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Stop judging a book by its cover

10 Sep

I was sitting at a community table at a coffee shop today, waiting for my friend to show up, when a woman came and asked if she could sit by me.

I thought the gesture kind and a sign of being brought up right, for of course she could, it was a community table after all!

As she sat down, we started conversing, and the flow of it was so good that we did so for a good thirty minutes at least-the time it took my friend to arrive (seriously, though I need to stop getting to meet-ups on time).

However, although the conversation was fun and it felt like two like-minded individuals were talking, she said something towards the end that left me feeling less than great, and yet I realized it wasn’t something new that I was hearing.

Her exact words were ” I am shocked to find out that you are completely different from what I thought you were when I saw you, I wasn’t expecting this kind of thinking from you nor this type of a conversation with you.”

Let me rewind a bit.

You see when she came to me, I saw only a woman. When we were talking, for me,  I was a medical student and she a practicing doctor.

But here is what she, and I think most of the world, saw when she approached me.

She, a burqa clad woman with a niqab covering her face, saw a girl in three-quarter jeans, a top and, (as she pointed out) a made up face and stylized hair. (For the curious ones-I was wearing eyeliner and lip balm and had walked out right after a shower-it was one of my most laid back looks.)

She saw a woman who was everything Islam represented, going and starting a conversation with a woman that in her head embodied everything Islam resented.

And yet, to her shock, when we started conversing she found out that I didn’t only have enough brain cells to hold up a conversation about politics, the rights of women and the importance of career goals, I also had morals as strong as her, a stronger knowledge of my religion and a better realization of the distance we had developed from our religion.

So let me decode her words for you-what she meant was, when she saw me she thought I was a shallow girl with no moral code and no idea of my religion, and thinking back to the conversation, I could see the points she had already tried to prove that to me.

A tiny example, when she tried to make me agree that the girls from my high school have the worst reputation in Lahore, there must be a reason to that, I wouldn’t agree no matter how much she pushed. I might have spent only two years in LGS Defense, but they were enough to prove that those girls were nothing like the reputation that preceded them-but do you know what they had in common?

They were strong, opinionated, ambitious girls who were-you guessed it-fashion forward. Just like I was. Just like Islam told us not to be (in her head, at least.)

However, while I failed to persuade her that most of what she had heard about the school’s girls wasn’t true, I will give her this much though, that she changed her view on me at least. By the end of our conversation, we exchanged numbers and she urged me to stay in contact because she liked me that much.

A small win? Yes, too small in fact and hence, the bad taste left in my mouth wasn’t done away. And although I can’t blame her, I am tired of this.

This perception that because I dress a certain way, my religion is bound to be worse than yours.

I respect every woman who covers her head, those more who follow the rules of dressing in Islam down to a ‘t’, but to the same women, I want to say this-don’t judge me because I am not practicing my religion the way you think it should be practiced. You don’t know how much I pray for the strength to gain that level too, you have no idea of my struggles on that and most importantly, I believe, you don’t know whose way of practicing religion God prefers.

But, just for the sake of perspective-if your Islam was honestly as good as you deem it to be, you wouldn’t be busy judging me.

Honestly, I have been at this end of the conversation times too many. People see me from far and think of me (and even go as far as to call me) an amoral girl or a slut (excuse the language). Till one of them somehow gets to know me and realizes (admitting said realization to my face) of how wrong they were.
But the ones who don’t get to know me, continue on their tangents-with me, with other girls like me.
They see the jeans and the tops and assume we are sluts, assume that we have no sense of our religion, assume us to be below them hence, and the chain of assumptions goes on. If the girl in jeans goes and talks to a guy, he must be her boyfriend. If she goes out with male friends, she must be sleeping with them.
If she doesn’t talk to you, another man, it must be because she is too proud.

If she does, then she is trying to get you in her bed too.

If she wears make up, she is a slut trying to seduce you.

If she dresses fancy, it is to attract you.

Stop. Stop. Stop.

Stop labeling us and putting us in a box just because you don’t get us. We don’t fit the box you are trying to put us in to.

You know how you lie? That is a sin too-oh, I can almost see you smirking as you think to yourself that showing my skin is a bigger skin. Well staring at it is an even bigger one, isn’t it? Gossiping about it is even worse. Spreading rumors, is probably the worst.

But of course, you get to judge me because we sin differently.

‘Sinners judging sinners for sinning differently.’

I learned a lot from this quote, but mostly this-I can’t judge someone for something I deem religiously or morally wrong because I can’t see the whole picture. And I definitely can’t see who God prefers amongst us.

It taught me the need to focus on my own religion, for how can I judge a thief if I am a liar? How can I judge a sinner if I am not a saint?

In short, I am not saying my religion is perfect-but is yours? And yet do you see me pointing fingers? How are you sure yours is better than mine, stronger?

Just because you cover your head makes you so sure you are better in front of God than me, then please continue to bask in that ignorance and judge me endlessly.

But if you can, consider this-what if my morals are better than yours?? What if I am closer to God? What if I do something on a daily basis that God likes more than you covering your head daily?
Do you have any guarantees? Because I don’t.

Consider this-what if not covering up as Islam instructs is my one sin (or amongst a few), and one that I ask for help on a daily basis, one that I regret the most. Look at your list of sins, how many do you have?
Look at that list and shorten it, and stop looking at mine, because that in my head is the most important thing Islam teaches us-no judgement on anyone’s religion, just attempt to perfect your own.

Learn the basics. Learn to be tolerant. Learn to stop judging a book by its cover.
And remember that Islam isn’t about sitting in groups and bashing others on what they wear and how they live their lives, and using that to make yourself feel good about your religion.

Islam is about practicing good deeds, and that too so well that you force the people around you to be impressed and inspired by you to work on their own personas.
Lead by example, that is the basic teaching of our religion!

Hence, I repeat, learn the basics. And remember, that Islam puts women on a pedestal in every way, in every walk of life, then who are you to try and pull them down based on outward appearances? 

More importantly, Islam taught us repeatedly to to look into the hearts of people, not their actions.

The whole concept of intentions is so clear in our religion-a good intention is almost as good to our Lord as a good deed. That in itself shows how important the goodness of our hearts is.

And if you think you can’t know how good someone’s heart is just by looking at them, then how can you judge their whole religion based solely on what they wear?

I end this post on a heartfelt request.
Stop judging us just because we dress differently from you.
It hurts. Me yes, but your religion even more so.

 

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Twenty-something lessons learned

21 Aug

As I turn a year older this week, I sit back and reflect on the year that has gone by. And as I do so, I can’t help but notice all the lessons life has taught me in it. And although some of them were more bitter than not to live through, they were nonetheless important experiences for me to face, to learn from.

Today, I want to share some of those lessons with you, in the hopes that maybe they will aid someone out there in some way. After all, its best to learn from others’ mistakes than to go making your own, right?

  1. Sometimes you will trust the wrong people. It will hurt but you have to realize that it was not your fault and you will have to forgive yourself for it.
  2. Words can hurt more than you realize, so be careful with them.
  3. No one is irreplaceable, except your mother! If someone leaves your side, it is only to make space for another person. So stop fretting over the ones who walk away!
  4. On that note, remember this-hold your family close to yourself but your mother even closer. She is God’s greatest gift to you!
  5. Stop thinking about what others think of you and stop trying to see yourself from their eyes. Don’t re-type that text. Don’t reread what you sent! Learn to see yourself from your own eyes, learn to love what you see. Celebrate every part of yourself!
  6. Believe in miracles. That girl with the three rounds of failed pregnancies will call you from the hospital nursery post the birth of her twins. Your friend will get to marry the man she always loved. The class fellow who seemed to fail at everything will finally meet up with you and brag about all that they have achieved.
  7. Absolute honesty can at times hurt more than you can imagine. Don’t learn to lie, but do learn to identify the exact point where you need to, well, shut up.
  8. Love freely, but expect none in return. If you do, that is recipe for disaster. If you don’t, you shed half of your troubles.
  9. Buy those Stan Smiths. They never go out of style!
  10. Use the words that broke you the most as your biggest strength. Let them drive you to be your best self!
  11. Humility is the sexiest attribute to possess. That and intelligence.
  12. Opening about your insecurities isn’t easy, but if you talk to the right people about them you will be fine. If you choose the wrong person, don’t worry. The right ones will come along soon enough and help erase any harm done.
  13. Don’t pick up that call your instinct tells you not to. F**k your heart. Trust your mind in this one,
  14. Put your strengths in a box, block out everything else and focus on just them. Everything will then fall in place.
  15. Also, block every form of hater and hatred from your life. Don’t be mean, but just don’t give space to negativity in your life.
  16. Being young means you will make mistakes no matter how careful you are, so cut yourself some slack and enjoy life a bit.
  17. You can’t control every situation, it is just not humanly possible. So if things don’t go according to plan, don’t beat yourself down on it. Instead let yourself go with the flow for once!
  18. It is okay to have dreams different from your peers, you don’t have to want what others around you want.
  19. If your career is your number one priority, not only is that perfectly fine, but anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t have your best interests at heart. If they love you, they will support you no matter what, that is how simple the equation is. No ‘raised to the powers’, no variables in this one!
  20. Some people will hurt you no matter how much you love them and some will love you no matter how much hurt them. Cut out the former kind from your life, and start valuing the later group. Those are the ones that will be sitting proudly in the front row, cheering you on for every single one of your accomplishments, because they will be part of the reason you got on the stage in the first place!
  21. Your mom was right about there being a specific way to fold your laundry and to do the dishes and to dry the dishes. She was also spot on in her ways to identify and avoid fuc*boys. In fact, she was right about almost everything. You are old enough now to admit that.
  22. But maybe not old enough yet to admit how much like her you have become!
  23. Don’t let yourself be walked over by anyone, no matter how important they are to you or how much you love them. No one should have that kind of power over you, period. 

 

10 books to take on your vacations

5 Jun

For some holiday trips are more than just a time to have fun and sight-see, for some it is the only time they get to unwind and the only time they can fit all the the things they have been missing out on, into.

For us book lovers, the knowledge that vacations are the only time for guilt-free book reading (because lets be honest, when has a dead line forced us to give up on reading completely) is both daunting and challenging-more so because finding books that are both scintillating and yet can be called ‘light reads’ is hard. However, not all of us can take up long autobiographies as companions for our beach days (no matter how intriguing they might be) and for those who prefer an easy-going book to take to their vacation spots with them, here is our list for you! Take your pick, kick back in your beach chair and let yourself get lost in the wonderful words of these writers!

For the cafes

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The Goldfinch


  1. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt-You will hear people that will urge you to read it because of how well it has been written and those who will cast it away as a ‘children’s book for adults’, but while for the latter you need to remember they cast away Harry Potter in the same way, over all just know this-it is one of the most talked about books of this past decade, even in the literary word and at the same time it is an easy book to read through. And, though many dissent, it does have that Dickensian feel to its writing that keeps you enthralled throughout. If it is one book you can read this summer, read this, it is worth it!
    (Buy here.)
  2. The Twilight wife by A. J. Banner-The book takes us on a journey with Kyra as she unravels the memories she lost to a diving accident, uncovering truths about people she thought were her friends and discovering a past that comes back to her like a terrifying nightmare. An immersive thriller, the twists will keep you involved till the final, shocking discovery while every page leading to it will keep you on your toes!
    (Buy here.)
  3. 13 reasons why by Jay Asher-The book behind the popular Netflix series of the same name, read it if you prefer books to their on screen adaptations. While the season itself is by turns moving, horrifying and enthralling, the book pushes you to question your own actions even more, causing a much needed introspective in its readers! Plus books are always better than their on-screen adaptations, no?
    (Buy here.)

For your favorite cities

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  1. It started with Paris by Cathy Kelly-A once in a lifetime moment in Paris starts a chain of events that nobody could have predicted as a young man’s proposal to his girlfriend up in the Eiffel Tower sends ripples throughout their families. A fun read, easy to get through for even the most reluctant of readers!
    (Buy here.)

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    I heart New York

  2. I heart New York by Lindsey Kelk- This book is as light heart-ed as they get (without getting annoying, cheesy or boring) and will especially be an instant hit with any SATC lover! First in a series of books on Angela’s quirky adventures, this book introduces us to a cheated-on heroinne running away from a horrible marriage and into the arms of new possibilities and even new love. By turns both cute and funny, it will be hard for you to not to finish it!
    (Buy here.)

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    The little Paris bookshop

  3. The little Paris bookshop by Nina George- A protagonist who calls himself the literary apothecary, astutely prescribing the exact books needed to mend broken hearts and souls, yet the only heart he has failed to mend via literature is his own. Haunted by a heartbreak from his great love’s disappearance, he finally gets the courage to open the one letter she left behind-the contents of which take him on a South of France and finally to his own healing. If you’re looking to be charmed right out of your own life for a few hours, this is the book for you! After all, who can resist floating on a barge through France surrounded by books, wine, love, and great conversation-even if comes to you only in written form!
    (Buy here.)

    eat pray

  4. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert-This is one book that can teach you something new every time you read it, therefore don’t shy away from re-reading it. And if you haven’t read it yet, well-why not? An intensely articulate, sensible and by turns funny memoir of a woman’s journey to self discovery, it shows what can happen when you take charge of your life and your own happiness!
    (Buy here!)

For the beach

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  1. The forty rules of love-Elif Shafak-A book that needs no introduction, a book that so many have fallen in love with and so many have drawn inspiration from! At forty when Ella receives her first assignment at her new job, she is introduced to Rumi and his works and as she reads more on him she begins to realize his life is starting to mirror her own and, as such, she finds inspiration for her own life in the most unlikely of places!
    (Buy here.)
  2. The unfortunate importance of beauty by Amanda Filipacchi-Centered around two women at the opposite ends of the beauty spectrum dealing with one common problem-finding a love that can overcome their looks. Add a murderer to the mix and you have a perfectly ‘thrilling’ modern-day fairy-tale.  Part literary whodunit, part surrealist farce, it is a book made for lazy beach days!
    (Buy here.)
  3. After you by Jojo Moyes-So many times we read a book that changes our lives forever but also leaves us with the nagging question-‘what happened after’. Jojo gives us that in a book that is almost as impactful as ‘Me before you’ as she shows how life for Lou Clark is after Will, how she dares to fall in love again and how two families, as real as our own, can make us feel their joys and pains like our own. Fall in love with Lou all over again as she tries to get her life back together in a post-Will world.
    (Buy here.)

 

Letters to you

1 Jun


Hi everyone,

It’s finally here! June, the month that for so many (especially for college students like me) marks the start of summer vacations! Oh, how we have waited for it!

Now that it’s here, I am pretty sure most of you have begun planning (or are already setting off) for your vacations.

Which is so cool, and all my best wishes to those who have already planned it down to a T! But for those who feel like you need more inspiration or just some tips on what to take and how to pack, and where to go-don’t worry, we have got your back!

We here at TMW, are dedicating June to Holiday planning! (Cue five minutes dance party!)

It is time to get your holiday planners out! And if you aren’t sure where you want to go to, then stay tuned for our post on ten of our favourite spots for holidaying which we have written with all types of vacationers in our mind!

If you already have a specific location in your mind then our travel guides on Chicago, New York, Miamiand (cue extra special sound effects) Lahore might be all the help you need!

If you are fine on all these ends and just need some extra help in packing, watch this space for our tips on packing when you travel internationally and when travelling nationally. 

If you are looking for lights summer reads while vacation-ing we have got you covered!

What to wear on vacations is one of the hardest questions ever but we will answer that too along with a trend report on what’s hot this month in the fashion world! Plus we have an extra-yum post on our favourite holiday style tips, all just for you!

For a bonus post, we have asked beauty experts for in-flight skin care advice to keep our skin from breaking out when we jet set to our vacation spot. Sounds intriguing? I hope you like it even better than us when the post goes live!

And finally, for the ones who because of any restraints (family, work, job) can’t travel, we worked on something that will help you fight off that wanderlust!

Our Friday Five will relaunch this month too, featuring all things holiday all through June, and for the desi foodies out there, we have a really special post on all the best spots to eat and work at in Lahore!

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about Father’s Day, and have a really fun post planned for it. But the post in itself is a surprise, so no sneak-peaks for this one!

Does what we have in store sound like fun to you? The posts themselves are even more fun and have a lot more to offer than I’m letting on! So you will have to keep an eye out for them as June progresses! (See what I did there?)

I am really looking forward to your feedback on all the posts we are working on for you! Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions or requests for any particular posts!

Lots of love,

Gull

Our advice:-sign up for our mailing list or follow the blog so you know as soon as the post you are looking forward to goes live!

3 DIY masks for healthy hair

22 Apr

My mother (and hers, and hers before her) have always had gorgeous hair and always get compliments for how healthy and lush they look!

I believe almost all of the credit goes to how they take care of their hair! I don’t remember a single weekend, growing up, when my mother wasn’t putting on one home-made hair mask or another on her hair. And she always tells me that it is their use that has allowed her hair to remain soft and shiny till now! That, and eating healthy!

Here are three DIY masks that I have seen her using a lot, and that I love the results of when I make the effort of using them too!

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For dry hair!

  1. For when your hair feels dry:-

    This one is a favorite, because after this mask my hair feel so good to touch and are so silky and smooth that I don’t even have to style them. They look perfect as they are!
    What you need:
    -7 strawberries
    -1 egg yolk
    _1.5 tbsp Olive oil
    How to:
    Blend all the ingredients and leave the mask on for 20-30 minutes before washing your hair. Not only will you be able to skip your conditioner but your hair will smell delicious!

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    Turmeric hair mask

  2. For when your hair needs that extra nourishment:-

    I use this when I feel very guilty of how (badly) I have been treating my hair! I feel like this gives my hair the perfect pick-me-up, and says a little “I am sorry” from me!
    What you need:
    -1 tbsp turmeric powder
    -3 tbsp yogurt
    -1 tbsp oil (olive or coconut)
    How to:
    Mix the ingredients together well, leave on for 30-40 minutes and wash off. You might need to shampoo twice to get all of the turmeric out!

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    Avocado mask

  3. For when your hair feels too dull:

    This mask will give your hair both a nice shine and the right amount of softness. Plus it uses one of my favorite ingredients-avocado!
    What you need:
    -1 ripe avocado
    -1 tbsp oil (coconut or olive)
    -1 tsp honey
    How to:
    Smash the avocado, and mix in the other ingredients.
    Leave the mask in your hair for 15-20 minutes and then wash it out. You can add more oil if you feel the need, but remember that might mean shampooing your hair twice to get all the oil out!

I hope you try these masks out and they are as helpful to you as they have been to the women in my family.
Lots of love,
Gull!

Five shoes to lust over

17 Apr

This week’s theme for five things is on a topic close to the hearts of many girls-shoes!

Here are five shoes that aren’t just drool worthy but also ones that we urge you to add to your summer wardrobes as soon as you can!

  1. The ones for all your ‘lawn jodas’:-
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    Soma

    They are elegant and versatile, perfect for the hot weather and don’t take a toll on your wallet!
    Buy them or more like these here!

  2. The ones that you can wear with your jeans as well as with your midi-skirts.
    Dress them up or down, they are perfect for summers, plus they are a complete steal in place of the wonderful Sam Edelmans (which not all of us can afford)!

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    Chapter 13

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    Sam Edelman

    Buy the Chapter 13 ones here and Sam Edelmans here!

  3. For the desi in you:-

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    By Uzma Pirzada

    Buy these and similar pretty ‘khussas’ by contacting the brand here!

  4. For the sporty-chic look, these both were so summer perfect that we couldn’t pick one!

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    Antonia Melani

    Buy them here!!

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    Halogen

    Buy these Halogens here!

  5. For the party girl (who can’t deal with stilettos in this heat):-

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    Marc Fisher

    Buy these wonderful wedges here!

Five women who inspire us

10 Apr

This week’s Five things’ theme is:-

 

Women who inspire us

We present to you five women who have bravely started off or are already running small businesses in Lahore while managing their studies, their social lives and their jobs on the side too, because apparently “too much on my plate” is a phrase they know nothing of.

1. Sugar craft by the dynamic sister duo, Shanzeh and Aleezeh Salman

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Shanzeh Salman

Do you know what is better than home-baked goods which are tastier than what you have eaten at even the best of the bakeries around town? When these goods are almost as good in their looks too, making you want to eat your cakes and have them too! So while you are left in a quandary over whether you should eat their items or save them for decor, our advice would be to take a bite-because the heaven in your mouth will be worth defiling their beauty.
Here is what the sisters had to say about their brand:

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Aleezeh Salman

“We love working together, baking magic together. My cozy business-minded, kung-fu Panda sister and I, a slightly clumsy art student, spend hours in the kitchen experimenting. It oddly feels like home, recreating old recipes, and playing around to customise new ones; knowing that you’ll create something you can call your own. Sugar Craft means a lot to us! It’s super cosy 🕊”

Find them here!!

2. Maven Clothing by designer extraordinaire, Aisha Malik

Aisha Malik

Who doesn’t love a nice desi wedding? Everyone does, yes? But the one problem we all always find ourselves facing is-clothes. We all want something pretty and traditional, yet something that makes us stand out and be different! Enter Maven, a brand that does formal clothing with such a subtle western fusion that you are left with clothes desi enough to please your grandmother and yet cool enough to help you stay in the spotlight.
We asked Aisha her plans for the brand and here is her answer:

“MAVEN by Aisha Malik eagerly aspires to dress up all those beautiful women out there with the latest, chic and minimal cuts incorporated with our very own developed embroidery. I felt the need of introducing MAVEN to provide our clients with the best fashion trends incorporated with the best fashion consultant in town.”

Visit their Instagram or Facebook page for more information!

3. Makeup by Hira Khan by the brilliant make up artist, Hira Shahraiz Khan

One line-she doesn’t believe in the art of caking! And we were sold. However, what gains her more respect is that she isn’t just amazing at her work, but she is also a brilliant teacher and the kindest person to work with. She can do make-up for any occasion-party, wedding, dinner date,you name it-and no hair-do seems too hard for her to pull off. Plus, she can teach it all to you too! All in a day’s work!
Hey, girl, superman just called to ask why you wont stop stealing his thunder!!
Here though is all that inspired the maestro into becoming who she is today:

 

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Hira Khan

“Makeup had always been a subject of interest to me. Everyone has their own way of expressing the creativity that exists within them. For me it was makeup, I always felt that there can be no better canvas than the face so that’s when i decided to pursue makeup as a career choice. What inspires me is the concept of “Less Is More”. I believe that makeup should be used to enhance the beauty that already exists and nothing should be over done.”

Check her work out here!

4. Bakeology by Saira Qayyum Malik
This little home based baking business might be new in town, but I can personally vouch for three things-the experience of the woman behind it, the taste and the proffesionalism! All of it is beyond any you will find in many of the ‘well established’ baking businesses in Lahore. Fair warning though, this one business is going to be one you need to be watching out for!
Here is what the owner told us when asked what inspired her to finally put years of practice and experience into use and begin this business:

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From Bakeology

“Translating my ideas into confectionary is something I really enjoy and cherish! So I finally decided to make use of all that I have learned in my life and bring to my customers something only years of experience in baking could-finished products with old world charm and perfect taste!”

Visit their page here to learn more about them!

5. Into the kitchen by Muzna Ali Khan
She doesn’t run a business per say, but we believe it is more of an “as yet” situation because with cooking skills like hers, she is bound to be running a well loved eatery soon enough. Till then, enjoy her food via her blog where she shares her personal recipes without qualms. The icing on the cake is that her recipes are so easy to follow that even we got them!
We asked her how she manages it all with her grueling medical school routine and here is the answer that left us all stunned:

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Muzna Ali Khan

“I came up with this idea before my third year finals (in medicine school). Since they were postponed, I decided to channel my energy towards something I loved doing and hence this blog came into being. Our routine (as medical students) is very hectic, but you make time for what you love. I have at times skipped college to post a recipe I really want to share and the love I get in return from my followers is what makes it all worth it. I am on my 90th recipe and I plan to do a giveaway when I reach the hundredth! My blog is something that helps me get away from the stress of my university and something I love too, so it isn’t a burden, rather an outlet!”

Find her blog here !

 

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