Warning: I am writing this with no photos or hard evidence. This is all based on speculation, and I will use the term “Gypsies” because that is what the locals call the Romani people who live in Riga.

I just felt inspired to write this after a long conversation with one of my English classes.

I remember my mom jokingly saying that she thought she might have some Gypsy blood because of her dark complexion and dark hair. I feel a little bit like Elizabeth Warren right now… but I seriously remember these comments.

Of course, at the time, I had no idea what that meant. I still am not certain I know what it means. But in Latvia, the reality of Romani or “Gypsies” is a part of life and lore.

One time, I was walking with a friend through the tunnels that connect one side of Riga to the other. An exotic woman was staring at me as we walked by. My friend said, “Don’t look her in the eyes, she will take your money.” What?

I asked about it, and apparently this is a pretty typical belief here. I kind of forgot about that conversation until tonight. This evening, before an English lesson, I just happened to stumble upon a Ted Talk about hypnotism, and me and my students watched some of it together. I was with my Advanced English group filled with people are all working at a university. Most of them are Ph.D.s in various sciences. They are very, very smart and enlightened.

After the video, I shared my own stories of hypnosis. When I was 10, my brother Norm making us believe that fish food tasted like a Snickers bar. In college, my friend Earnie being convinced he was Captain Picard. J Medicine Hat at the Funny Bone.

I asked my students if they believe in hypnotism, and the results were mixed. But then one student said that she had been almost hypnotized by an old Gypsy woman. She struggled to explain it, but apparently this woman had looked her in the eyes, and she felt herself falling into a trance. The world started spinning, but she escaped before anything happened.

After this story, many other students their own shared stories. One said that her sister had been entranced by a Gypsy who took her money. Another said that his good friend had the same experience.

Again, these are a super intelligent, enlightened group of people, but they truly believe that this is how it works. They warned me not to fall for any of these tricks.

The M.O., as they explained, is that a Gypsy/Romani will come up to you and ask for directions or offer some product at a very low price. At some point, they look at you and do some kind of hypnotic suggestion. Then, you wake up 20 minutes later with no wallet.

I told them that I am very tempted to test this. I just really want to see that it is actually a thing because, even with my own experiences with hypnosis, I am skeptical that this is actually a thing. But who am I to judge or doubt? I am just a visitor in this land.

Again, I am hesitant to publish this. It is so strange living here where people feel free to speak their minds and discuss these issues, while in America, which values “Freedom of Speech”, people are almost terrified to even discuss these types of issues. Oh well. If a tree falls in the forest…


Side Note:

Many legends are associated with Romani/Gypsy people. I find this one related to the Crucifixion fascinating.




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