Dialogue In the dark-experience life without light!

Ever imagined how life will be for those without vision? Is light an absolute must to move, play and eat? How to use your sensory organs other than eyes (sound, smell, feel and taste) to perform everyday life? I had a lifetime experience of these things yesterday. Read on to find more.

Chennai Bloggers Club or CBC is a community of Chennai bloggers. They regularly organize events in collaboration with brands. But I have been missing their events again and again for several months now, because I would have my own out of station travel plans on those weekends. This time luckily I happened to be in town when they announced a lunch event at Dialogue in the dark, Express Avenue in Chennai. Despite being 35kms from my home and overpriced parking fees at Expensive Express Avenue notwithstanding, I opted to be part of this event, and I glad I did.

We didn't have a briefing as to what to expect. Nor did I have time to check the net about the restaurant. The name of the restaurant did hint at darkness, but I thought it could be low light and not complete darkness. I carried my camera bag hoping to try some low light food photography. Made it to the venue on time, and met other bloggers- Kattie, Ranjani, Karthik Murali, Kartik Pasupathy and Selvian. Anand, Relationship Manager for Dialogue in the Dark greeted us. We were told to keep all our stuff in the locker- camera, mobiles, any light emitting substances. We were given a walking stick and a token for veg/non-veg food preferences and let in.

The inside of Dialogue in the Dark is pitch dark. Not low light as I had anticipated.

As the darkness engulfed us, we met Velu inside, our guide. With his instructions, we learnt to walk forward in complete darkness, feeling the wall on one side, using sticks to check availability of space ahead and to ensure we don't hit anything/anyone. Exactly as a blind would do.

As we stepped further one after another in complete darkness, we felt Bamboo sticks on the side, we were given objects to feel and recognize. A violently shaking bridge was the next experience- had to cross a mini bridge in complete darkness feeling the rails, balancing ourselves. We felt few sculptures by touch and feel, we tried to recognize birds purely from the sound they make, tried to identify spices through smell. All these in total darkness, without seeing who or what is around us.

Next activity was cricket. One by one we were led into the net, given a bat and had to hit the ball. The bat is swiped at ground level and the ball has metal inside that makes sound as it rolls. By sensing the sound of incoming ball we had to hit it. No idea where it went but Velu would sense where it hit and would announce the runs we made. There is no six possible as the batting is in 2 dimension at ground level. No height aspect. Apparently this is how world blind cricket tournament is held and India has been consistently winning- we were told.

Next was Jewelry feeling: There were different types of jewelry kept on the table. Anand helped us identify each of them, purely by their feel. I could recognize that they are not real jewelry, as it didn't feel like real metal. I could also recognize a rudraksh, few earrings and other items by their feel. The jewelry part went little longer than necessary I felt, but may be the girls felt the same about cricket.

All these activities assured us that we don't always need light. Other sensory organs are equally capable and if used correctly can help us go about in day to day life. At many point we had to depend on person ahead of us for navigation. May be a good team building activity as well.

Eating lunch in darkness: 
Feeling jewelry, swiping the bat in dark, smelling spices all are fine- but can you eat your lunch in total darkness? I was thinking at least for lunch there will be some minimum lighting, I was wrong again. We were guided to our seats and the lunch was served in tiffin boxes, again in total darkness. We had to feel our plate, lunch boxes, open the boxes and consume the content in total darkness. Within seconds all of us got started like professionals. By knowing relative position of box 1 that had rice and box 2 that had curry, I could transfer the curry to rice box, mix it and eat.

Some of us were thinking may be the staff who are guiding us are wearing night vision/infra red glasses so that they can see what's going on and guide us. Only in the end we were told that many of the employees inside are visually challenged. Our respect for the restaurant increased many folds.
The Price: The walk (which consists of all the activities till Jewelry feeling) costs Rs 250+ taxes, Lunch costs Rs 350+ taxes. The restaurant is located in top floor of Express Avenue Mall.

After experiencing this, you will be lot more considerate about visually challenged persons. When power gets disconnected for a while in the night, we struggle to cope up- but there are many who have overcome their visual challenge and leading normal life. If you have some guests visiting, bring them to Dialogue in the Dark for a surprise experience. I am sure they will love it.

Additional Info:
Opening hours:11 AM to 10 PM, call them on 044-2846-4870 for reservations
Dialogue in the Dark restaurant is also available in Hyderabad and Raipur. Check their website for more details; http://www.dialogueinthedarkindia.com/

What else? 
May be one activity they can add is to fill water bottles. The sound of filling changes as the bottle fills up. Knowing when the bottle is almost full and then closing the tap can be a good activity.

Disclaimer: I didn't pay for this experience. Was invited by the restaurant and Chennai Bloggers Club to try and share my experience. Thanks to them for the opportunity.

8 comments:

  1. Unique place.We have to visit once.

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  2. Unique place.We have to visit once.

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  3. Unique place.We have to visit once.

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  4. Only in the end we were told that many of the employees inside are visually challenged. - I couldn't stop my tears reading this. Lovely article.

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  5. I would've freaked out for I am claustrophobic. But, this is a great initiative and I am glad you got to experience it. :)
    P.S: I was in Chennai when I started blogging. Wish I knew about this fab blogging group then.

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  6. @Sharmila- Thanks

    @Shalini-Do try it on your next visit to Chennai

    ReplyDelete

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