A mule, a campervan, & other updates

This summer will bring a lot of changes

Hey all,

There’s a big update at the end but let’s start with something fun.

I’ve become a mule for my 7 month old baby. This is what I mean:

That is a Norwegian product called Minimeis, which is a frame for keeping a baby safely on your shoulders. They targeted ads at my wife’s Instagram account and after a quick test at a local baby supplies shop we ordered one.

I’ve used it once in-store and once outdoors and so far I rate it OK. 7/10. Both times I had shoulder aches after only 15 minutes of carrying, which to be fair, I don’t know whether it’s because I’m not very fit or the ergonomics of this design just isn’t good. It cost us 169€, but we did check on eBay and confirmed that they retain much of their value for a while, so we’ll probably sell it if we don’t like it.

This brings me to the next update: we’re buying a campervan!

Buying a campervan

After roughly two years of consideration, we decided to buy a used campervan. We’ve already paid the downpayment of 3000€ to the seller.

Aside from the fact that summer is around the corner in Europe, we're buying a campervan because we want to explore Europe while we live in Berlin and we believe traveling by a campervan is probably more fun than flying or taking trains, especially with a young child baby and a dog in tow. We’ve already done three trips with campers of different sizes before deciding on the medium-sized Fiat Westfalia Columbus 540D:

We’re buying from the camper rental company Roadsurfer (German site), who will send the vehicle for full servicing with Fiat and have the decals removed before handing it over to us.

I’m pumped about our decision to invest a stack of cash to buy a home-on-wheels like this. It feels like the right thing to do to invest in experiences. The only thing that is untimely about this whole thing is that diesel prices are at the highest in the last 10 years.

That’s data for Germany from mylpg.eu.

This is certainly only a minor inconvenience compared to the people in Ukraine who are dealing the direct effects of war. I don’t want to talk about that in a newsletter post. But I do want to say this: The Right Time doesn’t exist. We could have waited for a year or two for the war in Ukraine to end (hopefully) and for diesel prices to correct itself, but waiting just seems silly. When will the waiting end?

I prefer instead to live as Sam Harris suggests: this could be the last time you do something.

Speaking of timeliness…

Going on parental leave (again)

I cannot believe that I get to say this: I am going on parental leave again!

I’ve written about this before, but here’s why I find it unbelievable:

  • Singapore parental leave for fathers: 2 weeks
  • Germany parental leave for fathers: up to 14 months

Lost income is one thing. But lost time with your child in her formative years is in my opinion something altogether more tragic.

I’ve taken parental leave in the first 3 months of Charlotte’s life and that I cannot overstate how important it was for me to have had the time to learn how to be an equal parent alongside my partner.

In May, I’ll be taking another 3 months off and this time, having levelled-up as parents, we’ll be taking Charlotte to the countryside, mountains, lakes, and hopefully oceans to live it up all summer…

Being Singaporean, I can’t believe this is real!

It is things like this, which are completely different and unfathomable back home but are a reality elsewhere, that make moving abroad one of the best decisions of my life. It may be the best decision, period.

Finding my tribe

Right, so those are the life updates. I will likely throw in a few of these “update” posts once in a while going forward to contextualise the other posts.

Other posts? Yeah, I hear you. That’s the last thing I want to talk about.

Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed my mind straying into thoughts about “what’s next” with my blog and writing in general.

I’ll cut to the chase - I’ve started to crave a direct connection with my readers. It’s a much stronger feeling than before. Naturally I wondered why and with some reflection, I realised that I’m craving a direct connection because I’m feeling rather lonely. I have been for a while now.

Looking back on my life, one thing has become increasingly clear: I never had very close friends. I hadn’t thought of it this way until I wrote this down: I always found the people around me at school and at work to be fun to hang out with once in a while. A pattern that kept recurring is that once I spent too much time with any of them, I would start to distance myself. My hypothesis for this is not that I have commitment issues (I’m very happily married) but that I haven’t found the right crowd.

There’s 7.7 billion of us in the world and counting. I find myself identifying as a citizen of the world more than most of the people I grew up with. Yet, I haven’t connected with people the way I think a true citizen of the world would — directly, thoughtfully, and regularly over the internet.

This is why I’m shifting my focus from publishing posts on my blog, which I’ve done for 7 or so years, to publishing posts through this newsletter.

I believe that by writing and emailing posts directly to readers and keeping several channels for feedback open (e.g. direct email reply, post comments), I’ll find “my people” for the first time.

PS. If you’ve been subscribed to my old newsletter, you’ve been ported over to this new one. The only difference that should be noticeable to you should be the cadence of these dispatches — they will be increasing because every post I write now will land in your inbox. Let me know if you have feedback.

P.P.S. I’m open to suggestions about what to write about. If you have feel strongly that you’d like me to talk more about something, feel free to let me know.

Stay honest!

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