Reporters on the Job

BRIDGE OVER SKOPJE: When reporter Arie Farnam went to Skopje, Macedonia, to write about a TV show that mends ethnic rifts (this page), she stayed in the Old Turkish Quarter of the city. "It's a quaint haven of bustling markets and cafes where time seems to have stopped 15 years ago when Yugoslavia's ethnic groups lived side by side in relative harmony.

"The owners of my little hotel are Macedonians, although there is a mosque spire right in front of my window and most of the shopkeepers are Albanians and Turks. Romany and Bosnian children play in the narrow, winding streets and the smells of a wide variety of delicious Balkan foods wafts out of the cafes and kebab bars," says Arie.

Sadly though, the Old Turkish Quarter has become an isolated haven of relatively good ethnic relations. "The Stone Bridge, which connects it to the rest of the more segregated Skopje, is slowly crumbling into the river. Locals tell me that there was once a tower in the middle of the bridge for the 'keeper' to watch over peace in the city. That tower had fallen before I ever came to Skopje, but last time I was here the bridge still had its stone railings and much of its cobblestones. Now those are gone and all that is left is a skeletal span, which only the brave cross. It's a disturbing symbol of the state of the connection between Macedonia's ethnic communities, but also the state of the ethnically mixed past with the segregated present," says Arie.

SIGHTSEEING IN VIENNA: While visiting relatives in Vienna Wednesday (on his way to take up his new posting as Africa correspondent), the Monitor's Abe McLaughlin couldn't resist filing a story from Arnold Schwarzenegger's homeland (page 4). "I drafted one of my relatives to serve as my interpreter/guide - and headed out to find people to talk to," says Abe. She took him around to the coffee houses, manicure shops, and hair salons.

"I met a ballerina who's from near Schwarzenegger's hometown. She's trying to make it in the big city. 'He's a dreamer and so am I,' she said. But she also criticized him for speaking to reporters in English - not German - when he came for a visit last year. 'He has forgotten where he came from,' she said. 'I never will.'

With deadline approaching, Abe left his relative at the hair salon and headed back to the hotel. "But I don't speak German, and I don't know Vienna," says Abe. "I got on the wrong train and did a few unnecessary laps around the city." He managed to get back in time to file.

Foreign correspondent lesson No. 1: Never leave your interpreter behind!

David Clark Scott
World editor

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