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.

Why Not

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.




Hi Bob
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).
best wishes
Simon N

16 comments:

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
A beautiful morning here in the north island, Charlie and I up early and before I checked your blog he asked "can we go for a swim in the river daddy?". I looked outside and back at him and said "WHY NOT". Truly. You got my day off to a humorous and thoughtful start. Bob, have a safe trip to Timaru, and lovely weekend amongst family and friends.
Rangimarie,
Robb

Bob McKerrow said...

Good morning Robb

Why not go for a swim ? Why not is a great phtase for the non-committed in our midst.

Old Jim Cowie my climbing mentor came round yesterday afternoon and we caught up on our many escapades together. Off to Timaru tonight.

Have a great weekend.

Arohanui to you and family.

Bob

Marja said...

Namaste Bob

Absolutely fantastic hilarious poem. Would have like to hear what the meaning of live is, There is no reason as why not give it.

How interesting to have lived in India. Both my parents and brother went there and they loved it. My brother went backpacking and so he saw a lot and had a bit of a culture shock.
To see the Tash Mahal is on my wishlist

Have a great christmas, marja

Bob McKerrow said...

Hi Marja

Pleased you enjoyed the peom. Yers, India leaves an impression on all who visit her.

Have a great trip south.

Bob

PATERIKA HENGREAVES, Poet Laureate said...

Kia ora Bob

Your blogs are as diverse as ever and I like that. Also the fact that you are using your extra time not only to give informative blogs but poetry with cultural injections. The poem was masterfully done and I kept on smiling as I read every verse. You are so right about "Why not". My daughter who was in India on two occasions on government business discussed with me the cultural richness of India and she too was aware of the "why not" phenomenon. It is the hidden form of tact and I dare say not offensive to the ears. However, I think this evasive response tends to stymie further conversation. How does one probe deeper with a response such as "Why not"?

I love those pictures Robb too of you. I see much contentment in your face as you go down the road to full recovery.

Hopefully I shall have your book, "Mountains of Our Minds" on Boxing Day so said Amazon.com However that day will be a public holiday so I know not to expect delivery. Hopefully before the end of December. Do have a great weekend.

Cheers
Paterika

Bob McKerrow said...

Kia Ora Paterika

Thanks for the comments and feedback on Why Not > A very difficult subject to handle and humour seems the less offensive.
The knees are better and my recovery is going well.

I hope you enjoy my book of poems which should arrive soon.

Thanks for your support and Merry Christmas.

Bob

pohanginapete said...

Loved the humour in this, Bob. I was only in India for 5 months but had unconsciously picked up a trace of the head wobble by the end of my stay... ;^)

A very merry Christmas to you Bob — and how long will you be in Christchurch? I'm down there in mid January.

Bob McKerrow said...

Dear Pete

Glad you appreciated the humour. Yes the head wobble cpmes after a few months.

I leave on 12 January for Singapore. When are you likely to be down ?

Merry Christmas. Bob

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
Hope you had a great week end with the family! I imagine you must be about doing a few 800 metre sprints by now - he wrote smiling.
I see the Yanks want to send in 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan. I am afraid we will never learn.
Have a great day Bob. My aroha to you and the family.
Cheers.
Robb

Bob McKerrow said...

Kia Ora Robb

I am not quite into the 800 metre sprints yet but a long walk round the cricket field and neighbourhood. It is coming.

Baez, Peter Paul and Mary, plus Dyland sang "When will the ever learn," and you wonder if they will. Afghanistan has defeated all major super powers from the Persians, Turks, Soviets and .....?

Bob

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