We’re trying to make the horse thirsty

Author: Tereza Vrbová
Location: Prague
Last week our friend Filip came to visit us, and we thought we could ask him to tell us a story. Filip is about thirty, quite handsome and an introvert – unless he grabs a drink. For several years he’s been living in a housing estate in Prague. There’s a Romany community there as well, so we thought he could tell us something about his experience.
We all sat down to have some wine, and Ludek and I told him about the Stories Exchange Project, and asked him if he had a story.
Filip said he could only tell us about how Gypsies throw rubbish out of the window and how they kicked up a row the other night and police had to be called in. But those weren’t real stories. And he said he wasn’t interested in those matters.
We continued to talk about the project and Filip´s opinion was that the project was a waste of money which could be invested in a different way, such as financing re-training courses for Roma or providing grants for Romany children. So we changed the subject and said no more about Roma.
We were having a nice time drinking wine, and as it got late I went to make some coffee and the boys turned on the TV. A few minutes later Ludek called at me to come and watch something. There was a program about the Khamoro festival of Romany music. The three Romany presenters were very good and imaginative and we could see great bandstaking their turn on stage. The concert was given in the Lucerna and the atmosphere seemed to be marvelous. Everyone, Roma and white, were overwhelmed by the music and they began to dance towards the end. The bands were from foreign countries – Spain, Israel, Poland etc. We all enjoyed watching it in our living room.
And when I went to bring coffee from the kitchen and came back, I found the boys dancing in front of the TV set.
A Romany band from Spain was playing flamenco, and there were several male and female dancers on stage. The boys must have been inspired by them. The group on stage was great but it was even more amazing to watch Ludek and Filip.
When the show was over and everybody calmed down we had a few more drinks. And it was then that Filip said some things which are the reasons that I’m telling you this story.
He said he has no problem with Roma as long as they behave and work, that Gypsy musicians make their living legally and don´t steal – and WHAT A SHAME YOU CAN ONLY FIND THIS TYPE OF ROM IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES.
There’s a saying in Russian, "You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” And as for what Filip said, and the stories we’re collecting, I think we’re trying to make the horse thirsty.
So I decided to let him read some of the stories. I wonder if his opinions will change a bit.

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