Shobhaa De | The heat is on… A ‘banger’ of a summer is coming up

The Asian Age.  | Shobhaa De

Opinion, Columnists

Mad Hatter who’s in charge of the weather, has really fried our brains this week with heavy downpours in March and the hottest “spring”

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Someone really clever and witty sent me someone else’s clever and witty post, which read: “Before the Ides of March, Caesar was an emperor. Now he is a salad.” I promptly shared it with a few clever and witty friends, who shared the same with their clever and witty friends. I went a step further, and posted it on Instagram, where people are not all that clever or witty, nor do they know their Shakespeare. Sure enough, I was inundated with comments that asked: “Is there chicken in this salad?” Now, that comment qualifies as super-super clever and witty, for those who got it. Most didn’t. Desole, as the lead in the extravagantly inane Netflix series Emily in Paris, keep exclaiming. I love inane done well. Emily does it brilliantly. And, in any case, we can do with a bit of stylish froth since the Mad Hatter who’s in charge of the weather, has really fried our brains this week with heavy downpours in March and the hottest “spring” in Mumbai, with temperatures touching 40 degrees in the shade. The only thing hotter on my radar remains Urfi Javed’s sizzling daily outings unwearing clothes, and gladdening our hearts.

All this delish nonsense kept me distracted from the usual burning issues, that scorch our news wires for a few hours before disappearing into that welcoming void of nothingness where most political scoops land. If these scoops were physical in format (like dog poop), we could use them for landfills from Mumbai to Dubai. And still have enough crap to spare. I mean, what else can one call the hocus focus chase involving a slippery customer called Amritpal Singh, described as a separatist preacher, who has thousands of cops chasing him while he effortlessly gets on a motorbike provided by supporters and speeds off. Aha -- the dashing cops have arrested his accomplices — which is a big thing. But he is still out there at the time of writing, with pressure being put on his parents to get the radical Sikh leader to surrender. Slim likelihood of that happening, given the headlines he is generating worldwide by being on the run. Khalistani supporters from London to Washington are staging disruptive protests, throwing water bottles and smoke flares at the main gate of India House, the Indian high commission in London.  It sounded like a well-organised protest, with hired buses, banners and sound systems. The demand is for a halt to “rampant drug consumption and police repression’’ in Punjab. The response from the staffers at the high commission seems pretty odd -- why unfurl an additional tricolour from the terrace, with a police helicopter hovering overhead, and further rile up the irate protesters? The desperate and despicable attempt to tear down the tricolour must, however, be strongly condemned and action taken against the nasty miscreants.

But here’s the thing. My friends with close friends in Toronto have many stories about the Khalistanis in Canada and the staggering amount of wealth some of them possess. I was told about a Sikh building contractor hired by a former Mumbai resident who moved base to Toronto recently, sharing a cuppa with the lady of the house and offering her a joyride in his private helicopter. He is not an exception, the lovely lady breathlessly shared. She has zero political views, whether on Khalistan or Pakistan. She has moved to Canada for a better life, that’s it. But even someone as apolitical as her, has picked up on what’s going on in the pre-dominantly Sikh areas of the city she now calls home. This is not a recent development. It appears like the Indian government has been caught napping and worse, the perception suggests there is a serious lack of communication, an absence of a long-term strategy, and a sense of powerlessness, too. Let sleeping dogs lie, is never the ideal solution to resolving simmering and severe conflict that appears to be spiralling out of control. At the moment, it is advantage Amritpal. Come on, Keystone Cops! As the bench of Justice N.S. Shekhawat of the Punjab and Haryana high court asked the state government during the hearing of a plea filed by Imran Singh Khara, legal adviser to Waris Punjab De, which has demanded Amritpal’s release claiming that he was in the “illegal custody” of the police: “You have 80,000 cops… how did Amritpal Singh escape?” Good question. But as most Punjab watchers know, anything is possible in that state, provided the money is right. The more important question is this: “Where does the lolly come from? And how?’’

Meanwhile, I’m all ears for the “Total Banger” rap edit of Deepika Padukone’s Oscars speech. The video has gone viral. One wonders who scripted Deepika’s sharp and on point “Banger” comment that summed up the mood of “Naatu Naatu” so vividly. The word “Banger” sounds wicked and obscene. Apparently, its kosher or else it would have been blipped out during the telecast. The video created by Canadian DJ Sickick, has global fans lovin’ it… Even though the “Banger” term has been adopted earlier by Homeboy for TipsPunjabi (Music by Yeah Proof) and has 55 lakh views on YouTube. With her spectacular debut on the Champagne Carpet -- plus, the generous praise from an unlikely source: Bollywood co-actor Kangana Ranaut -- Deepika Padukone looks unbeatable in the celebrity stakes at the moment. Shall we overlook the absence of any comment from her husband Ranveer Singh, without reading too much into the otherwise over loquacious actor’s uncharacteristic radio silence over his wife’s glam-triumph. Perspectives, folks -- Deepika was one of the presenters at the Oscars -- not the winner of the Best Actress award. But what’s the silly season without a dollop of Bollywood goss and speculation???

With several high-profile political arrests in the pipeline, the heat is on in more ways than one. Donald Trump, Rahul Gandhi, Imran Khan… oooooh! Will they or won’t they land in the clink? And if they do get one or all three behind bars -- how many of us will be beating our breasts and crying in sympathy? Or will break into a spontaneous “Jailhouse Rock?

Ufffff!!!  All this breast-beating and slogan-shouting is giving me a migraine. Enuff stress, ya! The great news is here: the first crop of Ratnagiri mangoes is in the local markets, priced at Rs 1,600 per dozen. Gold touched Rs 60,000 a tola last week. Enjoy India’s Golden Hour while it lasts. Sab kuch seasonal hota hai! What? No chapattis for lunch? Let them eat mangoes!