The heavy smell of shisha tobacco lured her towards an ahwa squatting at the corner of an intersection, somewhat less squalid than its brethren. She'd forsworn smoking, but she couldn't help ordering a pipe along with her coffee as she sat down – it was different somehow, cultural rather than addictive. She drew a few strange glances from the men in the cafe, but they bounced off of her long experience ignoring the prying looks of men.
She sketched idly in her notebook as she waited, curving English and Arabic doodles into each other like a shadowplay of calligraphy. Its blankness oppressed her, in a way – she had no story, no lead, no real contacts. Yet her nationality made her feel compelled to deliver something really arresting, a real hard-hitting news piece.
At the same time, reporters in Egypt could barely operate. She was unlikely to land some kind of Woodward & Bernstein scoop – partly because of restrictions, and partly because that kind of venal, institutionalized corruption wasn't so much a news story as a fact of daily business.