Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Forgotten


Lost on the sidewalk
Shanghai, China, May 2007 [Click to enlarge]

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?

18 comments:

Shephard said...

You strike me as someone who could tell a few of their stories, Carmi.
Very touching and painful photo.
Very striking also.

I posted a bit of a photo safari on my blog, and you may enjoy some of the photos. :)

~S

Jef said...

My initial impression was that the person was dead.

I heard a lady who had spent time in India speak once. She said that even though she could not give beggars money, she would always acknowledge them. I've never forgotten that.

Here in Atlanta, we have a severe homeless problem. People wander into our store all the time who ask for money. I cannot give them money, but when I remind them of the services available, they refuse them. Many are slaves to the drug and/or alcohol addiction, and do not want help. What can I do but pray for them?

Sara said...

Interesingly until I started to read, I did not even notice the feet, I saw two piles of rags.

After reading your comment about the feet, then I revisted the photo and thought it looked like s/he was secretly crawling across the ground, maybe trying to sneak away from all the activity around him/her.

Most nights on my way to the bus I walk by a woman who holds a very young child while begging for money. I know from a bobby mate of mine that she's a major cocaine addict and so I just pray that she finds help for her & her child!!

Paul O' Connor said...

Wow. Amazingly touching photo. I'm new to your blog - looks like I'll be spending some time on here. Please feel free to submit to www.photographyvoter.com

Rainbow dreams said...

My first thought was is he ok? Is he dead? He's not curled up in a doorway or seeking shelter anywhere - he is out in the open...
I wonder what has brought him to this point in his life... and like you ponder on his story... and what would actually help make a difference to his life...
Perhaps to be listened to would be a start...

Diane Mandy said...

I also thought the person was dead! Unbelievable photo!

JC said...

You'd be surprised at how many homeless choose to live that way. My first thought was how uncomfortable he/she looked, and wondered if the ground was hot.

Your tight crop isolates the person. I did, also, wonder about surroundings. Really isolated or bustling with activity. I think, maybe, a shot showing the surrounding activity would have more impact. Not saying it isn't a good shot, but something indicating life would put more perspective... maybe.

I did notice the feet... which added to the curiosity concerning the comfort level of the person. Seems well covered for the temperature to be hot...

hanulf said...

My first impression was how lifeless he looked, then my eyes went to the feet. His own weather-wort leathery soles are what takes him wherever he goes. But nobody knows about him. Very sad. Makes me think too, what we can do to shine some light onto the path of those who have none.

nancy said...

WOW! Great photo, totally depressing that we still have a homeless problem in this world. At least the guy could have some shoes.

Ya always make me think when I come here.

Paige said...

It is a side of life most want to forget.
Remember that some of these street folks have choosen that life. They wanted to drop from society and all the problems it has. Not all of the "homeless" want a home, but rather to be left alone.
I'm just saying

Anna said...

My first impression....sadness....

it is also my second and third impression.

Marion said...

The first thought I had was I hoped he was okay...I hope someone checked.

A sad photo, Carmi, I really felt sad when I saw it.

ChaCha said...

I was so sad when I saw this picture. What a horrible waste of life,don't you think? We are all truly blessed

JC said...

No need to publish this comment... just wanted to remind you since you've so much going on... Caption 18 and Photographic Mystery. I've never spent so much time thinking about a white line... really ;-)

Kyle said...

powerful.

that's all I can say about this picture.

kenju said...

Pitiful......my first impression...
and then I wondered if he was drunk. Once in NYC, I saw a drunk and dirty man lying in the sidewalk outside a restaurant. The owner of the business was trying to get the man to leave, since he was not an appetizing advertisement for the restaurant. I felt pity for him and wondered why someone didn't come to his aid. Why didn't I?

Awareness said...

sadly, it is a universal tragedy.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

It was a sad thing to see....It is a great picture Carmi, because you captured the hopelessness and the helplessness of this persons life...It makes me quite sad....The world is filled with so very many inequities...!

Do stop by my blog Carmi...it will lift your spirits...Todays Post...A Beautiful Hummingbird...Yesterdays...Bees!
These are hopefull images for me.