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.

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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 – I

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

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bolros’s dream is to eventually sell these machines outside Taiwan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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

From a recent bridal shower

Snapshots from a recent bridal shower I covered in Philadelphia.

Bridal shower

Beautiful preparations

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Waiting for the bride to arrive

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The beautiful bride glowing with happiness

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Guests fill out a quiz to show off how well they know the bride

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In the hot seat!

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A toast to the bride

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Sharing stories

Bridal shower

Each guest shares stories

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Some guests cry out of happiness 🙂

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Showing off a wedding dress made with toilet paper in 20 mins!!