preferentially takes in, comprehends, learns, absorbs, and retains information differently. Each student has a distinct learning style, and it is crucial for the success of a student to be taught in a way the student will understand.

The notion of individualized learning styles has gained widespread recognition throughout the education system. It has become increasingly important for educators to understand each student’s distinct learning style in order to better adapt teaching practices to fit students needs.

Here are 2 ways to identify your learning style:

Learning from how you Receive Information: Traditional Learning Styles
One of the most popular and widely accepted methods of categorizing learning styles is the VARK model. The VARK model identifies learners by whether they have a preference for visual learning, auditory learning, reading and writing, or kinesthetic learning.

A breakdown of the individual learning styles:

Learning from how you interpret Information: True Colors
The True Colors Test is a method educators use to discover student’s personality styles. True Colors attempts to identify various personality styles in order to facilitate communication and understanding between students and educators.

Each color is associated with certain personality traits or behaviors. The True Colors Test shows the personality traits that are predominant in each individual.

Personalized Learning
Letting a student learn from someone who shares the same learning style can provide countless benefits to the student. Understanding each student’s learning style and matching it to others who share this same style is crucial for a successful personalized learning session.

At Apollo Tutors we know the value of finding the right fit between students and tutors. That’s why we use the True Colors Test to match our tutors to students who […]

By |October 8th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Knowing your learning style- Guest post

Study Tips to Stay on Track


Enjoy this helpful guest post from Apollo Tutors!

Staying Sharp for Class & Standardized Tests
Staying on track for coursework while planning for standardized tests can often be a balancing act. While it is important to be proactive in planning ahead for exams and college, sometimes the rigors of the semester can catch up.

Here are 3 Study Tips to Stay on Track this Fall Semester:

1. Studying Smart: Stay Organized
Building organizational skills are the foundation to success in school and to balance deadlines for classwork and extracurricular activities.

Using a system to keep notes, assignments and syllabi organized can help students maximize their study time and identify areas for improvement.

Our tutors work with students on both their course material and building effective study skills for transferable learning.

There are also great online tools like Wunderlist and Sunrise Calendar that make it easy to keep track of assignments, meetings, and tasks for school, clubs, and activities.

2. Test Prep: Finding the Right Test: SAT vs ACT
With Test Scores comprising a major part of college applications it is integral for students to find the test they are strongest at between the SAT and ACT and develop a plan of action to crack the test.

Our tutors can help your child find the test that works best for them by administering a Combo Test to test their aptitude for the SAT or ACT, and to identify potential focus areas.

To schedule a combo test for your child, contact us at and we can proctor the exam, or send additional information.

Learn more about the differences between the SAT and ACT Exams

3. Planning for the Test
Choosing the right test date can also make a difference for students to set score goals and create a plan to […]

By |September 23rd, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Study Tips to Stay on Track