In the last few weeks we have begun to see occasional beggars in the street. US press had reported that the beggars were removed during the Olympics. Language barriers keep us from finding out – yet – where they went during the Olympics. Perhaps some students will help us find out. Beggars are not an unusual site in US cities, and many show signs of substance abuse or mental illness. We do not have enough cultural knowledge to find patterns yet in homelessness here. We have seen folks who have suffered devastating physical injuries (disfigurement that appears to be from accidents). We need to develop a better understanding of Chinese tort law in action.
We had dinner up by Beijing University with the Balla family. They have a wonderful neighborhood around them filled with small restaurants and food stalls that appear and disappear depending on the time of the day. They report that in the evening the restaurants are filled with men in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Because we live in a dorm which is mostly occupied by young women, we don’t see a gender gap. But perhaps the Balla experience is a sign of the challenges facing men in China.