Not just Uttar Pradesh, focus on capturing power in Delhi as well: this was the advice Samajwadi Party (SP) founder Mulayam Singh gave to party workers and leaders as he entered the 81st year of his life on Thursday. While his public appearances have decreased over the past one year, party workers still look up to the Yadav patriarch as a guiding light and a potential prime ministerial candidate, especially as the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha election approaches.Mr. Singh has in the past made his PM aspirations known to all.“Yours eyes must be set on Delhi. Delhi is everything, keep that in mind… You must resolve to create such a situation that no government can be formed in Delhi without the SP,” Mr. Singh told a gathering at the party office on the occasion of his birthday.The SP founder even asked party workers to organise public meetings for him at the local level so that he could join in the campaign.Mr. Singh reflected on his career and how the SP formed the government in Uttar Pradesh four times and become part of the Centre twice, despite being underestimated as a “party of one district”.However, he said that “some leaders” broke away from the party after creating strife and causing damage, and now it was up to the youth to unite and strengthen the party ahead of 2019. Mr. Singh did not name any leader, though it could be speculated if he was referring to his younger brother Shivpal Singh Yadav who, after a long family feud, especially with his nephew Akhilesh Yadav, formed a separate outfit recently. Akhilesh and Shivpal, however, have been locked in battle to claim Mulayam’s political legacy. The patriarch has so far enacted a balancing game.While SP leaders cut a cake and celebrated his birthday at the party headquarters, his son Akhilesh, along with his daughter and son, called upon him to wish him, before he headed out to campaign in Madhya Pradesh. “He taught us all to walk on Gandhiji’s path of truth and non-violence and to follow Lohiaji’s principle that in order to defeat the evil, we must first recognise it, and that trust is the biggest asset of human relationships,” Mr. Akhilesh tweeted.On the other hand, Shivpal Yadav’s party organized a session on “Socialism and Secularism” in Lucknow, while he himself attended a ‘dangal’ (wrestling contest) organized in Safai as tribute to his elder brother. Mr. Singh is a former wrestler. Saifai is the native village of the Yadavs in Etawah district.
Rishi Kapoor loves recalling how he felt like a prodigal son when he first visited the Johnnie Walker distillery in Scotland. The Scotch label, he remembers feeling at that time, owed his family at a least a square metre of land for the services it had rendered to it for three generations.The whisky-gargling generation of Bollywood heroes has made way for Bacardi-loving hunks. The three Khans of Mumbai’s dream factory – Aamir, Shah Rukh and Salman – are famous for their love for Bacardi and Coke, so is Sanjay Dutt, and fawning film journalists dine out on stories of how Salman and Sanjay just breeze through their parts even after a night dedicated to Cuba’s exiled rum.But if there’s a drink that’s synonymous with Hindi cinema, it’s VAT 69. Think of any villain of the yesteryear, from Ajit to Pran, and there’s bound to be the light green bottle of VAT 69 somewhere in the background of the frame.Maybe the satraps of Bollywood couldn’t bear to see their favourite Johnnie Walker Black being sullied by bad company.VAT 69′ s biggest Bollywood moment, however, was when a very drunk Shatrughan Sinha lipsynched Zindagi Imtihaan Leti Hai swigging from a bottle of VAT 69 in the Manmohan Desaiblockbuster Naseeb (1981).For reasons I haven’t been able to fathom, the whisky of the villains went out of favour in the retail market despite all the free publicity it got from Bollywood, but VAT 69 is being re-launched in a new bottle and will be available across the country for Rs 900 (its price point, clearly, makes it the poor cousin of the guy who keeps walking). VAT 69, incidentally, is owned by Diageo, whose topselling brand is Johnnie Walker.advertisementThe world of alcoholic beverages can be incestuous.Will Bollywood be drinking to its health? I doubt it. Bollywood’s new generation tends to swing between Bacardi and wine ( Winchester- educated Saif Ali Khan is said to be quite a wine connoisseur, for instance), but VAT 69′ s recurrence in popular culture doesn’t cease to surprise me.Sir Ernest Shackleton took a stock of VAT 69 with him on the 1914 Imperial Trans- Antarctic Expedition. Gregory Peck drank it in the 1949 World War II film, Twelve O’Clock High.It shows up frequently in James Hadley Chase novels, and in Fawlty Towers, and puts in a guest appearance in Raymond Chandler’s The Lady in the Lake . And in the film version of Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana, starring Alec Guinness, one of vacuum cleaner salesman James Wormwold’s agents is found killed with a bottle of VAT 69 in his hand.Even the high priestess of feminist literature Simone de Beauvoir had a thing for VAT 69. A character in one of her lesser- known novels, She Came to Stay (1943), makes this statement that’s often quoted in cocktail parties: ” When I’m rich and run my own house, I’ll always keep a bottle of VAT 69 in my cupboard.” That’s a line Diageo can filch for its promos. California Burger doesn’t sound any goodCan you imagine a Superbowl final without hot dogs or a Kentucky Derby sans a Mint Julep, or an English Premier League match without the lager fumes blowing across the stadium?Every big-ticket sports event becomes synonymous with a kind of food (or drink), so what is the signature offering of the Commonwealth Games going to be? We now know all about the kitchens that have magically become operational in the Games Village but what about the appetites of spectators?With Fast Trax, a lesser-known fast food chain backed by the Rs 1,000-crore meat processing company, Hind Group, getting the contract at the last minute – as we have come to expect by now – for catering to spectators and the media during the Games, it looks like the event will be remembered for the California Burger.I’m not being hyper-nationalistic, but shouldn’t thick chicken burger with mint yogurt sauce-in place of the traditional mayonnaise- been named after hamaari Dilli? I would’ve loved to dig into a New Delhi Burger, or Shera Tikki Wrap. And I would have wolfed down a Purani Dilli take on the vada pao with aloo tikki and chhole.Such finer details must have escaped Fast Trax – after all, it has had to plan in record for over 16 lakh meals that it estimates it’ll serve across 97 outlets at all the 12 stadiums during the Games. It promises to flip a burger in three seconds. I’ll be around to see if Fast Trax delivers on its promise.A little bit of trivia: Siraj Qureshi, who heads the Hind Group, is also the chief of the Indo- Islamic Cultural Centre, which has a fine restaurant that you enter, literally, through a back gate for a meal you would normally get only at Jama Masjid.advertisementBurger for veg buffs If you’re vegetarian and are tired of having the McAloo Tikki Burger, which insults both the aloo tikki and the burger, I strongly recommend Choko-la’s Lentil Burger. The name, let me forewarn you, can be misleading, for the burger patty does not have any daal. Instead, it’s made with kidney beans (rajmah) that are spiked with crushed walnuts and masala. It tastes different and its crunchy exterior quilts a melt-in-the-mouth core that entices you with its simple charm. I only wish chefs across the industry get innovative and make life peppier for the vegetarians.