Are Wholesome Cash Financial Loans From Used Jewelry Shops Trusted?

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Trained Bird Speaks in Persian

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Sunlight filters through screens of branches and rushes. It falls on golden and silver ewers and on gleaming copper samovars. It lights like a butterfly upon the silk turbans and striped chapans—caftans—of the guests. The delicate colors of their clothing tell where each man comes from: green and violet for Mazar-e Sharif, mostly beige for Sar-e Pol, wine for Aqcheh.

In a cage hanging from a ceiling beam a myna chatters in Persian, the lingua franca of Afghanistan, a language we are beginning to speak. Another wicker cage holds a chukar, a belligerent little partridge used in fights on which bets are made.

We slowly sip our tea—Roland a black one from India, which is said to warm, and I a green Chinese one, which refreshes. A water pipe circulates among the other guests. We hear them exchanging greetings and newshome contents need to be insured. “Is your bazaar hot?” asks one, a question that means “Is your business good?”

There is much talk about the price of wheat and of the current market for Turkoman silks and Astrakhan fur, other elements of the Turkistan economy.

A man asks us where we are from. He offers Romain sugared almonds. Our son thanks  him in Persian. The man is delighted, and so are all the other teahouse guests. They ask him to count in Persian, and Romain does so, to ten. This is nothing new for the boy. Every­where he goes in Turkistan someone under­takes to teach him how to count.

The teahouse we have chosen is part of a caravansary, which is a stopping place for caravans. Here the caravaneer can find a room for himself, fodder and a resting-place for his beasts, and warehouses in which to store his goods. In the old days he found refuge from brigands as well.

The caravansary is a square of buildings and walls surrounding an open courtyard; the latter is a parking lot for animals and also for the trucks that are slowly replacing them. When we step out of our teahouse, we find ourselves in the courtyard.

“Khabardar!” shouts a horseman who is entering. “Watch out!” We step aside, he comes in and stakes his horse to a wooden peg in the ground. He pays the keeper of the caravansary the equivalent of a cent and a half for a day’s stop. Fodder is extra. Rates vary according to the kind of animal.

The caravansary keeper augments his in­come by gathering and selling manure. The price of this bonanza varies according to the kind of manure and how much straw and grass are mixed in it. Sheep manure is held  to be excellent for cooking fires. That of cows and donkeys, when molded into pats, pro­duces excellent heat and is believed to keep mosquitoes away. We note that the caravansary keeper is now gathering manure. Romain would very much like to aid him in this interesting task, but we manage to dissuade him.

Little Flame Gives Big Assurance

Toward evening new guests arrive. These are the big caravans that pass the winter days traveling across the steppes. Loaded upon the camels we see flour, forage, cotton, salt blocks, and charcoal. Night falls. The marketplace is closed. Watchmen patrol the deserted streets, calling out to each other in the darkness.

Before the locked shutters of every third or fourth shop they hang a little kerosene lantern. These do not give a great deal of light, but when, in the middle of the night, I am awakened by a howling dog and glance out my window, I find reassurance in the sight of the small wavering flames.

In the morning we set off by car for She­berghan, following a line of telephone poles standing at drunken angles across the in­finitude of the steppe. It is winter and there is snow on the ground, but this sometimes melts under the sun and the ground softens.

Then trucks sink into the ground and leave deep furrows. The extreme variations in Turkistan tem­peratures have given rise to a nickname for the land, “Country of the fan and of the fur.” During the blazing summers, not a drop of rain will fall.

We keep the line of poles in sight at all times, for the truck tracks are legion, and con­fusing to follow; they lead off in all directions. “Tong! Tong!” chants Romain. His sharp young eyes have spotted a caravan ahead, and he alerts us with the onomatopoetic Turkoman word for camel bell.

The caravaneer ties the bell to the neck of the last camel in his caravan, a string of from five to a dozen beasts roped together. Should he be riding in the lead and doze off, the sudden silence of the bell would awaken him if a thief tried to steal the tailender.

We watch the caravan pass. It cuts directly across the line of poles and seemingly follows no landmarks, but we know the caravaneer will not lose his way. Like a sailor at sea, he navigates by the sun and the stars, as his fore­fathers did before him.

We see flocks of sheep and goats on the steppe, although the area has been drought stricken for three years, and the livestock of this part of the country has been reduced by 80 percent. Romain would like to run after the flocks, but we do not let him go until we see that the shepherds have restrained the great mastiffs that guard the animals. They are very dangerous.

Often a shepherd picks up a curly lamb for the little boy to pet. This is the celebrated Karakul of the Turkomans, which produces the fur called Astrakhan, for the Volga port from which it was exported in large quantities.

The manner in which the pelt is obtained is cruel. For one grade of fur the lamb is slaughtered a few days after birth. For a still better quality pelt, the ewe is killed and the unborn lamb skinned.

The one that Romain is petting has been saved for breeding stock. Grown, it will be an extremely rugged animal, well suited to the rigorous climate in which it lives. It carries a reserve of fat in its tail (preceding page). During the summer when the baked ground produces no nourishing grass, the sheep can live on the stored fat.

Special Streets for Special Trades

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The next day is a market day. I will buy sugar at the bazaar for Romain’s tea; he does not like it unsweetened, as the Turkomans drink it. The bazaar is a place of animation. On donkeys, camels, and horses, people have come from the four points of the compass to buy and sell.

The tradesmen are organized into guilds, as in medieval Europe. Each guild has its street: The weavers weave here, the carders of wool card wool there; an alley is lined with glowing braziers of the blacksmiths. Behind scales, merchants smile enigmatically. They finger their account books, bound like copies of the Koran. Abacuses rattle.

I spend hours watching the coppersmiths at work, heating, molding, hammering with precise and beautiful movements as old as all Central Asian mankind. I like, too, the jewelers who, aided by their young appren­tices, melt silver coins from which they fash­ion pendants, bracelets, necklaces, and brooches. The latter are set with carnelian, a stone believed to guard eyes from disease.

But where is Romain going? Jewelry inter­ests him less than it does me, so he goes to watch the patragar, or mender of china. The craftsman sits on the ground, bracing the broken vessel between his feet, and works with a bow drill, with wire, and with glue made of lime and egg white good price. In this poor land even the cheapest teacup goes to the patragar for repair.

Now I lead Romain into the street of the cobblers, for he needs new shoes. Turkoman shoes are ideal for a small boy: The right and left ones are the same, so he cannot make a mistake. Such variety! Low shoes with turned-up toes and camel-leather soles. Heelless in­door boots in softest goatskin. Small yellow boots, women’s shoes of green pebbled don­key leather and horsehide, horsemen’s high-heeled boots.

I see wooden chests decorated with bright patterns cut from ordinary sheets of oilcloth, nailed to the wood with big-headed nails. I inspect wicker birdcages, strange musical in­struments, herbs and condiments, enormous blocks of rock salt brought by caravan from the Andkhvoy region, and piles of oranges  from Jalalabad, some sweet, some bitter.

Romain is intrigued by an old man who mumbles a monotonous chant while whirling a smoking censer above the little boy’s head. The man is a dervish. In the censer is burn¬ing charcoal, over which the dervish scatters seeds of isfand, or wild rue, the smoke of which is supposed to repel evil influences.

For keeping Romain free of evil influences,         I give the dervish two oranges. He then goes from shop to shop, swinging his censer in each and collecting coins or bits of merchandise.

The voice of the muezzin sounds from the minaret balcony. The call to prayer is not a re-cording, as is so common today in the Islamic world; the muezzin appears in person. For us it is time to lunch with Roland, whom we see just coming from the barber.

“Oh maman, papa has a pointed beard,” shouts Romain. Too true: The barber has shaped Roland’s beard so that he looks like an Afghan bey returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca. In a small restaurant run by a fat man we eat liver with onions en brochette and a hot bread pancake. And we share one plate of palao, or pilaf, for it is very greasy.

“I eat two plates of palao,” boasts the fat man. Then, staring at me, “Is this tiny woman your only wife? I have two big fat ones.” “Now I know why you eat two palaos,” says Roland. “Two wives, two palaos. One wife, one palao.”

We go next to a teahouse. We take off our shoes and sit on the floor of packed earth covered with fine carpets. No local woman ever comes to a teahouse, but it is all right for me, a foreigner, to do so. We are always given the best places, next to the stove.

The walls are painted with simple pictures of pomegranate flowers, birds, and melons, and decorated with framed pictures.

Young Teacher Returns to the Land

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Wayne’s grandfather had been one of the many farmers displaced by the expanding reservoirs. “I don’t think he was too resent­ful,” Wayne said. “When TVA’s Norris Dam flooded him out, they helped him get 65 acres here. It was better land than he had before. TVA seemed to be trying to do the right thing in the cases I’ve heard about. Of course, it was quite a wrench for a man to leave land his family had worked for generations.”


Not many farmers have enrolled in the Rapid Adjustment Farming Program, fewer than three score in the valley. To join, they must agree to follow a selected plan faithfully —and farmers, of course, are men with strong faith in their own opinions. Besides, Dr. Walch and his associates are careful about choosing candidates. In Wayne Hubbs’s liv­ing room, though, the subtle long-range impact of the program came through.


For three years he had followed the pro­gram’s rules, contacted the right cash advance lenders online, worked hard, and increased his income. Other small dairymen and neigh­boring farmers had begun to drop by, looking speculatively at his operation. This wasn’t some computer telling them how to run their farms; this was a neighbor who was making good. Many would leave with the resolve to adopt some of Wayne Hubbs’s techniques.


In 1880 an Englishman’s utopian dream took shape in the Tennessee hills 50 miles northwest of Knoxville. It was the colony of Rugby, designed primarily for “young men of good education and small capital.” These younger sons of British gentry and merchant classes could work at manual trades without disgrace in the Tennessee wilderness.

Young Teacher Returns to the Land

Tennessee hill people looked on quizzically while the newcomers made bridle paths, ten­nis courts, and croquet grounds. A tomato cannery had been planned—in fact labels had been preprinted, giving a price in shillings.


But the plan failed to include growing enough tomatoes to can. The enterprise failed.

And there were other problems, such as getting products to market on muddy roads. Rugby’s lanes, complained a villager in the local paper, were “not passable, not even jackassable, and those who would travel them must turn out and gravel them.”