The reason: a widely held belief, also publicised through word-of-mouth and SMSes that consumption of food during the duration of the eclipse would result in severe stomach disorders and indigestion.
No wonder, with none to cater to, waiters were found huddled in corners engrossed in gossip between 11.30 am and 3 pm, the peak period at any eatery. Some restaurants were well prepared for the eventuality while for some it turned out to be a shocker.
Like in the case of Emgees restaurant on M G Road where most dishes were already prepared. Without customers walking in, it dawned on folks here only around 1 pm that something was amiss.
“Of course, we knew about the eclipse” restaurant manager P H Uday said. The corporate crowd used to ignore restrictions on food consumption during eclipses earlier and land in big groups. “The shocker was that the crowd was not spotted here on Friday,” he added. This vegetarian restaurant lost 80 pc of its lunch time business during the duration of the eclipse. The New Shivas Refreshment, located inside the Brindavan Hotel was in tune with the belief of the masses.
Business took a major beating here too but nothing went waste here as a highly thin attendance was expected. “We generally sell between 300 to 400 thalis (meal plates) every afternoon but less than 50 thalis were sold on Friday noon. I would blame the eclipse 100 pc for it,” said Rao, proprietor.
The usually crowded Ullas Refreshments, inside the Public Utility Building, too bore the brunt of mass belief. Cashier Shankara Murthy spoke of the 80 pc slump in business during the lunch hour but said they were prepared for that. When the eclipse drew to a close, the crowds were back at the dining tables around 4 pm.
Citing the duration of the eclipse to be an “inauspicious period”, the employees at the busy Sankranthi Fast Food outlet in Ulsoor’s Jogupalya `G’ street, were hastily downing shutters around 11 am.
`No scientific basis’
So, does eating really have an impact on one’s health? Absolutely not, says Venugopal, retired scientist at the Indian Institute of Science. “I had food with my family this afternoon. We also had our lunch during the near total solar eclipse that occurred in 1984, when there was a similar embargo on food consumption. All our gastrointestinal systems are functioning perfectly” he says. It is merely a superstition with no scientific basis at all, he reiterated.