Friends, Relatives and Homelessness


It was raining when I headed out for my usual lunch hour walk. It was a little strange perhaps, for a first day of spring. The rain made the walk a short-burst sort of a walk. It was a bit of a contrast with the moods over the weekend. Friday night we had dinner at the HD Café with Jason and Mel, where we whiled the evening away with good conversations. Likewise on Saturday night there was no sense of rush as we spent the evening at Pat Sie and Joo Kuan’s home, catching up with a bunch of ex-OCFers (from Sydney). Ken and Jenny were visiting from Canberra and also there were Ing Tung and Chin Moi, Margaret Ruhl, Chui Boon and Catherine. We lingered the night away in reminiscence and also updating each other on what our kids were up to, occasionally comparing our respective tragedies that are out mid-drifts. There wasn’t any sense of rush. Unlike my walk.

Then on Sunday night we caught up with Caleb my cousin from Sydney, who came down for a work conference. Dinner in the New Shanghai at the Emporium, followed by a walk along the Yarra outside the Crown. No rush, unlike my walk.

The shortened and rushed walk covered only a couple of blocks and lasted only 10 or so minutes. In that very short window, I walked past 2 homeless men. Both were sleeping. Curled up in nooks between buildings, seeking a cleft to hide from the wind and rain. It wasn’t cold but that was me. They looked cold. At HD Café sipping alternately between a Rose and a Shiraz, I wasn’t cold. Unlike those men. In the dining room in that large house on Saturday night the warm company kept any trace of cold well away. The atmosphere was very warm. I doubt those two men experienced any such warmth.

The food. All of it. That was the only thing wrong with it. There was too much. HD Café, Pat Sie’s home and last night at New Shanghai. We had to tread carefully and not eat too much. I don’t think either of those two men were starving but abundance of food wasn’t a problem they had to deal with.

The company. The sense of belonging in a community of sorts. Friends or you can call on to have a chat. To check out how they’re doing. To keep them in prayers. The company which makes you feel in some ways, purposeful or meaningful. That’s probably the biggest hitting issue against those 2 men. I wanted to stop and alleviate that a little bit. They were asleep. They looked like they had wanted to shut the world out. I don’t know what they want or need.

A couple of blocks, a couple of homeless men. I notice them more these days.

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