Reporters on the Job

Sleepless in Afghanistan : Staff writer Scott Baldauf is saving money during his reporting trip to Afghanistan by staying at a friend's veterinary clinic in Kabul. "It's free and, what can I say, I like dogs," he says. But there are some unforeseen drawbacks.

Wednesday, he was almost late for an interview because his Afghan interpreter was pulled away to help an American woman who needed to urgently communicate with the vet. And then there's the all-night bark-athon.

While reporting today's story about former Taliban officials accepting amnesty (page 1), Scott traveled to the province of Khost. "I was really looking forward to a full night of sleep, sans barking," he says.

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"We arrived at a guest house with a lovely garden outside of the city of Khost. The manager took us for a walk around. There were flowering orange trees. It was peaceful and beautiful, and we thought, this is paradise," says Scott. But alas, the room came with a late night "sound and light show" courtesy of the nearby military bases. "The manager said, 'Don't worry if you hear shooting. The Afghans do target practice over there. And the Americans sometimes fly their helicopters at night. But it's only practice.'

"I'm grateful he warned us. We didn't get much sleep but at least it was only practice."

And Scott says, if there had been a real Taliban attack, he wasn't particularly comforted by the resident security squad. "At breakfast, we met the caretaker/guard. He was a rail of a man, rather elderly, who carried an old hunting shotgun and three shells. I don't think that would have been enough to repel much of an attack," he says.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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