This week I went back to the Wikala al Ghouri to watch the Tanoura again. Somehow it has so happened that I have been going back to watch those Sufis at pretty regular intervals throughout the past six years that I have been living in Cairo. With and without guests. This last time, which is the last time really before I leave for good, it is a goodbye of sorts. I am touching all the places and things that I have enjoyed about this city in a final gesture of farewell and then it's over, I detach and focus on what is to come rather than what I leave behind and how I wrench myself out, away from all the dear and familiar patterns.
The troupe were their usual mesmerising selves, the performance was crisper, amazingly lively. Probably each member of the audience feels this - that the performers speak directly to them, yet are actually not performing at all, because this is not a dance, it is an internal spiritual quest. That something devotional and spiritual can be so exuberant, so joyous, such an audio-visual, sensuous feast! It is almost difficult to reconcile that idea with our usual notions of austere spirituality. It always makes me feel uncomfortably wet about the eyelashes for all my wishy-washy wavering atheism, and equally it makes me want to get up and start dancing myself. The energies and the high are just magnificent. Definitely I wanted to go back and watch it once before I left, and now it's done. And a sense of huge peace in the doing.