Reporters on the Job
• Overdressed? To get today's story on Shiite women in Iraq (this page), Annia Ciezadlo had some help from an Iraqi friend. Her friend, Nassire, agreed to set up an interview with women from an Islamic political party, under the following conditions: No makeup, no perfume, and you must wear abayas, the black head-to-toe outfit that conservative Shiite women wear.
"Dutifully, my interpreter and I showed up tripping, tugging, and cursing under our breath inside the garments," says Annia. "When Nassire showed us into the office, we met fashionably dressed women wearing high-heeled shoes, tailored suits with long skirts, and matching hijabs [head scarves] in colors like French blue. One had sculpted eyebrows and a little eye makeup. None had on an abaya.
"Politely, but a little puzzled, they asked us why we were wearing the black tents. When we explained, they burst out laughing. 'We thought you were Iranian pilgrims!' exclaimed one woman, dressed in a red-and-black houndstooth suit. Another turned to Nassire. Teasingly, she demanded: 'Why didn't you wear an abaya?' "
• A Working Birthday: The logistical challenges of reporting don't take a break for holidays, weddings, or even birthdays. In Scott Peterson's case, a lengthy edit of photographs taken in central Iraq was to be followed by swift satellite transmission of the photos. But the satellite battery ran down, so Scott spent the first few hours of his blessed day - until 2:45 a.m. trying to get the system working again.
A few hours later he was up early tracking down a bomb blast that rattled the Najaf hotel where he'd been sleeping. One man on the street told his Iraqi interpreter that he had heard the launch of a missile, before the blast. But that tip proved a wild goose chase. The "missile" was just some Nicaraguan troops helping local Iraqis blow up some ordnance.
With the rest of the day spent writing (page 1), the special day was saved by Scott's Iraqi driver and interpreter, who surprised him with a cake complete with candles. How many? Scott isn't saying.
David Clark Scott