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US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tour the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, on February 24, 2020. Image Credit: New York Times

US President Donald Trump’s visit to India created a near diplomatic incident between police and the monkeys residing near the Taj Mahal, a monument to love.

Everything else went perfectly as planned; Trump enjoyed the mini wall Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered to be built on the welcome route from the airport to Indira Bridge, for the occasion.

(Just before arriving in India, Trump tweeted a meme, portraying himself as Baahubali [Baahubali is the highest grossing Indian movie at the box office] — slashing and spearing enemies on the battlefield, and in one sequence, even showing off his horsemanship as he plucks flowers on a full gallop to hand over to his love, Melania.)

Melania (Flotus) was heard to mumble (according to our sources): “Oh great! That’s all we need, another wall”.

She was most probably remembering his partial wall bordering Mexico, which is partially paid for, and a part of it which toppled over at the first gust of wind, somewhere in California, and a replica of which was scaled by an eight-year-old and a mountaineer who juggled while easily climbing the supposedly unscalable wall.

The purpose of Modi’s wall however, was not to keep immigrants away from Gujarat, but to hide from view how a section of Indians lived in his model state, which is often touted as the centre of development in the country.

Indian Twitterati were quick to make fun of the “Great Wall of Ahmedabad”, and wondered why the government could not use the money that was wasted in building the facade and impressing the American president, to bettering the lot of the people in the Saraniyavaas slums, who were hidden behind the wall.

The police, armed with catapults, hovered around the First Couple, ready to slingshot a stone at any left-leaning liberal monkeys who might attack [the US president].

- Mahmood Saberi, writer

Incidentally, my wife and I do something similar when people come visiting, in the age of the smartphone.

Friends: “Hey, how are you? Are you free today? Can we come over?”

Me: “That’s great. Thank you for thinking of visiting us. When do you plan to come over?

Friends: “Now. We are downstairs. We will take the lift and be with you in a few minutes.”

The next few minutes are like how people walk stiffly and overly fast as a film is speeded up more than the usual 24 frames per second: I suddenly kneel and jerkily push the newspapers and magazines under the sofa.

My wife takes the dirty dishes and dumps them in the cabinet under the kitchen sink. I then throw the clothes scattered around, into the washing machine. But none of us thinks (like Modi) of hiding either of us out of sight, in a closet).

Fast food junkie

Trump is a fast food junkie and is known as the “Fast Food President”.

He loves hamburgers, fries and Diet Coke and is not averse to carrying a bucket of fried chicken into Air Force One during his foreign jaunts.

He is just under the limit of being termed obese, but he did not complain much when he was served vegetarian fare and khaman, a sort of dhokla made with chickpea flour, instead of rice flour, instead of the famous Mughlai meaty food of Ahmedabad.

Back to the Taj Mahal, and the police feared that the monkeys that frequent the monument (because India is ruthlessly decimating the forest cover in urban areas) will attack Trump and his family.

So, the police, armed with catapults, hovered around the First Couple, ready to slingshot a stone at any left-leaning liberal monkeys who might attack the right-wing white supremacist leader.

Luckily no monkeys were hurt or harmed during the ‘Namaste Trump’ extravaganza.

— Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi

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