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A foretaste of the Blind Dinner Experience

by June 14, 2016 General

Last Monday was a total shock to the senses, as we were served a little taste of blindness – literally.
Upon arrival at the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre’s restaurant la bonne table, where the Blind Dinner Experience media event was hosted by owners Melanie and Yannick Schweighardt, I was a bit nervous as I didn’t know what the evening had in store for me.

Not long after arriving, the guests were divided into teams by our hostess and there I was, about to venture into an unseen world with five strangers.
We all lined up ready to be escorted into darkness by our visually-impaired waitress Hileni Shiimi. Grabbing onto Shiimi’s shoulders, she led me and the others into our venue for the night – an entirely pitch black room.

I tried to adjust my eyes to the darkness, but to no success, and all the while Shiimi guided us effortlessly to our seats.
Sparking up conversation in the dark with five people I’ve never met before was a bit tricky at first, but as soon as I realised that my neighbour to my right was into soccer as much as I was, the rest came naturally.
Not long after leaving us, our waitress returned with grace, announcing herself in the most pleasant way and placing our drinks in front us – each one got their correct order.

As the starters arrived, everyone at the table was having a hard time getting used to dining in total darkness, but things got better once the main was served and ultimately the dessert.
While dining, our ears were offered the most wonderful entertainment through two musical performances.
The night ran smoothly and it didn’t take long for everyone at the table to warm up to each other, especially to our waitress, whose service was remarkable and much better than what you would get in any other restaurant around town.

After the experience, I was curious as to how people who can’t see could be so good at serving others, and I found out from Meriem Shikudule.
Shikudule, another waitress who is visually impaired, said the service is good because they are simply returning the favour to the ones who have been supporting them all along. She also mentioned that the job is no strain for her. “I love it. It keeps me busy and teaches me new drinks and salads’ names.”

Sacky Nigambo, one of the waiters on the night, said: “You should work with your heart. If you think negatively, you will be affected negatively. Free your mind, free your heart and work freely. Nothing is impossible. Disability does not mean inability”.
The Blind Dinner Experience will be taking place from 27 June until 2 July. You can enjoy the unique experience for N$500 per person, which includes a three-course meal and entertainment, and N$200 for minors. Call 253976 for more information.
– @jonathan_sasha on Twitter; @jonathan.sasha on Instagram