December 16th, 2004

A Modern Woman

I don’t know the name of the old Gypsy woman who entered Roxy this morning and thrust her basket under my nose. I dropped in a few coins, which she looked at closely, then theatrically rolled her eyes in disgust at my parsimony. She moved on to the next table. Then she went to the counter, pointed through the glass to a cornetti. Soon the bar man brought her a latte to go with it. She took a seat near the door.

She’s a familiar sight here in Forio. When she’s on duty she puts on quite a performance for the rich tourists. She exaggerates her limp, and often sits on the steps of Santa Maria di Loreta and wails loudly, as if she has just lost her entire family.

The Gypsies, according to The Shoah Resource Center, a school for Holocaust Studies, are a people who have been living in Europe since the 15th century and share a common language, culture, and until recently, a wandering way of life. Also called Roma, they were among the groups persecuted by the Nazis. About 200,000 Gypsies, and possibly more, were killed throughout Europe.

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