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Reporters on the Job

A PROPER CUP OF TEA:Sanitary standards are often relative. And as Scott Baldauf discovered while reporting today's story on Indian rickshaw pullers (page 1), a journalist doesn't want to shatter the rapport by rudely imposing one's own standards. "I was interviewing a cluster of rickshaw pullers, and they were talking about their families, how much money they made, and so on," says Scott. Suddenly, a rickshaw puller arrived with a stack of terra cotta cups and a pot of tea. "I offered to pay, but they insisted I was their guest. Bengali hospitality knows no caste or class. They started pouring the tea, but one rickshaw puller halted the process. He carefully examined the cups, found them to be dusty, and glared at the young tea-shop owner. He spit into the cup and wiped away the dust, and then proceeded to pour me a proper cup of tea," says Scott.

REASONS NOT TO MIGRATE: Reporter Lucian Kim has lived and traveled in East-Central Europe for more than 10 years. And, based on his experience, he has his own views on German concerns about migrant farmworkers coming to stay (page 7). "Money is only one of many motivating factors for migrant workers. In America, people can move thousands of miles and still speak the same language and be a part of the same culture. In Europe, people are very much bound to their own culture, family, and pride," he says. For example, Lucian has a Polish friend who used to travel to France every year to work, bringing in the wine-grape harvest. Today, he's a manager for a US company in Krakow, Poland, and has a family, comfortable apartment, and two cars. He doesn't travel to France to pick grapes anymore, says Lucian. "I once had a college-educated Czech girlfriend," he adds, "who said she would never move to the US, because she didn't want to work below her professional qualifications."

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Follow-up on a Monitor story

ULURU CLOSED: Australian tour operators are appealing a decision to close Uluru (once known as Ayers Rock), the country's top tourist attraction. The red monolith, part of a park run by Aborigines, is now closed to climbing for three weeks, out of respect for an Aboriginal elder who had died. As reported in the Monitor on Feb. 18, 2000, the rock is the most visible symbol of an Aboriginal battle for greater respect for their culture.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor