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Looking quite... continental
I buttoned up and looked at myself in front of the mirror again. Since moving to Belgium I had let my hair grow. And I mean grow



September 7, 2006

I forgot. It had completely escaped my distracted mind.

My mum could actually see me live on the laptop.

“Nana aakh-e adam-e 41 saale angosht to damaaghesh meekoneh?”

This is the wonder of SKYPE technology coupled with a webcam so my mum can see and speak to us across the English channel in Brussels where we now live.

I nonchalantly pulled my index finger from my nose hoping nothing had stuck to the end of it. I then placed my hand behind my back.

When stressed I respond in two ways:

  1. involuntary movements which look voluntary. In other words I appear to get up but in fact sit down again because I have no reason to get up. In extreme cases I even pull hairs out of my forearm. Not quite self-harming.
  2. I pick my nose. And even if there is nothing to pick, enough digging around will eventually release a green crust or some other similar foreign object from the depths of my nose.

May I stress that unlike my three-year-old twin boys I don’t eat the contents of my nose and say, ‘Yummy in my tummy!’.

My involuntary movements were last triggered when my mum had come to visit. I took her and the boys to an Italian restaurant which is set next to a lake a few minutes drive from our house. The weather was hot but the cool breeze coming from the lake made sitting outside tolerable.

I sat Kourosh next to me and Siavash was made to sit next to my mum. A decision I shall always regret. After a while, Kourosh turned his back on me so he could enjoy the sailing boats on the lake. I couldn’t resist kissing the nape of his little neck and asking him to count how many boats he could see. He wouldn’t reply. So I gently placed my index finger under his arm inside his short sleeve and proceeded to gently tickle him. What he shouted next made me half leave my seat and my mum look down for the rest of the meal.

“Don’t touch my willy Daddy!”

Most Belgians understand English and to this day I have no idea where that came from.

On this particular day, Skyping my mum, I was anxious because my gorgeous boys were about to begin school. And it was a French speaking school near the centre of Brussels. First, however, we had to meet with ‘Madame’, their nursery teacher. So I spent the morning dressing up. I wanted to look smart but not too casual. I wanted to convey confidence, wealth, success, sex appeal and dignity. I wanted the female teachers to look at me as I walked past and say among themselves, ‘Did you see Mr Salari’s tight, sexy buttocks through his jeans?’ obviously in French.

Varinder, my beloved, stopped me on the landing as I came out of the bathroom. 

“What do you think you look like?”


“You are not leaving the house with your shirt open down to your navel, you look like a complete, fat, slimeball.”

I buttoned up and looked at myself in front of the mirror again. Since moving to Belgium I had let my hair grow. And I mean grow. My fringe reaches half way down the length of my nose. I sweep it all back and together with my grey flecks I think I look quite... continental.

On entering the school we were led to two adjoining classrooms. The headmistress came over and began chatting away about general school policy regarding twins. The boys were going to be separated for the first time in their short lives. Varinder and I knew it was the best way but that didn’t make it any easier. I wanted to talk to the teachers so they could reassure me. Was separation usual with twins? Would they see each other at lunch and during breaks? Could they understand English since the boys’ fist tongue was English? The answers to these and other questions were all positive. It seemed we had nothing to worry about.

With our chat with the head coming to a close, out of the corner of my eye, I saw two extremely attractive young ladies approaching us. These were the young nursery teachers. I instinctively ran my fingers through my flowing hair and switched on my charm. Varinder, however, beat me too it by engaging them in conversation first. They were wonderful. Immediately kneeling to get to eye level with the boys.

Siavash, our first born by three minutes is very flirtatious. He hid behind me and played a game of peek-a-boo with the dark haired of the two. Eventually Madam placed her index finger on her cheek and asked Siavash for a kiss. This served to make Siavash run behind his mummy and hide. Watching this little game, I felt like saying, ‘Siavash, ba-ba-jan, I’m going to show you how to kiss madam’. And then I was going to plant a kiss on her perfumed cheek myself.

On the way home I told V what I had wanted to do.

“Thank goodness you didn’t you slimey toad. We would have been asked to leave the school and possibly Belgium.”

I sighed and relaxed into my seat. Now I felt like a parent. Now I really felt grown up. Cradling newborn twins scores quite low in comparison to attending your offspring’s first day at school and meeting their teachers. Now I truly felt old.

 I finally said out loud what I have questioned on many occasions;

“Where did three years go? How did they grow up so fast?” Comment

Siamack Salari is CEO of Everyday Lives, recording human behavior for commercial marketing.

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