Reporters on the Job

THAT WOULD BE A BABY: Monitor reporter Nicole Gaouette knew a trip to Beit Zarzir (see story, this page) would be a full-day event. That's a long time to be away from her six-month-old, so she popped Sydney into the car seat and headed north. But as they neared their destination - the home of a dead Israeli Arab soldier - Nicole's Palestinian translator got nervous. He had proper permits, but machine gun-toting Israeli guards surrounded the house. And sure enough, one guard leaned into the car. "Where's your -" But he was interrupted by another guard's yelp: "What's THAT?" Nicole whipped her head around - but saw only her daughter. "That's a baby," she said. "Do you mind?" Moments later, they were inside.

Pretty in pink didn't charm everyone. After Nicole heard Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz eulogize the soldier, she wiggled through the otherwise exclusively male mourning area and asked him a question. He stared at the woman in front of him with a baby in a bunny outfit on her hip, blinked - and walked away. Win some, lose some.

TIME'S UP: Just a few days after five students were killed in demonstrations in Kabul, Ilene Prusher and her assistant, Mashal, pulled up to a dorm at Kabul University and started chatting with students. "At first, they were reluctant to talk because it might get them in trouble," Ilene says. That hesitation quickly morphed into a half-hour of give and take - until a guard showed up. They didn't have permission to talk with students, he shouted. "We hadn't seen anyone from whom we should ask permission," Ilene says. Still, they decided maybe it was time to go. "Mashal told the guard, 'OK, we'll leave now, because we don't want to wind up being shot,' " Ilene says, noting that the students seemed to appreciate the comment.

• TIME TO SHAVE: Testing your gas mask is simple enough, says correspondentScott Peterson - unless you are wearing a beard. During "survival training" for journalists last April, he and two other Monitor writers donned their carbon-impregnated nuclear, chemical, and biological suits. Then they strapped on their gas masks, and the instructor disappeared into a back room. "He came back with an empty can of air freshener, and led us into the 'gas' chamber," Scott recalls. As they sucked the "contaminated" air through their filters, the instructor made clear that they shouldn't smell any of the air freshener. "I couldn't smell a thing, but I have a feeling that Scott [Baldauf, India correspondent], who wears a beard, had a mask full of flowers."

- Amelia Newcomb

Deputy World editor

Cultural snapshot
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