Do The Needful

It might be a new dance. A tortuous new walking track or a laborious embroidery technique requiring sharp eyes and steady fingers.

Do The Needful. Do what is necessary to get something done… and trusting the doer to do this without further instructions.

And so came the reply from a hotel in Colombo after receiving my request to look after rail tickets until we arrived. A common enough expression in Indian and Sri Lankan English, I supposed, and one we will be bound to hear again,

Yet then I read this expression is ancient and belongs to colonial times. It is now used only by very elderly pterodactyls and tourists who think they know something about the language – and don’t.

Instead we might do well to try these newer expressions instead:-

Prepone. To bring an event forward rather than backward (postpone).

What’s Your Good Name? As opposed to your bad name, or your nickname at work, or what your wife calls you in bed, even the name you’d give yourself if you were a famous film star.

Kindly Adjust. You are standing in a crowded train compartment with a hundred other people. The temperature is forty degrees Celsius, and the man behind you keeps digging the sharp end of his umbrella into your back. Your kindle has melted, your shoes are killing you, and a waterfall of sweat cascades from your armpits. Oh, and an announcement has just gone out on the PA that the track ahead has warped and it will be another three days before you reach your destination.

So do you do the needful, rest until fine, or kindly adjust?

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