It’s been more than a year since I last picked up my camera. Post graduation in May last year, I went back to India, dabbled in some projects, came back to San Francisco and joined the world of Management Consulting.
It’s been a rough ride…one that has led to a lot of introspection and thinking about what I want in life. These days I’m on an engagement in Taipei, Taiwan. Being international has given me even more time to think about life. Long story short, I picked up my camera after a very long time – perhaps I needed a channel for the confusion/angst/frustration/whatever? Whatever the reason, it felt good.
And thus I embarked on a new project – “Profiling the Unseen”. These are the people in the background. The ones who keep our systems running, keep what we see as we see it, keep the seemingly ordinary not fall into chaos, keep our lives chugging along effortlessly – and yet they remain unseen. They are the seemingly “unremarkable” around us – the cleaning lady, the coffee vendor, the gym instructor, the information desk keeper.
Yet, are they truly “unremarkable”? Perhaps they too have a story worth sharing.
Why am I doing this? I have tried to put a purpose to this. A goal. Some meaning that would make this exercise worthwhile. I have failed to do so – except for the fact that I experience joy when I talk to these people. I feel gratitude when these people open up to me and share their dreams, their journeys, their hopes. I feel wonderful when the mere act of getting photographed makes their day. I feel happy when these people cannot believe that someone wants to merely talk to them with no hidden agenda.
Over the next few posts, I’ll be sharing short profiles of the people I meet. My job doesn’t allow me to wander during the week or I would talk to atleast a hundred people over the course of a few weeks. But, be that as it may, I carry on.
1. Meet Bolros – A self-made entrepreneur who sells coffee on the streets of Taipei
I met Bolros in the Xinyi district of Taipei. His infectious laughter and the large crowd gathered around him was enough to pique my interest.
Bolros brews coffee for you on the spot, using a machine that’s inbuilt into his scooter! Apparently this contraption is unique to Taiwan – and that’s his business. He makes a livelihood through selling coffee, and selling these machines that make coffee.
Bolros’s dream is to eventually sell these machines outside Taiwan.
Apparently keeping a scooter on that part of the street was illegal. However, even as the police came and asked him to leave, Bolros put on his riding hat but continued making his last cups of coffee for the crowd. That’s hustle right there 🙂
Phoebe is one of the happiest kids I’ve met. She’s just 20, and full of smiles every time I see her. She’s an intern at the gym, and plans on going to the US next year after completing her internship.
What are her dreams? She wants to travel the world, learn 3 different languages (Japanese, Spanish and English), and enjoy life in either Miami or New Jersey.
Her goal in life is to have her own hotel!! 🙂 What kind of hotel would she like to have I ask? “Where customers feel at home. Everyone in the hotel will know the customer’s name. Like family.” Wouldn’t you want to visit her hotel? 🙂
2. Meet Phoebe (or FeiFei in Chinese) – She mans the information desk at my gym
A strong woman, Vivian wowed me with her courage. After spending her 20s as a sales rep for cosmetics, she decided to go in for a career change in her 30s into hospitality.
I asked her – wasn’t she scared? She said, of course she was! But, she also knew she would be good at the job because she loves to make her customers happy. She just knew she would be perfect for the job.
The shy but confident Vivian wants to become Hotel Manager one day 🙂 I can already see her achieving her dreams.
3. Meet Vivian – Team leader of housekeeping at Hotel W, Taipei