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In touch with a new town

Guest Guest | 14:57 UK time, Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Mani Djazmi

Tonight's In Touch looks at the extra complications that visually impaired people have when moving to a new and unfamiliar town. The programme's presenter Mani Djazmi has recently 'relocated' and here he blogs about re-orienting himself.

Show me someone who enjoys moving house and I'll show you a masochist. The procedure is well known: schlepping around in search of somewhere habitable, packing and unpacking your belongings - inevitably losing and/or breaking something en route - and crucially here, striking out in exploration of your new manor.

Presumably I must have been responsible for some form of genocide in a previous life as I found myself in this very unwelcome situation just before Christmas.

I've moved from London to Manchester, as part of BBC Sport's relocation.

It wasn't until I actually started living there that my blindness made its presence felt.

I hadn't forgotten that I'm blind, I'm just not someone who dwells on my disability. It's a part of me, along with my black hair, for instance, or my exotic, Middle Eastern good looks. But life up north for the first month made me as conscious of being blind as I have ever been.

For a start, as I began the process of mapping out a new office, there was the weekly discovery of new pillars and sofas. They're big on soft furniture at touchy feely MediaCityUK. To confuse me further in my new office space, the sofas which I knew the location of were sometimes rearranged, giving the impression that more had been added. I had to ponder my way around them.

The sight of me bouncing and stumbling from pillar to sofa probably did nothing to project my desired image, that of the independent professional.

At home, my first surprise came on the first morning of going to work. There I was in my newly-ironed clothes, opening the door and confidently striding out ... into my airing cupboard.

Another consequence of living in an unfamiliar flat when you can't see is that it initially seems a lot bigger than it actually is. For a couple of days to begin with, I genuinely thought I had an extra room and enjoyed planning its use for guests. Then I realised that I'd just been walking around my living room a different way.

My highlight so far has undoubtedly been the achievement of getting a hair cut. The euphoria that swelled my breast with pride, after accomplishing what I would previously have considered a pretty mundane task, was only slightly subdued by the fact that I couldn't buy myself a celebratory pint as it turns out my local was shut at 5:30 on a Saturday evening.

I don't know if I'm just being impatient and whinging unnecessarily. Perhaps I'll get back to you after my next haircut. Who knows, the pub might even be open then, and I may even have made a non-work friend with whom to share a pint.

Listen to In Touch, Tuesdays at 8.40pm on Radio 4. Or download the podcast the next day.


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