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 – III

My third post in this exciting project on “Profiling the Unseen in Taipei”.

I’ve made a local friend who has also become my local guide and been kind enough to show me around Taipei 🙂 Phoebe Cho, one of the people I met right in the beginning of this project, is one of the most inspiring people I have met here in Taipei – at barely 20 and working as an intern, she has already taken time off to bike all around Taiwan in 11 days by herself, taken a solo trip to the US using all the money she had, taught herself three different languages and is full of zest for life. She wants to travel the whole world before she turns 28.

That sounds a little bit like the girl I wanted to be, and yet somehow I’ve managed to make my life very complicated.

Phoebe Cho - my local guide and friend here in Taipei. This project has also helped me realize how much better it is to travel with locals, than with just family and friends.  Traveling in Taipei with Phoebe and other locals has allowed me to visit places I wouldn't have been able to otherwise, and experience the city from their lens. It has changed my perspective on traveling forever.

Phoebe Cho – my local guide and friend here in Taipei. This project has also helped me realize how much better it is to travel with locals, than with just family and friends. Traveling in Taipei with Phoebe and other locals has allowed me to visit places I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, and experience the city from their lens. It has changed my perspective on traveling forever – traveling alone and immersing myself in the local culture would be the next step.

So, continuing with three more people I’ve met here in Taipei.

7. Meet Ms. Lijeng Lai and Mr. Cheng-Hai Hsieh, owners of a small organic tea farm in Taiwan

I met them on a weekend, in the farmer's market in Taipei. They own a team farm - it is now their third generation business. They sell all kinds of teas - Oolong tea, Black tea, Green tea, etc. They've recently added organic tea to their portfolio.

I met them on a weekend, in the farmer’s market in Taipei. They own a tea farm – it is now their third generation business. They sell all kinds of teas – Oolong tea, Black tea, Green tea, etc. They’ve recently added organic tea to their portfolio. They had to travel all the way from their farm in the middle of Taiwan the previous day, to come to farmer’s market in Taipei on Saturday.

 

Ms. Lijeng and Mr. Cheng-Hai have discovered the wonders of the internet - through their online shop, they sell their tea even in London and China. Their business is doing reasonably well - enough to lead a decent life. Their goal is not to make a lot of money, but to sell good tea that makes customers happy.

Ms. Lijeng and Mr. Cheng-Hai have discovered the wonders of the internet – through their online shop, they sell their tea even in London and China. Their business is doing reasonably well – enough to lead a decent life. Their goal is not to make a lot of money, but to sell good tea that makes customers happy.

 

Right now, it is just their family doing everything - so just 3 people taking care of the farm, selling online and offline, marketing, everything. That's a lot of work! Their children are in university and they're not sure right now if they'll carry on the business. But Ms. Lijeng and Mr. Cheng-Hai are ok with whatever decision they take - whatever makes them happy :)

Right now, it is just their family doing everything – so just 3 people taking care of the farm, selling online and offline, marketing, everything. That’s a lot of work! Their children are in university and they’re not sure right now if they’ll carry on the business. But Ms. Lijeng and Mr. Cheng-Hai are ok with whatever decision they take – whatever makes them happy 🙂

8. Meet Licar, who works at a local Electronics store in Taipei

Taipei is full of electronics stores selling all kinds of interesting little things for such cheap prices!

Licar works at one of these electronics stores - he takes care of the store, processes orders, runs the shop and makes sure the customers gets what they want. He has another job  - he works for a sports marketing company too, where he helps them write proposals, create campaigns, etc. But hang on, that's not the end of it! He has a third job - he teaches swimming! Yes, that's right, he has three jobs. He has taken no vacation for as long as he can remember. Once in a while he likes to go for surfing with his friends but that's it.  What does he dream of doing? He wants to own and run his own hostel for travelers in Taiwan - be his own boss :) A dream that many in Taiwan seem to have - be their own boss.

Licar works at one of these electronics stores – he takes care of the store, processes orders, runs the shop and makes sure the customers gets what they want. He has another job – he works for a sports marketing company too, where he helps them write proposals, create campaigns, etc. But hang on, that’s not the end of it! He has a third job – he teaches swimming! Yes, that’s right, he has three jobs. He has taken no vacation for as long as he can remember. Once in a while he likes to go for surfing with his friends but that’s it. What does he dream of doing? He wants to own and run his own hostel for travelers in Taiwan – be his own boss 🙂 A dream that many in Taiwan seem to have – be their own boss.

9. Meet Ms. Tsai (or Yu-Jie in Chinese), who volunteers to help mentally less gifted people

On the streets of Taipei, it is common to see a volunteer helping a “mentally less gifted” person sell various things and help them interact with other people.

Ms. Tsai is one such volunteer. She works with  a local organization that helps mentally different people have a job and get the chance to interact with other people. Ms. Tsai's child is Mr. Chen - she helps him make cookies, and then stands with him for the whole day, making sure he gets a chance at a normal life too as he sells his hand made cookies and talks to people.

Ms. Tsai is one such volunteer. She works with a local organization that helps mentally different people (called “children”) have a job and get the chance to interact with other people. Ms. Tsai’s child is Mr. Chen – she helps him make cookies, and then stands with him for the whole day, making sure he gets a chance at a normal life too as he sells his hand made cookies and talks to people.

Ms. Tsai does this as her full time job, for no salary. She is only 22, and yet understands that a good life should involve helping other people. She says that on an average, they sell to about 10 or so people every day. Yet, her goal is not to help the child make money, but to give him the chance to interact with other people. It is clear she feels responsible for Mr. Chen and is protective of him. She doesn’t know yet what she wants to do in life, but she is sure it will involve helping other people.

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….

Outdoor photoshoot in Philly – II

Spring is officially here and it only makes sense to take full advantage of the lovely mornings! 🙂 This was my second photoshoot in Philly, and I’m slowly beginning to see things that can help in taking good portraits. The biggest challenge is always how to get the subect comfortable in front of the camera. I love capturing candid moments and getting your ‘model’ to open up and feel free remains the single biggest factor that determines the goodness of a photograph.

Following are the photographs of a good friend, Christine Fok:

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Photographing babies

A few days back I tried to take photographs of a little baby girl I have come to know over the last few months. Very cute, and an exceptionally happy child, I thought it would be a piece of cake.

Of course, it wasn’t.

Photographing a child is really really hard. First of all – they will never do what you want them to do. Ask them to sit on something, or stand in some place, and of course, all they can do is try and press the buttons on your camera. So, Tip No. 1 – have another person with you, whose sole job is to play with the baby and keep him/her engaged. Second – babies never ever stay still. If they’re sitting, they’ll keep shaking their heads and hands. If they’re upright, of course they’re running. So, Tip No. 2 – use sports mode, in the hope that one of the shots will turn out great.

And overall Tip No. 3 – have a lot of patience. I guess that goes without saying, given that we are combining photography and babies 😀

Here are some of my more successful attempts at an otherwise fairly hopeless endeavor 🙂 –

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