[ Food & Adventures ][ Local Travels (Singapore) ]

I went on a Blind Date… We touched… in Pitch Darkness…

Yes, the title is true. I did went on a blind date and it was an unforgettable experience. If you are interested to know about what happened, read on.

In the car on the way to the blind date - It was Shawn who sent me there
In the car on the way to the blind date – It was Shawn who sent me there (Love the sunlight! )

So Shawn drove us to the venue of the Blind Date. Yes, we decided to sign up for it together to experience how it is like to go on a blind date 🙂

The venue: The Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH)

The event: Dining in the Dark 🙂

The ‘Dining in the Dark’ experience is organized by the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH), as a form of raising awareness about the challenges that persons with vision impairment face in their daily activities. A sighted person can also get to experience what it is like to be blind without the use of blindfolds.

The idea for this project originated from the Blindekuh (Blind Cow) restaurant in Switzerland.  Similarly, patrons there are served by blind and visually impaired people.

Dining is but one aspect of the daily activity for the blind; other challenges include education, employment, mobility, family etc. This dining experience also shows that where blindness affects the daily lives of the blind, difficulties can be overcome.

 For the blind, it is a lifetime of adapting and adjusting to new environments and ituations on top of those common to all of us. Some adapt quickly to blindness, some take longer to adjust – some never adjust. Organizations such as the SAVH provide some help in filing in the gaps and strive to ensure the welfare of the blind is addressed.

Thus, we are there to experience what it is like to dine a 3 course meal without our sense of sight. Here’s some pictures I took. The processes are in the caption below so take note of the caption.

The association is a happy and peaceful place. I would like to think of this as a safe heaven where the visually handicaps feel familiar and safe.
The association is a happy and peaceful place. I would like to think of this as a safe heaven where the visually handicaps feel familiar and safe.
There was a briefing before this as we will be entering a very dark room, we need to listen to instructions or there will be casualties. Ok not so bad, but since we won't be able to see anything at all, depending on our sense of touch and hearing to navigate around the room and navigate around the utensils.
There was a briefing before this as we will be entering a very dark room were there will be absolutely no light at all. Your eyes will be rendered useless and your sense of hearing will be forcefully heightened. The purpose of the briefing is to tell us the whole dining procedure, what to expect as well as what we need to take note: listen to instructions or there will be casualties. Ok not so bad, but since we won’t be able to see anything at all, depending on our sense of touch and hearing to navigate around the room and navigate around the utensils. We will also be diven directional ques in terms of clock-hands ; 12 O’clock is in front, 3 O’Clock is right and 9 O’clock is left, so 1 O’Clock is top right and so on. We also have the wash our hands as we will be touching around quite a lot.

 

So we were led into a room with dining afew dining tables and chairs. Here's what we see and we are guided by a visually handicap lady with bells on her feet. The bells on the waiter and waitresses legs are for them to know when someone is coming so they won't bang into each other. Soon, the lady showed me my seat, one hand on the chair, the other hand on the table. I felt my way around, pulled out my chair slowly and carefully sat down.
So we were led into a room with dining afew dining tables and chairs. Here’s what we see and we are guided by a visually handicap lady with bells on her feet. The bells on the waiter and waitresses legs are for them to know when someone is coming so they won’t bang into each other. Soon, the lady showed me my seat, one hand on the chair, the other hand on the table. I felt my way around, pulled out my chair slowly and carefully sat down.

 

Here's how the dining setting looks like.
Here’s how the dining setting looks like. With my hands, I carefully feel my way around. I know there is a knife as we will be having chicken chop. My mind recognized the fact that a knife is sharp, but it also has a safe handle and I imagined that the handle should be nearer to me compared to the blade. It should also be thicker than the fork and spoon. So with my right hand, I felt 3 handles, 2 thin and one thicker one. I lifted up the thicker on and slowly lightly move my finger from the handle and upwards. It was all smooth. No blade. This must be the knife, for the blade must be at the other side. I did not need to run my fingers through the shaper side, for just these information is enough for me to recognize that what i am holding in my hands is indeed a knife. I put it down. I also found the soup spoon, while my left hand found the fork. I know there is a cup on my 1 O’clock position as mentioned during the briefing and my moved my hand around the rim to see how big it is, picking it up to see how tall it is. Not very tall and very stable, fortunately. I wondered if there’s any plate but found a tea spoon as well as a piece of soviet. 

Reflections: I was born with my sense of sight. I have seen most of the common items in the household and have a good sense of how it looks like. I am sure all of you who can see, when you close your eyes, you can still form a clear picture of a knife in your mind, knowing that there’s the thinner and thicker portion as well as the handle and the sharper portion. Is your knife silver? Perhaps with a commonly black handle? I am sure 80% of us will see such a knife in our minds.

BUT, how about people who are born blind? They have never seen a knife before, nor will they ever fully experience colors. I wonder if they, too, are able to form images in their minds. If yes, are these images the same as ours? I really wonder.

First, the water and juice jars were passed down.
First, the water and juice jars were passed down the row ( we went in as a big group by the way so we were sitted in 2 rows of tables. Everything was passed down from the first person to the last in the row) . We were to pour water in the dark, so how do you know when the cup is filled and when you should stop? Well, we hook our index finger into the cup while pouring so that we are able to feel the water and juice fill up to just before the rim, before it overflows. 
Next, the warm mushroom soup was handled to us.
Next, the warm garlic bread and mushroom soup was handled to us. It’s delicious I tell you! I am not sure if all our other senses were heightened due to the our sudden loss of sight, including our taste, but the bread and soup were wonderful. I never got to see how my bread or soup looked like or whether there is a fly in my soup. I just trusted that everything is good to eat and consumed them. Having to learn how to trust others, including strangers on a day to day basis in the big world full of good and scheming people out there is probably the first emotional and psychological barrier a visual handicap have to overcome and muster.  Ever have trust issues? Or have a motto that you should never trust anyone? Life will be very very very tough.
And this is our main course! Chicken Chop!
And this is our main course! Chicken Chop! When the Chicken Chop was served, all of us could smell its wonderful fragrance… again, either sense of smell was heightened, or the chicken chop was really good, I don’t really know, but I didn’t really care. At this point of time, I was probably getting used to the dark and feeling around for everything. Trust is not an issue here as we are in a controlled environment. The new challenge, how to slice your chicken chop and eat your coleslaw and mashed potato, without sending the dead chicken flying into the other diners’ faces and pushing salad + potatoes out of the plate and onto the table. Perhaps I was already developing some form of instinct to feel about every single thing that was sent to me first – I moved my fingers around the plate to see how big it is and if there’s anything already spilling out. Then I picked up my fork and knife and simply started cutting. As long as I felt like I was cutting something, it didn’t really matter if the size I had portioned out to feed into my mouth anymore. I am just content being able to cut a size that’s able to be picked up by my fork. Then I just fit the piece, or the whole chunk for the matter, into my mouth. Or neither did it matter if I have poked my fork into my potatoes when what I wanted to chew at that point was the meat. It was hard enough to get my fork through into something and lift it up, Im just happy to know that it’s all food. If it’s not, then oh! I’ll get it the next time. 

Reflections: Some things really don’t matter, like how big that chunk of meat that is going into your mouth, or how nice your Job looks ( compare banker and engineer. Both get pretty much the same pay, but bankers have a more highly regarded professional outlook). You will still be able to feed yourself and be full. Sometimes, our endowment becomes our our obstacle to simplicity, when life really is that simple, but we just have to make it complex because our eyes are able to see, and thus compare. Learning and training our minds to be able to decipher what really matters and what really don’t, perhaps many will lead a simpler and more carefree happier life.

This is our Ice Cream! It's the Neapolitan type ice cream but since we can't see anything, some tasted Coffee Caramel and some tasted Durian ( We all know what we are eating, it's just nice to be able to let our imaginations influence our tastebuds since we do not have our eyes to affirm, it seems possible , if you get what I mean. Please suggest how I can better craft this idea if you can understand so we can share the idea with others too ). I thought I was eating Green Tea ice cream ^.^
This is our Ice Cream! It’s the Neapolitan type ice cream but since we can’t see anything, some tasted Coffee Caramel and some tasted Durian ( We all know what we are eating, it’s just nice to be able to let our imaginations influence our tastebuds since we do not have our eyes to affirm, it seems possible , if you get what I mean. Please suggest how I can better craft this idea if you can understand so we can share the idea with others too ). I thought I was eating Green Tea ice cream ^.^
Last, was the Coffee and Tea. As usual, we had to pass down the drink, but it was tougher this time as the Coffee/ Tea (depending on the order) was passed down with a cup and saucer and its hot. The only way to pass it down safely is to ensure that one hand is holder the saucer and the other hand is holding the cup handle. For this, it's necessary for us to feel the other person's hand and move your fingers up till you reach the handle, slowly take over from there, confirm that everything is ok before the other person lets go. The same when passing down to the next person in the row, I have to confirm that she had held the cup before letting go.
Last, was the Coffee and Tea. As usual, we had to pass down the drink, but it was tougher this time as the Coffee/ Tea (depending on the order) was passed down with a cup and saucer and its hot. The only way to pass it down safely is to ensure that one hand is holder the saucer and the other hand is holding the cup handle. For this, it’s necessary for us to feel the other person’s hand and move your fingers up till you reach the handle, slowly take over from there, confirm that everything is ok before the other person lets go. The same when passing down to the next person in the row, I have to confirm that she had held the cup before letting go.

 

Reflections: If you have noticed carefully and have been reading the captions, I mentioned things like ‘ moved my hand around the rim to see how big it is’ and ‘ I moved my fingers around the plate to see  if there’s anything already spilling out’. Seeing  has become to me, a word not only to describe what my eyes have shown me, but also what my hands and other sensory devises in my body can tell me. I now understand that seeing is not only done with your eyes. You see with all your five senses, your heart and your mind, you just have to learn how to accept what they tell you / figure out what they are trying to tell you.

Seeing can also be done using your memory. While I was consuming my main course, I took extra notice on which part of the plate I had taken the food from so that I know where the rest of the food are. For example, I know that I had taken a slice of meat from the bottom of my plate, so I won’t be poking my fork there again. If I had previously poked my fork into what turned out to be coleslaw, I would keep a ‘visual memory’ mapped out by my sense of touch and taste (not eyesight!) of where the coleslaw is.

 

At the end, the lights were turned on and we are able to how the room looked like and see our 'mess' !
At the end, the lights were turned on and we are able to how the room looked like and see our ‘mess’ !
Sorry for the super unglam photo! This is my 'mess' Not too bad I think! What do you think?
Sorry for the super unglam photo! This is my ‘mess’ Not too bad I think! What do you think?

 

This is Shawn's mess. Obviously, he spilt his drink. Whose table looks cleaner? Shawn's or mine? Let me know! :D
This is Shawn’s mess. Obviously, he spilt his drink. Whose table looks cleaner? Shawn’s or mine? Let me know! 😀

 

And this was the holding room we entered before being led into the dark room. Before and After!
And this was the holding room we entered before being led into the dark room. Before and After!
Arugh! The Sun's too bright! Time to get back to office!
Arugh! The Sun’s too bright now! Time to get back to office!

 

I am thinking of doing this again, this time throwing a Birthday party at the venue and invite my readers, friends and family over for a group blind date. No presents on that day, just pay for the meal yourself (all the proceeds goes to the Charity organisation) and if you feel like contributing more to my birthday, contribute it to the SAVH. What do you think of this idea? Please tell me if you will come or not!

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Qiyunz

Hello! I am Qi Yun, the author and creative behind www.FlyingPistachios.com.

I can be best described as a beauty junkie, picky pot and a perpetual wanderlust. Colours, traveling and listening to people talk inspire me, triggering visions and ideas. I’m often called a walking box filled with ideas. I love working on projects that shows originality and have a chance to make this world a better place.

3 Comments

  1. I love ur birthday concept should you were to do this do let me know yah….

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