If you are uncomfortable putting a camera in front of a stranger’s face yet still want candid street photography, look for a good vantage point up over the action and shoot down. You will be amazed by the sense of freedom and the results.
Down in the streets a light-weight, fast camera is essential, with image quality sacrificed in order to have more chance of capturing the moment at all. With a good vantage point it is possible to work with a bigger camera, a longer lens and perhaps a tripod. Since you will not be moving much the size and weight of your camera will not matter. Nor are you restricted by other items, so feel free to take along snacks and drinks sufficient for your intended stay aloft.
Your decision whether to use a tripod will depend upon the distance over which you are shooting, the available light (and your camera’s ability to deal with low light) and also the style of shots you are hoping to capture. In most cases, you should be able to rest on some form of support (the same support that stops you falling from your perch), and that will often be a good compromise between mobility and quality.
Auto focus is an option, though if you are working a particular spot, you may find it safer to keep a zone in manual focus—particularly if the light is poor or the contrast is bad for other reasons.