Friday, February 23, 2007

A Long Story

Port Of Spain, Trinidad

His name is ‘Owner [1] Owner’. He writes. A lot. All day and all night. He works on seven journals at a time, one pen in his right hand, three more in his left hand. Just in case. He rarely looks up. He writes slowly, concentrated, more like drawing something. Owner has done so for 21 (!) years now. His older journals got lost or stolen, he does not care too much because they are written and can’t be unwritten. Important is the continuation of his work, or the ‘documentation’, as he calls it. He will stop when he gets to live in his own house. For now he lives on this bench.

He explained to me last week what he is writing about, but I am not able to pass it on to you. He is way ahead of me, so I leave it there. It is so important to him that nothing else matters. He knows a lot about languages, places and things. My German origin rings a bell, the Berlin Wall. And that it was torn down. About 17 years ago. 4 years after he started writing. How does he know that he has been writing for 21 years? He was somehow connected to tennis, that much becomes clear. And a woman, an ‘acquaintance’, nobody well known, won a tennis match in 1983 in Trinidad. And again in 1984. And again in 1985. But not again in 1986, that is when his life changed dramatically and he started to live out here and write. First in downtown Port of Spain, then Woodbrook, later here in the Savannah.

And this is where I talked to him last week. Finally. Because I wanted to take his picture ever since I first saw him on that bench five years ago, close to where the road splits up to Maraval. I have since seen him dozens of times for the past five years, I run here every morning when in town and I am in town quiet often. He is always there, without fail. I never dared to speak to him, don’t ask me why. He loves to chat and we had a very nice talk, so if you happen to come to Trinidad, or live there, stop by. New pencils, paper, water, food or money, all appreciated.


  1. Hey Stefan - you are a good writer, too! thanks for sharing with us this man. Sometimes the less eye-catching images have strength and lessons to teach. Makes me think back 21 years in my life, where I was, what I did, what I thought was important. I wonder what happened to him 21 years ago...

  2. Rudolf8:23 PM

    Hi Stefan, -- great pictures, nice interview. My wife and I were intrigued by this character and wondered if an interview would be possible. Last year, for several months, a woman held him company but now she seems to have wandered off. Maybe she was the tennisplayer?

  3. Anonymous7:07 PM

    I see him every day. And also know his name. Thank you.

    These are the stories that count.