Reporters on the Job
• Always Pack Your Sneakers? After leaving the offices of a banned magazine and human rights group in Tunisia (see story) staff writer Jill Carroll and her interpreter noticed that they had attracted a tail.
"He was wearing a black shirt. My interpreter saw him trailing a block or so along behind us through the city but I couldn't spot him," says Jill. "Finally, we stopped and turned around so my interpreter could point out the man to me. He was hiding behind a tree across the street. After a moment he poked his head out. When he saw us looking at him and pointing, he quickly jumped back behind the tree. A stalker? An avid Monitor reader? More likely, a secret policeman from Tunisia's extensive intelligence network assigned to watch us as we met with people who did not meet with government approval."
After that, Jill noticed a different man tailing them each day. "It became a game. Every morning, after we left the hotel, we wondered who would spot the secret policeman first. After a while, we got pretty good at it. We joked about going for a nice, long jog through Tunis to give them a workout," says Jill. "But I forgot to bring my running shoes."
• Millennium Humor: Staff writer Matt Clark says that the official joke most often heard by foreigners visiting Ethiopia for Wednesday's celebration (see story) is: "Now that you've come to Ethiopia for the millennium, you'll be 7-1/2 years younger."
Ethiopia uses a Julian calendar, rather than a Gregorian one.
But, when Ethiopians joke among themselves, the topic turns to how they had expected more from the millennium celebrations, given that many of the events had been canceled. Matt says: "They've been referring to it as the 'millen yellum,' which in Amharic means, 'There is nothing.' "
– David Clark Scott