Despite many challenges during this pandemic, these heartland shopkeepers near my home in the Bukit Gombak Neighbourhood Centre have been working hard and persevering in their day to day lives.
The uncle in the image above has been working in this job making ‘thosai’, ‘uttapam’ and other Indian delicacies for over 10 years. He told me that business has been quite slow and tough with all the new restrictions, but the love for his job pushes him onward.
The auntie in this image has run her shop selling fishes, aquariums and other pet items for about 12 years and she says business for her has thankfully not been affected that much. In fact more people seem to be purchasing fishes from her as they spend more time at home.
The auntie running this shop had quite the inspiring story to tell. Her sister had been running this shop selling flowers, making garlands and selling small Indian snacks before her, but had recently fallen quite ill. Not being able to run the shop anymore, it seemed as though the shop was going to close. This auntie quit her job as a dental assistant, sacrificing a lot to continue this family business.
This auntie runs a shop selling snacks, nuts and spices with her mother, who started this shop with her late father almost 35 years ago!
The auntie in this image has been running this fruit shop single-handedly for more than 30 years! She says everyone else has left, leaving her to run the shop alone because of the various changes in owners of the shop over the years. She jokingly mentioned that all the work carrying and cutting the heavy fruits helps her look so young!
This short photo-essay was produced during a combined workshop involving students from the Raffles Photography and Art Club and Raffles Publications. Ankit was one of the few students who ventured out of their comfort zones to speak to the people in his neighbourhood and take a genuine interest in their lives. His eye for composition helps give us a documentary-like view of this slice of life in the heartlands.