Things are obviously different around the Cook home. Our living room is less living room now than a McDonald's Playland in which someone has placed a comfy couch. There are no less than four separate play zones in which one can place a child to sit or stand without fear of bodily harm. There, this child can work on fine motor skills by trying to kill and eat darling zoo and/or woodland creatures. In addition, I just constructed a large fenced in region for mano-a-mano, two babys enter, one baby leaves cage matches (with adorable drawings of dancing elephants). We are doing our best to not go mad raising these kids, and most of it hinges on our boys being able to entertain themselves for at least 15 minutes a day. So far, so good.
All in all, the return home has been great. I must admit to taking much of my life for granted, and every tiny little normalcy is magic upon returning. Driving a car. Sleeping in my own bed. Eating food with confidence that you will not be vomiting within hours. Every simple familiarity is a gift. I don't think it's been said enough, so I'll say it here. The American sandwich is a thing of beauty. I'm not just talking free range chicken breast on challah with grilled onions and farmhouse cheese at Zingerman's; I'm talking subs loaded with shaved meat and honey mustard; I'm talking Soul on a Roll (barbequed brisket with slaw, or a deli reuben. Shit, I'm talkin' PB&J on white. I don't even like white bread, but I'm still talking about it. Simple. Satisfying. If it doesn't make me blow junks or bleed internally, so much the better. I got sandwiches in Bangladesh, yes. And they were good, yes. One had egg and mushrooms and was crushed and toasted within an iron over open flame, and it was delicious. At other times I rolled spicy kabob's up in Naan, and again: delicious. But damn it if we don't go to town on the sandwhich in the US. One of the Chicago Reader music critics once wrote that no matter how cool you are, right now, somewhere in America, there's a kid inventing a form of music that will totally piss you off in 20 years. I would like to add that right now, somewhere in America, there's a guy making a sandwich in his kitchen so delicious that it would totally kick your tastebuds in two. If you talk to that man, tell him to mail me one.
It's good to be home.
A few things happened in Bangladesh before we left that I haven't blogged on yet. Going into them in any detail seems very stale, but let me do my best to get them out here for my personal record of the trip. If you don't care, at least I'll remember it when I'm old and trying to explain the trip to Kamran, Kalil, and Maya.
You're Living All Over Me
The hardest thing about Bangladesh was living in the same room with my entire family. In my older age, I have learned that I am by nature an introvert who enjoys his own company and the silence that brings. So it was that being in a room with four other people all day was difficult. Why not walk into the living room, dumbass? Well, lots of reasons. The first, is air conditioning. Our room had it, the rest of house felt like the rest of Bangladesh: like bathing in hot spit that tastes faintly of turmeric.
The second was baby placement. Our bedroom had a crib, a bed, and a mattress on the floor. These are perfect spots to lay down a child such that he can sleep, play, or cry uncontrollably for five minutes to an eternity. The rest of the house is covered in hard, hard marble tile that is easy on the eye and horrible on the fontanelle. It just isn't a good place for a kid to roll around. About half-way through the trip, I started brining the crib out into the living room, but it was still one tiny crib, and I've got twins. Further, neither one really liked hanging in the crib for any longer than they could nap.
The third reason is Andre, the adorable dalmation who tried to eat my face. Here's a picture of him. Cute, eh? How cute would he be if he tried to eat your face? The first time we were in Bangladesh, Andre nearly bit off Tania's hand. We were assured that this time, Andre was mellower, and if we didn't pay him much attention, he wouldn't pay us much attention... or eat our face. And so, Andre was seemingly friendly towards me. He sniffed me, wagged his tail, and even licked me. So, I got comfortable, even started petting him. And thus, on the third time I petted him, Andre leaped up, tried to ingest my hand and claw my chest. I leap back, Salman grabbed Andre, and Maya started crying. Tania tried to comfort her, telling her Daddy is ok, and I'm trying to tell her and everyone that I'm fine. Tania then told me to show Maya my chest to prove that I'm ok, and I then realize that Andre has torn a big hole in the center of my shirt, scraped my chest and leg, and that his bite missed so narrowly that the side of my hand has the imprint of the side of his teeth. For the rest of the trip, Andre lived on the roof of the building from 6 AM until 9 PM, and we stayed in our room for the remainder. Salman loves his dog, and Andre loves Salman, but anyone else is dog food. In retrospect, my masculinity feels bruised after being mauled by a dalmation named Andre. I owe you one, Andre, and if I'm ever in Bangladesh again, I owe you paybacks.
Thus, after that, we became cloistered and I became claustrophobic. It was then, in our weakness, that the creatures came for us as we lay sleeping. I was fast asleep one night, when something walked over my head. Having seen the giant, slow-moving spiders of Bangladesh, I though "TARANTULA!" Luckily--for my masculinity--I did not scream it, but jumped up as though I had, scraping my head violently and sending it flying across the room. Tania is yelling "what, what is it?" and I see it, a humungous cockroach. Having not seen it, she says "get a tissue and kill it!"
Friends, this was not a cockroach that you kill with Kleenex or even Brawny. This was the kind of beast you take a shotgun to and pray he doesn't have friends. He was a whopper, about three inches long, and thankfully not very fast. No wonder the cats in Dubai eat roaches; these roaches are good eatin's. I had to crush him with a shoe, and I didn't sleep well for the next week.
The next plague upon us were scabies. Kamran had a bit of a rash when we got him that just proceded to get worse while we were there. It seemed to start via a lesion on his hand and chest and work its way outward. For a while, Tania and I were putting socks on his hand to keep him from sucking on the hand, but all we were left with was a soggy sock. Overtime, this plague began to cover his body, and his face broke out as well. Then Kalil got it, and then Tania and I started itching. At this point, everyone in the family got to know the joys of permethrin cream, which more or less, is like slathering your body in insecticide. This didn't stop our fantom itch, but at least it kept the cockroaches at bay.