DCWaleDesi Community News

Two D.C.-Area Restaurants Make Bon Appetit’s 50 Best New Restaurants List This Year

It happened again. Bon Appetit magazine is recognizing the D.C. region’s food scene on its 50 Best New Restaurants List, with H Street neighborhood “Indian-ish” spot Daru and Rockville’s Z&Z Manoushe Bakery making the cut this year.


With Ten Restaurants In DC, Ashok Bajaj Is The City’s Gastronomic Powerbroker

Washington DC does not lack for very good restaurants, but several of the best can claim to be under the control of one man. In the case of ten restaurants in the city, that master restaurateur is New Delhi-born Ashok Bajaj, who might be compared to New York’s Danny Meyer or Chicago’s Rich Melman, operators for whom the word “sufficient” is not to be found in their vocabularies. The Washington Post called him “a major force” on the fine dining scene; The New York Times called him “arguably the most successful restaurateur in Washington”; and GQ magazine named him one of the “50 Most Powerful People in Washington.”

How the founders of D.C.’s RASA are changing the perception of Indian food

Sahil Rahman and Rahul Vinod want to give Americans a fresh perspective on Indian cuisine.
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Bismah Ahmed Makes History as First South Asian and Muslim Winner of Miss DC for America

Local lobbyist and entrepreneur Bismah Ahmed made history in April 2022 by becoming the first South Asian and Muslim winner of Miss DC for America

Indian Co-founded Food Delivery Business Plans Expansion

Frolick is a Reston, VA-based food delivery business offering a rotating menu of chef-curated meals. They are currently available in Northern Virginia but plan to expand to DC and beyond soon.


Maryland Governor Larry Hogan Joins Coalition to Support Afghan Allies in the U.S.

Governor Larry Hogan announced that the State of Maryland has joined Welcome.US. Welcome.US is a single clearinghouse for Americans seeking to support Afghan allies who are starting new lives in the United States. The group is made up of resettlement agencies, Afghan-American organizations and leaders, community sponsorship groups, nonprofits, businesses, faith-based organizations, veterans, universities, and government leaders.

Resource Center for Afghan-American Refugees Opens in Alexandria, VA

Last month, a Resource Center for Afghan-American Refugees opened in Alexandria. The Center provides services such as mental health counseling, legal support, and educational programming. Advocacy organization Women for Afghan Women decided to establish the Center as there aren’t any nonprofits providing social services or direct services in the region.

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Montgomery County Conducting Study to Identify Asian American & Pacific Islander Significant Sites

Montgomery County Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Office is conducting a study to identify places that are significant for the heritage and contributions that the county’s Asian American and Pacific Islander residents have made. The group makes up about 15% of the county’s population. The county is open to residents’ suggestions.

Budding Bibliophile Launches South Asian and Lesser-Known Author-Focused Pop-up Bookstore

Kahini Books is an online and pop-up bookstore based in Washington DC. The store will contain a highlighted inventory of new and used books by South Asian authors, along with an inventory of lesser-known fiction from other authors in other communities. Kahini also provides personalized recommendations to your tastes to help you pick out that perfect book!

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Local Pakistani Family Opens Clove Restaurant, Elevated Pakistani Dining and Shisha Experience

A local Pakistani family has opened Clove, a family-owned and operated restaurant with proud ties to the wondrous regions of Pakistan. They plan to deliver on the promise of a luxurious fine dining experience and outdoor shisha. Their food menu ranging from kabob platters and paratha wraps to date smoothies and traditional sweets is tastefully curated with unique dishes.

Michelin Adds 16 New Restaurants to DC Dining Guide, Including Two South Asian Eateries

Indian restaurant Daru located near the H Street Corridor and The Setting, a cocktail bar serving takes on global street food are among the newly added South Asian eateries to the Michelin guide.

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Local Indian Photographer and Artist Launch Pop Up Markets

Illustrator, painter and designer Varsha and photographer Gayatri have joined forces to launch A South Asian Pop-up, a new monthly popup that will be occuring monthly around Washington, D.C. to showcase small business from the region.

Aspiring Bangladeshi Chef Launches Food Delivery via Shef Platform

Amana Bhuiyan specializes in Bangladeshi and Indian cuisine and has started cooking for Shef.com. On her menu, you can find a variety of homemade Desi-style cooking from chaats, to meats to even vegetarian and vegan options!
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Asian American Health Initiative Provides COVID-19 Grants to Community Organizations Serving Asian American and Pacific Islander Residents; $1 Million in Funding Awarded to 11 Organizations

Montgomery County’s Asian American Health Initiative (AAHI) recently awarded $1 million in COVID-19 relief grants to community organizations that serve the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. The funding will be used for activities related to COVID-19 education and outreach related vaccinations and testing.

Afghan Refugees Who Have Settled Outside D.C. Now Help Others to Do the Same

As we approach six months since the fall of Kabul, a new resettlement office in Alexandria, Va., helps new arrivals through the resettlement process. It is run by recent Afghan refugees.

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Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art Has Named Debra Diamond the Elizabeth Moynihan Curator for South and Southeast Asian Art

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art has named Debra Diamond, the current curator of South and Southeast Asian art at the museum, the Elizabeth Moynihan Curator for South and Southeast Asian Art.

Afghan Refugees Left ‘Hoping For A Miracle’ As U.S. Housing Solutions Come Up Short

More than 76,000 Afghan refugees have entered the U.S. over the last six months, the largest refugee influx in decades. Thousands of them are still looking for housing, an effort that is especially challenging in today’s market as many cities and counties across the U.S. struggle with a housing shortage.

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Local Fast-Casual Indian Restaurant Chain Rasa Joins Territory Foods to Offer Meal Kits

Sahil Rahman and Rahul Vinod took after their parents’ footsteps to launch RASA in 2017 and have gained quite a following since then, now boasting 3 locations. They are now offering meals via Territory Foods.

The show was opened by Chaitanya Poloju in a mesmerizing white western bridal gown and show stopper. Chaitanya is a locally-based model, actress, and philanthropist.

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Former Miss Pakistan USA Contestant and Judge Named Ms. Pakistan World 2021

Former Ms. Pakistan USA contestant and judge Sapna Piracha was named Ms. Pakistan World 2021. She is an avid traveler and is changing the world one martial artist and STEM leader at a time.

Recording Artist And Influencer Sambrum Rapidly Rising Up The Ranks

Whether it be through his music or his high-energy social media content, Sambrum has been putting his imprint on the world of entertainment.

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Hani from Anis Collections was one of 45 young BIPOC voices featured in this article by Teen Vogue.

Two South Asians Honored in 2021 Washingtonians of the Year

Radha Muthiah, president, and CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank, and Safi Rauf, founder, and president of Human First Coalition are among ten locals who have been featured on Washingtonian Magazine’s annual 2021 Washingtonians of the Year list.

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Local Trainer Pushker Moomin Places 2nd Runner Up at Mr. DC 2022

Local personal trainer Pushker Moomin recently placed as 2nd runner up at Mr. DC 2022.

Maryland-Based Nepali Woman Crowned Miss Universe Nepal 2021

On October 30, 2021, Maryland-based Sujita Basnet was crowned Miss Universe Nepal 2021 at a ceremony in Kathmandu. She won a cash prize of Rs 1,000,000 along with the crown.

Sujita was also previously crowned Miss Nepal USA 2011, Miss Maryland World 2016. Earlier this year, she also represented Nepal at Miss Universe 2021.

Sujita is a graduate of George Washington University with a degree in biomedical/medical engineering. She has also worked on the Hill and is a well-known social worker.

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Local photographer Gayatri Malhotra is one of over 40 creative makers, designers and curators on display at this year’s Creative Collective Pop-Up at Tysons Corner Center, located across from H&M on the first floor. The pop-up is now open and will remain open through Christmas Eve daily during regular mall operating hours.

Gayatri Malhotra is a natural light, street photographer, and advocate for gender equity. The exhibit showcases some of her best activism, nature and travel photography in partnership with Girl Rising.

Local Technology Professionals Named to Forbes ‘Next 1000’ Highlighting Small Businesses

Two members of our community were named in Forbes “Next 1000” list highlighting local businesses. They included Ravneet Dhaliwal who is cofounder of Night Watch Specialized Urgent Care and Tara Gupta who is founder of Map-Collective.

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IT Master's Student Maya Chatterjee Given Opportunity to Speak at AWS Summit

In September, applied information technology master’s student Maya Chatterjee joined speakers from Arizona State University and California Polytechnical Institute on stage to discuss cloud computing and her educational experiences as a graduate student at George Mason University.

Virginia-Based Student Nikita Verma Named 2021 Business Leader of Tomorrow

Nikita Verma, a student at George Washington University’s School of Business has been nominated by GW faculty and recognized as one of two students from GW’s Online MBA program to be featured as a ‘Business Leader of Tomorrow’ in the Online MBA Report!

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Kiyan S's Tenacity and Passion for Fashion Leads Him to Being Published in Yahoo News

Today at 22yrs old, Kiyan S has evolved beyond selling sneakers and has made a name for himself in the streetwear industry, surpassing others that were more established when he started, and has even been approached for guidance from veteran sellers, cementing his name as not only a young professional, but a prominent one that plans on pushing the narrative for a long time. From adolescence, if there was anything that captivated Kiyan’s fascination the most, it was all things sneakers.

Virginia-based Om-Made’s Espresso Ecstasy Peanut Butter was listed last month in Food and Wine in an article titled “8 New Ways to Make a PB&J.


Bangladeshi Restaurant "Tafeef's Cookhouse" Opens in Baltimore

Bangladeshi food is a confluence of all different kinds of tastes—spellbinding to evoke all possible senses. Our food embodies a mixture of a wide range of spices, herbs, and oils—a signature of South Asian cuisines. As a food bon vivant, Bangladesh’s people have adopted diversified cuisine from all over Asia and incorporated their unique cooking style and spice senses. Thus, our food provides a glimpse of the unique blend of cultural diversities in Asia, and it helped us establish our distinct personality in cooking.

Tafeef’s Cookhouse is a restaurant that aims to share these distinctive tastes and flavors of traditional Bangladeshi food. Our passionate chefs have collected recipes from different parts of the country, especially from our grandmas, moms, aunts, and older relatives. We hope our invitation will become an excellent experience for you.

Miss India DC Returning Post-Pandemic

After last year’s online pageant, Miss India DC will be returning to in-person this year.

The pageant is a great way to showcase your talents, meet new people, and simply have fun! Please forward this information to friends and family that may want to participate.
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Seeking single South Asian men and women for an Indian matchmaking project. Casting producer states: “An Emmy Award-winning production company is offering a select group of single South Asian men and women the chance to find their perfect match by working with India’s most elite matchmaker. The series will follow upwardly mobile millennials in the U.S. and India who are serious about getting engaged or married.

If selected, you will have the opportunity to work with the top desi matchmaker in the world. Services may include horoscope matching, biodata, photo consulting, and face-to-face meetings with selected suitors and their families. Must be single and ready to get engaged or married. Must be willing to share your journey on TV. Family must be willing to participate. If this is you or someone you know, apply now.”

Beloved Arlington Indian Restaurant Celebrating 30th Anniversary This Summer

To celebrate their 30th anniversary in business, Delhi Dhaba is hosting a Bollywood Blowout throughout the summer. Immerse yourself into the world of Bollywood culture with Indian street food, festive decor, and the rich culture of India.


Community Member Fundraising for Upcoming Mental Health Book

Letters To My Brown Mother is about the struggles with mental health in the South Asian (desi) diaspora. The book details experiences of everyday South Asian immigrants and children of immigrants.

Letters To My Brown Mother speaks to the immigrant generation, to give them insight on their children’s struggles with mental health. The book is equally for us, their children, to give us a platform and the space to heal.

Being a successful independent woman is not something everyone is ready to handle when it turns to reality. Our founder Monica Ahuja was recently featured on the local podcast Strange Flavors where she talked about how she wanted to be a housewife in India before finding a ladder of opportunities in dance, business, education, and social media. We talk to her about the struggles of fighting against traditional stereotypes and community expectations, building out her own dance studio, balancing school with a 9-5 job while expanding business ventures, and a whole lot more!


Maryland-Based Dancer Wins First Place in Drexel Homecoming Virtual Variety Show

Aneksha Sinha, a Maryland-based student at Drexel University was honored with a 1st place prize for her submission into the university’s Homecoming Virtual Variety Show.

Aneksha danced to the popular dancehall song I LIKE by Kojo Funds ft. WizKid.

Local Technology Professional Receives Products by Women Award

Virginia-based technology professional and career coach Bhavna Sehgal was recently given a 2020 Products by Women Award for carefully connecting the dots between the product and customers.

In her role at Google as Trust & Compliance Product Marketing Lead, Bhavna has built deep expertise in the data privacy and compliance space, which has allowed her to help drive the creation of products, services, and marketing campaigns that balance solving customer pain points with security and privacy considerations.

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Samdarsh Sondh Beats Releases New Album

Samdarsh Sondh Beats, a Maryland based artist, has released his new album.

A native Marylander, Samdarsh Sondh is no stranger to live music. With over twelve years of guitar and drums performance experience under his belt, Sondh broadened his attention to audio production in late 2012.

South Asian Community Leaders Elected as Neighborhood Commissioners in Washington, D.C.

Numerous local South Asian community members won during the November 2020 elections in the District of Columbia.

Mukta Ghorpadey, a Columbia Heights resident and advocate for the city’s youth, ran and successfully won the position of commissioner in 1A07.

Sherene Joseph, a Logan Circle resident, and journalist ran and successfully won the position of commissioner in 2F05 in the Logan Circle area.

Kishan Putta, an advocacy and outreach professional, ran and successfully won the position of commissioner in 2E01, covering parts of Georgetown, Burleith, and Hillandale.

Sauleh Siddiqui, a professor in American University’s Environmental Science department, won the position of commissioner in 3C05 in the Cleveland Park area.

Dipa Mehta, a business and legal advisor, won the position of commissioner in 3F03 near Van Ness.

Pavan Khoobchandani, a lawyer, won the position of commissioner in 4A08 covering the Crestwood neighborhood of Northwest DC.

Prita Piekara, a strategist, won the position of commissioner in 5B03 covering part of the Brentwood neighborhood of Northeast DC.

Keya Chatterjee, a climate activist, and author, won the position of commissioner in 6A01 covering part of the H Street Corridor in Northeast DC.


DCWaleDesi Team Soft Launches PhillyWaleDesi

The team behind DCWaleDesi has soft-launched PhillyWaleDesi as an inclusive cultural platform for South Asians living in Philadelphia and the surrounding state of Pennsylvania.

DCWaleDesi Team Soft Launches JerseyWaleDesi

The team behind DCWaleDesi has soft-launched JerseyWaleDesi as an inclusive cultural platform for South Asians living in the state of New Jersey.

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Miss India DC 2020 Runner Up Publishes Piece on Pageant Experience

The Miss India DC Pageant is an annual pageant for women with Indian heritage in the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area where they can showcase their talent and meet other people from the DMV area. This pageant is a great way to increase confidence, as well.

DCWaleDesi community member Sonia Sukumar recently spoke with publication American Kahani on her pageantry experience.

DC-Area Based Cyber Security Engineer Awarded Title of "Miss World America - Delaware 2020"

Jessica Wilson recently competed in Miss World America which is a national preliminary contest to Miss World, a major international pageant system in the world.

She represented the state of Delaware, making her Miss World America Delaware 2020. The competition consisted of many challenges in the preliminaries.

Jessica was the winner of one of the challenges called Beautiful Me. In the challenge, the contestants were given 20 minutes to complete the desired makeup look live in front of the judges.

Jessica won the challenge which placed her in the top 15 of the whole competition. She also placed top 10 in the talent segment in which she performed a Bollywood dance routine.

Jessica advocates for the underrepresentation of women in the technology and engineering workforce. As a woman of color, she faced challenges at the start of her career which led her to start her initiative, “Close the Engineering Gap.”

Women make up 15% of the engineering workforce in the US. The lack of female role models, the decline of interest among girls in STEM subjects between middle school and high school, and the pressure on novice female engineers to outperform their male counterparts all contribute to the low percentage.

Jessica wishes to increase this percentage by being a mentor to college women who need the inspiration to pursue engineering while providing hands-on engineering activities to young girls. She also works with engineering employers to ensure they have a support group for women.

She has created a kit for college female students who are pursuing a career in this field. The kit provides information about the different areas of engineering, salary negotiation strategies, technical resume building instruction, and confidence-boosting tips.

Underrepresentation and gender biases contribute to a negative work environment for women. Jessica believes that her work will inspire more women to pursue a career in technology and engineering. She strives to make this industry more welcoming for future female engineers and technology professionals.


Community Member Publishes Book on Immigration Experience

Siddarth Bindra has published a new book about the immigration experience.

Every American has an immigrant story even if it may not be their own. America is the land of immigrants but immigration patterns have changed quite drastically from Western Europe to Eastern Europe to Asia. There has not been a major immigration reform since 1986 and every law since has been made to control and stem the flow of new immigrants.

The Supreme Court just ruled on the legality of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals), yet creating no pathway to citizenship. The Dream Act has been tossed around since 2001 with no timeline and lives hanging in the balance. This story covers one such life. Following the sudden departure of his mother, Arjun finds himself stuck in America as an undocumented immigrant at the age of twelve. His father’s immigration petition has failed to put the entire family at a crossroads and in the spotlight of a DHS investigation.

Arjun must now figure out how to navigate his new reality without any clear possibility of a future in America. This story is one of many unheard voices that have spent the last few decades hidden in the shadows, fearing repercussions if they speak out, cornered with every new legislation and administration that fails to create a solution for over eleven million people.

Bansari Indian Restaurant Opens with Rave Reviews

Bansari Indian Cuisine opened a few months ago at the former site of Punjabi by Nature on the ground floor of the Avalon Dunn Loring apartment complex, adjacent to Mosaic District in Vienna. Bansari is open for limited dine-in, patio dining, takeout, delivery, and catering. The restaurant offers house specials, Tandoor specialty dishes, Indochinese food, a variety of egg dishes, refreshing beverages, and desserts.


Contestants for 2020 Miss/Mrs. India DC Pageant Announced

Miss/Mrs. India DC Pageant team has announced contestants for this year including Ajitha Srinivasan, Kavana Mallanna, Rohini Kumar, Sonia Sukumar, Harini Gomattara, Mona, Amruta Panth, Shilpi Shah and Shriya Boppana.

Northern Virginia Indian Student Launches Homemade Cupcake Business

Inspired by her long-time interests in cooking and baking, community member Nehad Javid launched her own Desi fusion cupcake business in July.

Cardamom Cupcakes, run out of Nehad’s home, currently offers ras malai, gulab jamun, jalebi, mango kulfi, rooh afza and chai flavored cupcakes to satisfy your sweet tooth. Variety packs are also available.


Aspiring dancers Anagha Sreenivas and Manvitha Janga were recently featured on urban Desi British-Bengali Mumzy Stranger’s new video for his single Habibti ft. DJ Lyan.

Anagha Sreenivas is an avid dancer, choreographer, and instructor. In 2018, she was honored with the title of Miss India DC and since then her life has changed! She has trained in Bharatanatyam and Kathak for over 10 years and completed her Arangetram. She loves exploring, choreographing, and teaching a fusion of styles, such as Bollywood, contemporary, and hip-hop.

Manvitha Janga is a dancer from Northern Virginia. She started off with Kuchipudi dance for 12 years. Over the past year, she has been trying new styles of dance. Since joining the Bollywood fusion team at Virginia Tech (Junoon), she’s been producing dance videos to songs of different genres including Bollywood, contemporary, classical, hip-hop, and more. She is also very fond of Afro music or Afrobeats.

Local community leader and deejay Darakshan Raja, also known as DJ Kiran has been featured on the Empowerment Album by the Lockdowndesi team.

The album is an all-female DJ project aiming to deliver a message of empowerment, unity, and equality!


DCWaleDesi Founder Monica Ahuja to Open Let's Groove Dance Studio

DCWaleDesi Founder Monica Ahuja opened her own dance studio on July 6, 2020 – Let’s Groove Dance Studio. The cross-genre dance studio will offer classes and workshops covering dance styles found around the world ranging from modern hip-hop to Middle Eastern belly dance led by experienced dance instructors in a relaxed, judgment-free environment.

Trained in Bharatnatyam dance in India before moving to the United States in 2008, Monica has been dancing for over a decade and considers hip hop/freestyle and Bollywood dance to be her specialty.

Local Fitness/Health Influencer Launches Brand Website

Punita Mangat, an internationally certified Health and Wellness Coach who has completed many trainings and earned many certifications, has launched her brand website – ThriveHigherDaily.com.

Through the website, she hopes to further expand on her passion for health and wellness by teaching others the importance and value of holistic health.


Samaa Events by Samia was featured in Maharani Weddings in April for Anjali & Haroon’s wedding which was held at MGM National Harbor.

Samaa Events by Samia is Samia Ansari’s luxury event planning Firm. The company has been developed through her passion. The company consists of full planning, partial planning, day of coordination, destination and corporate planning. They are known to work with client budgets & exceed expectations.

Community Dancer Umi Jahan Named Senior Manager at Local Dance Studio

In early February 2020, local Bangladeshi dancer Jahan Umi was promoted to Senior Manager at local Maryland-based dance studio, Bend It Like Bollywood. In her new role, she has been managing the company’s e-mail communications, planning costumes and supporting other marketing and promotions needs.

Umi has been dancing for 8 years and she is a talented hip-hop, contemporary and traditional Bollywood dancer.


Local Wedding Planner Interviewed on Voice of America

Zartasha Chahal, a local event and wedding planner was invited to interview on VOA Urdu on February 27, 2020. She spoke with the radio host on current wedding trends in Pakistan and in the USA.

Events by Zartasha is an all-inclusive luxury event planning firm made up of passionate & creative individuals who ensure your day is magical.

Local Entrepreneurs Earn YC Funding for Clothing Rental Service

Sarina Siddhanti and Arian Agrawal (originally from the DC Metro area) who both are cofounders of clothing rental service Riya Collective were announced as members of the Y Combinator Winter 2020 batch.

Riya Collective is a clothing rental service, starting with formal Indian clothing in the US. They believe that sharing culture is one of life’s greatest joys and they exist to make that experience accessible, fun, and sustainable.

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Zind Performing Academy Launches On-Demand Online Dance Classes

Regional dance studio Zind Performing Academy has launched its online dance classes. The on-demand instructional videos offer enthusiasts the opportunity to learn Bollywood-style dance from the comfort of their homes. This first-of-its-kind initiative was launched on December 5, 2019.

Zind Performing Academy is an Indian Bollywood dance studio which exists to create, teach and perform the art of Indian dance to ages 5+ to adults. They teach individuals how to dance, step by step, to their favorite Bollywood songs from professional, enthusiastic instructors.

GMU Indian Student Invited to Speak at Amazon Conference

Dolica Gopisetty, a rising senior information technology student at George Mason University made history as being the only college student invited to speak at the “IMAGINE: A Better World, Global Education” conference that took place in Seattle, Washington on July, 11, 2019.

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Podcast Launched by Local Fashion Entrepreneur Brothers

Tanmit Singh of Rootsgear Clothing and Sumit Singh launched Yet Another Podcast – just a couple of really bored and funny guys talking about random things, with their first episode on May 23, 2019.

Community Member Launches Health & Fitness Blog

DCWaleDesi community member Sanjana Bhakta launched her blog – Whey 2 Wellness on April 28, 2019. She hopes that community members use her blog as a tool to optimize your physical and mental health.

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Local Dance Studio Wins Big at Raas Dance Championship

Bend It Like Bollywood‘s Collegiate team including DCWaleDesi community members Umi Jahan and Chanda Kumar took home the 1st Place trophy at Raas Dance Championship on April 28, 2019.

Singer Anjali Taneja Interviewed on Local Podcast

Anjali Taneja, a Washington DC-based R&B artist who weaves together Indian melodies and soulful rhythmic elements was featured on Episode 8 of GupShup with Gurpreet Sarin.

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Local Photographer's Work Selected for Exhibition

Photographer Adeel Malik‘s photo of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Dubai was selected as a finalist at the Exposed DC exhibition at Gallery Underground in Crystal City. The exhibit featured 62 photographers whose images explore how color is seen, captured, and used through photography.