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Thursday, December 10, 2009

BLIND FOR AN HOUR


“Thick darkness” was a concept I had never understood until I visited an exhibition called ‘Dialogue in the Darkness’ in Holon.

The visit was part of a general tour of Holon, showing how this town, which was once only famous for its sand-dunes, has now become a paradise for children.
So, after wandering around story-time playgrounds and a hi-tech children’s library , I was totally unprepared for the stark contrast of our visit to this temporary international exhibition which was brought to Holon for a few months and has stayed for several years.


The bare, windowless, corrugated metal hut, compared to the other fun colored and interesting shaped buildings, gives you an idea of its no-nonsense interior.




Before entering, we were each assigned a locker and told to leave our bags there and also to remove all watches and cell-phones, anything which could light up the darkness. We were also warned not to carry anything which could fall, including unpinned kippot.
“If it falls, that’s the end of it . You can’t look for it because you won’t be able to see.”

And with that we were each handed a white stick

“You’ll be guided by the voice of your blind guide, Motti. Listen to him carefully and he’ll tell you where to walk. This stick will help you move around. Move it to the left and right along the floor in front of your feet. Don’t raise it or you may hit the person in front of you If you get stuck, call Motti . He ‘ll find you . He know s how to get around in the dark – you don’t.
And with those words we entered the pitch blackness.

I was terrified.
I had never dreamed anything could be that dark. My eyes were open but they hurt as I strained to see, but couldn’t. Nothing. Not even my own body. Total, complete and utter, thick darkness.
It was easier to just close my eyes and pretend that if I opened them I’d be able to see.
Motti’s soothing voice calmed us down. As we groped in the darkness he greeted each of us by touching our stick and asking our name. He explained that we would be going through several everyday experiences but we would have to use all our senses except sight to find out where we were.
We shuffled slowly along. Suddenly we realized that we could hear birds, we felt the wind on our faces and then –my face brushed against something. I shuddered and put my hand up and felt a branch of a tree. The ground became rough and gravelly and I realized that we were ‘outdoors’.
Suddenly there was a shout from one of the group.
“Motti I’m scared, I can’t move. I think I’m going to fall over. I feel really dizzy.”
“Hold on - don't worry I’m coming” he called, and we all stood still as he made his way over to Sophie the elderly lady in our group. I heard her gasp of relief as she grabbed hold of his arm.
“ Don’t worry it’s quite common to lose your sense of balance when you can’t see” he assured her.
“OK” he told the rest of us. “Turn left when you feel the wall in front of you.”
We shuffled left and felt the wind get stronger.
“Well” he said, We were in the forest before. Now where do you think we are?”
We listened hard and heard a different type of bird – and then there was a familiar smell of …..what was it ………. Then someone called out ‘it’s the sea.’
“Yes”, said Motti, “We’re going for a ride on a boat.”
…………………………………………..
I won’t ruin your visit by telling you any more.
It’s an amazing, if unnerving experience.
You’ll need to book your tickets well in advance, days, maybe even weeks.

Dialogue in the Darkness, Peres Park Holon.
Telephone 1599 585858 / 03 6503005
Entrance to over 9 year olds only .

1 comment:

Adam E. said...

Fascinating stuff. Thanks for the information...