Saturday, December 4, 2021

ARE YOU A ‘MEATER’ OR A ‘NON-MEATER’?

By Shona

Albeit Army life is tough, it’s always full of ‘josh’ and also some hilarious stories. Today, after almost completing 20 years as an Army officer’s wife, I am privy to a number of funny stories; instances where we have had a hearty laugh.

There are a number of ranks in the Army other than the officers. The latter almost always dine in the Officer’s Mess till such time that they are bachelors. The Mess Staff looks after them well. So, we have the ‘masalchees’; the ones who cut and chop, and the cook, Mess Havaldarand more. These are the ones who take care of the officers. Due to regular postings from one place to another, married officers also have to dine in the Mess till such time they get an accommodation in any new station. For us, it is stations and not cities or places. I still wonder why, after so many years!

Most of the times, officers reach new stations to join duty, while their families follow and this is the time when the Mess staff looks after them. They are from all over India, even from the less-heard places, so one really takes time to understand their accent, vocabulary, and love, of course.

This is a real story of our dear friend, a Major in the Army, who was a hard-core non-vegetarian. Now as he reached a new station, he was bound to dine in the Mess for a couple of days. A well-dressed waiter came into his room at six in the morning and asked whether he was a ‘Meater’ or a ‘Non Meater’. The officer was a little confused; however, using all his wit, he confidently confirmed that he was a ‘Non-Meater’.

The next morning, for breakfast, the Major was served bread and porridge. He thought maybe eggs weren’t available, but then for lunch, he received dal and rice; no non-veg. At dinner, expecting a well-roasted ‘tandoori chicken’, the Major eagerly waited. But, to his dismay, he was again given a vegetarian meal. Disgusted, he called the Mess Havaldar, a tall guy with a sturdy physique. ‘Do you cook chicken in this station or is everyone a vegetarian?’ he asked.

The fellow calmly replied, ‘Sir, you told us that you were a ‘Non-Meater’. The Major explained that he thought ‘Non-Meater’ referred to a non-vegetarian. As it was, a ‘Non-Meater’, according to the mess staffs’ vocabulary meant ‘no meat’ – which meant a vegetarian! A‘Meater’, by now you can make out, was the one who could enjoy his roasted chicken. That day, the Major was educated in the Army lingo.

Grammatically incorrect, logically correct!

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