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Reporters on the Job

Romanian Gypsy contestants react to being chosen for the finals of a beauty and traditional dance competition in Bucharest, Romania.

Vadim Ghirda/AP

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Ladies Only, Please: Given the congestion of Mexico City, where standing room only is often the norm on public transportation, staff writer Sara Miller Llana was skeptical that a "women only" bus could be pulled off without a lot of complaints – especially from men.

When she got on the bus, she saw it had tons of empty seats. "Protecting those seats from tired men waiting at a bus stop after a long day at work struck me as a dangerous task for the bus driver," says Sara. "I didn't think Mexican men would like this at all – and I was told that many didn't."

But during the two trips she took, on separate days, Sara only saw "perfect gentlemen. "Even those who had no idea that a reporter was on board," she says, "simply shrugged and got off the bus when told they weren't welcome."

Perhaps it has to do with a Mexican laissez-faire culture of courtesy. "People don't tend to get into a frenzy over being on time, or getting somewhere in the most efficient way possible," she says.

Gentility in Pakistan: After the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, and a spate of suicide bombings, staff writer Mark Sappenfield says that Pakistan may be seen by many in the West as the "most dangerous country in the world." But after his latest visit, he says, "the one overwhelming impression I was left with was gentility."

"When one talks to a Pakistani as a guest, one is treated like royalty. Questions are not merely asked and answered. Chairs are produced or clean places on the floor are found so that the conversation can be given full attention," says Mark. "There is no question of the interviewee simply spouting off a few clipped responses as he finishes his evening shopping. He stays as long as you ask questions, even when it might be inconvenient for him. President Musharraf recently said that the Western press does not understand the country because they do not talk to its people. I agree, though probably not in the way he meant it."

David Clark Scott

World editor


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