Their trade is passed on from parent to child, so if a parent is a member of the Tshor (thief clan), the children learn to pickpocket and steal at an early age. In our orientation, an embassy staff member related walking to the gym in the early morning greeted by several cute gypsy children; when he got to the gym he discovered that every outside zipper pocket on his gym bag was opened and emptied.
Roma history is unclear, because the earliest accounts of Roma were written by outsiders with a negative point of view. The best guess is that the Roma migrated to Eastern Europe from the Indian continent in two waves: the first wave was in 1200s as slaves to the invading Tartars; when the Tartars were defeated, they became slaves to the locals. The second wave was in the 1500s, an economic migration into a feudal society where they were nomads. They were granted freedom from slavery in 1837 by the Council of Wallachia, which also gave them farmland.
During WWI and WWII, the Roma began to develop an identity as a separate cultural group. However, during WWII the Nazi regime saw the Roma's separatist and nomadic ways as a cultural problem necessitating genocide as a solution. The Communist regime which followed attempted to assimilate Roma into Romanian society, offering them jobs in factories and agriculture. But the state policy of "social uniformity" went against their core values, so they withdrew to remote villages and traditional trades in a black market economy. After the fall of Communism, many Roma who assimilated into urban factory work lost their jobs as factories closed. Those who resisted assimiliation in rural areas seemed to adapt to free enterprise much better.
When we went to the party with the musicians, our host Gabi, a Gabori by trade, was aloof from the other Roma, musicians by clan and class. Although everyone had brought their best homemade liqueurs, he declined having any alcohol, saying that he was the designated driver for our group. When everyone else was dancing, he had a smoke outside the fence.
|Gabi's Grandfather made the water well dome.|