A homeless man in Melbourne

This is Alan. He has lived on the streets of Melbourne for 15 years. Now his home is located under one of the bridges in the city center.

His face shows a map of a tough life.

His face shows a map of a tough life.

I met him when I was on my first layover in Melbourne, Australia. After a good rest I took my camera for a walk in the downtown area close to the harbour. I was busy taking pictures when he approached me from behind and said something to me with a strong Australian accent that I could hardly understand. I turned around and asked him what he had just said. He told me he would shatter my lens if I would take his picture. However he wasn’t intimidating at all so I politely showed him my photography subject and convinced him I was not after his picture. I guess this was just his peculiar way of getting my attention.

He then started to chat. When I showed him the respect of talking to him he proved to be a very likeable and amusing person. He told some jokes that made us both laugh. He said he loved to make people laugh and being able to see me laugh at his jokes “just made my day” as he said. Apparently I didn’t need to do much to make him glad. He showed me his bag he was carrying, it contained only two items, a bottle of wine and a hair-comb.

He talked about his past. He told me he used to be in the army and that he kept some memories he would not share with anyone and would take with him into the grave. I instantly got the feeling something had happened that just ruined his life.

Alan and me.

Alan and me.

We talked for approximately 45 minutes and before we said goodbye I got his approval for shooting some pictures of him. He was actually surprised and flattered I wanted to take his picture.

This time I spent with Alan turned out to be the most amusing and memorable experience from my Melbourne trip.

"Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always." -Robin Williams