It’s been eight years since the novel initiative ‘Dialogue in the Dark’ took shape in Inorbit mall in the city. The experience centre-cum-restaurant is a unique venture started by SV Krishnan who came across DiD when his flight got delayed in Atlanta, Georgia, in the USA. The first-ever Dialogue in the Dark was opened in 1988 in Germany, from where it spread to other countries. The exhibit left a profound impact on Krishnan as he understood that the visually-impaired use other faculties to ‘see’ things around them.
He came away from the experience with a lot of empathy and respect for them and decided to launch a similar centre in Hyderabad in order to raise awareness among people.
Following the popularity of the first outlet, Krishnan has now launched another branch of ‘Dialogue in the Dark’ in partnership with the Telangana Tourism at The Plaza Hotel in Begumpet.
“Tourism is also about being inclusive of the differently-abled which Dialogue in the Dark stands for. From a visitor’s perspective, they get to know what the life of a blind person is like for a few minutes in a simple way and change the mindsets of people and help bring more differently-abled people into the mainstream society. Now, with the second branch in the heart of the city, it was felt that a lot of people from Secunderabad and Hyderabad can visit the place easily as well,” says SV Krishnan, CEO, Dialogue in the Dark.
The two centres are quite different from each other, as the new outlet has a walk-through which leads to the restaurant that has a whole new menu. At a given point, 30 people can be accommodated in the centre.
“The walk is filled with adventurous activities. It feels as if you are walking across a shaky floor, akin to an earthquake. At the restaurant, visitors will get to play ‘dark games’, which utilise the four senses — touch, hear, taste and smell. You will be asked to identify routine sounds that you may not pay attention to otherwise; there are auditory and tactile simulations where you may be given puzzles to solve,” adds Krishnan.
The DiD outlet at Plaza Hotel also happens to be operated by an entirely visually-impaired staff. “There are six people on board, of which three visually-impaired people act as guides. We also have another person in the front office who has low vision and an assistant who is visually-impaired for housekeeping and carrying out basic errands.
A speech and hearing-impaired person has been employed for housekeeping,” explains Krishnan who brought in an experienced DiD guide from the Inorbit mall branch to get the newbies used to how things work. Krishnan is confident that people will come away with more understanding and empathy for those who are differently-abled and that no problem is so debilitating that it can’t be overcome.