The first thing I notice are the feet. The dirty, leathery bottoms speak volumes about this individual's have-not life. I happen across his sprawled form in the middle of a wide, modern overhead sidewalk that spans a busy intersection on Shanghai's riverfront. The scene stops me dead in my tracks because it illustrates that strata exist even in supposedly egalitarian societies.
This neighborhood is alive with activity, with some of the world's tallest towers looming across the water and streets surrounded by high-end stores and offices. Packs of people move constantly in every direction, suggesting a vibrancy of life that few other places on earth can match.
Yet this person may as well live in a completely different world, because the bustling, successful one that buzzes around him seems to not even acknowledge his existence. I've seen a few other homeless people on the streets since I first landed, and I'm saddened by the fact that each one of them likely has a story, but no one seems willing to take the time to hear it.
I wonder how many other homeless people in how many other cities large and small are being shunted into irrelevance by the simple fact that no one knows a thing about them, and no one wants to change that fact. I make a mental note to write more about those whose lives have had precious little ink devoted to them to date.
Your turn: What was your first impression when you initially saw this image? Did this change as you read through the rest of the entry? How?