• No Busy Signals Here: Staff writer Sara Miller Llana went to the first church that the pope will visit in São Paulo, Brazil, to check out the preplanning mood (see story). "I saw this woman carrying a gorgeous bundle of flowers," she says, "so I approached her. As it turned out, she and her son are the florists for the pope's visit."
Sara asked how they got the job. "I mean, how does one get hired for the pope? It turns out they've done a lot of weddings at this church."
Sara says that the array of floral grandeur in the backroom where a team of 20 florists were working made her tear up because it was so beautiful. The florists, she learned, were as handy with technology as they were with flowers. The woman's son, who spoke English, was giving Sara his cellphone number when she thought to ask him if he could help her set up her phone. She had bought a local calling card and couldn't understand the directions in Portuguese. "It was taking him forever," she says, "at which point I realized, 'This guy has to finish up flower arrangements for the pope – probably the most important job he'll ever have in his life – and here I have him on hold with the cellphone company!' "
Sara told him as much, and they laughed. Fortuitously, he figured out the problem right then.
• Perspective: Correspondent Yigal Schliefer says that he has noted the growing press attention in Turkey to local efforts to supposedly promote religious influence (see story). Some of the concern is probably justified, given the traditional boundaries of religion and state, but not always," he says. On Monday, Yigal visited a park in Istanbul that had been the subject of alarmist reports that it was only for women – evidence of Islamization. "It turned out to be a park for families – only unaccompanied men are not allowed," Yigal says. "That gave me a sense of how this story is so open to misperception and mistrust."
• Ask My Husband if I can Talk: Upper Egypt is a world away from Cairo, says staff writer Jill Carroll. The air was clear – and it's a much more conservative place, she says.
Jill says that she and her assistant figured out that the best way to approach a woman to discuss infant and maternal healthcare was through a man (see story). We had to just walk up to people in the street, Jill says. The first women we approached were suspicious or ignored us. So we looked for women walking with their husbands and asked the men for permission to speak to their wives. That did the trick, and in many cases the men had a lot to say about things they had learned about taking care of infants or their wives' health.
– Amelia Newcomb
Assistant World editor