On 22 September 2018, I had the opportunity to attend an experiential dinner with Kathmandu Shaper team. Honestly, I or most of us joining had no clue what signing up to this would unfold since it was our very first time. But, we decided to just go for it because that’s how we are, spontaneous and curious. The journey started even before the actual dinner. Just a day before, we started receiving audio messages in our WhatsApp group with an intense voice reciting the sincere dedication required to do this; because only then we would truly be able to realize its impression on us.
On the very day, there were a series of activities lined up for us before we reached the dinner table. To think of it now, every set of activities had a purpose to add up to our experience of self-actualization.
Following the audio instructions, we started our journey by writing down answers anonymously of questions that were placed in different spots at a close proximity to the venue. In a way, we were also exploring the city that we have lived in for years fondly like a tourist. It made me nostalgic and took me back to Nickelodeon Treasure Hunt times.
The questions were very powerful. Something like:
- Share a secret that no one knows about you.
- Imagine a person you love. Now describe your love for them.
As we reached the venue, we saw Noah (our facilitator) with a mask, a literal mask. We were asked to make paper masks for ourselves. We were clueless why but all of us started making one. There was a creative over pour with artistic masks creation. Before going to the dinner table, a trust session followed. We were paired with another person and told to place blindfolds on them only to lead them towards where we were standing. The goal was to establish trust between people who were proceeding towards a journey together.
As we were done and reached the dinner table, we wore our masks too. Noah made us shuffle the answers of the first question asked to us earlier and read it aloud with our masks on.
Although we were unknown about whose answers we were going through; we could sense strength, courage and the level of emotions all of us were going through in those secrets.
We vowed that it was the last time that night where we remained anonymous to each other. Noah shared that the objective of the dinner was to push ourselves to take off the social masks that we put and hide our true selves. Putting a social mask would only limit us on how we build a deeper connection with someone and discover intimacy with them.
So, the journey of intimacy begun. We were now paired up randomly to ask and answer questions while feeding one another. This time without our masks on (both the literal and social) The idea was to bring together food and art which only fostered more intimacy. When you feed someone, there is an element of care already. Furthermore, when you are opening up in thoughts, the connection reaches a beautiful place. Personally, this session was something I really loved. It wasn’t difficult for me at all. I was paired with a senior shaper (Sneh) and after a while, it felt like I was bonding with a friend I met after ages.
The next session was about moving around shifting in pairs, making eye contact constantly for a few minutes. It was followed up with a question at the end. This was the toughest session for me because making eye contact with people who are new to you isn’t something usual right? I was impatient, restless, timid and only giggling for few minutes. Additionally, I also felt guilty for violating the terms of commitment required to the dinner. But my reaction was so natural to me. Gradually as we moved around, I conquered my shyness and adapted to it. Finally, at one point, we were asked to imagine the person in front of us in various portrayals of someone we know. Someone who we love the most, who has suffered grief, who could be our best friend, or who is transforming etc. At this point, my imagination grew so strong, that I literally saw a friend in the person in front of me. (Her name is Radhika- I had never met or known her before). This was the most powerful emotion I felt in the entire experiential dinner session.
Finally, it was dessert time and the answers from the second question about describing someone we love was shuffled. Dessert is the time for sweet things. We fed our soul with some sweets and talks about love. We were amazed to learn the definition of love from everyone. It was beautifully quoted from the depths of the heart, so organic.
All in all, this experience felt so divine and was a feast to all our senses. I shared with Noah that the moment we started falling in love and getting immersed in the session, was unfortunately also the moment it ended. I reckon that signing up to sessions like this and opening up is not easy. It takes time. It did to me as well but eventually, you sense the comfort you discover when you decide to shower your trust on people.
I highly recommend this as an activity to the Global Shaper hub. This activity can be used as a tool for escalating the bonding between new and the senior shapers. Its just been few months of being a shaper for me and this was a great opportunity for me to mingle.
Lastly, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Noah, Sneh and Gaurav for conducting this for us.
Image Credits: Sachet Manandhar, a fellow shaper standing behind South Park character in the realization that the character is still within him. (as he says)