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Tuesday, Sep 17, 2019

Delhiwale: The drawing room darvesh

Academic Ronie Parciack says Sufi whirling has nothing to do with ecstasy, it’s more about giving up perceptions one clings to.

delhi Updated: Dec 01, 2017 12:55 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
Ronie Parciack an Israeli scholar in her Delhi apartment.
Ronie Parciack an Israeli scholar in her Delhi apartment.(Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

Academic Ronie Parciack may be the only person in Delhi who has found something positive to say about our city’s loathsome pollution.

“Smog blurs the surroundings which makes for good photography,” said Ms Parciack, a multi-talented Israeli scholar whose latest book deals with aesthetics in Hindi cinema. Right this moment, though, our focus isn’t Bollywood at all but her particular passion: Sufi whirling as practiced by the dervishes of Turkey’s Mevlevi order.


Dragging away the sofa in her rented central Delhi apartment to create more space, she turns on some music consisting of duff drum beats. “Whirling,” the visiting professor from Tel Aviv University, explains, ”has nothing to do with ecstasy, but allows me to suspend my usual perceptions, giving up something we usually cling to.”

Now, Ms Parciack closes her eyes, moving her arms close to her heart, and gently rotates, gradually spreading her arms.

Her kurta sways about her. The professor has evidently escaped into another reality and yet remains in control.

We hear a dog barking outside on the street but otherwise there is a hushed silence. After 10 minutes Ms Parciack stops, her arms again resting on her heart — here in this drawing room now bathed in evening light.

First Published: Nov 30, 2017 16:45 IST