At a time when one can hardly look up from the computer screen to have a conversation, it is harder for us to be humans, says Siddhartha Joshi, a 34-year-old Pune-based product designer who is telling stories of the hopes and aspirations of ordinary Indians through his photography project on Instagram.

What began as an effort to get to know people has now become a full-fledged year-long project titled Tell Me Your Dream 2015. Starting on January 1, Joshi has been putting out one portrait a day on his instagram account. Accompanying the portraits are stories of struggle, trouble and daily dilemmas as revealed to him.

“These are everyday people we know but never notice: our maids, drivers, grocers, the elderly in the neighbourhood,” he said. “They don’t get a chance to share their stories and the least one can do is lend a ear and try to amplify their aspirations to give them some encouragement.”

Photography is Joshi's favourite leisure activity but his project is about more than just pictures. “It’s about the stories behind every portrait,” he said. His portraits are of people both from cities and the hinterland.

The project is different from the Facebook page and Instagram project Humans of New York because it is positive and forward-looking. “There’s so much about people’s aspirations that we never get to know and I wanted to bring that out in a way that they don’t feel alone," Joshi said. "But I haven’t found anyone who harbours a negative vision."

Many people have been motivated by seeing these pictures to share stories of other common people around them. “Anybody can share stories with the hashtag," Joshi said. I want it to be a collaborative project where people can contribute from everywhere.”

Every week, he shares the best stories sent in by people following him on Instagram and has even put out a guide for people to help get them talking to strangers. “We all need to get over that little moment of hesitation and it requires opening up to them as well before they confide in you,” Joshi said.

A look at some of the portraits and stories.

Sudharma, 20, college student and classical dancer, Telangana

"I dream of traveling across the world and seeing all the continents and all the countries. I think I can use dancing as a tool to achieve this. I can travel to perform in all these places. I also have a dream of learning contemporary dance, but for that I will have to take a break from Bharatnatyam. So it remains a dream..."

Nilesh, 19, band member, Akola (Maharashtra)

"I dream of leaving this job of working in a band and playing music at weddings and other events. I would like to buy a car and then settle down in Gujarat. I think people here are very nice. They don't fight much and saying a simple sorry resolves differences, while in Maharashtra people are too hot-headed."

Phekan Bai Patel, homemaker, Arang (Chattisgarh)

"I am so old so right now that I would rather have a dream for you. I dream that you live a very happy and successful life, and that you take care of the people in your life."

Sonakshi, product designer, Pune (Maharashtra)

"I dream of working in the area of education for children, especially children in the rural parts of the country. I would actually start from Uttar Pradesh as that is the state that I understand best. I will start with a pilot project in one village with my own funds and then see how to take it forward. I think I will be ready with a plan and also initial funds by the time I am forty."

Daroga Yadav, Reserve Police Force, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

"I dream of serving the state and serving the nation. I have absolutely no other dream since I started the training for Reserve Police. To me my wife also comes next to the rifle. I would rather lose my life in service than do anything else."

Snehal, doctor-turned-entrepreneur, Maharashtra

"I dream to be the best in what I do. And I want to help people I work with to also achieve the pinnacle of their talent. I do not seek fame, but I do want to be the factor which helps someone achieve name and fame."

Roshni, professional, Maharashtra

A truck café, which is always on the move. People come over to have not just coffee, but also to hitch a ride to the next destination. I wanted to quit everything and do this, but then one also has to work and earn money. I would collect souvenirs from each place the truck goes to and it would become a part of it."