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Reporters on the Job

• CURFEW BUSTING IN KABUL: The Monitor's Ilene Prusher had planned to be back in Kabul well before the 10 p.m. curfew. "The Afghans take this very seriously; it's no joke," she says. But getting through the Salang Pass can be slow (page 8). And she got stuck in an eight-hour traffic jam and started to worry. "We finally found someone, an Afghan Defense Ministry official, who said, 'Call me later, and I'll give you the password.' "

The curfew in Kabul is typically enforced by two soldiers standing at various checkpoints around the city. "You'll be driving along, and they'll shout 'Halt!' But it's not always audible if you're not paying attention. And these guys will shoot if you don't stop," she says.

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"In our case we were driving a van, and that aroused even more suspicion since it could be packed with soldiers or explosives. We arrived at the first checkpoint at about 1:30 a.m. One soldier approached the car. The other stood back with his gun leveled at us. 'Spring flowers,' he barked. 'Russian rivers' we replied.

"At each checkpoint – and we had to go through 13 of them to get home – we had to answer the same queries with the proper passwords. At one checkpoint, after we answered, the soldier relaxed and said 'Chai?' – inviting us for some tea. It struck me as funny. Sharing a cuppa with a soldier at 1:30 in the morning in the streets of Kabul wasn't exactly what I had planned. My translator says he was just being polite because he figured we must be VIPs. Who else would be traveling at this hour with the right passwords?"

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

• DOUBLE TAKE: Tennis players Amir Hadad and Aisam ul-Haq Qureshi don't understand what all the fuss is about.

Mr. Hadad, a Jew from Israel, and Mr. Qureshi, a Muslim from Pakistan, decided to team up for the Wimbledon doubles tournament. They won two rounds, then lost in the third round Monday.

The Associated Press reports that Qureshi has faced criticism at home. The Pakistan Sports Board threatened to suspend him for playing with an Israeli.


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