National Geographic : 1996 Mar
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC OnAssignment * XINJIANG Taking Their Best Shot in China "WE PLAYED POOL all over Xin jiang," says freelance writer THOMAS B. ALLEN, right on cue in a town west of Urumqi. "The balls might be cracked, the cues might be bent, the pockets might have holes, but the game has replaced Ping-Pong in popu larity there. I never won once." Tom learned pool-and writing at his Jesuit school in Fairfield, Con necticut. While in college, he reported for Bridgeport's Sun day Herald.After graduation and a stint in the Navy, he wrote for the New York Daily News. A career in book pub lishing followed; Tom was associate director of National Geograph ic's Book Service before turning freelance in 1982. Xinjiang marks Tom's second story with Paris-based freelance photographer REZA, who uses his first name professionally; they also covered Turkey for the May 1994 issue. Since Reza speaks Turkish, he understood Xinjiang's Uygur language, which is similar. "Some of my favorite times came between official visits, when I was able to relax with people," recalls Reza. At a Kashgar cafe (below) he shares breakfast with the owner's son. Born in Iran, Reza had exhib ited photographs in Teheran but was earning a living as an architect when he realized he had the wrong job. "I heard students dem onstrating outside unusual in 1978 under the shah. Sol diers soon arrived and gunned them down in the street. One student had a camera and kept shooting photos through the bullets. Iknew thenIhadto be a photographer. I told my associates I wouldn't be in the next day." REZA(BOTH) NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC (ISSN0027-9358) IS PUBLISHEDMONTHLYBYTHENATIONALGEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY,1145 17THST.N.W .,WASHINGTON, D.C . 20036-4688. $25.00 AYEAR,$3.00 ACOPY. SECOND-CLASS POSTAGEPAIDATWASHINGTON, D.C.,ANDELSEWHERE. POSTMASTER: SENDADDRESSCHANGESTONATIONALGEOGRAPHIC, P.O.BOX2174, WASHINGTON, D.C. 20013.