Reporters on the Job

Just Wait: Pilgrims visit Iran's Jamkaran mosque daily, but Tuesday night is the biggest show, says staff writer Scott Peterson. He arrived for prayers at dusk, but there were none of the "hundreds of thousands" he had been told to expect. After taking photos of the prayer session, and then being questioned by security - Scott's papers were in order - he had to decide whether to wait several more hours for the "speeches."

"One lesson I have learned after working so many years in Iran, is to wait out events to the end," says Scott. And in this case, all the meat of the experience came in the next-door prayer hall, late at night.

"That amount of emotion is something to behold," says Scott, who was given salt and candies, like the pilgrims. But while jammed in the front row to take pictures, experiencing the heat of the moment, a young man approached with a bigger gift. "He shook my hand, and pushed in a wad of cloth," says Scott. It was a green headband of the hard-line basiji militia, painted with the words: "Hail to the Mahdi."

Color Me Neutral: One of the main themes to emerge in covering elections in Iraq is the extent to which sectarian tensions have risen. "I'm back in Iraq after a two-year absence, and one difference is that due to the insecurity, almost all women - Iraqis and foreigners - wear a head scarf in public," says staff writer Ilene Prusher.

"I have one white scarf and one black scarf. If I knew I'd be interviewing Shiites, I'd wear black, since that is more common for Shiite women, and when seeing Sunnis, I'd switch to the white one. But I started feeling funny about it, so I pressed my driver to take me out to get a more neutral scarf, a look popular with younger women and those with a more modern outlook."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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