Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Meals ready

"Meals Ready" is a familiar board outside many eateries and restaurants (hotels, if you will) in India, especially the Southern part of India. (Note to myself: must remember to take pictures).

The idea of the board was to let potential customers know that meals - typically lunch late in the morning (11ish) till early in the evening (3ish) - or dinner likewise - are ready. A lot of eateries serve snacks during non-meal hours and only meals (no snacks) during meal hours. The word "Meals" is a hangover of the Raj and hardly anybody uses it on a day to day basis, but the word sticks on, in railway lingo and on the boards of these eateries.

For a while, these boards were written in chalk, a la fresh fish, to signify that the board is freshly written. Now of course, there are painted boards, that somebody just picks up and puts it in front of the eatery every morning. If you enquire early enough, chances are, meals wont be ready yet, just that they put the board outside - it has lost its entire meaning.


John said...

haha, and the reverse might be true -- what's on the board may be gone. A couple weeks back I I went to a hotel that had a nice blackboard outside listing all the South Indian standards (dosa, idly, vada, etc.) But of course when you actually tried to get that dosa, it wasn't available. I guess if you use the blackboard as a sort of guide to what might be available, it all works out.

John said...

Oh, and another thing: until your post I had NO idea that "meals ready" meant that meals were (theoretically) ready. I just thought it meant that quick meals were available.

Another place the word "meals" sticks around is in the pleasantry asking if someone has "had their meals." The first half-dozen times someone asked me, I responded with a listing of what I had for lunch. I'm sure they were thrilled to find that out.