Friday, October 1, 2010

Eating in the dark

Imagine being led into total darkness, putting your trust in a blind man whose shoulders you are holding onto. Weaving your way around tables where other sighted people are sitting and eating a meal. You can hear them. Occasionally you brush past them. Arriving at the table you feel the chair and sit down.

My dining companion at the Unsicht Bar in Berlin (Deutschlands erstes Dunkel-Restaurant) last night was Yuri, who came to New Zealand and Australia as part of his gap year travels before he starts University in the next couple of weeks. We sat opposite each other, although we couldn't see each other. In fact, I couldn't see a thing even when I put my hand right in front of my eyes. It really was utter darkness.

Prior to going inside we had chosen from a menu which hints at what the food will be. The selection is either vegetarian, poultry, meat or surprise. I tell you, it's a real challenge to eat what you can't see, using a knife, fork and spoon and hoping to get mystery food from the plate into your mouth. Yuri and I felt proud of ourselves when we managed first the salad, then the soup. Sometimes the fork or spoon would reach my mouth, but there was nothing on it. When each course was finished, I wasn't totally sure I had finished !

The main course involved trying to cut a chicken breast into bite-size pieces and to manage noodles without splashing sauce onto my shirt. Dessert was perhaps the biggest challenge... a crepe on a rectangular plate with fruit on one side and ice cream on the other.

During what turned out to have been an hour and a half my eyes were straining, desperate to see something. It was of course an interesting experience to have had. 90 minutes of blindness, and thoughts of what it would be like if this was permanent. I would go again. Only after the meal did we see a menu stating what we had actually eaten. Which vegetables they were, what flavour the ice cream was, and so on.

Two nights in Berlin have been my stop-over between Argentina and India. I'm about to embark upon the next leg of the journey and will take an overnight flight to Mumbai, then connect on a domestic leg to Jaipur.

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