• No Punches Pulled: Correspondent Sarah Gauch first met Wahid Hamed, the screenwriter of "The Yacoubian Building" in 1992 while writing an article on the movie "Terrorism and Kebab," which he also scripted. "Every foreigner has to pass through the Soviet-style Mugamma building to get a visa renewed or something," Sarah says. "It's a pinnacle of uncontrolled, developing-world bureaucracy. 'Terrorism and Kebab' had a hilarious opening scene showing the place's unbelievable inefficiency."
Sarah says she knows where to meet Mr. Hamed: at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, where he sits daily putting his staunchly secular views to paper. "When I met him this time," Sarah says, "he was writing an editorial for a magazine here on how conservative Muslim women wear head covering and loose clothing not so much for religious reasons, but to cover excess weight. People might think this, but few would publicly write about it."
• Locked-in Naps: Everyone told staff writer Danna Harman that a transit trip through the Panama Canal is an amazing experience, so she was excited. "The captain of the MS Mathilde Maersk was kind, and explained a million things to me," Danna says. "But what no one had told me is that you move through the canal for 16 hours at about 1-2 nautical knots per hour. And while the locks really are impressive, and you can see alligators lazing on the banks – and there are diversions (a very good Danish cook), I was so tired from a very early start and so overwhelmed by the finer points of tugboat strengths and lock sizes, that I just fell asleep on the couch in the main deck control room." The ACP communications officer woke Danna a few hours later and said that indeed, that was a first. "He also said I had missed some very interesting bends in the canal. I enjoyed the nap though."
Deputy world editor