Ever spent time in dark? Absolute dark, without a candle, or a cellphone, or stars, or moon, or fireflies… any sort of light around you? When whether eyes are closed or open did not make any difference at all? If yes, where was it and for how much time?
You must have guessed that Dialogue in the Dark is something of that sort. Else why would I ask that sort of questions!
If this is the first time you have come across DiD, I suggest you quickly check their website, especially the description of the exhibition and be back here to read more. If you have, lets continue our conversation.
So, this place was on our (my Hyderabad group’s) to-visit list for a long time. It appears on Tripadvisor’s Things to do in Hyderabad at # 17 (as of this post being written) and at # 6 in Hong Kong. I am sure it would be highly rated at other locations too. Before you dismiss it away at a touristy place, let me mention- it was anything but a touristy experience.
6 of us made reservation for a fine evening and reached well before time. The courteous reception staff gave us tickets and led us to a dark room after we deposited our cellphones, watches and everything that can emit any light. We met our host-cum-guide there. He gave us basic instructions, handed a cane each, asked our names and off we started on our journey.
Walking in a park, taking a boat ride, visiting a canteen and ordering chocolates while counting money in dark, playing cricket, guessing spices by their fragrance, “seeing” architectural wonders using finger tips… And the seemingly endless corridors…
One word that would describe the entire hour: Overwhelming! The entire experience was pretty smooth and safe. The guide was super talented, cheerful, understanding and patient. Still, I was overwhelmed. It was not easy to accept the darkness. Whether I opened the eyes or closed them, it felt exactly the same. I over-relied on my sense of touch and hearing. Didn’t take a single step till I could feel the wall or the shoulder of the person in front in addition to tapping the cane. I kept seeking audio clues and verbal assurances. Took me time till now (almost 2 months) to admit that I was overwhelmed. All my friends were much calmer.
The best moment was seeing the guide at the end of the tour. He looked very different from what my mind had imagined. But when I tried to recreate the mental picture of him, I failed. He has done a PhD, has a lovely family, takes public transport and travels one hour each side to get to and back from work every day and loves his job. I was inspired.
It is one thing to sympathize and a very different thing to even try to empathize.
I highly recommend that you visit any of the DiD exhibitions whenever you get a chance. The one is Hyderabad is just INR 300! They have a dinner in dark too, which I hope to try some day. I promise to myself that I will be calmer the next time. The entire design and set-up is extremely safe, with the guides and support staff well-trained and groomed. All I need is a bit of trust- on self and on them.
What similar experiences have you had and would recommend?