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 – 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.

 

 

Profiling the Unseen – Taipei Edition – II

Posting part II in my series on Profiling the Unseen.

This is turning out to be a very interesting project! I’m meeting new people, and it’s such a pleasure hearing their stories and aspirations.

I’m also amazed at how it seems as if everyone I talk to has an Email ID! The cab drivers, waitresses, shopkeepers, everyone has an email ID 🙂 Coming from India, this is a very pleasant surprise…I wonder how long it will take before technology becomes this ubiquitous in India too.

Anyway, so here goes three more people I’ve met:

4. Meet Elena – She works at a juice bar close to where I stay in Taipei

Elena is just 18 years old. She's studying hotel management and she works at the juice bar part time. She has two older sisters and one younger brother. She is yet to figure out what she wants to do in life.

Elena is just 18 years old. She’s studying hotel management and she works at the juice bar part time. She has two older sisters and one younger brother. She is yet to figure out what she wants to do in life.

 

One thing Elena is sure of is that she loves English. And she has taught herself English by watching movies! This seems to be another common thing in Taiwan - everyone wants to learn English, but since it isn't taught in schools, they learn on their own by watching movies. Truly amazing!  Her favorite movie is Fast and Furious because she loves sports cars. Her favorite sports car is Lamborghini! :) I'm amazed at how much she knows!!

One thing Elena is sure of is that she loves English. And she has taught herself English by watching movies! This seems to be another common thing in Taiwan – everyone wants to learn English, but since it isn’t taught in schools, they learn on their own by watching movies. Truly amazing!
Her favorite movie is Fast and Furious because she loves sports cars. Her favorite sports car is Lamborghini! 🙂
I’m amazed at how much she knows!!

 

5. Meet Sharon – she works at a Sushi place in Taipei

Sharon does a bunch of things at the sushi place - taking orders, payments, coordinating the staff. She worked at another restaurant before this but changed jobs because the earlier place had too many rules.

Sharon does a bunch of things at the sushi place – taking orders, payments, coordinating the staff. She worked at another restaurant before this but changed jobs because the earlier place had too many rules.

 

 

 

 

 

Sharon works from 10am-10pm! But she loves her job because she gets to interact with lots of people. This is another unique thing about Taipei - so many people I meet want to meet new people and experience new cultures. I wonder why that is the case?

Sharon works from 10am-10pm! But she loves her job because she gets to interact with lots of people. This is another unique thing about Taipei – so many people I meet want to meet new people and experience new cultures. I wonder why that is the case?

 

 

 

 

 

OMG, Sharon is so shy to get photographed!! :) She cannot stop smiling and blushing as I point my camera towards her :D And she becomes a local hero for a short while as other look on and smile at her getting photographed!

OMG, Sharon is so shy to get photographed!! 🙂 She cannot stop smiling and blushing as I point my camera towards her 😀 And she becomes a local hero for a short while as other look on and smile at her getting photographed!

Sharon wants to open her own breakfast restaurant one day. It would open from 8:00am - 2:00pm, and serve coffee and sandwiches. Maybe some other things too.  I hope she realizes her dream!

Sharon wants to open her own breakfast restaurant one day. It would open from 8:00am – 2:00pm, and serve coffee and sandwiches. Maybe some other things too. I hope she realizes her dream!

6. Meet Mr. Li (Aung-Nyung) – he drives a cab in Taipei

Mr. Li is from Myanmar. He moved to Taipei with his family 20 years ago because of the political conditions there. Now he's one of the few international cab drivers in Taipei, that too one who can speak English.

Mr. Li is from Myanmar. He moved to Taipei with his family 20 years ago because of the political conditions there. Now he’s one of the few international cab drivers in Taipei, that too one who can speak English.

Mr. Li has three children and he's very proud of them :) His son loves smartphones. One of his daughters is a purchaser for shoes. The other daughter is exploring lots of different things to figure out what she wants to do in life. I'm glad he's supportive of her trying to find her passion :)

Mr. Li has three children and he’s very proud of them 🙂 His son loves smartphones. One of his daughters is a purchaser for shoes. The other daughter is exploring lots of different things to figure out what she wants to do in life. I’m glad he’s supportive of her trying to find her passion .

Mr. Li misses his country. he has two homes back in Myanmar, his cousins live there now. I hope he's able to go back some day....

Mr. Li misses his country. He has two homes back in Myanmar, his cousins live there now. I hope he’s able to go back some day….

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

IMG_2583

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2590

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2584

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2587

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 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2606

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2611

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2613

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

 

 

IMG_2593

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.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2598

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.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2600

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

Bridal shower

Waiting for the bride to arrive

Bridal shower

The beautiful bride glowing with happiness

Bridal shower

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

Bridal shower

In the hot seat!

Bridal shower

A toast to the bride

Bridal shower

Sharing stories

Bridal shower

Each guest shares stories

Bridal shower

Some guests cry out of happiness 🙂

Bridal shower

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