Reporters on the Job

Mark Sappenfield
Wide load: As he was heading back to Delhi, about an hour’s drive east, staff writer Mark Sappenfield spotted this farmer bringing an unidentified crop to market in a huge bag made from burlap sacks stitched together.

Ethics of Shopping: While reporting today's story about Burmese precious stones, correspondent Danna Harman felt the tug of a good deal. One jade ring, in particular, caught her eye.

But she resisted.

"The dilemma of a beautiful and exotic thing for sale versus doing the right thing is one I have struggled with since my days as a Monitor reporter in Africa," she notes.

"In Angola and Sierra Leone, barefoot kids in these terrible mines would offer to sell blood diamonds. In Congo, merchants had gorgeous, carved ivory for sale at super discounts. Near Nineveh, Iraq, someone wanted to sell me a small statue looted from the museum for 20 bucks. Oh, the treasures I could have had by now. Instead, on this Burma trip, I went for the previously mentioned watermelon seed pocketbook, which is magnificent in its own way, and far less controversial."

No Dividing Line: The urban-rural line blurs everywhere in India, says staff writer Mark Sappenfield. "There is a herd of water buffalo that live in a drainage canal a 10-minute walk from my house, and I live in the center of Delhi, not too far for Parliament."

For today's story about a $15 billion debt relief program for farmers, Mark reported from Rohtak, where the imaginary line between city and country does not exist.

"Like many of the locations that Indians would call villages or towns, Rohtak is actually a bustling city with chockablock rickshaws and air so thick with diesel fumes that it could be eaten with a knife and fork," he says. "But through narrow passages barely wide enough for two cars abreast rumble tractors pulling wide carts that sometimes carry agricultural goods, and sometimes double as public transportation, carrying a dozen people."

It was there that he snapped the photo below.

David Clark Scott

World editor

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