Reporters on the Job

Muslims in India : In the course of reporting today's story about Muslims second-class status in India, staff writer Mark Sappenfield caught a glimpse of the generosity and hospitality of the religion's followers as well as the place of women.

"I interviewed more than 20 people in two cities, was served two full meals, drank countless cups of tea, and met only one woman. When Salam Mohsin and his friends and relatives arrived for their interview at my hotel in Hyderabad, one brought two boxes of fruit as a gift," says Mark.

"At one house I had Hyderabadi biryani – a deliciously spicy mutton dish – and at Mohammad Anees's restaurant in Old Delhi, I sopped up curry with naan (flat bread), while exchanging anecdotes and opinions. Although I came on business – to people's houses, offices, and even to a madrassah – I felt more a guest than a journalist," he says.

"The one woman I interviewed, a middle-class Delhi activist, received me (with tea) in her comfortable apartment. In other homes, however, women could be seen only peeking through drawn curtains in curiosity."

This Taxi Is for Smugglers: While working on a story about the rise of Chinese exports in Kyrgyzstan, reporter Daniel Sershen learned firsthand how popular the 'Made in China' labels are.

At the Kara-suu market in southern Kyrgyzstan, most of the Chinese goods are smuggled into Uzbekistan, less than 20 miles down the road. For many Uzbeks, whose country is becoming increasingly closed, the market is one of the few lifelines to outside products.

In fact, business was so brisk that Daniel couldn't find a taxi back to the main town of Osh, just 6 miles away. "All the taxis were devoted to shuttling people between the border and the market," he says. "I had to catch three different rides to get back. It took me an hour, and I was late for a meeting."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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