Finding My Drum
My drum, a bakir (copper) Darbuka, found in Istanbul

I had an amazing drum experience: Before I went to Turkey for an Oriental dance master class, I dreamed of finding my drum. I awoke and new I would find it in Istanbul. Now, that's a strange thing to "Know", but that's how I felt. My conscious mind said that that was silly. Out loud, I told my conscious mind that although it was a wonderful instrument in its area of specialization, that it had nothing to say here and that it should not interfere. I decided to believe it and continue to visualize it.

On the first night in Istanbul, the twenty Swiss women belly dancers and I went with our teacher to her man-friend’s Dervish gathering. Men and women don’t mix in public gatherings so the women had to watch through tiny windows in a separate room. I joined the men in a circle dance. As men arrived and joined, they formed concentric circles with their arms around each others’ waists. Each circle was only about 18” from the next. I joined in about circle 10. At least three more formed behind me. We did a simple step: right-left-right (pause), left-right-left (pause). The steps to the right were larger than the steps to the left, so our circles precessed slowly around to the right. Those who knew the words chanted a song. The others changed (Ah-who, Ah-Ha...Ah-who, Ah Ha...). Here were all these men intensely desiring contact with God; seeking truth in this intense dance. It smelled strongly of men, as you can imagine! There was no way to leave. A few men went into divine ecstasy and flipped out. But although they lost control of themselves, they couldn’t fall down because a man was on each side holding them and a circle of men was in front and behind them. The effect was very electric. As they went into ecstasy, yelped, howled and flipped around like a fish out of water, my hair stood on end and I experienced electric thrills. My hair stood up on my feet and rose in waves from my feet to my head and back down to my feet. My heart raced and I thought, “Oh my, something is going to happen”.

I felt like this great group of circles of men took off heaven-ward like a rocket. We spread out through the night sky and embraced God. Far below I heard a new voice that had gone into ecstasy and vaguely recognized it as mine. When I returned to awareness of my body, I had a huge toothy grin on my face which was wet with tears. Wow, these people really know what religion is! I never felt like that in a church.

After the dervish dance experience, I was introduced to an old drum master. He looked at the picture from my dream and said, "You won't find that drum here. That's a Persian drum and that design hasn't been made for about 600 years." I looked the old guy in the eye and said, "It is here. I've come to get it". He looked deeply into my eyes for a long time and then said, “I doubt it. But if you wish, I'll guide you through old Istanbul (where usually only locals go safely) to look for it”. We went to many "stores" that wouldn't have been up to the standards of a junk yard for us. In one, as the owner told him that he didn't have anything like that, I went to the back of the store and started pulling out the wooden boxes from under the shelves. In one, I found my drum. It was black, beaten in badly and missing one of the two brass rings used to tighten the skin.

Things go slowly in Istanbul, but the old Sufi drum master had friends. One cut a new brass ring from a thick sheet of brass. Another hammered out the drum and polished it. A third stretched a thin goat skin over it. Presto, two days later, on the day before I returned to Switzerland, I had my drum. It is a deep-bellied Darbuka. I wonder where all that drum has played and which dancers moved to its rhythms. Was I one of its owners in a former life?

This story helped reinforce one of my beliefs: Dare to dream, believe in your dream, and act upon your dream. then it may well come true.