Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ticket Please


It always pains me to snap photos of people in despair, but I found the irony of the McDonald's cup and request for a "TK Restaurant" ("ticket" restaurant coupon) meriting a mention here. In Paris, it is estimated that there are 100,000 homeless people. A situation that no doubt will get worse with the current financial crisis.

30 comments:

  1. This is a sad sight no matter what the city. The B&W&grays add to the tragic sense too. Hope the cold gives way to warmth for her sake and others too.

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  2. Probably not the Paris you're the most proud of, but reality nonetheless. Glad you were brave enough to take this shot.

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  3. Yes, as Michael says, it's sad—but it's reality. I'm also glad you took this photo. I came across a similar tableau the other day, but didn't have the nerve to pull out my camera. Unfortunately, the opportunity will no doubt present itself again and again and . . .
    Hope all is well w/you Down Under, Eric.

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  4. Forgot to add -- way to go, Coltrane GF!

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  5. Not trying to be sexist, but I would think that a woman on the streets lives a much more frightening life than a male counterpart. The nights must be full of fear. I hope she sticks with a group or a buddy that has her back.

    Wonderful composition, Eric. I'd like to see it in sepia tone.

    And I know it's stupid, because you're always thousands of miles away, but I miss you!

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  6. That is a frightening statistic. According to MSN Encarta, the population of Paris proper was 2,125,246 in the last census (1999), while about 9.6 million people lived in the Paris metropolitan area. With 100,000 homeless, that would mean about 4.5% of the population of Paris proper is homeless, and 1% of the metro area is homeless.

    In comparison, New York City proper has about 8.2 million, with an estimate of people using shelters at 35,000. About 0.4% of the population. (I read that there is a law requiring the city to provide shelters.)

    I can't say this is a perfect comparison of statistics, but...wow.

    I do carry change in my car now, after Eric's last photo of homeless.

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  7. And now I am not complaining about the 9 inches of snow I must clear when I get home. I have a home to go into and get warm.

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  8. Very true about being thankful for a home! Here in the North it is very unusual to see someone who is homeless, at least someone living on the streets, as they would not last overnight because of the freezing temperatures. I know that the situation here in the States is scary and it is even scarier to think that most people are only a few paychecks away from this as well. It makes one even more thankful for one's home and family.

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  9. In fact Jeff, this figure probably takes into account the Greater Paris area which population is estiated to 8 to 10 million inhabitants also. "Fortunatly"!

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  10. Of course it's sad... When you are hungry, you want to eat, whoever you are and whatever how much money you have in your pocket, because it's a human necessity...
    Eric, I do hope you are not too hungry currently nor too tired... Time to dodo now for me, after a long day working and thinking of vacation; I'm really wondering why?! ;)
    Have a good time wherever you are at the present time...!

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  11. I feel very sad for those on the streets who don't choose to be there. And on the flip side, there's Ziggy, a 'plastic bag' man who has become somewhat of a local icon in our city. He refuses all help and lives the life he chooses. I'm not sure how well he'd cope if he didn't have our mild sub-tropical winters, though.

    Coltrane, congrats on GF. May your crown always be warm and filled with food.

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  12. Oh, Eric, this is a sorrowful scene of epic proportions on a singular scale. How do you do this....condense humanity's vulnerability into one individual? Her face is numb and distraught. When I see her I think she was once a little girl, smiling at times, dreaming always...how does it come to this? I won't forget her, the woman who lost her way.

    Travel safely.

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  13. Lydia, what Eric put into a fine photograph you put into perfect words.

    We have a lot of homeless in southern California. It's warm here, people drift here. We're seeing more and more now. Those who were once at the margins have been pushed past them.

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  14. Hmm - is this an intentional juxtaposition with yesterday's photo? Fauchon yesterday; faim today?

    I am also glad that you send out images of all kinds about your Paris, Eric. Reality and truth are a sum of many parts.

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  15. :(

    The way she is huddled up!

    I think the ticket coupon is so much more worth it for her...

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  16. It is a moving photo, Eric ... and a reminder to think of others and be grateful for what one has.

    I don't remember a "TK restaurant" from when I was in France. Is this something standard, or does it refer to what Americans call a "gift card" for a particular establishment? While I hesitate to give cash to someone I do not know, I am glad to offer to buy a meal or groceries. Sometimes the person responds (more or less) that food is not what's desired; cash is. I think one aspect of what touches me in this photo is that the woman says she is hungry and is specifically asking for food. No matter what the particulars, though, it always tugs at my heart.

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  17. I don't get the TK thing either but assume the same as Parisian Heart.

    It's very sad to see this, but I too am glad you took the photo Eric.

    It's hard to look at but harder on these people for us to ignore them.

    I blogged about such a person fairly recently. I tried to get a hot chocolate from a nearby restaurant to take to them and the restaurant refused, saying they didn't do takeaway and I'd have to drink it inside! Explaining it wasn't for me was no good. I was disgusted and will not be going to that restaurant again - it's the one next to the bookshop on the right in the Prom at Cheltenham, Glos, UK towards the High Street (just in case anyone's left in any doubt lol I'd name and shame more if I could remember the name).

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  18. I have worked with homeless and their reality is incredibly sad.
    A very poignant picture Eric.

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  19. Hope everything is fine on a Sunday morning in NZ ;) Is there a beautiful sunlight while it's getting dark here in Paris at 6.48 pm, Saturday 28th, after a nice sunny day ?
    Maybe have you been able to see the sun rising?
    Wow, I'm feeling like you are really Down Under now !!! Wooow !!! :) Une moitié de globe traversée!!! Congrats and may you have a great rest now;) See you soon!

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  20. It's true there are a lot of homeless people on the streets of Paris. But I don't think she is one of them. I suspect if one waited until the end of her 'shift', one could follow her to her real home. Has anyone noticed that most of the beggars on the streets and in the métro stations are muslim women?

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  21. By the way, it is not unusual to see homeless in the north, as Christie writes. The Bush era saw an increase in number of homeless people in Minneapolis, and not only in summer months. The increase has been quite noticeable over recent years. Every year, emergency personnel find a poor soul frozen after a really cold night. There are homeless camps scattered around downtown, near the river, under freeway bridges, etc. It's not as obvious as in Paris, but it's no less tragic for the people in that situation. I have to image Detroit has a worse problem, as it has had serious economic problems for over a decade.

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  22. To put the 100,000 in context. There are more homeless peopel in Paris than on the the island, I live on. Heartbreaking image. Disgraceful in this day and age we cannot look after our weakest, poorest members of society.

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  23. Anonyme: I know what you mean. Homeless people and professional beggars are 2 different things. While homeless people end up having to beg, professional beggars are not always homeless.

    I'm guessing here, but what I think her sign says is that she wants restaurant vouchers (TK as an abbreviation for "ticket" - voucher in French). Restaurant vouchers are not food, they're just little coupons you can present pretty much everywhere. They're given to people by companies.

    My mother used to collect them (lucky for us, she was dieting at the time ;) and we would go eat Banana Splits and BLT's at the Pub Renault with these checks, then go drool in front of the new cars. Good memories :)

    But to get back to the picture, it's sometimes very difficult to tell which person is genuinely in need of help and which one is simply taking a sucker to the cleaner.

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  24. I can remember getting Luncheon Vouchers at a particular company I worked for years ago, but I think they've pretty much died a death in the UK. Unless I've missed them?

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