Meals Carner, Kondapur – Food for Thought

Sometimes, just sometimes, you come across things that boggle the mind and leave such an impression on you that you just have to write stuff about them. Meals Carner is such a place.

Driving down the road from Kondapur to our home in the not-so-sleepy hamlet of Hafeezpet, Vidya and I noticed the new brightly-lit sign that proclaimed the arrival of Meals Carner. After about a week since Vidya noticed and remarked on the place, I had occasion to go there to buy some food, and this is what I encountered.

Meals Carner, regardless of the fancy name, was a bit of a dingy place with white-painted walls, the obligatory fan that would rather sprinkle dust than stir even the slightest of breezes (should it ever be switched on, which thankfully it never seem to have been, going by the massive arachnid civilization that seemed to be flourishing in and around it) and the increasingly popular compact fluorescent lights that seem to leave the insects confused as to whether they were coming or going. What made a screaming difference between Meals Carner and its brethren (Popular names include Sai Prasad Mess, King Star Bakery and Meals, Cafe Abba Beel) were the posters that adorned the walls.

Usually, in a mess, there are no posters. A large calendar with a picture of Ganesha or Lakshmi or Krishna or any one of the thirty three million (that’s all?) gods we have here, generously stained with splashes of sambhar, assorted chutneys and unidentified multi-coloured splatters, was often the only adornment on the walls. Rather obviously, Cafe Abba Beel would not have this adornment. The one other thing that could be found on the walls (in that it had been deliberately put there, rather than unintentionally splashed on) was a menu painted in red and yellow. The adventurous would even use black in their menus – what spirit!

Meals Carner was different. It had posters. And what posters they were. They weren’t any run-of-the-mill posters that had a luxury liner parked next to a bizarrely tropical island that had a Swiss chalet surrounded by orchids, a stony brook with a water wheel and the snow-capped Alps in the background. Neither did they contain nauseatingly cute babies blown up to twenty times life-size, or running white-maned horses, or closeups of a bored-looking lion. These were special posters, custom-made for Meals Carner. They were large – four feet by three feet seemed to be the preferred size – had colourful backgrounds, and had certain words written on them in big, bold letters. What these words said, and in what language they were, contributed to the mystery.

I spoke to the guy who seemed to be running the show, and he did not have a word of either English or Hindi, and seemed to speak only Telugu. All his underlings too proved to be equally monolingual. I looked around for anyone who might be the owner, or a bigger boss than the aforementioned guy who ran the show, and there seemed to be no one else. Which is why I think the signs (calling them mere posters seems so unfair to their intended grandeur) were a mystery, for the wisdom of the ages had been inscripted on them in English.

Trying hard not to make it very obvious, I quickly whipped out my phone and typed out what few messages I could out of the plethora that plastered the walls. Here are a couple for your wonder, enjoyment and edification:

Sign #1

Winning horse doesn’t know it runs in race.
It runs because of beats and pains.

Life is race, God is your rider.
So if you are in pain think God wants you to win.

Sign #2

Don’t make promise when you are in joy Don’t reply when you sad. Don’t take decision when you are angry.

Think Twice.. Act Wise

This was all I could type out surreptitously while my dosas were made and packed. Maybe I will go back, if just to read the other signs. Their dosas, while not terrible, were not terribly exciting either. The place is good for a quick bite to take away if you are not very fussy about your food.

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