Thursday, July 26, 2007

Laugh, gypsy!

The last time I saw gypsies was in Rome, when two girls tried to steal something from my wife's purse, using the old trick of pretending to ask for directions and sticking a map into our faces. Luckily we knew what was up and shoo'ed them away.

Before that, when I was a child back in Kiev. Saw quite a few of them. And of course was threatened by my grandparents that the gypsies would steal me if I misbehaved. Strangely enough, I haven't seen any around Chicago. I don't know if they are just blending in better, or if they have disappeared completely.

It used to be that it was hard to miss a gypsy when you saw them. Especially back in the Ukraine. Just as Jews don't look like Slavs, neither do the gypsies, who hail from the Indian subcontinent. Plus the distinctive dress, both men and women favoring red and other bright colored, loudly patterned clothing...

Here's a clip from an old Soviet movie featuring a real gypsy singer. His song is the epitome of gypsy life - he brags - "Lock up my freedom behind iron bars, I'll steal it along with the bars!... Lock up your black stallion behind five locks, I'll steal it along with the locks!... Lock up your girl behind a high fence, I'll steal her along with the fence!". And the music - the traditional three chord gypsy music which Lizst and the rest of the Europeans adopted so extensively...

And here's another clip from a movie about gypsies based on a short story by Maxim Gorky. The clip starts with one gypsy telling a newly arrived gypsy from another tribe - "...And our young women here - they are walking icons!" Of course he is right.

OK. A couple more things... The second clip here is sung in the Roma/Gypsy language, as opposed to the first one which was sung in Russian. Gypsies are polyglots by necessity being a wandering nation, but they retain their own language, which is very close to Hindi. As a matter of fact, gypsies have been known to watch Indian films and understand the gist of what is said.

Also note that the clothing of the women is very similar to what women wear on the Indian subcontinent...


Post a Comment

<< Home