Hsin Yi and her husband Yuan Peng migrated from China to India in their early twenties. After working with a ‘Chinese Shoe Maker’ for a few years, they set up a shoe-making shop in our city. Business was good for about twenty years, but declined badly after many well-known international brands had entered India.
The writing on the wall was clear: they would have to shut down their shop. However, they postponed the decision because Hsin Yi, Yuan Peng and their only son knew nothing other than the shoe-making business. To add to their worries, their son had not studied further after completing his school education. Their future looked very bleak.
One day, a gentleman entered their shop. He showed no interest in buying shoes, but asked Yuan Peng how well the three of them knew the Chinese language, and whether they knew any other languages. Yuan Peng replied that they all could speak, read and write Chinese and English, and could speak Hindi very fluently.
The gentleman then told them that he ran a company that provided interpreter services. He asked if they would be interested to work as freelance Chinese interpreters. They would be paid Rs. 3,000 per working day, plus conveyance, food, overtime and generous travelling allowances for any work in any other city. Each of them would probably get around 15 days’ work every month. Needless to say, they confirmed their interest.
Within a few months, Hsin Yi, Yuan Peng and their son were flooded with work as Chinese interpreters for visiting Chinese businessmen and technicians. They also got some assignments to accompany Indian businessmen visiting China. In a short time, they started earning much more than they had while running their business.
They had not realized it earlier, but now they knew that their fluency in Chinese, English and Hindi was their X factor!
This true story was told to me by Hsin Yi (name changed) when I engaged her services as an interpreter during the visit of a Chinese engineer to my client’s factory.