Reporters on the Job

SUDDENLY IT'S POPPY SEASON: The Monitor's Scott Baldauf has written about the opium trade in Afghanistan before. But he was surprised how quickly poppy farmers in Jalalabad responded to the fall of the Taliban last week (page 1). "These decisions are made overnight," he says. He found that opium seeds were already openly available at a local market.

"This farmer had just bought a bagful, and he took us over to the bag. He dipped his hand in and pulled out a palmful of tiny, milky white seeds that look like they should be on a bagel."

Much has been discussed and written about the harsh Afghan winter, but Scott notes that doesn't stop the farmers here. "The land is always in use. Right now, they are harvesting spinach and cauliflower. In the winter you plant wheat - or poppies - to harvest in the spring."

r TWO THUMBS UP: Several impressions stuck with Scott Peterson after he went to the first cinema in five years to show a movie in Kabul (page 1). "First, I was particularly impressed by the quality of weaponry being deposited by patrons at the entrance to the theater. On a little card table in the lobby was an exceptional set of brass knuckles with a switchblade built in."

He bought a 10-cent ticket so that he could go inside, took a couple of breaths, and decided to leave. "It was a little hard on the nose. There was no air circulating, the theater has been sealed and collecting dust for five years, and, well, there was a lot of humanity packed in there". But Scott says it was the encounter with the ticket taker that was most indelible. "There was a brightness in his eyes that spoke volumes."

- David Clark Scott

World editor

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