Nepal gets its first blind restaurant

0
219

June 2, 2012

A restaurant in Kathmandu, called Dining in the Dark, has opened in hopes of helping people experience what it is like to be blind. Diners will eat in a darkened hall with black curtains and be waited on by five visually impaired individuals.

June 2, 2012

A restaurant in Kathmandu, called Dining in the Dark, has opened in hopes of helping people experience what it is like to be blind. Diners will eat in a darkened hall with black curtains and be waited on by five visually impaired individuals.

Nepal's first blind restaurant has just opened. The restaurant in Kathmandu is a part of a project funded by the Israeli embassy to support people with special needs and allows the sighted to experience what it is like to be blind.

The restaurant, Dining in the Dark, is a darkened hall, draped in layers of black curtains. Five visually impaired male waiters have been trained and employed by the restaurant, which has only four tables.

"I thought it was a fantastic project to be able to help the visually impaired," said Rachael Manley, the owner. "It is a combination of using the skills of these people while also providing them an opportunity to become independent."

The menu is fixed and minimalist, containing vegetarian salads, pasta and dessert. "We are serving only vegetarian food, so that waiters don't get confused," said Manley.

She said blind dining, which has become popular in other parts of the world, heightens the sense of taste and aroma. Mobile phones, objects that create light and cameras are not allowed inside the restaurant.

"There are a few such restaurants in Israel and they have had a big impact in society as it is a chance to let people experience how it feels to be blind," said Nitzan Arny, a consular assistant at the Israeli embassy who also helped train the waiters.

The waiters were selected by the Nepal Association of the Blind. "It took some time, but it's not difficult and they're doing a good job," Arny said.

There are 50 million blind people in the world, according to the World Health Organization, and 90 per cent of them are living in developing countries. The Nepal Association of the Blind reports that there are 200,000 blind people in the country, most of them poor and dependent on their families and help from organizations.

"Some of the people we've trained for the job didn't know what a restaurant was, so it was a bit of a challenge at first," said Bijay Lama, a trainer. "But it's amazing to see how they handle the job, guided by their sense of touch and hearing."

One of the waiters, Ganga Bahadur Pariyar, 24, said he was very happy to have a chance to become independent. Also a university student, he said he's glad he doesn't have to depend on his family now that he has a job.


Courtesy: DPA