"Who are these people?" asks the man behind the counter in the photo store in Southall, an area also known as London's Little India.
He is handing over my order: a hefty pile of colour photographs, of which a picture of two Roma women and their children (above) is the first.
"They look just like the Banjara in Rajasthan - that's where I come from," he says.
He points to a beautiful print on the wall, showing a glamorous group of female Banjara dancers.
The similarity is striking.
Historians agree that the Roma's origins lie in north-west India and that their journey towards Europe started between the 3rd and 7th Centuries AD - a massive migration prompted by timeless reasons: conflicts, instability and the seeking of a better life in big cities such as Tehran, Baghdad and, later on, Constantinople.
Some of these Indian immigrant workers were farmers, herdsmen, traders, mercenaries or book-keepers. Others were entertainers and musicians.
They settled in the Middle East, calling themselves Dom, a word meaning "man".
Post-war European governments on both sides of the Iron Curtain denied the Roma Holocaust survivors any recognition or aid
To this day they retain their name and speak a language related to Sanskrit.
Large numbers moved into Europe, where the D, which was anyway pronounced with the tongue curled up, became an R, giving the word Rom. Today's European Roma (the plural of Rom) are their descendants.
Via BBC on the Roma
In my opinion, comparing the Roma with the Banjara (Lambani) because of their looks can be misleading. It's obvious that the comparison has stemmed out of their relative lighter skin tone as compared to South and South East Indians.
But the Lambani and the Roma are two different groups. The Roma can be only compared to Domba (another nomadic group in India). But Dombas look just like South or South-East Indians.
The Roma are predominantly Y-haplogroup H and Y-Haplogroup R2 people. Interestingly they carry negligible or nil Y-Haplogroup R1a1, a predominant north-west Indian lineage.
There is also a view that their language which was initially thought to be close to north-west Indian languages could be in fact close to Sinhala. The ancestors of Sinhalese are from eastern India.
Considering their haplogroup profile coupled with their linguistic roots, they would rather match with central-east Indians than north-west Indians.
Now, the fact is many of them do look like light skinned Lambanis(or vice versa). The light skin of the Roma is because of their admixture with West Asians and south-western Europeans.(The route they took appear to be north-west India->West Asia->Mediterranean->south-western Europe/north-eastern Europe-> Central Asia).
But what explains Lambani lighter skin tone? Well, interestingly, it appears they are European nomads in India, just like the Roma are Indian nomads in Europe. According to Sahoo et al.(2006), they carry Y-haplogroup R1b at around 28%(5/18). Considering the fact that they lack J and E, they are most likely from central-west European lands than from West Asia. It should be noted here that Y-haplogroup R1b is hardly present in castes and tribes of India. Also, curiously, they carry mtDNA N1a. There is N1a in India which is close to Iranian samples(Mountain et al.(1995), Baig et al (2004)). However, Lambani N1a is different (according to a Russian expert on mtDNA). I wonder whether their R1b haplotypes and N1a motifs could be compared to present or ancient DNA found in Europe.
Whatever the case, the Roma are from the present day nation state India. But making that point from the skin deep observations is pointless. In fact, as I have explained above, it might ironically show non-Indian inputs in this case. But BBC has always been a fine example of Anglo-Saxon literal view.