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Reporters on the Job

Dharma Bum: This is reporter Adam Karlin's first trip to India, and he's been struck by the Indian respect for authority, hierarchy, and stability. "When you enter the temple, you pay due obeisance to the presiding pandit [priest]. When you're getting a train ticket, you endure the long lines because it's administered by the government. The one question everyone asks me when they learn I'm 23 is 'Are you finished with your degree? Will you pursue a master's? Please, sir, how can you just be traveling?' "

So when people seemed to have mixed feelings about the death of a local bandit (this page), Adam was intrigued.

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"Americans love James Dean and the idea of the rebel, but Hindu ideology embraces dharma - duty - to the community over the individual. I figured something must be amiss here if a rebel figure - especially a very violent one - is considered a folk hero by some."

Concerned Hosts: "Increasing insecurity and a spate of kidnappings make connecting with ordinary Iraqis more and more difficult," says Scott Peterson in Baghdad. But catching up with the Methboub family, whom Scott first met in 2002, remains a regular event (page 4).

This time, the family expressed concern for Scott's safety. "Please, please be careful!" they pleaded. Scott assured them that he was taking every precaution - including spending far less time moving around Baghdad.

Now when Scott arrives at the Methboub home he ducks swiftly into their apartment block. "The Shiite Muslim family has always shown me respect and hospitality," says Scott, though male visitors - especially foreign ones - are uncommon in a household of Iraqi women. On this visit, Scott serendipitously witnessed Zainab's engagement. He was also treated to a friendly comment. "The Shiites love America!" one woman guest whispered to Scott, as the band played on.

Ben Arnoldy
Asia editor


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