I Hate Gypsies
I didn’t always hate gypsies.
I used to have this romantic notion of who gypsies were, their a quasi-nomadic lifestyle unencumbered by possessions, living and dying by their wits…
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!
I was naïve and stupid!
What changed my mind so emphatically?
My encounters with gypsies in Russia.
It’s not like I wake up thinking, “I hate gypsies.”
I don’t even think about gypsies all that much but a few nights ago my boyfriend corrected a spelling error. Gypped is spelled with a ‘y’ (and not an ‘i’) because the root is gypsy. Duh- should have known.
Someone asked me how to spell gypped yesterday- bringing back the wonderful gypsy memories bubbling to the surface. At least I could give her the proper spelling.
Why the harsh feelings towards gypsies? I was attacked by gypsies twice during my stay in Russia many years ago.
The first time happened during a sunny afternoon. We were walking through a crowd of people and I got separated from my friends. In a fraction of a second, without warning, I was swarmed by more than 15 people- women and children (no men, ever). One of the women looked like she should have given birth the week before.
I was completely frozen. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before.
I clutched my belongings and just stood there- like a statue. My friends realized that I was not with them, came back, pulled them off me and it was over- in seconds. It became a funny story- I wish I could have seen my face. We couldn’t believe how quickly it happened. I was targetted because I am short, look young (and stupid apparently) and was obviously a foreigner. I didn’t lose anything but one of my friends had the sleeve on her t-shirt ripped- her badge of courage. I think she may have saved the grubby scrap of cloth as a keepsake.
The second time was in one of the many passages in the Moscow underground. We were coming from the subway and probably going to the cheap shawarma place. There were columns running down the middle of this passage. We saw a bunch of gypsy kids hanging around and they saw us. We thought we would be smart and casually crossed over to the other side of the columns. They crossed with us.
There was no avoiding this encounter. It made more sense to face them head on as opposed to being jumped from behind so we steeled ourselves and plowed ahead.
They started to grab at us and we brought up our elbows and pushed them off. I think I caught one of them under the chin with my forearm. I don’t remember any screaming- I could only hear my heart beating and the sound of scuffling. They realized very quickly that we were not easy marks and melted back into the crowd.
We were triumphant! The adrenaline made me feel like Superwoman. There may have been some high 5’s. I felt like I could do anything at that moment. We were practically giddy and turned to congratulate the other girl but she had missed the whole fray.
When we marched towards the gypsies, she froze and watched it happen a few steps away. I couldn’t blame her- I did the same thing the first time. You stop breathing and you freeze. She couldn’t believe how brave (stupid) we were or how quickly it started and then ended.
Less than 10 seconds later, we saw a couple friends walk towards us- they had no idea what had happened. They didn’t see or hear a thing even though they couldn’t have been more than 15 metres away.
The only reason the one girl and I decided to fight our way out of this was because we had been in the thick of it before. We might have been less brave if we had known the other girl had frozen. We would have had to protect her and fight them off so it was probably better that she wasn’t in the thick of it at all.
I kind of wonder what the bystanders thought. We were surrounded by people but there was no time for anyone to step in to help.
I have never told my parents about these incidents- they would (and still would) freak out, lock me up and throw away the key. Thankfully they don’t have a computer. Parents worry and what they don’t know won’t hurt them.
It would take something huge to curb my dislike of gypsies- my boyfriend thinks it’s funny because I practically spit over my shoulder when I hear the word. The odds of a gypsy encounter here is pretty low but if I ever come across a band of them, I’ll know what to do.