Serendipity – Random Meeting in Hanoi

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As I prepare a post for my impressions of Hanoi, Vietnam, I would like to isolate a great moment of serendipity–aka “oh boy, is this world small!”–that occurred on my first day of my trip.

On any business trip, I always look to get in some exercise as a way to combat the jet lag. If I can, I try to fit in a game of tennis. On this occasion, having just arrived in Hanoi, I went to find my partner at the Sofitel Hotel Metropole. I arrived at what turned out to be the back entrance of the hotel. Not realizing there were two entrances, I stood patiently while my partner waited for me at the front of the hotel.

After a few moments, a couple, also tourists, walked up to me. The smiling man, in his 60s, asked me where I was playing tennis. Sheepishly, I told him that I didn’t actually know the location of the court as it had been arranged by my partner. The conversation continued:

“So, do you always like to play tennis?”
“Yes, absolutely,” I answered enthusiastically. “I try to make it a habit when I travel.”
“I do too,” the man said quickly.
“I have a little saying,” I explain to him, “that I prefer to have a tennis playing friend in every port.”
“As do I! Well, my name is Harry Roebuck,” he said tending his hand.
“And I’m Minter Dial,” I continued, but very sure I’d heard that name before. “You don’t happen to know my father, Victor?”
“Well, yes, I do,” Harry said surprised. “Where do you live?”
“In Paris, not so far from where my father is now.”
“And, I suppose you might also know your father’s friends, Adam and Donna?” Harry asked.
“Yes,” I said, “in fact, we had Thanksgiving dinner at their place in Paris just last week.”
“The truth is,” Harry admitted, “I was invited to the same dinner party. But, as I had this trip planned, I wasn’t able to attend.”

What a lark! Harry and I met up for a drink later that day, and shared a wonderful moment. With kindred spirit, we called my father and, in a form of crank call, confused him utterly with an improvised “cross-wiring” whereby I pretended to have a call waiting that was Harry also calling me on my cell (how on earth he knew me, much less had my number blew right by my father?). We all laughed heartily once the confusion cleared.

So, the conclusion of the story might be that the world is SOOOO small. But, in the end of the day, the world is made smaller by (a) being gregarious and (b) having a large [extended] address book. So, here’s to being gregarious and shrinking the world (and it doesn’t have to happen only via the internet).

Harry and I promised to meet up “for real” in Paris. Hopefully, we will also get in a game of tennis. wink


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