• NO PEEKING: Monitor writer Howard LaFranchi, newly arrived in the Kurdish Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah (this page), says he had a hunch why the windows and entrances of some restaurants and sandwich shops were swathed in curtains, but it took his interpreter Haidar to give the full explanation.
"He told me the curtains are for the protection of both the patrons and passersby during the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims are to fast from sunup to sundown," Howard says. "Pedestrians are spared the offense and enticement of seeing others eating, while the partakers are spared the embarrassment of being observed."
Howard says it brought back memories from his days in Latin America. "Across Mexico and Latin America, you see curtains on the individual garages that normally accompany each unit in 'love motels.' The idea there, too, is to protect the patrons and society."
• JOURNALIST'S SENSE OF DIRECTION: Last Thursday, the day of the bombings in Istanbul, Turkey, most of the phone systems were jammed, says the Monitor's Ilene Prusher (page 1).
"But one Turkish friend was able to get through to tell me the news - and warn me not to go out," says Ilene. "This was a normal reaction - my friend is not a journalist, and a normal person would try to get away from the scene. But I told her that I had to go."
"As I went out, I could detect only a few people running toward the bombing, and I think we were all journalists - with a few emergency workers mixed in. It's one of those moments in journalism when you feel how bizarre your job can be. You're almost like a fireman: Everyone else is running away from the fire and you're running toward it.
Deputy World editor