Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gypsy lore

Photo by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Faces of the Roma
Did you know the Roma people came to Europe from India? I didn’t. Not until a conversation in the vet’s office a few years ago. I was there with my two cats for their annual checkup--Sona yowling pitifully and Rakhan catatonic with terror, as per usual. A petite woman with dark curly hair and … a small dog, I think, started chatting with me. Are you from India, she asked, and on hearing I was, she beamed happily and said her ancestors were too.

Oh? Said I. Where from in India? She didn’t know. Turned out her grandmother was Roma. Her name had been Chandra, and the woman's daughter was named Chandra for her.

My husband’s name is Chandra too, I told her. It’s usually a man’s name in India. The minute I said this I wished I had kept my big mouth shut. Her face fell. Sensing her disappointment I tried to patch up the damage. Some girls are called Chandra too, I said lamely. Or Chandrika, or Chandrakanta, or …

Don’t you have moments you want to rewind and do over in life? This was one of them.

Anyway.

Recently that conversation came back to me and I dug around a bit on the subject. Seems she was right, the gypsies of Europe ARE of South Asian descent. They left in waves from the 7th century onwards. No one knows why. Sounds like they've had a rough time of it in Europe, and still are, even today.

Fascinating.

So, this whole subject is kind of steaming on the back-burner of my imagination right now. I have some major revisions to finish, and a synopsis to write, but I’m going to keep collecting material about the Roma and come back to it when I get time.

I think there’s a story there … and if I write one, I’m putting a girl called Chandra in it to make up for my insensitivity that day in the vet’s office.

6 comments:

Yat-Yee said...

Ooh, ooh, ooh, definitely sounds like an idea that you need to pursue.

Nandini said...

That's how I feel, Yat-Yee! Love having a potential story to daydream about ...

Anna said...

How funny, the fairy tale retelling I'm working on now is based on Gypsy folklore. It's been so interesting researching Gypsies - definitely lots to inspire the imagination!

Nandini said...

Yes, it is, Anna. Something about the journey they've been on just touches my heart. Have you seen Latcho Drom? I just ordered it.

Praveen said...

Interesting serendipity that. As far as anyone can tell the Roma or Romani were from Rajasthan. Imagine! (",) If you're interested in turning this into a story, you might want to check out this link https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/23226

Nandini said...

Yes, it's the Rajasthan link that intrigues me. Thanks for the link, Praveen. Is that your work?

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