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Reporters on the Job

Partial Recall: The Monitor's Peter Ford found himself dredging up 35-year-old German lessons the other day in Calais, France, while reporting on immigrants trying to reach Britain (page 1). One of his interviewees, a French social worker, was at the train station trying to help a penniless German get home to Geisenkirchen. But the social worker spoke no German - and the German spoke no French - and he was having difficulty explaining that there were no trains that day to Geisenkirchen. Peter intervened with his "Tarzan German" to make that clear.

Was there a train to a nearby city? Peter could not work out exactly where Geisenkirchen was because he could not remember the German word for 'near.' A colleague from NPR stepped in to lend the German his mobile phone so that he could call the person waiting for him at Geisenkirchen. As Peter fumbled through the international call, his colleague suddenly shouted out 'bei' - which means 'near.' Peter found out from the person waiting in Geisenkirchen that it is near Dortmund, and the social worker bought a ticket to the new destination. Erfolg!

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Comfort Food in Afghanistan: Staff writer Ilene Prusher and photographer Melanie Stetson Freeman gasped when they entered the US-military catered cafeteria in Kunduz, Afghanistan. After weeks of rice-and-lamb meals, the two vegetarians could scarcely contain themselves as they sat down to interview the new team of German peacekeeping troops (this page). Their hosts invited them to help themselves to the food. "We stuffed packets of hot chocolate, granola bars, and little boxes of cereal into our pockets," says Melanie. "It's funny how hot chocolate and a granola bar can become the new standard for comfort food," observes Ilene wryly.

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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