MUSIC TO HIS EARS: For today's piece about freedom of religion in Afghanistan, the Monitor's Scott Baldauf visited a Sikh temple in Jalalabad (page 7). It was a first for Scott - and his Taliban guides. "First, we all took off our shoes, washed our feet and hands in a temple basin. Then we walked into the temple itself, causing many a Sikh head to turn. This may have been the first time they had seen a Taliban visitor," says Scott. He speculates that he and his photographer colleague were the first foreigners to attend a service in quite some time. "After an evening prayer service, where Sikh members sang hymns and verses from the Sikh holy book, accompanied by harmonium and tabla, my guide pulled me aside. 'This evening was significant for me for one reason,' he said, with a grin. 'This is the first time I hear music in years.' " Under Taliban rule, all music has been banned. But in this Sikh temple, at least, the rule has been put on hold.
RUNNER'S PILGRIMAGE: For Mike Crawley, traveling to the green hills of Eldoret for today's story (page 1) was a dream come true. Mike, who has been running since age 12 and can turn in a respectable 10 kilometer time, was looking forward to a bit of training with some of the best runners in the world. But, alas, all he got to do was sample the ujji, a special porridge of sorghum, water, and sugar. "I felt ill that morning and couldn't bring my self to both run and report," he says.
You made the right choice, Mike.
David Clark Scott World Editor
BEST OF THE REST ..
RESPECT AND A ROCKET RIDe: Russians celebrated yesterday the 40th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's historic space flight. The Moscow Times tells about how Mr. Gagarin was selected to become the first man in space April 12, 1961.
Sergei Korolyov, the chief of the OKB-1 design bureau had to choose from six wide-eyed and more or less equally qualified candidates for the job. In the end, what distinguished Gagarin from his rivals and left an indelible mark on the father of the Soviet space program, was that before climbing inside a Vostok prototype for a quick look around, Gagarin took off his shoes. Mr. Korolyov was so impressed by Gagarin's show of respect, he got the nod.
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