Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Blind leading the blind

Our class went on a day trip to Frankfurt last Wednesday to visit a dark museum. I mean blind dark, because blindness is what it is all about. The Dialogue in the Dark museum is the brainchild of an Ashoka fellow, Dr. Andreas Heinecke. His aim is to make other people aware of the different world blind people live in, and despite their lack of sight, are capable beings.

Equipped each with walking sticks, the people in my group (my classmates) of eight entered the room and was instantly immersed in total darkness. Visitors are not allowed to bring any light-emitting or luminous things with them. No cellphones and luminous watches. I was even asked to take off my eyeglasses. Come to think of it, it is of no use! (On the other hand, then there's no need to take it off!)

Our lack of sight heightened our other senses. The folds and bumps on a bark seem to jump out of a tree trunk. The cold water streaming down a rock woke up my nerves, and the smell of pine trees was fresher as it normally is.

The music room is probably my favorite place. Here I proved not only our ears could listen, but our skin as well! Our extra auditory sensitivity came at a price when we hit the "city." We were exposed to the harsh elements in the concrete jungle- oppressive beeping (I was almost teleported back to Manila!) and noisy cars wheezing by. Experiencing to cross the street without seeing anything was a hundred times as perilous than seeing a blind person do it nonchalantly on a busy highway. Drinking beer in a cafe, though, sans light was the most natural thing to do! The beer, albeit one of the cheapest I know of, tasted like gourmet beer!

Before we went inside, we were encouraged to talk to our guide. After all, it's what the museum is all about. Dialogue in the Dark is not only an hour's worth of exchange of roles. It was, also, more importantly, a lasting exchange of perspectives.

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