Profiling the Unseen – New Delhi Edition – I

The last leg of this project, I’ll be sharing snippets from conversations with some of the people I met in New Delhi, India.

  1. Meet Kaalu, who works as a cobbler in New Delhi, India
Profiling the unseen

Kaalu works as a cobbler, on a street corner in New Delhi, India. At just 26 years of age, Kaalu is a master of his craft. So much so that many of his loyal customers save their shoes to be repaired by him, whenever they’re visiting the city from other cities and even other countries!
It is a hard job. Delhi heats can go up to more than 100 degrees, while winters can go down to 40 degrees. Despite the extreme weather, Kaalu seems happy that he is able to earn a sustained living.
His deepest desire is that things continue to go well and nothing untoward happens.

2. Meet Ramakant, who makes “Jalebis in New Delhi, India

Profiling the unseen Delhi India

Ramakant owns a sweet shop in an old part of Delhi called “Chandni Chowk”. He makes sweets called “Jalebis”. In fact, his version of the Jalebi is so big and juicy that it’s referred to as a “Jaleba”. Notice the spelling change 🙂
Ramakant’s sweets are famous among his customers and he has many loyal fans. The art of making a delicious jaleba runs in his family. In fact, he carefully selects apprentices. Only the select few get to learn the craft from him
Worth a try if you ever visit Delhi.

3. Meet Asif, who collects waste material for recycling in New Delhi, India

Profiling the unseen Delhi India

Asif buys scrap from people that can be recycled. People give him stuff like newspapers, books, plastic, metallic items, electronics, etc.
Asif really wants to grow his business but doesn’t know how to do so. He has simple questions such as where can he get a loan from, that too in a way that he is not cheated? Can he make more money with his existing resources?
Asif typifies small entrepreneurs in India, in need of basic knowledge and resources to help them grow and succeed. Someone who can answer their simple questions.

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Profiling the Unseen – San Francisco Edition – IV

Continuing the series, here are three more people I’ve met through this project.

10. Meet Jennifer, who works as a Nanny

Profiling the Unseen

I met Jennifer at a diner along with the girls whom she takes care of as their Nanny. The girls fondly referred to her as “Super Nanny” 🙂
Jennifer became a Nanny as a way to earn an income. She loves being with kids and she gets to literally raise these kids as her own. The job has its perks too. She has traveled across many countries, including countries in Europe, along with the families – all paid for by the family! The kids seem to know her inside out. As I asked her what she wanted to do as a child, before she could answer, one of the girls piped up that Jennifer wanted to be a bus driver! Turns out, it’s actually true because she had a crush on her high school bus driver.

Jennifer wants to work in a library. She likes reading a lot, and believes that once she loves this family, she won't work as a nanny anymore and start working at a library full time.

Jennifer wants to work in a library. She likes reading a lot, and believes that once she leaves this family, she won’t work as a nanny anymore and start working at a library full time.

11. Meet Gina, who works at a Laundromat

Profiling The Unseen

Gina works in a laundromat in The Mission area in San Francisco. She attends to customers, takes payments, answers their questions, etc.
She comes from a very diverse family – her mother is Mexican, her father is Italian, and her husband is from El Salvador! And that’s what she loves about San Francisco, the fact that it so diverse. In fact, one of her best friends is Indian!

Gina says that the Mission has changed a lot since she first came here in 1993. The area has become much more expensive, and there are a lot of people getting evicted. There are many immigrants from other cities and countries due to rise of the tech industry.  Gina wants to go back to El Salvador one day. Her family owns a salon and a martial arts school there and she wants to help expand these businesses.

Gina says that the Mission has changed a lot since she first came here in 1993. The area has become much more expensive, and there are a lot of people getting evicted. There are also many more immigrants from other cities and countries due to rise of the tech industry.
Gina wants to go back to El Salvador one day. Her family owns a salon and a martial arts school there and she wants to help expand these businesses.

12. Meet Wang Tung, who works as a street musician in China Town

Wang Tung works as a street musician in Chinatown in San Francisco. Since he did not speak any English, our interaction was primarily via sign language. The name Wang Tung is my best guess at what his name sounded like to me. Wang Tung was playing what looked like a traditional Chinese version of a guitar. Despite it being fairly hot and sunny, he kept playing for a long time, as passers by dropped a few coins in his open case every now and then.  His music could be heard over several blocks in Chinatown, adding an air of "festivity" to the place. Unfortunately, I don't think he makes much despite being a talented performer.

Wang Tung works as a street musician in Chinatown in San Francisco. Since he did not speak any English, our interaction was primarily via sign language. The name Wang Tung is my best guess at what his name sounded like to me.
Wang Tung was playing what looked like a traditional Chinese version of a violin. Despite it being fairly hot and sunny, he kept playing for a long time, as passers by dropped a few coins in his open case every now and then.
His music could be heard over several blocks in Chinatown, adding an air of “festivity” to the place. Unfortunately, I don’t think he makes much despite being a talented performer. Wang Tung is perhaps among the many who come to the US in hopes of a better life, but not able to really find themselves here. Wonder if there’s a way to help.

 

Profiling the Unseen – San Francisco Edition – III

Today, we have three women with very inspiring stories to share.

7. Meet Alty, who runs a cyber cafe and computer repair shop

Alty is from Dominican Republic and is fondly called "The Dominican Lady who helps" by her customers. Starting from a small purse shop, she runs a successful cyber cafe and computer repair business today.  She has even gone through a major fire at her store, and had to rebuild everything from scratch.

Alty is from Dominican Republic and is fondly called “The Dominican Lady who helps” by her customers.
Starting from a small purse shop, she runs a successful cyber cafe and computer repair business today in The Mission. She has even gone through a major fire at her store, and had to rebuild everything from scratch.  She is a true entrepreneur at heart. When customers started asking her to let them use her computer every now and then to check stuff, she thought “why not put more computers in her shop?”. Now it’s a full fledged cyber cafe and more.

Through her cyber cafe, Alty is fulfilling a big need in the area - teaching people how to use the computer, getting them familiar with the internet and helping connect immigrants with their families back home. Alty has been witness to many tender moments - families celebrating birthdays together over Skype,  friends being able to see eachother after many years over video chat. She has been a part of many tears, many smiles, many emotional moments. Alty hopes to start a non-profit that would teach people how to use the internet.

Through her cyber cafe, Alty is fulfilling a big need in the area – teaching people how to use the computer, getting them familiar with the internet and helping connect immigrants with their families back home.
Alty has been witness to many tender moments – families celebrating birthdays together over Skype, friends being able to see eachother after many years over video chat. She has been a part of many tears, many smiles, many emotional moments.
Alty hopes to start a non-profit that would teach people how to use the internet.

8. Meet Metha, who has a started a second career teaching English at 70

Metha used to work in the Parks department of San Jose. When she retired, she was suddenly at a loss about what to do. "One day I was busy, next day I wasn't," she says. So upon the recommendation of a friend, she started teaching English, to students here as well as kids in China and Saudi Arabia, over Skype.

Metha used to work in the Parks department of San Jose. When she retired, she was suddenly at a loss about what to do. “One day I was busy, next day I wasn’t,” she says.
So upon the recommendation of a friend, she started teaching English, to students here as well as kids in China and Saudi Arabia, over Skype.

Today, Metha feels happy that she continues to lead a full and happy life, despite her "age". She has taught English to 3 year old kids in China, and grown up women here in the US, trying to adjust to the new culture after having moved here from a different country. Metha's advice to youngsters - "No matter how old you are, don't let the grass grow under your feet!"

Today, Metha feels happy that she continues to lead a full and happy life, despite her “age”. She has taught English to 3 year old kids in China, and grown up women here in the US, trying to adjust to the new culture after having moved here from a different country.
Metha’s advice to youngsters – “No matter how old you are, don’t let the grass grow under your feet!”

9. Meet Christine, a trained soprano turned ice skater

Christine wears many hats. She started out as a singer, and is in fact a trained soprano. However, she broke her front teeth during a boxing training session and lost her voice. After going through a period of depression, she picked herself up and became a production assistant in movies. She has helped bring costumes to life for movies like Matrix, Fast and Furious and The Avengers!

Christine wears many hats. She started out as a singer, and is in fact a trained soprano.
However, she broke her front teeth during a boxing training session and lost her voice.
After going through a period of depression, she picked herself up and became a production assistant in movies. She has helped bring costumes to life for movies like Matrix, Fast and Furious and The Avengers!

Christine's true passion is ice skating. She practices regularly for two hours, and has been doing so for the last 10 years. When she skates, she feels at peace and happy. Her dream is to compete internationally in ice skating.

Christine’s true passion is ice skating. She practices regularly for two hours, and has been doing so for the last 10 years. When she skates, she feels at peace and happy.
Her dream is to compete internationally in ice skating one day.

Profiling the Unseen – San Francisco Edition – II

I am bad at updating my blog regularly, even though I’ve been continuing to speak with people here in San Francisco for my series. For today’s post, I have three ladies who have the luxury of doing what they love as a source of living 🙂

4. Meet Grace Anderson, who works as a tour guide for kids

San Francisco

Starting from a young age, Grace has been in love with nature and the outdoors. She loves the peace and quiet, and the opportunity being out alone with nature gives for you to think, reflect and feel happy.

It is no wonder then that she loves her job as a tour guide for kids! She has had some fantastic moments with these kids - like when a young girl saw her first shooting star while on a trip with Grace. Or when the kids could just not believe that they were able to climb a mountain with a backpack on their own.  On of her tours, one of the kids told Grace that he had never seen stars in his life before. Turns out, he lived in an area with lots of buildings and lights and somehow never saw the stars. Grace's dream is to get into green city planning, so that she can build cities that allow its residents to enjoy nature in its full glory.

It is no wonder then that she loves her job as a tour guide for kids! She has had some fantastic moments with these kids – like when a young girl saw her first shooting star while on a trip with Grace. Or when the kids could just not believe that they were able to climb a mountain with a backpack on their own.
On of her tours, one of the kids told Grace that he had never seen stars in his life before. Turns out, he lived in an area with lots of buildings and lights and somehow never saw any stars.
Grace’s dream is to get into green city planning, so that she can build cities that allow its residents to enjoy nature in its full glory.

5. Meet Kathy Mok, who works as a Chinese language translator

San Francisco

Kathy works as a translator for Chinese language. She loves reading and writing, and while her parents were at first not happy with her job, today she lives a very happy life with her husband, enjoying the freedom and flexibility that comes with working from home.

San Francisco

Kathy loves her job. She sits in this nice and sunny cafe everday, working and sipping at her tea. In fact, she has started to get a lot of business and is even considering hiring other translators to work for her.
Her dreams? She says she could not have asked for more. She has great friends, great husband, great parents and a great job. “If I die tomorrow, I will have no regrets, ” she says.

6. Meet Natasha Barredo, who works as a Character Designer for Animation

San Francisco

Natasha loves sketching, reading people, and cartoons. Her job as a character designer allows her to do all three. In fact, when I met her, she immediately told me “what my aura was” (orange apparently), and was sketching people around her in her notepad that she carries with her everywhere.

San Francisco

Natasha says her sketches are like a conversation that she has with herself about what a character is all about, what her emotions are, and what makes her who she is. She loves sharing this conversation with others.
Natasha finds that the animation industry in the US is not very diverse. She wants to open her own studio one day, which would staff predominantly people of color.

Profiling the Unseen – San Francisco Edition – I

I’m continuing my photo series in San Francisco. This project is turning out to be a great way to see different parts of the city and meet new people – even though I live here!

It’s been gratifying when people have shared a little bit about themselves with me. Eye opening to learn about the kind of challenges they face. And inspiring to see how almost everyone around us has dreams.

My first post for San Francisco profiles a Bart Station Manager, a Painter, and a “Guy behind the Ticket Counter at a Theater”.

1. Meet Sarah, who works as a Bart Station Manager

San Francisco

Sarah is one of those people that we see in the glass cabins at Bart stations. She describes experience in her cabin “a little like being in a fishbowl”! Sarah enjoys helping customers, especially tourists who’re new to the city and don’t know their way around.
Sarah meets all kinds of customers. There are nice ones like the guy who worked at an Italian restaurant and was a regular commuter, and who brought her food one day to say thanks for her help! However, there are the not-so-nice ones too. Many are rude to her, and even cuss at times. Many people try to scam others by selling fake tickets. And then there are those that try to get on the train without paying.
Sarah isn’t sure what she wants to do later in life yet. But lately she’s becoming interested in politics. She thinks she would want to be involved with Social Justice one day.

2. Meet Seren, a budding Painter 

San Francisco

Seren is all of 26 and has already made significant strides as a painter. While she works part time as an interior designer, her heart lies in painting. As she speaks passionately about her desire to have the viewer “think about what her painting means”, it is clear this is her first love.
Born as a creative child, Seren’s memories of her first piece of art is a drawing of a bunch of fairies at school. While other girls at school made fun of her drawing, her mom made sure Seren didn’t give up. An artist at heart herself, Seren’s mother has had a big influence on Seren’s art.

San Francisco

While Seren has recently bagged a place in an Art show in Miami, being a painter has its challenges. Money is a problem. Lack of validation is another.
Yet, Seren works hard and remains hopeful. Her dream? To make enough from her Art to be able to do Art. Now isn’t that awesome? 🙂

3. Meet Zac, who works at the ticket counter of a small theater

San Francisco

Zac works behind the ticket counter of one of those quaint theaters that one can still find in some parts of the city. I caught up with him during his lunch break.

San Francisco

Zac is currently studying film making. He has been a fan of movies since childhood and loves Steven Spielberg as a director. He imagines himself to be a great movie director like Spielberg one day. In fact, he thinks he would be a very “involved” director who would want creative control over every single aspect of his movie.
While he understands it’s hard to make it big in Hollywood, Zac remains optimistic. He has already found a great course in London to pursue further study in film making. His dream is to direct a horror movie one day.