Reporters on the Job

• WHAT? NO AFGHAN HOSPITALITY? Correspondent Ilene Prusher has experienced her fair share of nomad hospitality from the Bedouin of the Middle East, so she was surprised when the Afghan nomads she talked to for today's story (this page) failed to offer her tea or food during the course of a 90-minute interview.

Although the families she interviewed were very friendly, she was curious enough about the absence of tea to ask about it as the discussion wound down. "They said, 'It's our custom to offer tea, but we know that foreigners and other Afghans think that we're dirty. We didn't offer so you wouldn't be put in a position to refuse our offer." Ilene, who has no aversion to a bit of grit, says she was sad to have missed out on authentic Kuchi hospitality. But she promised the Afghan nomads that she would stop back some time for a more casual get-together – over tea.

• LESS THAN CHARMED, I'M SURE: When the Indian snake charmers brought out their little beasts (page 10), the Monitor's Scott Baldauf kept his distance, but the villagers kept moving in closer. "Within minutes I was in striking distance. Fortunately, the cobras were so doped up on 'herbal medicine' that they kept sinking back into their baskets for a quick nap," he says.

Note to editor: Does our hazard insurance cover cobra bites?

• NO PHOTO ZONE: Returning from his visit to the Laskar Jihad compound near Ambon, Indonesia, (page 7) reporter Simon Montlake saw just how wary the group is of outside visitors. "They operate a health clinic. On the health clinic sign outside the building was the Laskar Jihad symbol," Simon says. "I thought it would make an interesting photograph." As he lined up the shot, three men ran out of the clinic and asked Simon if he had permission to take the photo. One of the men made a call back up to the compound to check for authorization, which was denied. "You have to understand, this is Indonesia; you can take a picture of anything," says Simon. "I've taken pictures of smiling guys with machine guns at checkpoints, and here I can't take a picture of a wall? It showed me the group takes itself very seriously."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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