We are crossing the open border between Hungary and Romania, and I am in my mother country. My branch in a Romanian noble family was saved by a gypsy, so I am here to give something back to “The detested people”. I learned this during my third journey to Romania. It is described in archives that it happened in 1603. More about this story in the book Rrom – Gypsy travels.
It is good to be back. Alex is sitting next to me. The ambulance’s performance is perfect. We are driving through a gentle green scenery. We cross the border at Satu Mare, after some hours of driving in Hungary. We are now about two hours away from the village where Tudor Lakatos lives and works as a teacher.
I met Tudor in 2003 and since then he has visited Norway several times. The Roma village is, as usually, situated a bit outside of Somcuta Mare, which has about 8000 inhabitants. There lives about 1000 people in Tudor’s village, whereof some hundreds are children. Tudor works as a teacher at the village’s primary school. It is important for him that the Roma children learn about their history, about the journey from India and their history in Romania – where the Roma people were slaves until 1865. It is also important to maintain the language. The language is part of their history, and Tudor is mainly a teacher of languages. He is the only person of the Rroma people working at the school, for about â‚¬ 100 per month – yeah, that is the wage after the financial crisis and the cuts in government employee’s wages. Romanian teachers who are sent to teach in Roma schools feel that they are at the bottom of the social ladder. They often have many prejudices. One common prejudice is: Never touch the Roma children, avoid contagion, fleas and lice.
Besides the acts of teaching, Tudor is also a fabulous interpreter of classical Roma songs and it is an experience to listen to him perform these intense songs with his wild guitar play. In addition he has translated numerous Elvis songs to Romani and performs them like a young Elvis. He was the favourite artist of the year at Sigbjørn Nedland in Jungeltelegrafen 2004. Tudor is now over 40 years old, and lives with Andrea and his two daughters, Ronja and Elvisa. He has two sons from a former marriage, Tudor and Elvis. The sons live in his father’s house, close to Tudor’s house. The father and grandfather Levente is a widower after his wife died three years ago. He is dressed almost like a Circus manager, and hase very distinguÃ© costumes. He has given me jackets, which I am using. Tudor’s sister Anna Maria also lives in the father’s house. She is a childless, unmarried Roma woman with a pleasant being. It is always good to be back at this big family, and I am looking forward to introduce them to Alex and the team from NRK. Yeah, because there are good vibrations from Alex, who is sitting next to me. We are driving through small villages and are going on a short trip to Baia Mare, which is the closest city. We see some attractive Romanian women.
– The women are beautiful here, so neat and graceful, don’t you think.
– Women all over the world are beautiful, says the well traveled Alex.
We arrive in the afternoon to an Elvis show in Tudor’s garage. Ronja and Elvisa dance while Tudor performs Blue Suede Shoes in Romani. Constantin is playing the keyboard – he is a genius on the accordion, and is a master of the tangents. It’s rocking! Alex, being an Elvis fan, enjoys this. A good introduction to Tudor’s world. Tomorrow’s schedule is pig slaughter with knife followed by a gypsy party.
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