Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Modern Street Sleepers

A group of street sleepers have set up recently under a highway near the Hung Hum train station. They seemed much better off and equipped than the regular street sleepers in Hong Kong, who are normally dirty, smelly, with few belongings. Instead, these had semi-permanent cardboard boxes, stools, clean blankets and clothing, ... They even had a barking dog who was disturbed by the noise of lion dancing across the street.

They reminded me of the street sleepers in Japan. Those I saw in Tokyo had very neat, clean and roomy cardboard boxes. Some had bicycles. They took off their shoes and placed them neatly at the entrance to their boxes. There is one major difference, though. Those I saw in Japan set up their boxes only late in the evening. During the day, hugh crowds passed through the subway stations and ferry terminals - the sleepers and their boxes were no where to be seen. As the evening deepened, the neatly organized boxes sprang up miraculously.

These sleepers near the train station have been there for several days already, seemingly undisturbed, even in broad daylight.

In any case, it is sad and ironic to see people sleeping in the streets in such cold weather, while the economy and particularly the housing market is supposedly booming, and the government coffers overflowing.

No comments: