My my, what an experience today. Yes, it’s exactly what the title says – dining in complete darkness. Imagine eating something with only 4 working senses. Imagine slurping a cup of juice without visual cues. Just imagine completing a 3-course Western meal without your eyes guiding your every action. The visually handicapped people in our midst do just that. Some are born without sight, thus they will never know what a plate of food, a glass cup, a set of dinner utensils, chair and table look like.
We decided to do something meaningful, and there we went, to SAVH at 47 Toa Payoh Rise to support this cause and better understand the visually handicapped. I shall now recount, as much as possible, my dining-in-complete-darkness experience without revealing too much details.
We were briefed very clearly by the polite, patient and fluent waitresses, Serene and Rita(I can’t rmb her name now), on what we had to do, where the utensils were placed, what to do when entering the completely dark dining area and a few tips on how not to spill food or water on ourselves. Do note that they are not visually-impaired; they cannot see at all. We were definitely nervous at first, but they did well in trying to reassure us. And they walked the talk.
They brought us into this dimly-lit holding room after the briefing session, gave us some instructions and then ushered us, 2-by-2, into the totally-dark dining area. It was scary at first as it was quite disorientating. However, they tried to calm our nerves by sitting us down as though we were in a 5-star restaurant. And with such caring waitresses, I really felt that I was in one. They attended to us so patiently and motherly, asking us if we needed any help in anything throughout the 3-course lunch session.
The first course – yummy mushroom soup that was prepared in-house by a visually-impaired resident – came and went without us messing the table or ourselves up (the garlic breads’ awesome btw). The second course – chicken chop served with coleslaw and whipped potato – was quite good as well. We seriously had fun trying to saw, yes saw, the chicken clumsily. And I must say that trying to use a knife in one hand and a fork in the other, in complete darkness, is not easy. I finally gave up and just picked up the chop with my fork. No one could see how unglam I was anyway. 🙂 Note that you have to pour the drinks yourself too. It was really hard, till they taught us how to do it without spilling. I won’t reveal it here. Go experience it for yourself! 🙂
As a finale, Serene and Rita served up 2 scoops of ice cream, and a cup of tea/coffee for dessert. We all gave them an encouraging round of applause for a job well done. They do not have physical sight, and yet they serve better than us sighted people. Then came revelation time. They slowly brightened up the room for us to evaluate ourselves. We gave ourselves an applause for not making a mess of the table and ourselves. Serene and Rita also thanked us for not making their clean-up job hard.
What an experience. Because of this eye-opening lunch-in-the-dark session, I experienced just a little, small, itsy-bitsy bit of what the visually handicapped people go through on a daily basis. Having this lunch in the dark was just a 2-hour experience for us. They have to dine (and live life) in the dark for the rest of their lives. I am humbled and reminded about how precious my senses are. #Thankful.
More details about SAVH/Dining in the Dark can be found here. Please do support them as much as possible!