Dialogue in the Dark - Inorbit Mall

I went for the famous Dialogue in the Dark yesterday. Apparently the only city to have it in India is this – Hyderabad, and I must say, I was quite impressed.

 The experience is rather unique. We were asked to deposit all our belongings – glasses, mobile phones and bags at the counter near the entrance and asked to enter through a door, beyond which there was total and absolute darkness. Like, pitch darkness. The sort of darkness that you experience when you shut your eyes tightly.

We were given canes, and were asked by this cheerful guide to move forward, while feeling the wall with our left hands. Very soon, he asked us to break away from the wall, and follow his voice as he led us over a bridge over a gushing spring – which swayed perilously as we filed over it. Of course, it wasn't a real bridge over a real spring, but the very realistic sound of the rippling water, and the hush of tree leaves, and the cry of birds made it all very difficult to distinguish from reality. It might just as well have been real for all that it mattered.

After the not-so-metaphorical walk in the park, we were led into this chamber and asked to identify things by feeling their forms with our hands. The things varied from the Taj Mahal (which I correctly identified) to the Statue of Liberty (which I couldn't), and the Eiffel Tower (which I didn't try to). Then, we were led into a grocery store and asked to identify vegetables and fruits with our bare hands – turned out to be quite an easy job.

This done, and we were taken into another chamber – all the while in pitch blackness – and asked to smell and identify certain things – which by virtue of them being simple cooking spices and stuff, we managed to identify, quite correctly and easily.

Now we were brought into yet another chamber and asked to play cricket – well, technically it was a bit different from cricket, but we were given a bat each, and asked to gauge a ball (rolling towards us) by the sound it made, and then sweep our bats on the ground and hit it hard; turned out to be quite simple, though I had to flail the bat around a couple of times to hit the ball. But the solid sound of ball hitting willow in utter darkness was satisfactory to say the least.

After this short game of cricket in the dark, we were approaching the final stages of the tour – which turned out to be rather pleasant experience of boarding a motor boat in pitch darkness and sailing down a stream. The sound of an outboard motor, the gentle rocking of the seat where we sat, and the spray of water on our hands – made it eerily realistic.

Lastly, we reached a cafe to do a monetary transaction in the darkness – buying mineral water / juices or snacks. After which we sat in the darkness and listened to our cheerful guide.

It turned out that our guide was a blind young man himself – he had lost his eyesight owing to nerve issues when he was in school, after which he had found this job through a friend. He explained how normal life is, even without eyesight, and hoped that we had after this tour, understood that the four other senses are as important to us as our eyes were, despite the crowning position they take in our lives.