Reporters on the Job

• YOU WORK FOR WHOM? Sometimes working for a paper called The Christian Science Monitor can complicate the effort to get access to Muslim leaders. Reporter Dan Murphy had spent weeks working through lawyers and go-betweens, to persuade Abu Bakar Bashir, an Indonesian cleric accused of supporting terrorism, to meet him for today's story (page 7). He finally got a call from Nasrun Kalianda, one of Mr. Bashir's lawyers, who told him Bashir had agreed to a meeting "on my strong recommendation." Dan asked Nasrun what had changed. Mr. Kalianda said he'd been impressed by a recent Monitor article on Israel, which had been picked up by a Jakarta newspaper. "Very fair – I was surprised," said Kalianda.

• BAREFOOT TOLERANT: It is the custom in India to take off one's shoes when entering a holy place, whether it is Hindu or Muslim or Sikh or Jain. So when the Monitor's Scott Baldauf entered the Shah Alam mosque complex, with its acres of paving stones baking under the Gujarat summer sun, he braced himself. "But amid all my moaning, I noticed that the refugees of Shah Alam (page 1) were also shoeless. As I left, I noticed that they remained shoeless as they left the complex, escorting me to my car, across an asphalt road so hot that it could bake chapatis."

• BACK TO NORMAL: "The best thing about going to Bethlehem was getting stuck in traffic on the way out of town," says the Monitor's Cameron Barr. "I've traveled the streets of Bethlehem a half-dozen times in the past few weeks, and the streets have been desolate, the shops shuttered, the garbage piling up." After yesterday's interview with one of the people who left the Church of the Nativity (page 1), the curfew was lifted, so people were out and about. "It looked a lot like Bethlehem of old. Of course, I immediately began to experience deadline stress, since delay is delay, no matter how heartwarming. The taxi driver saved the day by slipping behind an emergency vehicle blasting through the traffic with sirens blaring."

Cultural snapshot

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