Reporters on the Job

Afghan Threads: When the Monitor's Scott Baldauf arrived at the US military base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, sporting Afghan clothes and a beard, he got some strange stares.

"We had gotten permission to visit Kandahar Air Base the night before we were supposed to check in, so I didn't have time to get my one pair of khakis and shirt washed. So on the road to Kandahar, one of the most dangerous stretches in Afghanistan, I felt strangely comfortable," he says. Afghan clothes help to keep a low profile in a country where foreigners are targeted for attack.

But on the US base in Kandahar (page 1), where all the soldiers were clean shaven, wearing battle fatigues, and gripping M-16s, Scott found it was much harder to blend in. "Only once I got stopped by a military policeman. 'Are you a translator?' he barked. 'Where is your escort?'

"But several other US soldiers asked if I liked Afghan clothes, and who was my tailor," he says.

Masai Pride: In her travels around Africa, reporter Nicole Itano says that there are few places she has visited where people still wear their traditional clothing. But in the Kitengela Plains, Kenya, many of the Masai still don red robes and brightly colored beaded jewelry as a matter of pride. Even the men wearing Western clothes had elongated ears from the heavy, beaded earrings they wear when they put on their traditional outfits. "It was amazing to see, especially so close to Nairobi," she says. "You could see that tradition was important and why the loss of cattle (page 7) - the traditional Masai measure of wealth - was taken so hard."

- David Clark Scott

World editor

Cultural snapshot

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