The Things You Do

Talking To Strangers

Dear Xander,

As a by-product of teaching you it’s okay to talk to strangers, you have become a very social little boy. It’s always a joy for your dad to bring you through public transport, because I never know what to expect from you.

Just last Friday night, you managed to put smiles on 2 whole busloads of people with your chirpiness and social smarts. And it all started when you were offered an empty seat next to an Indian auntie. The ensuing conversation you had was nothing short of jaw-dropping for your father, who could do nothing else but stare with an awkward smile the entire time.

You: (crawling up the seat) “Thank you!”
Auntie: (surprised) “Oh! You’re welcome!”
You: “Hello! How are you?”
Auntie: (doubling back with a smile) “My, you’re such a bright child! What’s your name?”
You: “My name is Xander!”
Auntie: “And how old are you?”
You: “I am 4! No, no,… I mean, I am almost 4!”

At about this time, my jaw was already half dropped. I was not expecting you to carry a full conversation with me, much less a stranger. Auntie continued the gleeful conversation.

Auntie: “And which school are you from?”
You: (with a bright toothy smile) “I am from XX Preschool!”
Auntie: (getting up) “Oh, auntie has to get off now. Goodbye Xander!”
You: “Bye bye!”

Auntie reaches the exit door.

You: (louder) “Good night!”
Auntie: “Good night!”

Auntie starts walking off the bus.

You: (even louder) “Take care!”
Auntie: (stops for a second to turn back with a gigantic smile) “Oh, you too!”

By this time, about half the bus has noticed you. The ones who were on their phones looked up. The ones who were observing just had these big wide grins as they looked at you.

But it didn’t end there. Soon you were talking to another passenger, a younger Indian woman, standing in front of you.

You: “Hello!”
Woman: “Hello! Where are you going?”
You: “I am going to my grandma house!”
Woman: “Oh! That’s nice! What’s your name?”
You: “My name is Xander!”
Woman: “Oh, Xander is it? That’s a nice name!”
You: “What’s your name?”

In my head I was thinking, “Who is this boy?”

Woman: “Oh, haha. My name is Pinky.”
You: *giggling* “Heeheehee! Pinky?”
Woman: “Yes. Why you never say it’s a nice name also?”

I decided to play along.
Me: “Ya, you have to answer the question. Is it a nice name?”
You: (to me) “Okay.” (to Pinky) “Is it a nice name?”

The conversation went on for a number of stops, ranging from jungles in India to braving the sights of lions and tigers and you never having gone to the zoo. Finally, Pinky reached her stop, and then you exchanged goodbyes the exact same way you did with the Auntie from before.

By this time, the entire bus was awash with a quiet brightness from having heard your louder than usual voice conversing about lions and tigers in India. It happened again when we transferred to a feeder bus when you decided to engage yet another random passenger, this time an elderly Chinese lady, with your bright smile and by-now signature loud almost-4-year-old voice, “Hello, Grandma!”

Your mother and I now need to figure out how to teach you political correctness.


Your very impressed Dad


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