Reporters on the job

HOTEL CAMPING: The Monitor's Scott Peterson is staying at the best hotel in Kabul, the Intercontinental. Some nights, the hotel restaurant closes before he finishes working. Last night, he was sending today's story about local Afghan political forums (page 1), and he missed dinner. So, Scott fired up his single-burner "Made in Iran" propane stove. He heated up a package of ramen noodles and fixed a sandwich of Australian honey, peanut butter, and three-day-old bread. "A little stiff, but perfectly edible," he says cheerfully.

Scott could stay on the first three floors of the hotel, which offer hot and running water. But he chooses to reside on the fifth floor, which has neither hot nor cold running water. "You wander down the hall and find the elderly gentleman who will fetch a bucket of hot water and a bucket of cold. The hot is for bathing, the cold is for flushing the toilet. It's free, but I tip him well to ensure prompt service," he says. Why chose the fifth floor? "It's much easier to use my satellite phone. I run a cable to an antenna on the roof and can work at my desk. Those poor folks on the lower floors have to leave their rooms to make a phone call."

CUT OFF FROM THE NET: Reporter Mike Crawley tried to send today's story from Mogadishu, Somalia, by e-mail to Boston. But he was unable to connect to the Internet, and had to fax a printout. "I assumed it was just a technical glitch with the Internet. Occasionally connections in Africa are poor or impossible. But then the BBC correspondent in Mogadishu informed me that the Internet link from Somalia to the outside world had just been cut off by the Internet service provider in the United Arab Emirates. The reason: One of the three phone companies in Somalia's Internet joint venture is Barakaat, whose banking operations were shut down for alleged links to Osama bin Laden (this page)," he says.

- David Clark Scott

World editor

Cultural snapshot

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