Thursday, 18 December 2008
INDIA. Why not ?
I lived in India for more than 10 years and struggled to find the meaning of that quaint Indian expression, Why not ? So I decided to write a poem about Why Not ?
If you can help me, I would appreciate your comments.
Is it an expression of surprise?
Or non commitment of the wise
After 10 years in India hot
I am still searching for the meaning of WHY NOT.
There is yes and there is no
But who wants to be nailed to the spot
Safer to nod and sway your head
Smile or grin and say WHY NOT
Can I get a ticket on the 2.40 or 5 pm train ?
I’ve made the stationmaster an uncomfortable sot
So why lose your face with a trivial request
He examines the timetable and says WHY NOT
It can be a little of dis a little bit of dat
Planned nebulousity or ‘hard is my lot’
Grin and bear and shrug it off
Better to smile and say WHY NOT
Under the colonial yoke since yore
And bowing to hundreds of wiley despots
Better to keep your head and pride
So when questioned just say WHY NOT
Collapsed one day on a Calcutta street
From Delhi belly and Bombay trots
I asked the doctor “Will I be cured”
He smiled professionally and said WHY NOT
Why Not and Isn’t it have got on my nerves
And I am convinced it is a sinister plot
Asked a friend from the intelligence service
‘Am I right’ I said, he replied ‘WHY NOT ‘
Some nights when wending a weary path
I drop into my local for a jug or a tot
I ask the waiter “Will India win”
He glances at the TV and says WHY NOT
Incredible India pulls you to her breast
Where the food and climate are equally hot
So many questions and answers you need
The one that will never let you down, is WHY NOT
Concentrated research I did for years on end
Questioning people for the meaning of its lot
Now I am none the wiser for my time
For when I asked positive or negative, I got WHY NOT
After years of tears frustration and all
I am beginning to fathom the reply of WHY NOT
So I phrase questions to avoid the phrase
And instead I get an equally frustrating “Is it Not ?
So after travelling in search of the truth
I discovered the master in the valley of Swat
Enlightened Sir ‘give me the meaning of life’
He mediated long and wisely said, WHY NOT
c. Bob McKerrow
Update: I got this photo and message from Simon Nathan who discovered a Why Not cafe in New Zealand.
Enjoyed your "Why Not" poem - Joanna said that it was very evocative of India. We were passing through Kaikoura yesterday, and saw the "Why Not" cafe. Perhaps there are some Indians there (although the menu looked distinctly kiwi).