Reporters on the Job

THE FOG OF PROTEST: After covering riots in places like Panama and the West Bank, where soldiers routinely use tear gas to disperse demonstrators, The Monitor's Peter Ford generally finds reporting on protest marches in Paris (page 7) a pleasant and peaceful exercise. Last Tuesday, however, it was the demonstrators - not the police - who caused the problems: Many of them spent the afternoon dramatizing their cause by waving red flares, which gave off clouds of choking smoke that hung in the foggy air for the length of the march. "Talk about obscuring your message," says Peter.

MISS DAISY DRIVING: When The Monitor's Ilene Prusher was leaving Bagram Air Base (page 7) to return to Kabul last Friday, her driver said he was tired and her interpreter wasn't eager to take over. So, she volunteered to get behind the wheel of their rented minivan.

It's not against the law, but Ilene can't remember seeing an Afghan woman driving. She has seen one female British journalist driving herself around - but most journalists hire drivers. "She sort of inspired me," says Ilene. "And she told me that she thinks it sets a good example for Afghans to see that in many countries, it's normal for women to drive."

As Ilene approached the first checkpoint, however, she wondered how the soldiers in the conservative Panjshir Valley would respond to her chauffeuring stint. "As I glided by - driving my two male passengers - the soldiers broke out in smiles and started cheering, clapping, and laughing."

But as she reached Kabul the reaction of men at the checkpoints was more predictable. "It was less enthusiastic, and more of the jaw-dropping, finger-pointing type," says Ilene.

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot
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