Thursday, October 6, 2011

Good News, Bad News

Good News - I received an email saying, "Your book is published!"
Bad News - Voluntary Nomads isn't available yet.

Question - What exactly does "published" mean?

Oh well, between waiting for the UPS truck to deliver my copies and lurking at the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites to see Voluntary Nomads listed there, I'll post excerpts.

Here's one from Part Two: Iran Odysseys, Chapter 4:


Nancy and Fred visit a caravanserai

October 1975

The October early morning chilly breeze penetrated my sweater and I bent down to secure the hood of Tina's cherry red windbreaker. Dakota, oblivious to the cold as usual, carried his jacket tucked in the crook of his left elbow. Our group of eight (my best friend Norma, her husband Tom, and their children Julie and Tommy plus Fred, Nancy, Dakota, and Tina) joined the other embassy folks lined up to board the small blue minibus and the full-sized red bus chartered to take us on an overnight adventure.

The driver of our bus and guide for the tour, a middle-aged balding man with an enormous bushy mustache, smiled and said his name, Rashidi, to each passenger as we boarded. He offered his hand to Dakota and as they shook hands, man-to-man, they became instant buddies.

Rashidi revved the engine and shifted into first gear with a grind and a jerk. We were on our way to a caravanserai in the desert – a historic Near East inn originally built to accommodate camel caravans on the famous trade route leading to Tehran.

Our first stop was the town of Rey (Shahr-e-Rey) where we watched the traditional carpet cleaning process. At the edge of the river, the rug cleaners spread fine Persian carpets flat on the smooth sandstone surface. Then they doused the carpets with buckets of water, followed by a sprinkling of ordinary powdered laundry detergent. The next step involved scraping the rugs with a long-handled tool that I could have sworn was a common garden hoe. The scraping action mixed water and detergent into foam and pushed the foam down into the fibers. After a few minutes of scraping, the workers tugged the carpets into the river to rinse them. This involved another vigorous scraping to force out the soapsuds. After dragging the carpets onto the riverbank once more, the workers attacked again, using their hoes to squeegee out the moisture. The last step left the rugs to air-dry on the sun-warmed sandstone.

Rashidi told us that some rug merchants were known to toss new carpets into the road and let passing traffic "age" them into "antiques." He said this with an enigmatic smile that made me wonder if he was kidding about this underhanded trick of the carpet trade.

Next time: "He's Only a Little Boy"

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