Friday, October 3, 2008


Today I see a man in the street whose face is so badly beaten up that it almost looks like raw meat. I can barely look at him and almost weep from the sadness and the shame of it. I suspect he sustained his terrible injuries as the result of a drunken brawl – but why is he walking around the streets and not recovering in hospital? Just around the corner is an elderly lady in an ancient wheelchair, wrapped in layers of old woolen garments and only partially sheltered from the rain. She holds out a small plastic tray. She is the fourth or fifth old lady I have seen begging in the space of an hour. I give her a coin, she thanks me, and we nod to each other. I feel an overwhelming sense of distress that so many old people are reduced to begging in the street, and for some reason, the distress is far more intense and emotionally disturbing than when I see people begging in Australia. Is it because these people here are Latvian? (Of course, they may also be Russian.) Is it because I see something in their eyes that connects me to them, deeply, genetically, in a way I don’t feel a connection to my fellow Australians? Is it because I see my history in their faces?

I have to fight back the tears as I make my way to the Magnum Printers. I am overly emotional, over-reacting, over-experiencing…

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