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Reporters on the Job

END OF THE LINE: When Delhi-based reporter Scott Baldauf visited India's State Transport Authority, which issues permits to bus companies and taxi drivers, the atmosphere was charged with frustration (page 7).It was 10 a.m., and thousands of drivers had lined up for hours with their paperwork, waiting to pick up their permits. Hundreds of police, bearing bamboo sticks, barked at the drivers to squat on their haunches, presumably to maintain crowd control. What those waiting didn't know was that the bureaucrats in charge of approving permits and handling the crisis were not in the building. "I went into the offices to interview some of the top bureaucrats of the agency," Scott says. "There was nobody to be found. They'd all been called to a meeting downtown with the city's chief minister."

NO LINES: The Monitor's Scott Peterson and Fred Weir teamed up to write today's story about Russian President Putin's state-of-the-nation speech (this page). And it was a good thing, because they experienced examples of the travails Putin said he wants to fix. Just as Fred was about to e-mail the story to Boston, his electricity and main phone line stopped working. Attempts to reach Scott, who had a backup copy, were hampered by troubles at Scott's mobile-phone service.

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NOTHING TO TRADE: When Colin Barraclough went out to the barter fair for today's story (this page), he became hungry. But he didn't have any currency of the realm. "I didn't bring anything to trade and cash was not legal tender there. I had to borrow some barter coupons to get a cup of coffee and a slice of pizza," says Colin. He's considering returning to look for sheet music and books. What would he trade? "Well, that's the problem, isn't it? I could offer translation services. I speak English, French, a bit of German, and Persian. Although, I don't think there's much of a market for Persian translators in Argentina."

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor


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