"What are you wearing in your eyes, Javid? Is it some infra red device?" I asked. The way Javid navigated through the dark room, serving us water and food was amazing.
"I will show you when you finish your meal, Wasim" he said.
Right from the time we entered the dark passage holding the shoulders of the person in front, in a single line, Javid led me since I was first in line, deftly and got seven of us seated. He gave us an alphabet figure each and two of us got two. It was pitch dark and I was surprised that my eyed did not adapt at all. Till the end of dinner, I saw nothing.
"I have given you all a total of nine alphabets. Please create a word. You've got five minutes before you food comes."
With no phones to play Candy crush or Temple run, this wasn't a bad idea to kill time.
I had two letters. M and I. "I've got C," yelled my friend and we were soon talking to our neighbours on the opposite side of our table. We got their names and shared ours and soon we were trying to put a world with two Ss, a T, an I, an H and R. There is no way to find out how long we tried.
Before getting in, this is almost like airport security, only worse. You leave behind your watch, your phone, your keys in a locker. So, no way to know the time, assuming your watch would have illuminating hands. They don't want any light source inside.
Food arrived in boxes.
"So, did you finish your word?"
The look on our faces must have been one of disappointment, but obviously only Javid must've seen it. I don't even know how our friends on the opposite side of the table looked like, leave alone expressions.
"Nope," we all said.
"S,S, M,H,R,C,I,T,A.....the word is Christmas," he said much to all our groan. "Enjoy your meal."
As we felt the boxes and opened them, Javid came around giving us spoons. The box on my left was definitely rice. The middle box had a gravy. The third box had some boneless side dish, but dry. There was also a foil. I was glad that my brain worked enough to recognise the foil. I opened it and it felt like a roti. Slowly I tried to get the three pieces of dry side dish and they were all chicken. Our friends on the other side were vegetarians.
"This is paneer tikka," I heard.
"Yes. Very nice too." I didn't hear any thing more about the paneer. So I am guessing they got only paneer tikka. But we got three different types of chicken dishes. One tasted like a tikka. One like an Afghani and one I have no idea, mainly because of my blocked nose! Take away my nose and eyes and suddenly I had no idea about food.
It felt like one of the most comforting meals. After a minute or two of struggle, I was able to get the rice in the gravy and eat without spilling and enjoying the chicken at the same time. The universal conversation was about how we take things for granted.
Javid arrived in a while and handed us wet tissues and then dry tissues. We bid goodbye to our friends who were led out first and then he came back to lead back to light. As we stepped out, Javid showed us his equipment as he pointed to his face. It was the most amazing equipment you will ever set your eyes on, thought it might take you a bit to understand. The human brain!
I am not going to sugar-coat and call Javid differently abled. He was blind. Because when we say differently abled, I think we are trying to undermine the effort those guys put to be recognised. Even Javid, said, "Sir, I cannot see." He didn't say that he could sing! When folks like us need google maps to go from our house to the next door kirana store, Javid took us to his world for forty five minutes and I realised what privileged lives we are leading. Just for that, the Rs. 350 plus taxes for a three course dinner was more than worth it. You could also do their Dialogue in the dark in which they take you through shaky bridges and shopping carts. Sometimes it is nice to be brought to light the things we take for granted. Ironically, it took darkness to bring that to light!
Javid could see a lot more than I could!
You could have a taste of darkness at Express Avenue mall, 3rd floor too.