Chemisier Leon

Few weeks ago I passed by this fast food shop, the one you see in the photo. Somehow I felt sad and guilty. Not because I was nostalgic nor because of the change and the bad alterations to the building’s façade. But rather because, I made a promise that I never fulfilled.

In 2014 I met the owner of this shop whom I do not remember his name. I was not professional enough to write down his story. The gray hair man was probably in his 70s. An Armenian, and I remember he mentioned he was Muslim whose dad fled to Alexandria in the beginning of the 20th century. His dad ended up working for the original owner of this shop as chemisier (A French word for an old profession, means someone who designs and tailors shirts). The original owner was not Egyptian but I can not remember what he said, but he was either Italian or French. Few years later the dad inherited the shop and was succeeded by his son, the one I met. He was describing how it became hard for him to maintain this profession, as very few people are willing to tailor their clothes.

Before I left, the old man asked me to pass by from time to time to ask about him. He also asked me to give him a copy of my drawing of the shop as it means a lot to him. I promised I would do it. But I never came back to him. I just finished the drawing, 6 years late, but he is not there anymore!

Pencil and watercolors drawing
The shop as it looks like now, located in Ahmed Moharram street, perpendicular to Al Nabi Danial. Photo by the author

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