October Sets the Gypsy Blood Astir
As Eastern European countries enter the EU, their gypsies (Roma) have been flowing into Western European countries, bringing their music, caravans and problems with them. It’s hard not to have preconceived ideas about the Roma, and prejudices against them run high. Today, the papers report that Italy closes the door on Gypsies. 10/13/2010 Washington Post article by Anthony Faiola.
Growing up in Canada, Pauline always used to warn me about the gypsies; they would kidnap me and sell me into slavery, or steal my purse, she said. I disliked them and I was afraid of them, yet in all my life, I had never even seen one.
Until now. It was breakfast in Pazova, and a faint clip-clop sound became louder and louder as a horse came down the road. “Gypsies,” Jaro said. I sprang up and out of my chair and ran around to the front of the house to take a look. A horse and battered buggy quickly rode by, father and son aboard. They were both tan, and the boy’s long, blond, tangled hair was blowing in the wind, his clothes filthy and torn.
I asked about the gypsies in Vojvodina. “They fit in fairly well,” claimed Jaro, “some attend school and have regular jobs like teachers, even doctors. They are not all bad.”
A week later, I encountered gypsies again, this time in Dolny Kubin, Slovakia. We were driving by cinder block buildings erected during the communist era. For the most part, they were freshly painted in bright colors and well maintained. But one group of green buildings was not. Laundry was hung out to dry, paint was peeling, windows were broken, and satellite receivers sprung from many windows. “Gypsies,” muttered my cousin Michal. “They don’t work, they don’t attend school, they live in public housing, commit crimes and yet they all have flat screen TVs and satellite service.”
“There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir; We must rise and follow her; When from every hill of flame, She calls and calls each vagabond by name” By William Bliss Carman.