Dinner at the Cemetery
“What are these green boxes between the tables?” I asked the waiter as he was serving my coconut rava masala dosa.
“Ummm…ummmm,” he was searching for vocabulary, “they… they are dead bodies.”
I glanced around the restaurant noticing a dozen or more. “This restaurant is a cemetery? All these are dead bodies?”
“Yes, yes,” he confirmed, smiling. All around us, people were munching and slurping and having a good ole time stuffing themselves over the bodies. Somehow, the tree in the middle of the restaurant growing through the roof seemed to make a little more sense.
“Are they Hindu bodies?” I asked, already knowing the answer.
“No,no, they are Muslim bodies.” Happy with himself at having survived the English conversation, the waiter bounced away to serve another table.
Thinking to myself that the Muslims must really hate this place, I suddenly noticed a very old man shuffling through the tables on the far side of the crowded restaurant-cemetery in a white knit skullcap placing flower petals on the graves. A group of men laughed loudly in the background. Waiters rushed thalis and plates of idlis and dosas to hungry customers.
As Thomas and I sat in silence processing the bizarre scene, looking around at what is certainly the strangest restaurant we have ever eaten in, a waiter sped by waving incense sticks over the graves. Bizarre. It’s not a gimmick, not some strange idea of a theme restaurant, not listed in any guide book, it was just a little eatery that we had wondered into by chance, which happened to be a cemetery.