Reporters on the Job

A VIEW OF TWO WORLDS: Basilia Vasquez is the kind of interviewee that journalists yearn for. Michael Riley didn't get very much information from the men in the Oaxacan village for today's story about the clash between indigenous and democratic rights (page 1). But then he ran into Mrs. Vasquez, a Mixe woman, who was running the caja popular, a kind of community bank.

"She was amazingly articulate with an incredible life story. She ran away from home at age 5, because she didn't want to herd cattle in her bare feet. She went to Oaxaca city with her brother and encountered discrimination for the first time in her young life. Children laughed at her and teased her. It was then she realized that she was 'different,' " says Michael. Eventually, Basilia married a man from her own village and returned. She sees the flaws with the indigenous, male-run system of justice. "She gave me a clear vision of living in a community that has its limitations," Michael says. "But she says it's better than the outside world."

HISTORY LESSONS: The Monitor's Scott Baldauf, as married journalists are apt to do, sometimes discusses his work with his wife, Kashmira. As a native of Bombay, India, she often provides valuable insights. But when he asked her about today's story on Indian history textbooks (this page), she wasn't much help.

"She didn't remember any bias or political slant. What she recalled most was the incredible detail and the expectation that everything must be memorized. She had to learn the height, width, and even the number of elephants carved into particular temples. It was memorize more than analyze," he says. But when she moved to the United States in tenth grade, she found that by comparison, US history books were disappointing. "They lacked the rich detail and sweep of thousands of years of history of Indian texts," says Scott.

David Clark Scott World Editor

Let us hear from you.

Mail to: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 via e-mail: world@csmonitor.com

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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