ROAMING WITH THE ROMAI first learned of the existence of this extraordinarily fascinating book by Jan Yoors when I was reading Fonsecas book about gypsies (Roma), Bury me Standing. Published in 1967, this book is available from on-line second-hand stores.Sometime in between the 2 world wars, Jan Yoor, a young Belgian teenager, did something very unusual. He ran away with the gypsies. He joined a group (kumpania) of Roma camping near to his home, and was eventually adopted by them. His understanding parents did not seem to mind him being away from home and school for long periods whilst he wandered around Europe with his new companions.Yoors first-hand experiences of living the life of a young gypsy were not wasted.
Years later, he described them in his book The Gypsies. His account of living with the Roma is detailed and seems accurate. Yet, it is not a dispassionate anthropological study. As I read his book, I felt that I was almost experiencing the trials and tribulations of life on the road with the gypsies. Yoors shows a deep understanding of the subtleties of the Roma mentality, and describes their beliefs, traditions, and daily life, exquisitely. At times, his writing has a poetic quality, yet it never becomes trite or flowery. The Roma could not have wished for a more sympathetic yet objective description of their lives than that written by Yoors.Read this gracious book, and you will see the Roma in an entirely new light.