Reporters on the Job

• A SUPERMARKET DIVIDED: On her first day in Harare, Zimbabwe, the Monitor's Danna Harman witnessed the sense of foreboding - shared by all strata of society - ahead of this weekend's elections (page 1). "I went to a supermarket in an upscale neighborhood," says Danna. "The check-out counters were crowded with blonde, white moms with kids in tow loading up their carts with canned foods - obviously stocking up. They all looked frightened. One woman told me she wanted to run away but that she had nowhere to go."

Just outside, barred from going into the supermarket, were about 1,000 poor blacks who had been standing in line for six hours waiting for "mealie meal," a ground maize flour which is a staple here, but has been in short supply lately. "One woman in the line, with three kids wrapped around her, asked me, 'Are you looking for your maid?' When I told her I was not from here, she began to tell me how her children are starving, and it was all the fault of colonialism and the whites. But another woman whispered to me that she knew it was President [Robert] Mugabe's fault and that 'everyone knew that deep down.' "

Danna spent close to an hour at the supermarket, and saw no eye contact made between the two groups of women. "But they were clearly united in their concern for their children and where their country seems headed."

• INTERPRETER WITH A SAFFRON SCARF: The Monitor's Scott Baldauf says that when he arrived in Ayodhya, India, to report today's story about Hindu activist plans to push forward with a controversial temple (this page), his usual interpreter wasn't available. He scouted around for new local talent, and a businessman and amateur astrologer named Rajesh Kumar Srivastav offered his services.

"His English was good," says Scott, "but his contacts to the community were better. Together we walked all over town and met Hindu leaders, knife-wielding thugs, Muslim leaders, and average Joes. My only concern was the saffron scarf he wore around his neck, a symbol of his support for the Ram temple movement. Rajesh wore the scarf prominently around Hindus, but when we entered the Muslim side of town, the scarf vanished. I asked Rajesh if he had lost the scarf, and he lifted up his sweater. The scarf was wrapped around his belly. 'I don't want them to be scared of me,' Rajesh said. 'I want them to give you the honest answers.' "

David Clark Scott
World editor

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