Alexander Crosses The Hellespont
He was a little tentative
when it came to the East.
Its ways were quite insidious
and odd to say the least.
His experience was unhappy:
His first stop had been Cairo
where he had gone to dropp his card
and call on the Pharoah.
They laid a banquet for him
At the Casino Mariot
and placed by Pope Shenodah
who but Judas Iscariot!
The Turks would be more organized
he fondly hoped - and damn!
He couldn't cross the Hellespont.
There was a traffic jam.
He raged and ranted fiercely
"I must have been a fool
to try and venture into
When do we get to Asia?"
Great Alexander probed.
"When Effendi comes to Turkia
He comes from Europe to Europe.
You can check with CNN
Or ask the BBC.
When you come to Turkey
You come to EEC."
He remembered Aristotle:
"Son, at the Turkish Rail
ask for the Occident Express
The Occidental Mail."
As he checked into a hotel
- the Turks call it Oteli -
he found Thais lodged in Hilton
while he was in Surmeli.
What really turned his eyes into
two glowing bits of phosphorous
was that his friend Hephaestion
checked into Hotel Bosphorous.
His face turned dark and sullen
as a cloud's before a storm.
And though they humoured him he screamed
"I want Hephaestion!"
They offered handsome eunuchs,
whores from the Golden Horn.
But Alexander kept on saying
"I want Hephaestion".
Thias phoned "I am bored at Hilton,
And I am quite akeli."
But he said what can I do
for I am at Surmeli!"
And Mehmet Ali Pasha,
a little high on raaki
asked poor Alexander
if he was an Iraqi?
Then in the hotel dining room
dressed in salwar-kameez,
a man accosted him and said
"could I have your good name please?
Arrey Janab Sikandar Sahab!
Myself Assad Durrani.
Oh what a treat it is to meet
a fellow Pakistani."
Alexander answered darkly
"Thanks very much Janab.
Tell Porus inshah Allah
We'll be meeting in Punjab."
He drove the Persians backwards
right up to Tarbela.
He beat them up at Granicus.
He thrashed them at Arbela.
While he uncorkd the champagne
and lit the fireworks,
who should speak but Spoil Sport
Parmenio, the jerk.
"Sire, though you thrashed the Persians,
you never touched a Turk."
Keki Daruwalla's Other Poems
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