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Reporters on the job

December 26, 2001



warmed-up welcome: In talking to Christians in south Lebanon for today's story, reporter Nick Blanford discovered first-hand that their sense of hospitality outweighs even their fears of reprisal. Although they were happy to be home after their self-imposed exile in Israel (this page), many are still nervous about possible repercussions from their government or from non-Christians. "When I was introduced to newly returned Julia Qassis by another resident of Dibil village, she pretended at first to be dumb, mouthing silently that she could not talk to me," Nick says. "After she recovered her voice, she pretended that only she had been in Israel, and that her husband and three children had remained in Lebanon." But hospitality to strangers is a deep-rooted custom in south Lebanon, and it was not long before she relaxed and told her story. In the end, she invited Nick to lunch with her family - and they wouldn't let him leave for hours.

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Tuna tools: It was a technical glitch that reporter Ilene Prusher least expected on arriving in Kabul. Feeling less than tempted by the fare at the Intercontinental Hotel restaurant, Ilene pulled out her own ration: a can of tuna. "I was on deadline, so I asked if the kitchen could simply open it for me and dump it in a bowl so I could eat it in my room," Ilene says. "Ten minutes passed, and then 15. The waiters arrived with the can oozing oil through little slits. In the kitchen of the country's biggest and most prominent hotel, they didn't have a can opener, and they were stabbing at the can with steak knives. I begged for a simple plate of Afghan bread instead, suggesting that if they did manage to get the can open in the next half-hour, I'd eat the bread with my tuna. Just then, a man who was listening in on this episode said, 'Now that's a combination I've never heard of before. You must be American.' And there began an interview with one of the most interesting men I spoke to that day."

- Faye Bowers

Deputy World editor

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