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I did not tell my students that all beggars were gypsies. The rooster combed
beggars sitting outside Pere la Chaise or the other individuals sitting in
other areas were not described as gypies because they weren't. My French frie
nds warned us of the gypsies in the tourist areas. They looked like gypsies,
they traveled in caravans like gypsies, and they camped wherever they pleased
a right only accorded, in France, to the gypsies. The only ones who got in
our faces and were very persistent were the gypsies. They swarm the more
prominent tourist areas. They work in teams. And they are not poor.They
"camp" in Airstreams pulled by Mercedes. The clothing they wear is very
expensive. They live the lifestyle they live because they choose to. They are
not the only people being discriminated against and murdered in the Eastern
European countries. They are not the only individuals slaughtered in the
holocaust. They are not the only persons begging on the streets of Europe.
But, they are by far, in my experience, the most aggressive, persistent and
I realize that the Romany are a much maligned and ancient group of people.
But they do live a lifestyle that separates them from the rest of society
wherever they are. And if you are traveling in Europe and don't believe they
and other individuals who make their living on the other side of the law,
will pick your pocket, then you may as well velcro your money to your shirt.
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