• The Thing About Life

    Learning To Take Care of Yourself

    You've always had a strong love affair with balloons. Your mother didn't mind it so much, but it drives me up the wall sometimes. But then something happened a while back that I think may have changed the course of your character, and i think it worth putting down into a letter what I think is a milestone achieved -- with a balloon you never owned.

  • The Thing About Life

    Singapore as a Cycle of Life: A National Day Special

    Dear Xander, At the time I write this letter, you have made it known to your mother and I that you have a love-hate relationship with Singapore. At the time I write this letter, though, you associate the word “Singapore” with the National Day Parade. That justifies an explanation to you about what National Day really means. And to simplify the explanation, I’m going to use the human life cycle as an analogy for highlights in Singapore’s history from independence to present day, because the things that happened every decade that this country sees through reminds me of the milestones I see you going through. 1965: Birth The birth of…

  • The Thing About Life

    Don’t Be Shy, Seriously

    Some of you may have heard about this on my Facebook page. I reproduced my post here, with a second part of the incident that I haven’t shared. Dear Xander, Daddy’s going to tell you a story. A blind lady is standing at a crowded bus stop in Clarke Quay. I walk up and ask if anyone is assisting her. She says no. So we introduce ourselves and talk a little while waiting for her bus. Turns out she’s been standing at the same spot every weekday at 6pm for the last 3 months, waiting for a bus she cannot see, and most of the time, too shy to ask…

  • The Thing About Life

    What You Should Do When I Die

    DO NOT give me a funeral wake - no prayers, no incense, no burning of offerings (if it turns out they have an economy where I'm going I'll e-mail you and let you know). I want a funeral PARTY - with luck, I will have pre-arranged a booking for one night with a restaurant that has a good 8-course menu, a bar, a good collection of beer, liquor and soft drinks and allows us to put a casket with a dead person in it on their premises for one evening.

  • The Thing About Life

    Your Web 2.0 Life

    Dear Xander, At 3 years of age, you have yet to understand the extent of the online presence you may have. 3 days after you were born, I saw fit to provide you with the Holy Trinity of the Web 2.0 world of my time; I decided to register a Google account under your name, create a Facebook profile and even a Twitter account for you. When you turned 3, I decided to register a domain name for your birthday present, and xander.sg was booked in your honour (as is xndr.sg, in case you wanted to be lazy). That is also essentially how Dear Xander came to be. Recently, I…

  • The Thing About Life

    Happy Mothers Day

    Dear Xander, I have been told on a number of occasions by a number of people (I count 3 so far; your eldest aunt – my eldest sister – and both your grandparents) what an unfilial son I have become, particularly after I settled down, had my own family and am struggling to keep things afloat financially whilst trying to ensure the happiness of those that matter to me. I know the sacrifices parents make first hand because I see and make very much the same sacrifices with our own son. This isn’t a day to mark up your filial piety a few notches to show your appreciation to your…

  • The Thing About Life

    Never Gonna Give You Up

    Mummy: I think you were too harsh on your last couple of blog posts. Me: Harsh? How? Mummy: For one, you were really harsh on Andre. Also, you sounded like you were asking Xan to give up. Dear Xander, Sometimes, even though a person means well, he or she will inadvertently overstep boundaries, or make mistakes, or push too hard on a piece of advice they think is the only right way to go about doing things. Sometimes, the person will be stubborn and insist his way is the right way. Sometimes, the person will realise what he did and deal with the embarrassment with a quick brush of the…

  • The Thing About Life

    One Night at Grandma’s (Part 2)

    This is the second of a two-part letter, which began here. It was already a good half hour past your bedtime as we prepared to leave Grandma’s house that night. As we were waiting outside, you climbed up on the wood benches in Grandpa’s garden, plopped your chin on the tabletop and continued to sulk. I came over and sat opposite you, asking if you were all right. You replied me with a question. “Why Andre don’t like me?” Times like this really make me wonder if I had missed out on some milestone whilst I was researching on the mental development of a typical 3-year-old, or you were just…

  • The Thing About Life

    The Importance of a Child’s Imagination

    Dear Xander, Your dad was once an avid comic book collector. In fact, there is a stack of about 200 20-year-old comic books set to be written into your inheritance, the most valuable of which hang across the wall of your playroom, waiting for you to make sense of the imagery contained within their covers. By the time you grow up, printed comic books may no longer be produced, overtaken by their more advanced and many times more interactive digital counterparts. But the stories will no doubt survive, looking at how they are being translated into cinematic experiences such as The Dark Knight, Spider-man, and of course, The Avengers. While…