I have passed through this place each one of the times I have visited Inorbit shopping mall in Hyderabad. Every one of those times wondering “dark” “is it something like a candle light ambiance or does it really!! means it is going to be all dark inside and we will be sitting just like any other restaurant. It is a crazy idea, how can we eat when we cant see?” Once I passed through the place, the thoughts would fade away to pick up something else. But, once I have been to this place, now every time I pass through it, I admire it, I have a sense of smile on my face and lot of appreciation to the idea. But, what exactly happened for the causal perception to be transformed into a great admiration?
Thanks to my friend and the most admired person of my life, Preeti, for insisting me to be at this place. We came up to the reception desk to inquire about the place and specially about the level of darkness inside and yes, it is going to be all dark inside. I curiously asked the manger, “why is that, the idea seems insane”? With a great happiness he replied “you should check this out and I promise you will only leave this place with a sense of thought which you are going to preserve for long”.
Lot of curiosity as we prepare to enter the place:
We had to select the course of food at the reception outside itself from the very limited food and beverage options and pay for it. Then we had to remove our watch, glasses, wallets and bags to lock them up in the locker. Well, it is going to be all dark inside and there is high probability of things being lost. I was a man left alone with an idea, wandering all around in the brain with curiosity, perceptions, hypothesis and possibilities. Once we were ready the manager came in and told us to stand one behind other and hold the one at front by shoulder at one hand distance. It felt amusing and he led us into a room where as we moved, the light was slowly diminishing to going all dark at one point of time.
Experience of darkness when you are awake and constantly watching
My eyes were all wide open, yet could see nothing, it was all silent and there was a wooden flooring under. We walked for some time, not sure was in the dinning area or en-route to dinning area. We reached a table we couldn’t see and manager instructed us to be seated on the chair which we couldn’t see either. It was not so easy even when he pulled the chair back for us. It was all new atmosphere and nothing like electricity going off in the room, may be the place was unknown. Soon we settled in and became calm and started talking about the place and many other things. Soon the food and beverages order arrived and there was a hand serving the food and a voice directing, using the clock directions, towards the tableware. After few hassles, all was fine and we started eating the food. Touch, sound, smell and taste with sight missing were the only senses at play today as we guessed the items and the ingredients, which were often not so very clear. We were eating something we couldn’t see, the shape, color, texture or what it was. As we finished the food, i asked the waiter, “you are pretty amazing sir, how do you mange in this darkness to navigate from one table to other, to get food? Do they train you? He simply replied “we are habituated”. I assumed he meant it was training.
A moment of silence as realization comes to light:
We spent 2 hrs. inside and we started to feel a fit dizzy, all this darkness with eyes open was not getting good with eyes and head and there was sense of discomfort. We instructed the waiter to escort us outside and on the way I asked the waiter “how do you feel when you step outside to light after your working hours in this darkness, would be very relieving isn’t”? This time he was silent, I felt I was troubling him will all my questions, only to realize when we stepped into light that he was blind. That moment, that one second, the feeling of regret and sadness that flowed in me is unaccounted for.
Restaurant with a social taste and a great motto underneath
I took me a while to adjust to the wake of realization I had and as I settled down, the manager was standing right in front of me knowing he had given me what he had promised, I had nothing more to ask, he himself walked to us and mentioned “all the persons we employ here are blind, we try to give them employment while creating an awareness among people towards the lives of blind. We believe this will promote an act of kindness and more importantly an idea of helping among people, towards the blind or in fact any physically disabled person, by showing them what it means to be blind.”
As promised the manager did bid me a goodbye with lots of thoughts and sense of commitment. Not everybody would be able to do great things like owners of Dialogue in the Dark did by using social entrepreneurship as a medium. But we all can certainly do small things like helping a blind cross a road or stop till he crosses the road, give him space to board a bus and pledge to donate our eyes when we live no more. Small things will make big differences, if not for anyone, for your feelings.
Said all, I would suggest everyone to please go and experience what I mentioned yourself, it will imprint the emotions in the best possible way, more than any of words can explain.
Thank you Dialogue in the Dark and Preeti for this amazing thought and commitment you have imprinted in my life.