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"I don't believe in accidents. There are only encounters in history. There are no accidents." – Pablo Picasso

  • D.T.

The Pākehā Parting Ritual

A couple are invited to dinner at the home of the wife’s client in Remuera. The invitation was for 6:30. The couple arrived at 6:40, the most appropriate time, being not too early nor too late.

It is now 10:30. The dinner is over and the flow of conversation in the living room is winding down. The husband is telling an amusing story, which the wife has heard scores of times. She is trying to catch her husband’s eye, intending to mouth “It’s time to go.” This is step one.

The husband chooses to ignore the signal, step two. He did see her moving lips but he continues with his story. Ten minutes later, the wife looks around for her handbag, having wound up her own conversation. She moves her legs readying herself to stand. Step three.

Step four involves her addressing her husband. “Early morning meeting tomorrow—just want to remind you.” She is speaking softly, but the host and his wife both stand up. Step five.

All four are standing, when the host introduces a new topic, as required. After a few exchanges, the host and hostess gently move toward the front hall. Step six.

The foursome stand under the doorway between living room and hallway, not moving but chatting, The hostess begins a new topic while moving gradually to the front door. The others follow, until all four are standing in the middle of the hall conducting the conversation. Step seven. This is part of Pākehā identity, which prompted a travel consultant recently to write a lengthy article in the national newspaper. He cautioned Kiwis, when overseas and especially in New York city, not to conduct this activity, particularly when exiting a theatre or concert hall, because locals will rudely push them aside. Nobody is actually trying to move in this hall, however; no one is coming in the house or exiting as they perform this ritual.

Now they reach the front door, and the host opens it for the guests to step over the threshold. Step eight. Now the husband, looking around, comments on the weather, and this leads to a discussion about climate change.

The hostess is visibly showing signs of needing a cuppa, and the host jovially cries, “I’ll see you to the car!” He walks firmly the few steps to the passenger-side door, and looks expectantly at the husband, who slides into the seat. Step nine.

The wife suddenly remembers a mutual friend, an elderly lady, as she sits behind the wheel. She lowers the window and asks the hostess, “By the way, how is Lydia?” Step ten. The hostess, who works in the medical profession, feels obliged to give a report on their friend’s situation. Step eleven.

When they finish, the wife brings the window up, turns on the engine, and backs out of the drive. A final beep-beep signals the twelfth step has been reached in the farewell ritual. With a sigh of relief the host and hostess re-enter their home, and turn off all the outdoor lights. The husband and wife in the car also sigh with relief.

“Parting is such sweet sorrow

That I shall say good night till it be morrow”




“It is only at the first encounter that a face makes its full impression on us”

- Arthur Schopenhauer



“Chance encounters are what keep us going.”

– Haruki Murakami



"If there is no fate and our interactions depend on such a complex system of chance encounters, what potentially important connections do we fail to make? What life changing relations or passionate and lasting love affairs are lost to chance?"

– Simon Pegg


"Sweet Serendipity...that unexpected meeting that changes your life"




"Ironically, the people you meet by accident are often the ones who become an important part of your life." 

Solitary Reaper



“Important encouners are planned by the souls before the bodies see each other.”    

Paulo Coelho



"I am thankful for the serendipitous moments in my life, when things could've gone the other way"

Rick Springfield



"Synchronicity: ideas, thoughts,

occurrences that seem related, but defy conventional explanation."


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