Reporters on the Job

• A JOURNALIST, NOT A GI: As more US troops, advisers, and special-ops personnel enter Central Asia (page 1), the Monitor's Scott Peterson is giving more thought to his grooming habits – or lack thereof. "I don't cut my hair before I travel, and sometimes I won't shave. I don't have any illusions about looking like a local, but I don't want to look like any Rambo stereotypes that locals may have about American soldiers or agents. That means no crew cuts and definitely no wrap-around sunglasses."

• RACING AGAINST THE NIGHT: When the Monitor's Ilene Prusher arrived back at the Khost (Afghanistan) Guest House after a day of reporting, it was late afternoon. "The electricity only comes on between 6 and 9 p.m., and the rooms were so dark that I couldn't read my notes," she says. Ilene went outside onto the second-floor balcony to write in the last few minutes of daylight. But there was one persistent distraction: the crackle of nearby gunfire. Two pro-government factions were fighting amongst themselves (this page), and one group of troops had conveniently taken up positions for the night on the rooftop of Ilene's guest house.

She moved inside at nightfall, but just after 9 p.m., the lights went out. "I sent my last take of the story while holding an oil lamp and a satellite phone in one hand, while typing with the other."

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Although Ilene was advised to keep a table in front of her door that night, no one seemed particularly bothered by the gunfire that continued until dawn.

"The next morning, no one seemed concerned that the troops – both pro-government, anti-Al Qaeda forces – were firing at each other. A big deal, one Afghan said, is when they lose 20 or 50 men. So, I was told, last night was nothing to get excited about."

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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