In Istanbul, when I had enough of all those kebab and spice stalls, Danielle dragged me along with her to go see the Dervishes dance.
By the entrance to the big bazar, right next to an overloaded street stand with kashkaval cheese, we went up into a dimmed, round prayer hall, sat on the floor, when suddenly the tune of one flute filled the room and the heart, as the dervishes stepped-in ever so slowly and started whirling in circles.
They floated on air, and everything around us was spinning in ecstasy. We sat there twirling with them, we were them, wearing those remarkable robes like a dress, like angels, we prayed without words, there was an absolute silence but that flute alone blowing on and on as my soul swelled and my heart went out to those Sufi and to Rumi, who in the 13th-century had already known what we may never come to know.
After that, we went outside again into the busy bazaar, and I saw those same dervishes slip back into the alleyways of the souk, wearing jeans and a T-shirt, reminding us that they are people, and that everything also happens in the here and now, and that it can happen, a journey between cities and people, a futuristic urban legend, a quiet prayer of those who believe, and the tune of one flute, which I will never, ever forget.
“Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen. Not any religion or cultural system.” Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet. Our book’s Gaza chapter is filled with the sound of the flute and the whirling of dervishes. Calligraphy of Rumi’s wise words especially made for us by Josh Berer.
On the Hummus Route / A futuristic urban legend between cities, people, and dreams