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Sample text

We were tired and nervous, and we felt for the first time the discomfort that would become a nearly constant feature of much of our fieldwork: the discomfort of not quite knowing what was going on or what we were supposed to do. The evening was alternately surprising, scary (due to our own ignorance), boring, and pleasant. Reza's home was typically Iranian, with no chairs or tables; our evening meal was served on plates set on a cloth spread on the floor. After dinner we reclined against pillows placed against the wall.

The first time we visited his home in Kerman, before we set off with him, we were given a breakfast of tea, bread, quince jam, and a huge plate of clarified butter. As we were served it he called it to our particular attention and told us how much he liked it, how much better than commercial butter it was, and how delicious it was. Mr. Abusaidi really did love the taste of sheep's milk and roghan. html [5/28/2009 10:24:28 PM] page_29 < previous page page_29 next page > Page 29 his job was that, traveling among the region's pastoralists, not only did he get to eat fresh dairy products while he was among them, but also the nomads gave him gifts of clarified butter to take back to the city.

To our surprise, our first stop was not his house but the home of a local gendarme, who welcomed us, gave us tea, and checked our passports. Only much later did we realize what was going on: As was prudent in a police state, Reza was protecting himself (and us) by making our unexpected presence known to the proper authorities. After more tea and politeness, we arrived at Reza's home. It was small, dark, and humble. We were introduced to his mother, ushered into a back room, and told to make ourselves comfortable.

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