Saturday, June 22, 2013

Father’s Day Dhaka Style

It has been quite a while since I last wrote but lately our social life has reached new, previously unimagined heights and we tend to go out 5 nights a week. Much has happened in the past few weeks, but the Father’s Day experience I had in store for the Diplomat certainly takes the cake.
A few ladies from the Embassy and I set out to plan an unforgettable day for our great husbands/ wonderful fathers of our children. After conspiring for a few weeks, none of them suspected what was in store and only knew to free the entire day for the “celebration.” So, there we were, on a bright and promisingly absurdly hot Dhaka morning, 6 hapless husbands and all of our kids went to one of our apartments for a lavish home-made breakfast catered by us, devoted wives. There were Bloody Marys and Mimosas, famous personal recipes, home-baked cinnamon rolls, sausages and similar delicacies. The men stood there, all coffee cups in hand, happy, chatting, with the vague notion that something seriously devious was about to happen to them. Starting them gently, we announced that they will first have to go to the American School where they will play some games with their beloved children. We all trooped over to the school, and made the dads play a few silly games with them in the quickly rising heat.
Once the games were over, we announced the next task – they were all to put on specially made shirts reading “Dhaka Daddy Day” and their names, along with a fetching lungi (the local checkered skirt contraption worn by men in South Asia, which has some serious art to tying and wearing it). Nonplussed, the profusely sweating dads changed into their new duds (the lungi tying took some effort and eventually most of them looked like they had tied their mother’s kitchen tablecloth around their waists) and went into the street for their first challenge of the day. They were to split in couples and drive a rickshaw from the school to the field in front of the embassy where local kids gather daily in the blistering heat to play cricket. There they would be taught cricket by a pro and would have to ask the kids to play with them. I watched in delight as the Diplomat and a friend hopped onto a rickshaw, the amused rickshaw driver sitting in the back beaming like a Cheshire cat (obviously thinking that foreign men are lunatics to pay HIM to drive his rickshaw), and three seconds later to crash into another rickshaw, its owner not amused at all. Later on it transpired that driving a rickshaw is one tough business – one of the teams managed to crash their vehicle once and then run into a tree promptly thereafter. Minor injuries were sustained.
Somehow the teams crawled up to the make-shift cricket field where the son of one of the national team players along with one of his friends (who apparently came more to stare at the white boys struggle than to do anything practical) taught the burning diplomats how to whack a ball with a cricket bat. While we had provided the boys with child-sized bats from the local store, I gave the Diplomat his own cricket bat – an unfortunate gift of mine for our 5th (wooden) anniversary, which until last week was still in its plastic wrapper. Apparently, the bat was a hit (literally) and all guys used it productively playing in the 110-degree heat. After that, texting them clues, we sent them to have lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. To our defense, we had graciously provided them with a cooler full of beer in the support car which followed them around town.
After a solid 2-hour lunch, the brave dads embarked on their last adventure – the treasure hunt. Split into 2 teams, they had to do the following things:
1.       Get a shave/haircut in a street barber shop
2.       Buy a prayer cap
3.       Get a jackfruit, open it up and eat a few of the seeds (let’s just say that a jackfruit is a VERY acquired taste and to me it smells like baby puke; oddly, the Diplomats loves the damned fruit monstrosity and stores it in our fridge).
4.       Buy a “delay spray” from a hidden sex shop in the main shopping area in the diplomatic zone. Now, I feel this last one deserves a bit of an elucidation. We had heard that such a shop exists in the area, but that it was part of a normal grocery shop, where you need to go and ask twice about the “shower supplies.” Two of the wives set out to confirm this the prior week. They entered the store, walked up to the counter and brightly asked about the shower supplies. Graciously, the men behind began pulling various lovely shower supplies like loofas and colorful soaps off the shelves and offering them to our ladies. Again, they mentioned, with a knowing look, “THE shower supplies.” At that point, more men gathered behind, and all began speaking animatedly in Bangla, repeatedly drawing a box in the air with their hands and in general gesticulating wildly. Then they waved off the girls to a different part of town, saying they got nothing. The ladies gathered that whatever treasures there were at the store, they were all inside a box hidden somewhere there and there was no way in hell that these men were ever going to admit that to them. At that point, however, the girls noticed the various bottles behind the counter, among which were the “delay spray” and some other hilarious, non-effective medications for activities of the bedroom sort. We all thought that telling the guys what to get but not what it looks like would be great as they would have to actually explain it somehow to the storekeeper. We are proud to say that both teams successfully procured a bottle each.
Around 5 pm both teams finally made it to our apartment, where they were immediately treated with home-brewed beer (courtesy of the Diplomat and me) and massages, while we ladies spruced up a lovely dinner and the kids were all locked up in our bedroom watching a movie. It was universally acknowledged that this was one unique day, fun was had by all (I actually managed to squeeze in a manicure in the afternoon while Son slept and the Diplomat was sweating it out, getting a shave in the market) and it was an affair to remember. I gear the guys are reciprocating for Mother’s Day, but alas, I won’t be here for these festivities.

Because folks – guess what – the time has come for the Diplomat and me to leave this lovely land in a month…