In Cordoba an old Gypsy woman came up to me, and gave me a gift. This gift was a small branch, a piece of vegetation, something I could not quite identify, but it was green (yet dry) and fit into the palm of my hand. She took my hand - my right - and proceeded to tell me that I had a long life ahead of me, that I would be happy, and have two sons. She then folded my fingers around her gift.

She then asked me for a gift.

I gave nothing.

* * * * *

I am sure that I saw Gypsies when I was in Albania. And Romania for sure. Bulgaria, too. And I cannot forget Hungary. My first "real" night in Hungary I went to dinner with Heidi, Keston, and Susan, as well as with Heidi's friends who lived in Budapest. The ex-pats. There - at the restaurant - we were entertained by a small Gypsy ensemble, playing not "Gypsy" music, but "Hungarian" music; it was for this music that so many Gypsy bands became famous in the 19th century.

And I'm sure I saw Gypsies elsewhere in Hungary and the rest of Europe. Somtimes they stood out, and other times they blended in. "Romania is the Balkans" I was gold by Hungarians - the people in the Balkans are dark and swarthy, and not to be trusted (of course). So how did they (the people from the "Balkans") differ from Gypsies? Were not Gypsies dark and no to be trusted? The man at the flea market who sold me my violin was a Gypsy, as was his friend, but what about the Taxi driver in Timisoara? Or Mr. "Change money?"

* * * * *

They're not Gypsies, they're Roma. At least in Eastern Europe, for it makes little sense to use the term Rom or Roma in Spain, France, Germany or the U.K. In Germany they are the Sinti, or so I've read. But when Mr. Feraru spoke to use a few months back, he was not Roma - he was a Gypsy.

And in this country? What are they? I suppose most people think that there are no Gypsies in this country, but of course they would be wrong to think that, for there are those who have made it to this shore. In Seattle, I have read, there is a decent-sized community. And not Mr. Feraru, living in Chicago, further evidence?