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GYPSIES (who they are and what they want)-1st PART

I will have several posts related to gypsies. I will not write here, what I read through different texts or heard from people, but about my and not at last Calin's experience connected with gypsies. I can not say they're a people, that they, in fact, were spread worldwide and took not only the physiognomy of the people, in whose country they settled down (or ... not), but also the language, worship, habits and even nationality.

When I was a child, in Romania, my parents went to Indian films, which in a certain period were very popular there (I remember "the Vagabond" with Raj Kapoor). At that time, i.e. in the Communist era, there were many cinemas in Constanta (the city where I lived almost half of my life). Wherever Indian films were broadcast, there were huge queues at the ticket box office. The Romanians had not enough seats, because of the gypsies, who crowded the entrance with their families. That's because, they said, that the Indians were their brothers; gypsy ethnicity coming from North India (some, from Pakistan) and spreading worldwide.

Until Calin was born and a few years until he became a bigger toddler, I just avoided them because I had heard, only bad things, that scared me. Things began to change when my son was partaker with some gypsies, because I was a single mother, and I had to defend my son from the things that I thought, to be bad. Anyway, it was a stage in our lives that made us understand an essential truth: i.e., that the human nature is same anywhere on the planet Earth.

Inside of these ethnicity, people are divided into rich and poor, they have bulibasa (a sort of tribal boss), kings and emperors, they have "gypsy law" (unwritten) and ... some specific habits (like...the scrounging). But who does not steal?! or, rather, who steals the less; maybe only the people who really produce or build something (like bread, houses, clothes, maybe something related to art, a good book).

Let's go back to the gypsies. My parents lived in the center of Constanta, in a Russian style building, a remarkable one, which had in the basement, cellars for each apartment. At the back was another block of flats, and between them a courtyard with trees and flowers. At the back of these, was Luminisului st, where there were houses and some villas (some of them nationalized, when the communists came to power). In one of the villas, lived several families of gypsies. They were poor, having as "job", the scrounging, while the Romanians went to work.

I have to say here that in communism, almost all adults went to work, except gypsies, who make their living in an illegal way. Usually, their children, who were many in number, were not attending school. Most have only 2-3 classes, rarely finishing their primary, i.e. 4 classes. At present, the situation of this category (gypsies are divided into several categories or tribes, usually after occupations or by the way they live: cauldron gypsies/zlatari, silversmiths, gabori, musicians, tinsmiths, florists, etc.) is not different.

They use as a means of transport, in daily activities, the cart pulled by horses. So the horse is an animal present in any yard, because gypsies do not live, routinely in block of flats, but in houses or... tents. It was said that many kept their horses inside the house; anyway, from many yards, came out an unbearable smell, a mixture of animal dung, with heavy, smelly meals, stinking clothes and bodies.

Gypsies living in the back street, mostly or the whole family (parents, children), had, scrounging, as occupation and nearly all the men were in jail, from where they returned, even more, ripe for mischief! Calin, as a child, was lamenting all time, saying he has no friends and that is why he "tangled" with some of them, a bit better humans, while feared entering their homes, especially of those called "gang" (as the gypsy named Vadar). Because he tangled with all these "gross gypsies" he, rarely, attended school. When I went to see his situation, I found the school register full of unmotivated absences and scores below 5 (5 being lowest level for pass); he even repeated 3 times the classes. The neighbors came to my door, to claim that he and his gang of thugs, had stolen, pickles, and other things from their cellar.

I argued with everyone: police (we were called to police, or visited by agents many times), but mostly with the parents of these gypsies with whom he tangled with. So, I got, the nickname "Zorro", which seems to be topical even at present. Even a neighbor of ours, native British, call me with this nickname. I read once, by chance, in Calin's Facebook account, in a chat, with a Romanian fellow, with whom he had come to the UK, who asked, whether he was in Tenerife with Zorro. So, behind of me, I'm not Calin's mother, but Zorro.

Even in UK, I "shout" especially to institutions, that do not treat us right, in my views. So I do not know, how I am called by behind, but still, many people from here know me better than I know them, as appearance! Maybe they talk among themselves, saying: that crazy Romanian, or Polish, or how they would name me (as many do not know what Romania is, or "with what it could be eaten") and definitely the majority does not know that Romanians and gypsies from Romania are totally different ethnicity. The only similarities are in social behavior (both ethnic groups have a poor majority and a rich minority, the middle class becoming smaller in number).

Returning to gypsies, the area where we lived was full of nationalized houses by the communist regime, as I said before. Many of them were occupied, more or less "abusive" by gypsies, who are many as family members, and who seemed, to us, the Romanians, like polluting the area. These houses or villas were in an insalubrious state, difficult to be understood or accepted, so gypsies were, as still in these present days are, marginalized and reviled, although the fault was not, mostly, theirs, but of the society and especially of the authorities, full of prejudices.

All, I have written happened about 25-30 years ago. I say this because at the age of 18 years, Calin begun to quiet himself, even if the bond with gypsies was not broken, permanently, given our economic/financial situation, increasingly precarious. Many gypsies in Constanta were Turks, they lived mostly in the Grivita and Chilia Markets. Men were responsible for illegal "jobs" usually, and the women doing sales of stolen or not sundries, the guess and domestic chores.

Some of them had more bearable living conditions. All of them had the houses walls lime painted in white or blue and hanging on walls over large beds (large, because they were sleeping "heap, over pile") bright rugs, very kitschy, which they brought from Turkey. The majority of these rugs were sold. They had on tables and walls orthodox copies, with religious images and other brighter things. From Constanta to Istanbul, many buses, loaded with gypsies "merchants", had departures every day.

Besides rugs, they brought all sorts of rubble, which they sold on stalls or strolling on beaches during summer, Constanta being located on the Black Sea coast, from where it was easy to reach Turkey. During summer, they walked on the beach, selling, boiled corn, sesame, caramelized apples, fried sunflower or pumpkin seeds (which they sold in cones made of newspaper, 1 or more small glass, as how much money were payed). They crafted from sea shells all sorts of decorative items as necklaces, cassettes (which looked really nice) so that Romanians or foreign tourists were buying, with pleasure.

In all the parks from Constanta were gypsy women, dressed in floral skirts , with the hair tied in the queue (half behind the ear and the other half in front), usually wearing a baby or a doll (who give the impression of a baby) in their arms, or with a toddler beside them. They dealt, usually tricking the suckers, with the guess as palmist, in play cards or conch (a large shell, which you seem as hearing the sound of sea waves). They manifested a remarkable ability to "read" the mankind and his (rarely her) desires, so they managed to take the money and gold jewelery, and that without the man feels as being robbed.

PS To be continued! Anyway, I will upload more personal pictures (relatively recent) with gypsies from Transylvania, in one of these posts about gypsy ethnic group.

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Draga Marylena Ciorogar-Goia,

Multumim pt ca l-ati contactat pe Sir Edward Leigh si v-ati exprimat vederile.
Sir Edward crede cu tarie ca toleranta si respectul pt alte culturi se afla in centrul identitatii noastre. Suntem acum casa pt multe diferite credințe, rase și etnii și este important ca toată lumea se simte parte dintr-o societate solidară și integrată.

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