One of my formative memories, is a summer I spent in Serbia with my grandparents when I was 12 years old. At one point, we went to a small farming village of Mokrin, which sits on the border of Romania and Serbia. As we were venturing out for the evening walk, we came upon a family of gypsies, or Roma peoples, which are plentiful in Serbia as they are in Europe in general. Walking within this group was the mother, the father, 4 children, and a wooden cart full of all of their lives belongings. They also had a brown bear on a chain that they brought with them for entertaining those around them for spare change. Their livelihoods subsisted on this. This family had been travelling along the winding roads, their lives full of strife and trouble, facing rejection at every turn. We welcomed them with open arms. They had their bear perform some magical tricks and we returned the favor with slibovita (homemade plum brandy from the region). I will never forget this memory for as long as I shall live. It provided for some striking visual imagery.
Time of the Gypsies is a film my uncle had my sister and I watch when we were small. It was directed by one of my favorite directors, the genius and epic Serbian director Emir Kustirica and the soundtrack was created by one of my favorite composers, also Serbian, Goran Bregovic. It’s a story of a young Roma man with telekinetic powers. Eventually he turns to petty crime and the story dives into the criminal underworld of Milan. It was shown to us, “because we should live in reality and know what goes on in the world and not watch cartoon garbage.”
I will never forget these memories portraying the gypsy influence in my life. I still have much compassion for the plight of the disenfranchised, I relate to being on the road (we moved often growing up and were never in one place very long), I admire the wisdom of the fortuneteller, and I respect the circuslike-aspect of the caravan life and existing solely to entertain.
Courtesy of Style Pantry, Emir Kustirica, Alexandre Herchcovitch, Amanda Pearl