Talking to strangers

Anjali Jhangiani
Tuesday, 6 February 2018

The Westin Pune, Koregaon Park and Inkweaver will host Blindfolded Conversations on Feb 13 and 14. Here’s more about it

When was the last time you enjoyed a conversation? Enjoyed, not just had one. We’re not referring to a string of dialogues with expected questions and staple answers, but an exchange of ideas and thoughts which perhaps gave you a new perspective on something, or made you learn something new. Though it might seem to you that you indulge in conversation everyday with the same or different people, most of it is really just small talk. 

Bringing you an opportunity to reconnect with the idea of having meaningful conversations, The Westin Pune, Koregaon Park with Inkweaver, will host Blindfolded Conversations under the stars on February 13 and 14. Experiential learning and spoken word poet Janet Orlene, who will facilitate the event, tells us more about it. 

Orlene points out that people always have something to talk about, and though the advent of social media has only given mileage to this, it has actually diluted the conversation. “The age of social media has only increased conversations with each other but through a screen. It has however connected us to so much that we have lost connections with the emotional feedback from others. How loud are silences of disappointment? How freeing is mischievous laughter instead of a ‘lol’?” says Orlene. 

“I feel a good conversation should be a roller coaster ride of thought and wonder,” she says, which is why the participants of the session will be blindfolded as they explore thought, the human and themselves as they converse under the open sky. “That is where the facilitation steps in strongly. We will help the participant go beyond the physicality of the person they will talk to. They will be able to explore the humanity, the mentality, the human element, the fallibility and maybe all the inspiration, motivation, and the stories of strength in the person before them. And in this process of discovery, they find elements of themselves,” says she, adding, “They will be seated and then shuffled around after they are blindfolded to be with a stranger. We will facilitate their conversations. They will then be shuffled again in a while and so on.”

Because of the blindfolds, one cannot see who they are talking to, and this will prevent them from forming preconceived notions about the person. “We will blindfold the participants because sometimes it is easier to have a conversation in anonymity. It presents an opportunity to trust in the process of conversation,” she says. 

But what about reading one’s face while talking and all the expressions involved in the process? “Facial expressions are a great tool in a conversation. So what happens when it is removed? You find another way to communicate. And in many cases, it removes the anxiety of misreading facial expressions, because there is nothing to see,” she says. 

If this seems like something interesting to do over the weekend, but you need a little more encouragement to participate, let Orlene tell you that the event is open to anyone over the age of 18. Be it 18 or 85, there is always  something to learn, something to discover. When is it the right time to have a meaningful conversation with a stranger? Perhaps now,” she says. 

Blindfolded Conversations under the stars will be held at Westin Club Lounge on February 13 and 14, 7.30 pm onwards. For registration and more details, visit

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