On the special day 11/11/11, I went for a very different dining experience – dating in the dark. The event took place at the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH). I was introduced to this as my friend is starting a social enterprise – GO! Enterprise, where he hires less fortunate people to provide services.
Serving us was Serene, a visual handicap but I could sense her cheerfulness and willingness to do the job well. She gave us a brief on safety precautions and the location of our cutlery. She added that we only need to try to live in darkness for 2 hours but she would have to live with it forever.
It was pitch black. Really dark. I could not see my fingers. We had to place our hands on Serene’s shoulders so that she could guide us to our seats.
It was uncomfortable at first as we could not see what was in front of us, what was the room size and the furniture arrangement. I felt vulnerable especially since I am a visual person. At that moment, my thought was that I would be devastated if I ever lose my sight. But with a partner with me, it symbolises that she will always be there for me and vice versa, despite the difficulties.
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The dinner started with soup and bread. No problem.
Then came the main course – Chicken Chop for me and Seafood Pasta for her. I cannot see how big the chicken chop was and where were the side dishes. I poked around and discovered there were coleslaw and whipped potato. I tried cutting and poking the meat as I normally would. But many times when I thought I secured a piece of meat with my fork, I realised there was none when I put it in my mouth. Then I found the best way to eat was to fork the whole piece of chicken chop and bite off the edges. My partner had linguine and she said she had problem twirling it. She had mussels and prawns. The most challenging was the prawns, as they were not peeled, but she managed to overcome the obstacle.
In fact, we were able to feed each other a few times. We just have to communicate properly and do it attentively. In our everyday lives, we have a lot of preoccupations and we tend to be impatient to people, ignore people, and do not really give our full attention to the little things that we do. It was in the darkness that I have no choice but to listen and talk to my partner, because there is no distraction at all. My partner was telling me I would have been surfing the web on iPad when I have finished my dinner while she is still having hers.
The darkness forces you to be more present and conscious about what you are doing.
Dessert was chocolate ice-cream. No problem too.
I urge you to experience this ‘dark’ event. You can experience how does it feel to lose your sight and yet perform normal things like dining. You would also appreciate your partner more by listening to him/her more attentively because there are no other visual distractions. You will experience a higher state of consciousness eating and being with your partner.
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