In each issue of beyond the I, this column presents a first-hand account of a visually impaired person’s experiences in the ‘real’ world.
In this New Year issue, people share with us vignettes of parties they have gone to
Dancing the night away
At my first office party recently, I was adjudged the best female dancer. It was a big surprise, especially since I am not a trained dancer. My project manager said she found it hard to match up to my steps as I was too fast. I received many more compliments. Everything was perfect at the party!
Instructional Designer (e-Learning), at FCS Software Solutions, Noida
Connecting with the mind
The most unforgettable party in my life was the one I organised on my brother's birthday, where I met a very interesting person. We spoke about all topics possible under the sun. We ate, drank, talked and enjoyed ourselves. Later, I realised that this person was no stranger but a replica of my own mind. I realised that I could learn much more if I follow my mind.
Voice Accent Trainer at 24x7, Bangalore
I was then a boy of 10 who had travelled “500 miles away from home”, with a heart loaded with passion for cricket and mind filled with aspirations, hungry for knowledge. Shree Ramana Maharshi Academy for the Blind was the school I had come to, which enfolded me into its arms 25 years ago and educated me. Grateful to the institution that nurtured me and made me what I am today, I visited the school on January 2, 2006, 25 years later, as a thanksgiving gesture. I enjoyed lunch in the company of the staff and the students there. Memories of my school days came flooding back, filling me with great warmth. I also noticed a lot of improvements in the school since I had last visited eight years ago. On the whole, I enjoyed my visit there and came back feeling gratified and fulfilled.
Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled, Bangalore
An evening tinged with joy and sorrow
The evening I remember was both happy and sad. It was my farewell party, in the final year of college. I was happy since I was about to complete my graduation. Sad feelings haunted me because we were bidding adieu to each other; after this we would probably never be able to enjoy life together. The party was an informal one; we chatted gaily with everybody, friends, lecturers and professors. I miss that camaraderie. Sometimes I wish I was back in college once more.
Executive (Help Desk) at FCS Software Solutions, Noida
Discovering the power within
I was a houseguest at my uncle’s house in Kolkata. I was 17 at the time. I remember one evening when we had been invited for dinner at the Calcutta Rowing Club (a very posh and happening club at the time) by my uncle’s boss. We were greeted at the club lounge by a very handsome English couple, with a very formidable stiff upper lip attitude. They led us to a cozy corner where we were all seated on lush leather sofas. Drinks were ordered, I shyly asked for a shanty as I thought at the time would make me sound grown up. The conversation was so soft I could hardly hear most of it. Coupled with the fact that I could not read the body language of those sitting there, things got a little uphill for me.
Somehow the evening progressed with soft music playing and a cool Kolkata winter breeze making the atmosphere even more potent. I had not until then ever known such embarrassment. I felt my face flush and my hands tremble. I could not understand what was happening. Well, dinnertime arrived and I heaved a sigh of relief. At least, I thought, the attention of the group will focus on the food and I could relax as I generally loved eating. I hoped desperately for other guests so I could take shelter in a crowd and be less self conscious.
But I realised with despair that no one else was to come. We were the party! Then I discovered that we were to be seated at a formal dinner table. “How would I handle all the cutlery and crockery which goes with a sit-down dinner?” I groaned to myself. My head was now spinning with nervousness. I could think of nothing else except that I did not wish to be pitied. So I pulled my senses together with a tremendous effort and managed to sit at the table looking quite composed. So far so good. The soup was served and I got most of the contents into my mouth with the least mess.
After this first ordeal I sat back and relaxed. Things were not that bad after all, I smiled. Then came the main course, a huge steak with jacket potatoes and boiled peas! What was I to do now? It would be bad manners to use my fingers, but how on earth could I even begin to get going with this layout? I felt the atmosphere stiffen even further. I felt everyone in that room was watching me. I felt I was being ridiculed by all. What should I do? I have never felt so much out of sorts. But there was something inside of me that made me sit my ground with a forced smile. I took a deep breath and decided to tackle the steaming food on my plate. I still remember eating the potatoes with the skin on, I remember the steak was well done and so a little tough but I managed to hold it with my fork and knife and eat a bit. Of course I had to do away with the peas. I was starving in spite of the lavish spread on my plate. Mrs. Green, our hostess, asked if I were not well. Or did I not like the food? I risked a shaky smile and said I was not very hungry as I was a very small eater (all lies)! After what seemed ages, we rose from the table and said our thank yous and goodbyes.
This party became a turning point in my life. I understood the fact that I had a lot to learn in the area of social skills so I never ever get caught in the web of shattered self-confidence. It was a lot of hard work but today I don’t leave any food on my plate at any party.
P.R. Officer, Shroff Charity Eye Hospital, Delhi
Do you have an ‘everyday’ experience you would like to recount? Write in to us at.