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Reporters on the Job

Baghdad Airport Nights: Getting into and out of Iraq has never been easy, says staff writer Scott Peterson, who first began traveling there in 1991. In the late 1990s, thanks to sanctions and no-fly rules, getting to Baghdad required a 10-hour drive from Jordan.

So Scott never saw the airport in action until late 2002, when flight rules eased. Even then, it was an oddly cavernous place, painted in shades of 1970s green with domes of white plastic cylinders hanging from a black ceiling.

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Scott got to know that interior design much better Wednesday night, when his flight from Istanbul landed just as new curfew hours came into effect. Security staff at the airport were ready to host scores of passengers who had no choice but to camp out in the terminal (see story).

"They took all the baggage and locked it between two sets of sliding glass doors," says Scott. "Then they sent us upstairs to the departure lounge, where I resorted to resting on deep couches and leatherette chairs ... staring up at that crazy ceiling design."

Web of Fortune: Finding fortunetellers in Beijing is as easy as a Google search, though the ones you come across through websites tend to be the glitzier variety who charge by the hour (or the square foot, when it comes to feng shui furniture arrangement) (see story). Staff writer Peter Ford was more taken by the soothing atmosphere that another reader of charts created with a tea ceremony, a soundtrack of melancholy Chinese stringed-instrument music, and an amused, self-deprecating attitude, while his wife practiced calligraphy in the back room. "It – almost – made me want to ask about my future," Peter says.

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor