Reporters on the Job

BRING BIG FACES: Before the Monitor's Ilene Prusher left her home in Tokyo, her Indonesian interpreter told her: "Bring clean, new US dollar bills." Ilene thought she meant, don't bring any crumpled or dirty dollars. But when she got to her hotel in Jakarta, the Mandarin Oriental, the desk clerk refused to accept about half of the $100 bills Ilene tried to exchange for rupiahs, the local currency.

Later, Ilene asked Gediri, her interpreter about it. "Didn't I tell you to bring big faces?" said Gediri.

"Big faces?"

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She explained to Ilene that the newer dollar denominations have larger portraits on them. Due to counterfeiting concerns, the older bills (no matter how clean) are not accepted by most businesses in Indonesia. "I was able to exchange them at some currency-exchange houses, but at a lower rate - about 3 percent less. Thank goodness for Citibank ATM machines and good old plastic," says Ilene.

GENDER INTERVIEWS: Sometimes ordinary people don't want to share their stories. But the Monitor's Howard LaFranchi says that at a political rally in Lima, Peru, this week he found himself surrounded by Peruvian women, clamoring to get their 2 cents' worth in when they discovered he was a foreigner asking about women in politics (page 1). "I felt like the core of a hail stone that grows larger and larger as it bounces around in storm clouds. These very animated women all wanted to tell me how, in case I didn't know, women are more honest, better money managers, and better negotiators than men, and thus make better leaders - at home or in government," says Howard. He noticed a few men in the crowd standing by silently, so he asked their opinion. "They all sheepishly lowered their heads and said they had to agree."

Several women also demanded to know his newspaper's Web site, so they could check to see if he communicated their position correctly

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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