One documentary about Romas, The Shutka Book of Records , ends with a quite notable sentence: “We, The Romas, don’t need our own state, we have the whole planet!”
My very first thought after hearing these words was: “What gives them such a wonderful feeling of ultimate belonging?” Very naturally, I became more and more interested about the Romas lifestyle and their perception of home and freedom. They are facing many systematic troubles, and are often not accepted by the surroundings. They are going through many obstacles that society makes them go through, but at the end of the day, they have the most beautiful songs and dances. They accumulated freedom in their culture and they are manifesting feelings in whatever they do. I often crave for that kind of freedom, the one that is linked to cultural heritage and that is what makes me fascinated by them!
Shuto Orizari, shortened in Shutka, is a neighborhood in the City of Skopje. This is the biggest Roma municipality in the world. The biggest house in Shutka is called Beverly Hills, and here lives the richest person in the neighborhood (funny anecdote: the poorest person here only owns a photograph of his best friend! He carries it with him everywhere in a bag). Visiting Shutka will lead you to an unusual experience. Here everything is happening 'on the edge' and no one hides that. If someone is rich you can see him or her all shining with heavy jewelry on them. If someone is poor, you can witness poverty in a way you haven't seen before. The longest street here is called New life. Colours and life are something that this place never lacks. The biggest open market for everything you can imagine is here and this is the main source of sustaining to the people that lives here.
Many Balkan Artists got inspired by the Roma lifestyle on this side of Europe. (Goran Bregovic, Emir Kusturica, Barcelona Balkan Gypsy Orchestra…) As one famous song says, Shutka have only one flaw: it is not located in India. This longing describes the basis of these communities. Eternal traveling and moving.
If you got confused, how one can be essential and show off in the same time, than visiting Shutka can tell a lot. Nothing can change the smile of this people. With a lot or without a dime, they remain the same, restless and vivid walking stories.
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