In spring 1998, an elderly man hobbled along a sidewalk in downtown Moscow, not far from Red Square and the Kremlin. Dressed in a dark, well-worn overcoat and black fedora, the man slowly picked his way along the uneven pavement in front of brightly lit cafes and elite fashion boutiques. As pedestrians rushed past, he turned his stooped body to face them, extending his trembling hand beseechingly for spare coins. A piece of cardboard hung at the end of a string looped around his neck; the hand-lettered sign read simply, Golodnyi, or hungry' (also, 'the hungry one'). On the other side of the street stood McDonald's, an American pizza restaurant, and sleek buildings housing the main offices for a number of large international corporations. In their shadows several children slept at the feet of a woman who held up a small sign on which she had written a short blessing for those who might donate a few rubles to help feed her children.