Reporters on the Job

WIRED and waiting: Phil Smucker says it's not at all hard to find good stories (page 1) in Pakistan, or good people to talk with. Filing his story to Boston, however, is another matter.

There are hundreds of Internet cafes in Peshawar, he says. "But the problem is they always seem to be underground, like bunkers in the basements."

Then, he says, the Internet traffic is so heavy that the lines clog up. This morning, for example, he dashed from one of the hundreds of Internet cafes to another to find a line. "Pakistanis are more than happy to help, though," Phil says. "That's if you can pull them off the chat lines with their buddies."

He says the cafes are filled - wall to wall - mainly with young men, chatting with friends in their own country and throughout the region about the prospect of US strikes launched from their country, what it will mean for them, what it will mean for their president, and so on.

FAR FROM HOME: Shawn Donnan says it's a very strange time to be traveling overseas - even more strange for a journalist to be about as far away as possible from the biggest story in your career.

Two elements combined to make him look at the situation differently, and decide to interview others in order to write.

The first was his own experience - "filled with professional frustration, personal grief, and worries about how my wife, who used to work on the 105th floor of the first tower to be hit, is handling the fact that most of the people in her former company (Cantor Fitzgerald) were killed in the World Trade Center attack."

The other thing that got Shawn thinking was the fact that he and his wife were planning a trip to the extraordinarily beautiful Kakadu National Park in northern Australia. "It's about the most peaceful place I can imagine on earth," Shawn says. That's "if you don't think too much about the deadly saltwater crocodiles lurking in the rivers. And somehow, that seemed to add an element." (page 7).

Let us hear from you.

Mail to: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 via e-mail: world@csmonitor.com

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