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Cyprus Diary with George Lanitis: "Gypsies"
in The Cyprus Weekly, March 17-23, 2000
It has been established that at least some of the people who are crossing from the occupied parts of Cyprus to
live in Limassol or Paphos, are Gypsies.
We always had Gypsies in Cyprus, perhaps no more than a thousand, who, with the establishment of the Republic in 1960, chose to be part of the Turkish Cypriot community as most of them were Moslems.
They spoke a mixture of Turkish and Greek, but mostly Turkish, of a particular nature, and did not always manage to make themselves understood by Turkish Cypriots.
The main occupation of the Gypsies was selling donkeys and horses at village fairs. They were straight in their deals, except of course if they had to sell a very old donkey, when they would brush his teeth, sharpen them, and even glaze them.
The way you tell the age of a donkey, is, as I am sure you know, by the teeth and how white and shiny they are. The Gypsy women sold kebab skewers and made a bit of extra money by reading coffee cup or the hand, and if you are "sorta good plenty silver."
In other words, if your luck was good you could afford to give the Gypsy, generously, a cifte, a silver two shilling coin.
The Gypsies were physically strong, but I am not aware of any disturbances, like fights, having occurred with members of the Greek or Turkish Cypriot community.
If somebody was tall, strong and dark, his nickname was "Gypsy." Such a Gypsy was the centre half of the Turkish Cypriot football team, Cettin Kayia. He was six foot four, with black curly hair, white teeth, which looked whiter as his skin was dark, and a kick which sent the ball from the Turkish goal post to the other end of the pitch, to the shouts, "Ya ya sha cok yasha, pe Gypsy."
His real name was Vedat Dervish, son of an extremely well known learned judge of the Supreme Court, but the fame of the Gypsy was much greater than the fame of the father.
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