Reporters on the Job

INDIAN FAST FOOD: While reporting today's story about India's unique lunch delivery system, the Monitor's Scott Baldauf had envisioned following Umed Solani's lunch as it is delivered. But the best-laid plans of mice, men, and foreign correspondents are prone to similar fates.

"Mr. Solani's lunch was picked up at his apartment by a dabbawallah around 10:30 a.m., about the same time we left. He rode off on a bicycle toward the Borivali railway station. I took a car," says Scott. "By 11:30 a.m., the lunch had already reached a central Bombay railway station and was being handed off to a dabbawallah on a bicycle. At the same time, my car was stuck in Andheri, midway between the 'burbs and central Bombay. By noon, the lunchbox had reached Solani's workplace, but I was still in Andheri. By the time we reached Solani's office around 2 p.m., his lunchbox was already making the return trip to Borivali."

Final score: Dabbawallahs one, foreign journalist zero.

BIRD'S EYE VIEW: Reporter Nicholas Blanford has been covering Lebanon for about five years, but while reporting today's story (this page) he got a unique perspective on the border between Israel and Lebanon - one that is normally only seen by Israeli fighter pilots and a few United Nations helicopter pilots. Private and commercial flights over the area are banned for security reasons.

"At a height of 400 to 500 feet, the difference between Israel and Lebanon is quite striking," says Nick. "On the Israeli side there are trees, apple orchards, irrigated wheat fields, and olive groves. The Israelis are also erecting a fence, installing electronic surveillance devices, and there are tanks positioned every few hundred yards with guns pointed toward Lebanon. On the Lebanese side, Israeli forces pulled out just last year after occupying the area for the past 20 years, so it's still bleak, uncultivated, and brown."

- David Clark Scott

World Editor

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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