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.

 

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Profiling the Unseen – Taipei Edition – VI

Today’s post profiles people from very different walks of life – a dumplings cook, a luggage check person at the Taipei museum, and the owner of an organic rice and beans farm.

16. Meet Mr. Chong and Ms. Chung, chefs at a small dumplings place in Taipei

Mr. Chong has been working at this tiny dumplings place for the last 8 years. Starting out as a cook, he now manages this place that is a haven for dumpling lovers like myself.

Mr. Chong has been working at this tiny dumplings place for the last 8 years. Starting out as a cook, he now manages this place that is a haven for dumpling lovers like myself.

Miss Chung has been working here for only a few months. She learnt how to make dumplings by simply watching how others were doing it.

Miss Chung has been working here for only a few months. She learnt how to make dumplings by simply watching how others were doing it.

As expected, like many Taiwanese who dream of being “their own boss”, Ms. Chong wants to open her own dumplings restaurant one day.

As expected, like many Taiwanese who dream of being “their own boss”, Ms. Chong wants to open her own dumplings restaurant one day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17. Meet Ms. Yie-Uh-Hwang, who works at the luggage check at the National Palace Museum

Ms. Hwang has been working at the museum for more than 11 years. She joined in the beginning as a cleaning lady, as a way to support her family. Her boss however has been very kind to her. Despite being only an elementary school graduate, he has taught her to use the computer and been very supportive. Now she is able to sell tickets as well as help customers at the luggage check. She owes a lot to this job – it has allowed her to support and provide well for her family. She is proud of herself as in her generation in Taiwan, most women cannot say the same.  One of her grandchildren is about to get married now. She is happy.

Ms. Hwang has been working at the museum for more than 11 years. She joined in the beginning as a cleaning lady, as a way to support her family.
Her boss however has been very kind to her. Despite being only an elementary school graduate, he has taught her to use the computer and been very supportive.
Now she is able to sell tickets as well as help customers at the luggage check.
She owes a lot to this job – it has allowed her to support and provide well for her family. She is proud of herself as in her generation in Taiwan, most women cannot say the same.
One of her grandchildren is about to get married now. She is happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18. Meet Ms. Yi Ling Chen and her son Yong Tien, owners of a rice and beans farm

Ms. Chen and her husband own a rice and beans farm. While they had a vegetable farm 3 years back, they moved to rice and beans when they saw the heavy trend towards importing these grains in Taiwan.  Ms. Chen and her family’s goal is to provide high quality grains to the people of Taiwan, and ensure that they can lead healthy lives. They rely purely on word of mouth marketing. A recent article in the newspaper about them helped get a lot of customers and create further awareness. As can be seen, her son Yong Tien, who is just 2 years and 7 months old, is getting trained in the family business starting from a very young age.

Ms. Chen and her husband own a rice and beans farm. While they had a vegetable farm 3 years back, they moved to rice and beans when they saw the heavy trend towards importing these grains in Taiwan.
Ms. Chen and her family’s goal is to provide high quality grains to the people of Taiwan, and ensure that they can lead healthy lives.
They rely purely on word of mouth marketing. A recent article in the newspaper about them helped get a lot of customers and create further awareness.
As can be seen, her son Yong Tien, who is just 2 years and 7 months old, is getting trained in the family business starting from a very young age.

Profiling the Unseen – Taipei Edition – V

Every once in a while, you come across those who love what they do. I met some people like that through this project. Allow me to introduce three of them today.

13. Meet Rock, a magician in Taipei

Rock is perhaps one of the few magicians still existing in Taiwan. He has been practicing magic for the last 10 years. He got into magic after watching videos of great magic performances.

Rock is perhaps one of the few magicians still existing in Taiwan. He has been practicing magic for the last 10 years. He got into magic after watching videos of great magic performances.

 

His favorite part of doing magic? It is the moment when the viewer experiences shock and surprise and expresses his wonderment at what just happened.

His favorite part of doing magic? It is the moment when the viewer experiences shock and surprise and expresses his wonderment at what just happened.

 

Rock does not perform magic for putting on a show. His goal is only to teach children this slowly dying art form. He can teach simple tricks in as less as three minutes.

Rock does not perform magic for putting on a show. His goal is only to teach children this slowly dying art form. He can teach simple tricks in as less as three minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14. Meet Jane, who works part time at the Taipei Public Library

Jane does a number of things at the Taipei Public Library – she maintains book records, she issues books, she takes care of returns, and generally makes sure everything is in order. She is also a student of Library and Information Science, which is why she started working at the library part time.  She loves her job. She got into this because she loves reading – detective novels and books on finance and economics are her favorite. Her favorite part about this job is when children come to reserve books. She enjoys seeing them interested in reading. However, there are also times when customers are rude to her, especially when she asks them to return overdue books. Jane is another example of exemplary Taiwanese kindness. She came all the way outside the library, just so I could photograph her, since photography is not allowed inside the library. She wants to become a reference librarian eventually. She will stock the best books in science, economics, fashion, and all subjects possible.

Jane does a number of things at the Taipei Public Library – she maintains book records, she issues books, she takes care of returns, and generally makes sure everything is in order.
She is also a student of Library and Information Science, which is why she started working at the library part time.
She loves her job. She got into this because she loves reading – detective novels and books on finance and economics are her favorite. Her favorite part about this job is when children come to reserve books. She enjoys seeing them interested in reading. 
She wants to become a reference librarian eventually. She will stock the best books in science, economics, fashion, and all subjects possible.

 

15. Meet Mr. Lai, who works as a Tailor in Taipei

Mr. Lai has been working as a tailor since he was 13 years old. Since he did not want to study, his father asked him to pick up a skill instead. Mr. Lai can fix anything – clothes, bags, belts, etc. He believes in the importance of finding the right man for every job. “Just like you need the right doctor when you’re sick, you need the right man when you need to fix something. I am that man”, he says. “He can even fix leather pants for Harley Davidson riders,” he laughs and tells me.

Mr. Lai has been working as a tailor since he was 13 years old. Since he did not want to study, his father asked him to pick up a skill instead.
Mr. Lai can fix anything – clothes, bags, belts, etc. He believes in the importance of finding the right man for every job. “Just like you need the right doctor when you’re sick, you need the right man when you need to fix something. I am that man”, he says. “He can even fix leather pants for Harley Davidson riders,” he laughs and tells me.

 

He is 73. Yet he works till 2:00am every day. In this age of technology, his customers post about him on FaceBook and Line, and that gets him enough word of mouth marketing. Mr. Lai ruminates how lesser and lesser people in Taiwan want to become tailors. It is cheaper to buy new clothes than to get them fixed, and youngsters don't have the patience to spend 4 years learning the skill, well.

He is 73. Yet he works till 2:00am every day.
In this age of technology, his customers post about him on FaceBook and Line, and that gets him enough word of mouth marketing.
Mr. Lai ruminates how lesser and lesser people in Taiwan want to become tailors. It is cheaper to buy new clothes than to get them fixed, and youngsters don’t have the patience to spend 4 years learning the skill, well.

Profiling the Unseen – Taipei Edition – IV

It is easy to forget what we have and take things for granted.

I started this project on a whim, based on a desire to “do something”. However, as I’m meeting more people, I am overcome by a tumult of so many emotions – an overwhelming realization of how much God has given me, a sense of wonder at the greatness of human spirit, and a new found appreciation for how there is so much to everyone around us.

Take Alex and her daughter Joy for example.

10. Meet Alex, a home maker and her daughter Joy, who works at a popular cafe in Taipei

I met Joy at a cafe I frequent everyday while at work here in Taipei. In traditional Taiwanese kindness, Joy and her mother offered to take me around Taipei as my departure date came closer. As we went around the National Palace Museum, I learnt how Alex is a homemaker, even though she does want to have a job. She recently modeled for students of a painting class. She used to work as a nanny but then the owner left for Shanghai.  It is hard for the older generation to get jobs in this economy. Joy hopes to study in Germany one day. She wants to live and travel abroad, and Germany offers free education which makes it an attractive destination for her. Joy works multiple jobs to save money – at the cafe and teaching students.

I met Joy at a cafe I frequent everyday while at work here in Taipei. In traditional Taiwanese kindness, Joy and her mother offered to take me around Taipei as my departure date came closer.
As we went around the National Palace Museum, I learnt how Alex is a homemaker, even though she does want to have a job. She recently modeled for students of a painting class. She used to work as a nanny but then the owner left for Shanghai.
It is hard for the older generation to get jobs in this economy.
Joy hopes to study in Germany one day. She wants to live and travel abroad, and Germany offers free education which makes it an attractive destination for her. Joy works multiple jobs to save money – at the cafe and teaching students.

 

Despite their seeming hardships, Alex and Joy are some of the happiest people I have met. They share a deep bond with eachother, and generally have a happy outlook towards life. As I went around the museum with them, I could not help but feel that no matter what the issues I had at work, I was still very very privileged and I should be thankful about what God had given me every single day. I called my mom as she was the only perhaps who could understand what I was  feeling.

Despite their seeming hardships, Alex and Joy are some of the happiest people I have met. They share a deep bond with eachother, and generally have a happy outlook towards life.
As I went around the museum with them, I could not help but feel that no matter how I felt about my life, I was still very very privileged and I should be thankful about what God had given me every single day.
I called my mom as she was the only perhaps who could understand what I was feeling.

11. Meet Almond, who works as a hairdresser in Taipei

Almond has been working as a hairdresser for a little over 10 years. She got into this occupation as way to change looks for herself and for her friends. She ended up liking the job so much that she has lasted for so long in her very first job.

Almond has been working as a hairdresser for a little over 10 years. She got into this occupation as way to change looks for herself and for her friends. She ended up liking the job so much that she has lasted for so long in her very first job.

She loves her job because customers feel happy when she gives them a new look that they like. The ride hasn’t always been smooth though – like right in the beginning when she accidentally nipped one of her customer’s ears a bit!

She loves her job because customers feel happy when she gives them a new look that they like. The ride hasn’t always been smooth though – like right in the beginning when she accidentally nipped one of her customer’s ears a bit!

For now, Almond likes where she works and would like to stay. But she does dream of opening her own hair salon one day. If she does, it will be “chic, trendy and very upscale” she says.

For now, Almond likes where she works and would like to stay. But she does dream of opening her own hair salon one day. If she does, it will be “chic, trendy and very upscale” she says.

12. Meet Romanca, who sells a unique Taiwanese dish made of rice and pig blood

Romanca started selling this unique Taiwanese dish in the famous Taipei Night Market just a week back. Before this, she was working as a teacher. However, she switched to this to be able to spend more time with her children and have greater flexibility with time. She buys pig blood from slaughterhouses. It seems it is very good for health. She has been coming to Night Market every day.

Romanca started selling this unique Taiwanese dish in the famous Taipei Night Market just a week back. Before this, she was working as a teacher. However, she switched to this to be able to spend more time with her children and have greater flexibility with time.
She buys pig blood from slaughterhouses. It seems it is very good for health. She has been coming to Night Market every day.

Her dream job is to become an actor. Any kind of actor would do – but she would love to get the chance to play different characters.   Somehow she never got the chance to try her hand at acting. Now she thinks she is too old for anyone to be interested. Unspoken, unrealized dreams.

Her dream job is to become an actor. Any kind of actor would do – but she would love to get the chance to play different characters.
Somehow she never got the chance to try her hand at acting. Now she thinks she is too old for anyone to be interested.
Unspoken, unrealized dreams.