I meant to write a few words on this topic for a while, and recent events have inspired me to go forward and explain what I really mean when I call myself or other people “gipzy”. First of all I use the word in a slight variation from the correct english form “Gypsy”, to firstly differentiate but still connect to the historical and current gypsy tribes that existed around for hundreds of years. Most people don’t know much about them. For some they are the people in caravans that move around and “steal”. Obviously, that is derogative view and certainly is simply judgemental, just as so many people have judgement against strangers in general.
The term Gypsy or, politically more correctly, the Sinti and Roma tribes / people refer generally to a “race” of people, that differentiates them from other people genetically and are therefore a possible victim of racism. And because I have the highest respect for these people I owe them and myself this post for why gipzy, why?
In order to get to know more about them, I had the priviledge to meet and stay with a beautiful Roma family – the Gabor family – in Tirgu Mures, Romania while I was travelling there in 2014. They served us dinner and drinks in their home, taught me a traditional gypsy way to style my hair and a few words in their language. We got to know the traditional clothing of the Gabor caste and I could buy a beautiful scarf from the same shop they are buying them from.
The very lively young girl from Gabor family speaks very good english.
We also visited musical Roma – their villages are physically separated from the rest of the Roma people because they belong to the “untouchables” caste. We had a good time, with a jam session and some drinks in their home.
These great experiences I could have thanks to the wonderful Chuck and his Tzigania Project in Romania.
Now to the question why I call this blog “zoania” (hebrew word for female gypsy):
My interest into the Gypsy people comes from something inside me that is hard to put my finger on. I later found out that are others like me and they are referred to as Bohemians. I believe my connection it is the same root that the Bohemians connect to.
The term Bohemianism emerged in France in the early nineteenth century when artists and creators began to concentrate in the lower-rent, lower class, Romani neighborhoods. Bohémien was a common term for the Romani people of France, who were mistakenly thought to have reached France in the 15th century via Bohemia (Wikipedia)
This means that already back then people called themselves or were called by others after the Gypsy people.
Wikipedia also describes the term Bohemianism quite well:
Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic, or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians may be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds.
Over the course of the years travelling, I have met many people that live a travelling life, which is not only externally quite different to a ‘regular’ life (study, have a job, family, mortgages etc) but also internally. You can feel and see that travellers are mostly very connected to nature, free-spirited, spiritual not interested in material wealth and living a life without permanent home, even though a home can be something that is wished for. Many of these people have found ways to make money while travelling, for example making jewellery or other handicrafts they sell on the street or on the beach, you see them fire dancing on festivals you can see them juggling for change on traffic lights or playing music in pedestrian zones.
It isn’t very easy to find a word for these kind of people, you may call them wanderer, travellers, bohemians, nomads, hippies, vagabonds… gipzies. It is true, genetically they are not connected to Romani people. But it is something about their spirit that is connected to them and to each other. They are like a tribe themselves. You do not “choose” to become a travelling soul, or a bohemian. It is something that expresses from inside out, and the clothing style was something I would have instinctively chosen for myself even before I knew that something called “Bohemiamism” existed.
If I would have to find the most significant differences in what I call gipzies, it is their free spirit, their openness, their interest in asking the big questions in life and their call to search the truth – their desire to be a nomad or traveller over having a constant home, often even after they have children. They scrutinize the way society generally works and what society asks of people and try to find a better way if they disagree. They’re mostly idealists, believers in a different world. But not so much only a different world as a kind of abstract concept, but as something inherent in them. Just as everyone, the travellers need money to survive, but there is no drive to make more money than necessary. Taking a loan or any other way to make yourself dependent on the system is a very unattractive idea. Freedom is highly valued.
Sometimes I walk out into the Irish world wearing full colors and skirt over skirt and a crazy hairstyle “gipzy way” just because I feel like. And I don’t mind if people think I am strange or different. I somehow feel connected to my people through this. It makes me also be a little closer to the people that suffer from rejection. I prefer to be closer to them. I dont believe in genetic connection. Connection in spirit is true connection, true family.
And to those who still think calling myself a gipsy is racist – I recommend you to go visit these beautiful people, or any people in the world that live different, think different and widen your horizon by them. We are not our words or definitions. We are all free people, only limited by our dirty minds! May all beings live in peace, with an open heart and with respect towards each other, and our world will be a different place.
Israeli travellers from Rainbow Gathering singing for the Gabor family.