In July 1989 I arrived in Cairo, our Embassy then was in Garden City just off Midan Tahrir in the centre of the City, on Mohammad Fahmy Al-Sayed street. The British Embassy was just up our street with its Victorian Gates and the US Embassy was one street over, a gigantic complex. Garden City has the name implies was built in what was before the 1952 Revolution, the vast garden of a Royal Palace. I lived in the middle of the Nile river on the Island of Zamalek, a beautiful area just to the North of Garden City.
There was always occasions to discover the arts and culture in Egypt and many modern artists at the time were still working. One artist who had designed many large modern sculptures in Cairo and Alexandria lived in one of the out suburbs of the city. From the outside you could not tell what was behind the great wall but once inside it was a beautiful riotous garden of greenery, flowers and art work.
The artist Hassan Hesmat, (1920-2006) had a gardener to look after his house garden. He nicknamed him Monsieur Malesh. What a funny name, he explained that if he ever asked his gardener about the garden or something needing attention, the reply would be ”Malesh”. The word malesh in Egyptian Arabic means no matter, not to worry, you hear it all the time. Of course when you say Malesh your facial expression must match the meaning of the word, in speaking Egyptian Arabic you quickly learn the hand gestures and the facial expression which conveys the meaning of what you are saying.
Hassan Heshmat captured in stone sculpture his gardener and named it Monsieur Malesh. When I saw it in his studio I knew he had to come home with me. Monsieur Malesh is one of my remaining souvenir of Cairo and Egypt. He has been in our gardens and amongst plants ever since.