Reporters on the Job

Studying the Koran - and Cricket: For Tuesday's's story (page 1) on the upcoming cricket showdown between India and Pakistan, the Monitor's Scott Baldauf decided to visit a madrassah, or religious school, where studies center on the Koran - but where the students still manage to eke out a bit of time in the afternoon for a sport they love.

The students - who ranged from their midteens to early 20s - were a bit nonplussed when Scott and his interpreter showed up. "I just wanted to see the different contexts in which cricket is played," says Scott. "But no one goes to a madrassah to talk about sports. They kept asking where I was from - and why I'd want to talk about sports, not politics or radicalism, which are the more usual subjects associated with madrassahs."

What's The Time? The fact that two explosions in Baghdad Sunday night happened on the stroke of midnight and 1 a.m. might have been a clue not to worry, says correspondent Nicholas Blanford. "The US forces often do controlled explosions during the day. When people hear them, they glance at their watches, and if it's on the hour, they relax, because that's the US routine," he says.

As it turned out, the late-night blasts were indeed controlled explosions. Still, everyone was jumpy from earlier explosions on the eve of the signing of Iraq's interim constitution (page 1). More blasts went off shortly before the signing itself. "It emphasized that while the council looked relaxed and happy that they'd finally been able to thrash out this document, the security situation still remains extremely fragile," says Nick.

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

Cultural snapshot

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