An uncle or some elder explained that Sikhs resent the expression because it is a tease about the mounting temperature inside a turban at high noon. It is of course, no such thing. If that were the case all hatted and turbaned creatures would be the objects of the abuse. The phrase originates in sexual envy and in the imputation, prevalent in European societies for black males, that Sikh men are more virile. The provocation originates in an image—the dial of a clock. At twelve o'clock the hands point upwards, symbolic of an erect phallus. In some societies and circumstances, this imputation of perpetual randy readiness would be considered a compliment. But now that both abuser and abused are oblivious of the origins of such flattery, I for one am not about to take the risk and pay the compliment to the next Sardarji I meet.
(Novelist, scriptwriter Farrukh Dhondy starts a weekly column about Indian words in common use in Indian cities)