Hyphens

Do use a hyphen if it’s needed to make the meaning clear and avoid unintended meanings: 

small-business owner,

better-qualified candidate, little-known song,

French-speaking people,

free-thinking philosophy,

loose-knit group,

low-income workers,

never-published guidance,

self-driving car,

bases-loaded triple,

one-way street 

(Think of the different possible meanings or confusion if the hyphen is removed in each of those examples.)

Other two-word terms, particularly those used as nouns, have evolved to be commonly recognized as, in effect, one word. No hyphen is needed when such terms are used as modifiers if the meaning is clear and unambiguous without the hyphen.

Examples include:

 third grade teacher, chocolate chip cookie, special effects embellishment, climate change report, public land management, real estate transaction, emergency room visit, cat food bowl, parking lot entrance, national security briefing, computer software maker.

Hyphenate well- combinations before a noun, but not after: a well-known judge, but the judge is well known.

Generally, also use a hyphen in modifiers of three or more words: a know-it-all attitude, black-and-white photography, a sink-or-swim moment, a win-at-all-costs approach. Consider carefully, though, before deciding to use more than three modifiers.

No hyphen is needed to link a two-word phrase that includes the adverb very and all adverbs ending in -lya very good time, an easily remembered rule.

Many combinations that are hyphenated before a noun are not hyphenated when they occur after a noun: She works full time. She is well aware of the consequences. The children are soft spoken. The play is second rate. The calendar is up to date. (Guidance changed in 2019 to remove the rule that said to hyphenate following a form of the verb to be.)

Often, arguments for or against a hyphen could be made either way. Again, try to judge what is most clear and logical to the average reader. Also, consult Webster’s New World College Dictionary.

Using Quotes and Italics

magazine names 

Capitalize the initial letters of the name but do not place it in quotes. Lowercase magazine unless it is part of the publication’s formal title: Harper’s Magazine, Vice magazine, Vogue magazine. Check the masthead if in doubt.

newspaper names 

Capitalize the in a newspaper’s name if that is the way the publication prefers to be known. Do not place name in quotes.

The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post

Lowercase the before newspaper names if a story mentions several papers, some of which use the as part of the name and some of which do not.

It is unnecessary to provide state identification for a newspaper cited in the body of a story if the newspaper is in the same state as the dateline.

For example, a story datelined Newport, R.I., would reference the Providence Journal, not the Providence (Rhode Island) Journal.

However, the state should be included and spelled out in the body of undated stories or stories datelined in other states.

Where location is needed but is not part of the official name, use parentheses: The Huntsville (Alabama) Times.

Reporting Basics

 

Reporting 

Journalism means more than taking handouts or reporting what’s said in news releases. Good journalism rests on a set of principles. Solid stories require accurate information and balance in reporting it.

Think about answering a story’s basic questions:

  • who
  • what
  • when
  • where
  • why

 

HOW

Then examine how the story happened.

How do we connect the dots to tell a good story with a beginning, middle and end?

The inverted pyramid.

Traditionally journalists use the model of the inverted pyramid construct a story.Inverted Pyramid

 

But increasingly, news organizations encourage reporters to use better storytelling techniques, using characters and interesting details to get the reader, viewer or listener interested. Television stories often start with small details, or personal stories and we see that more and more in print, digital and radio.

pyramid
pyramid

Accuracy

Only report what you know was said, and by whom.  This means attributing statements to specific people:

  1. The mayor says…
  2. The district attorney says…
  3. The neighbor says…
  4. According to the Associated Press…
  5. According to The New York Times…
  6. According to the website….

 

Wikipedia

Wikipedia and many other websites aren’t always reliable sources.  If a site quotes another source, it’s important to go to the primary source to make sure that you have accurate information.

Just because somebody says something doesn’t mean it’s true.  Even high-ranking public officials may be misinformed, or may have an agenda that obscures the truth.  Even when you’re under deadline pressure, try to confirm everything that you’re told with additional sources.  It’s a good idea to have at least two sources.  Remember:  truth is an absolute defense against libel.

 

Elements of a Good Story

Ancient Greek writers developed a basic storytelling formula and they understood the importance of characters:

  • villains
  • victims
  • heroes

You’ll find victims, villains and heroes at the center of every good drama.  Audiences recognize the victim’s pain, hiss at the villain, and cheer for the hero. Most of what we cover will not be as dramatic as a classic Greek tale, and news coverage demands that we balance two sides of a story. Until the jury returns a guilty verdict, it’s unfair to characterize the accused as a villain. But if the actions of the accused are villainous, you report the facts and the audience, like the jury decides.

Highlight Characters

In daily news reporting, we don’t always have the luxury of a developing a story around a character. We do have to report the facts. But where we can, we want to highlight characters.

Often they reveal themselves in what they say, how they act, and through the expressions on their faces.

Readers, viewers and listeners want to engage with the real drama in real people’s lives. We feel their pain, their anger, their frustration and their triumph. We cheer them, get angry, or feel their pain. We’re indignant or inspired.

Characters drive stories and make them memorable.

Organization

Whether you begin with just the facts, an engaging character or an interesting detail, you   need to let your reader, viewer or listener in on the point of the story pretty quickly.

Journalism uses the nut graf , or paragraph, to explain the heart of the story. The nut graf should come pretty close to the top of the report. It helps to tie everything together.  It helps you keep the focus and continue to the ideas in your story.

Once you explain the point of the story, you can move on flesh it out with facts and details.

 

 

How to Write A Pitch

Outdoor Restaurant on Corneila Street

A pitch describes the story you want to tell. You need to write a short paragraph that gets attention and explains what you plan to do. So avoid writing, “I want to do a story about outdoor dining in New York City,” because that’s not a story.  It’s a general idea. You want to look for an angle.

Your outdoor dining pitch might read like this:

Outdoor dining changed the look of many New York streets and saved over 10,000 restaurants, but what happens when it gets colder and winter sets in? I’ll visit a neighborhood with a number of outdoor restaurants and talk to two owners about their plans. I’ll also talk to customers to find out whether they will feel comfortable eating outside in frigid weather.

Or

Outdoor dining changed the look of many New York streets and saved a lot of restaurants, but what happens when the pandemic ends? Danny Meyer of the Union Square Hospitality Group agreed to talk us. He is a spokesman for the industry and can give us insight into what may happen. He said we can talk to his customers, if they want to talk to us.

I’ll also talk to the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs to find out what the city plans to do and I’ll talk to Nevah Assang, New York and Company’s senior V.P. for community relations, about how the tourism industry sees the future.

I’ll take photos of restaurants in a variety of neighborhoods and talk to customers.

 

The Nut Graf

Nuts by Monofocus

How to write a nut graf, or nut graph

Tell readers what you’re going to tell ’em

If I came to your house and told you to grab your things and follow me, how far would you go? To the front door? The driveway? Would you hop in my car without further explanation?

How to write a nut graf
Put the kernel of your story into a nutshell. That’s your nut graph. Image by kaanates

Home » Ann Wylie’s blog of writing tips » Writing and editing » Story structure » Feature Structure » Feature Leads » How to write a nut graf, or nut graph

No matter how dazzling your scene-setting feature lead, at some point, readers want to know where we’re going with this story. And that’s the job of the nut paragraph, aka the nut graf. (This, by the way, is the nut graph for this story.)

The nut graph is the transition from the lead. In the nut graph, writers and editors:

  • Explain the lead and its connection to the rest of the story
  • Reveal your destination, or the essential theme of the story
  • Set up the supporting material to explain the rest of the story
  • Explain why the story is important to convince your readers to come along for the ride

You don’t need a nut graph in news stories, but they’re essential in feature-style stories.

Let’s pause and ponder that for a minute too.

Here are four ways to crack the nut graph:

1. Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em.

Remember the old writing guideline, “Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em; tell ’em; then tell ’em what you told ’em?”

The nut graph is where you tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em.

The nut graph — aka the “billboard” or the “so-what graph” — is where you put the story into a nutshell. It explains why the story is timely and provides the kernel, or central theme, of your piece.

“Once you find that idea or thread, all the other anecdotes, illustrations, and quotes are pearls that hang on this thread,” says Thomas Boswell, a Washington Post sports columnist. “The thread may seem very humble, the pearls may seem very flashy, but it’s still the thread that makes the necklace.”

So the first step to writing a nut graph is to find that thread. In other words, you need to figure out your point, or story angle.

To figure out what your story is about, write a one-sentence walkaway. That’s the one sentence you want your reader to — you got it! — walk away with after reading your piece. Then craft that so tightly that it will fit on the back of a business card:

Your walkaway sentence should answer the readers’ two most burning questions:

  1. What’s your point?
  2. Why should I care?

Stuck? Try telling a friend who knows nothing about the story what it’s about. Then capture that summary for your nut graph.

How News Organization Get News

TV crews set up in the Russell Building, Washington, D.C.

News organizations gather information with teams of reporters and editors. But they also use outside sources including wire services, or news agencies, to provide information.

These news agencies have their own teams of reporters, videographers, editors and producers who cover breaking news, politics, business, sports, entertainment, culture and more. They have investigative teams that frequently break important stories.

The Associated Press, a not-for-profit news cooperative, has teams in 100 countries and provides content to more than 1500 news outlets. Those news outlets contribute to the cost of news gathering and can use the material that the AP provides.

AP

Reuters describes itself as the “world’s largest multi-media news-provider.” Part of the Canadian Reuters Thompson Company, traded publicly on the New York Stock Exchange, it says it serves more than a billion people every day.

Reuters

Bloomberg, a privately-owned company, provides business and other news, digitally, through video, audio and on TV.  It has a big business providing news to Wall Street firms and other financial companies.

Bloomberg News

 News agencies headquartered in countries around the world also report and provide important information.

Lester Holt on NBC News set

ABC, NBC, FOX , CNN,  NPR , BBC  and other broadcast groups have services to provide content including video and audio to smaller TV and radio stations around the country.

Government Agencies

Police departments, fire departments and some government agencies have public information offices that put out alerts and updates about breaking news.

NYPD Counter Terrorism Officers

NYFD at 10 Alarm fire

The NYPD, for example, has an office called D.C.P.I., run by the Deputy Commissioner,  Public Information.

Hurricane Harvey

During hurricanes and disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) put out regular bulletins including those warning people to watch out for scams and frauds.

Social Media

Increasingly, news organizations look to social media to stay up with breaking news. They monitor social media platforms and then verify information from the posts, or tweets.

Other News Outlets

Newspapers, radio stations, television news organizations and digital news companies monitor one another.  If one breaks a story, others may pick it up and give credit: The New York Times , ABC News,  the BBC , Al Jezeera, ESPN, etc. reports, or they may assign a reporter and try to advance the story themselves.

Reporters and editors in news organizations work as a team, but they also compete with each other and other organizations to get stories. Sources provide an important stream of information that reporters and editors verify and expand.

Public Relations and Communications Directors

Public relations firms representing companies and clients, communications and p.r. people from companies, sports teams, not-for-profits and every type of organization you can imagine contact news organizations and individual reporters to push stories.

Reporters and editors often pick up these stories, verify and expand them.

News organizations and reporters often reach out to p.r. people to provide an expert who can help flesh out a story. They also use public relations representatives to help get access to government buildings, hospitals, sports arenas and private spaces.

DailyNewsScreenshot

News Sources

  • People we talk to every day.
  • Family and friends.
  • The crossing guard on the corner.
  • Reporters get assigned to beats — the police, the courts, city hall, the White House, the arts, celebrities, fashion, food, movies, books, business.
  • Reporters develop sources and the best reporters get information from those sources regularly.
  • Reporters get access. Access to a crime scene, a fire, politicians, a mayor, a closed meeting with a group of people making a big decision, athletes, a sports team, celebrities and more.

Good Reporters, Editors and Producers Always:

Ask Questions

Research

Ask more questions

Take notes

Ask More questions

Fact check and ask more questions

Journalism Style Guide

Most news organizations have style and ethics handbooks. They expect reporters, editors and producers to follow the guidelines they lay out.

When it comes to writing, this means that reporters use the same abbreviations, punctuation and approach to writing.

Here’s an example from the Reuters Handbook:

adjectives

Use sparingly. Inject color into copy with strong verbs and facts first. If you have more than two adjectives before a noun, rewrite the sentence. A reader struggles with “the one-eyed poverty-stricken Greek house painter.” Avoid adjectives that imply judgment: “a hard-line speech,” “a glowing tribute,” “a staunch conservative.” Depending on where they stand, some people might consider the speech moderate, the tribute fulsome or the conservative a die-hard reactionary.

When using an adjective and a noun together as an adjective, hyphenate them if it helps to avoid a realistic ambiguity: “a sliced egg sandwich” could mean two things; “a happy birthday card” cannot; “a blue-chip share,” “high-caste Hindus.” By extension, adverbs that end in “-ly” paired with adjectives modifying nouns do not need hyphens, since adverbs cannot modify nouns: “a poorly planned operation” cannot be misconstrued to mean an operation that is poorly and that is planned.

The Reuters’ handbook is a great free resource for you to use. If you wonder about capitalizations, abbreviations, or many other writing questions, please look here:

http://handbook.reuters.com/index.php?title=A

 

Our Class Style Guide

  • Write in the active voice. That means the subject does the action. You can find more on this website here.
  • Start your paragraphs at the margin.
  • Write out numbers one through nine.  Use numerals beyond 10.
  • Write out the full name of a person, organization company, country or state before you use an abbreviation or the initials.

You can use initials for well-known names like the FBI or DEA. When the name is unfamiliar write out the full name: The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, before you write ATF.

When you abbreviate the United States always put a period between the letters. U.S. to avoid confusion with us.

Because most of your work will appear on a website, write out the full name of a company or organization followed by the initials in parenthesis. For example The Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

 

  • Link to the company or organization when you mention them. If you site research, link to the page where you found the research. Also mark open a new page or tab when you create the link.
  • Write percent rather than %
  • When you quote someone, punctuation goes inside the quotation marks. For example,

“Being around guns didn’t affect on me, but knowing how to use guns definitely had an impact on me,” Max said.

Use . . . three dots, at the beginning and end when you use only part of a quote.

  • Capitalize job titles only when they come before a name.  For example: City College President Vincent Boudreau.

Use the lower case when you write, “The City College president held a town hall meeting.”

If we talk about the president of the United States, “The president told his supporters that he doesn’t care what other people think.”

“President Trump said he doesn’t care what people think.”

Some words sound alike but have different meanings. People confuse affect and effect frequently.

  • Use affect as an adjective, noun or verb when you want to say that something influences or when something is put on.  “Nicky’s yelling affected everyone in the room.”  Or, “Nicky affected an angry air.”

Use effect when you mean the result.  “They felt the effects of the drug.”

Use italics for the names of books, magazines, newspapers, plays, movies, works of art, TV programs, radio shows, songs, albums.

  • Avoid fussy words that connect ideas:

however

furthermore

nevermore

nevertheless

  • You can find more examples of fussy words and phrases in the How We Write section of this website.
  • We’ll continue to add to our style guide.

 

 

Writing Dates and Time and Word Usage

From the Associated Press:

Time:
Time: Use lowercase a.m. and p.m., with periods. Always use figures, with a space between the time and the a.m. or p.m.: “By 6:30 a.m. she was long gone.”

Dates:

Always use numerals: April 23, 2020. Do not use th, nd, rd, st.

From Reuters Titles: 

Capitalise an official’s title, or a former official’s title e.g. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former U.S. President George Bush, deposed King Constantine, Attorney General-designate Griffin B. Bell, Acting Mayor Peter Barry.

Honourific or courtesy titles such as Professor, Dean, Mayor, Ambassador and the like are capped when used before a name (e.g., Professor Harold Bloom). In the US, the wife of the president is known as the first lady (no caps). Abbreviate Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr, and only use Mr, Mrs, Ms in quoted material. When necessary to distinguish between two people who use the same last name, as in married couples or brothers or sisters, use the first and last name.

Avoid putting long titles, such as “Professor of Art History” or “Ambassador to the Bahamas” in front of a name, instead writing, “Leo Steinberg, professor of art history,” with the title lowercased. Reserve “Dr” for medical doctors only.

Junior, Senior – If the source insists on the preference, then abbreviate as Jr. and Sr. only with full names of persons. Do not precede by a comma: Martin Luther King Jr.

Use titles of nobility and military, medical and religious titles on first reference only: Lord Ferrars, the Rev Jesse Jackson. Except for obvious cases, e.g., a king or queen, avoid foreign honourifics as it is difficult to be consistent through various cultures. In general it is better to describe people by their job title or position. See military titles.

In most cases it is not necessary to distinguish between assistant, associate or full professors in Reuters stories. Adjunct professors or adjunct instructors are freelancers hired by a college or university, though they may have permanent or semi-permanent status. Depending on the context, it may be germane to note a professor or instructor’s adjunct status.

Hyphenate titles when the first word is a preposition, e.g., under-secretary, vice-admiral, or when a noun is followed by an adjective, e.g., attorney-general. (However, official U.S. titles are not hyphenated, e.g., the U.S. Attorney General.) Do not hyphenate when the noun follows the adjective, e.g., second lieutenant.

Use quote marks for the titles of films, plays and books, but not newspapers or magazines. On their capitalisation, see publications.

Government programmes, campaigns, etc., do not take quotes (Operation Iraqi Freedom). Not every name bears citing: An ad campaign called Latinos for Healthcare to drum up Latino enrollment in Obamacare may not be worth it; Swiftboat Veterans for Truth Against John Kerry may be.

 

WORD USAGE 

transgender

An umbrella adjective to describe people whose gender identity or expression differs from the sex assigned at birth. A transgender man is somebody who was assigned female at birth and lives as a male. A transgender woman was assigned male at birth and lives as a female. Do not use transgender as a noun; no one should be referred to as “a transgender.”

Always use a transgender person’s chosen name. Do not use the word “chosen” to describe a person’s gender identity; do not write “a person’s chosen gender identity.”

We typically only mention that a person is transgender if it is relevant to the story. For example, no need to describe one of three victims of a random car crash as a transgender person.

If you are not sure which gender pronoun to use, ask. If you can’t ask, then use the one that is consistent with the way a person presents himself or herself. In some situations confusion may be avoided by not using pronouns. Do not use transgendered.transpired

transsexual

The terms transsexual man or transsexual woman should be avoided as they are considered outdated. Unless a person specifically requests to be identified that way, use transgender instead. See transgender.

transvestite

This term is widely regarded as pejorative and should be avoided. Use a simple description or explanation of how the person prefers to be described, e.g., “Award-winning potter Grayson Perry, who frequently dresses as a woman and calls himself Claire…” See transgender.

Twitter, tweet

The microblogging platform and website is Twitter with initial capital letter. The verb is to tweet, tweeted etc, no capital letter. The noun is a tweet meaning a message on Twitter. Use @handle or #hashtag to cite Twitter as a source. But see the Sourcing section of the Handbook for sourcing from Twitter. [[2]]

Opinion Writing

Opinion writers use their own experiences to offer insight, historical information, factual information and, or, a specific point of view.

Before you start out think about whether what you have say will resonate with other people. Who cares?

  1. Your lede should clearly state the point.
  2. The rest of the opinion piece should back up your claim.
  3. You need more than opinion. You need facts.
  4. Statistics and links to studies help.
  5. Write 500 to 700 words.

Here’s what The New York Times says about submitting an opinion piece.

The New York Times accepts opinion essays on any topic for both the daily print page and online section as well as the Sunday Review, the International edition (which is edited out of London and Hong Kong), and other themed series. Published pieces typically run from 400 to 1,200 words, but drafts of any length within the bounds of reason will be considered.

We ask that everyone include a one-sentence author ID at the top or bottom of the submission. Please do not assume we are going to know who you are. Also, be sure to include annotations for all assertions and attributions made in your essay.

All submissions must be original, exclusive to The Times and, as a matter of security, embedded in the text of an email, not as an attachment.

Submissions may be sent to opinion@nytimes.com

Due to the large volume of messages we receive, we have to pass on much material of value and interest. If you do not hear from us within three business days, you should feel free to offer it elsewhere.

What, exactly, is an Op-Ed?

As Trish Hall, the former Op-Ed and Sunday Review editor has written, “Anything can be an Op-Ed.” Personal or explanatory essays, commentary on news events, reflections on cultural trends and more are all welcome. We’re interested in anything well-written with a fact-based viewpoint we believe readers will find worthwhile.

Examples of good opinion writing.

Opinion

This Pan Sauce Set My Cooking Free

A tangy mix of lime juice, maple syrup and Dijon works well with ju

By Eric KimFeb. 9, 2022

In her sophomore year of college, Melissa d’Arabian studied abroad in France, living with a host couple in a town in the Loire Valley. Madame Gabillet cooked dinner every night, and a frequent dish was seared chicken with pan sauce. “She was not very extroverted,” d’Arabian recalls. “A little bit timid.” But as she watched her host cook with confidence in an everyday kind of way, d’Arabian, now 53 and a cookbook author, began to understand that the chicken was not so much a recipe as it was a strong technique. It was, she surmised, “real French cooking.”

Years later, in 2009, I was sitting on my parents’ couch in Atlanta the night d’Arabian cooked a dish on television inspired by Madame Gabillet’s chicken, which earned her the Season 5 crown on “The Next Food Network Star.” I was 18 and counting down the days until I might get to deglaze a pan on TV (and say the word “deglaze”) while competing for a shot at my own show. But what was my culinary point of view? Who was “Eric” on a plate? When I wasn’t baking box-mix cakes, I was practicing my presentation skills in front of the bathroom mirror.

It took several years for me to recognize the impact that those TV shows had on my life, on my palate and, most of all, on my cooking. “Food Network opened the doorway,” d’Arabian says, “and made it wider for people to come into the kitchen.” And I came swinging through, dusted in flour. I even worked there years ago, though it was in the editorial department of the website — my first food job out of college.

So many of the instincts I possess now as a cook can be credited to shows that ran in the late 1990s and early aughts. And there were other kids like me. We were Food Network Babies, a generation who came home from school to watch cooking programs before dinnertime. But if I found my after-school culinary tutors in Emeril Lagasse, Tyler Florence and Rachael Ray, then late-night episodes of “Unwrapped” and “$40 a Day” were my ritual before bed. By 13, I was lighting baked alaskas on fire because I had seen Gale Gand do it on “Sweet Dreams.” (I can still hear her closing tagline: “And remember, there’s always room for dessert.”)

ADVERTISEMENTContinue reading the main story

I Met a Taliban Leader and Lost Hope for My Country


By Farahnaz Forotan

Ms. Forotan is an Afghan journalist who fled her country after her life was threatened.

  • April 21, 2021

As men continue to bicker over the future and control of Afghanistan, I have already lost my home and my country. I worked in Kabul as a television journalist for 12 years, and finally left in November after threats to my life.

I know how the Taliban plan to shape the future of my country, and their vision of my country has no space for me.

For what turned out to be one of my last assignments, I traveled from Kabul to Doha, Qatar, in October to report on the negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Like many Afghans, I was somewhat hopeful that the talks might help end the long, pitiless war in our country.

In Doha, I had the opportunity to interview members of the Taliban negotiating team at the conference hall where the talks were being held. The experience reinforced my sense that postwar Afghanistan, dominated by the Taliban, was bound to be a bleak place for Afghan women.

Read more.

Fixing policing is a long, hard slog

By ERROL LOUISNEW YORK DAILY NEWS |APR 22, 2021 AT 5:00 AM

The conviction of Derek Chauvin for the cold, calculated murder of George Floyd was about as simple and straightforward as a court case of its kind could be. But of course the case was about more than just one killing.

We’ll know true change has arrived when it doesn’t take the protest of more than 15 million people to get justice in a case with a damning video showing credible witnesses begging a cop — in vain — not to wantonly kill a subdued, handcuffed and obviously incapacitated man.

Read more.

Ramadan in the age of COVID: A personal snapshot

By SABEEHA REHMANNEW YORK DAILY NEWS |APR 22, 2021 AT 10:00 AM

I set my alarm for 3:30 a.m. My alarm never misses a beat. My husband and I leap out of bed. Got to get a meal ready, eat, savor that steaming cup of latte, all before the call to prayer at 4:40 a.m.

We bump into one another in our narrow kitchen. He heats the tawwa (hot plate) over the stove flipping the frozen parathas.Ever had a paratha? It’s a flat bread, oily and flaky, and as yummy as it sounds. I microwave the chicken curry, chopping cilantro for garnish. If you haven’t had the experience of fresh chopped cilantro, you haven’t done justice to your nostrils. Tear off a piece of paratha, scoop up the curry, and take that aroma-filled bite.

After meals, I curl up with the Koran and my cup of coffee. Knowing that this will be my only cup for the next 24 hours makes me savor every freshly ground frothy sip. This Koran was a wedding gift from my grandfather. It is 12 x 16, hardcover and heavy. The script of black on pale gold invites me to caress the page. I recite the Koran in Arabic and hope to complete it in its entirety by the end of Ramadan. It is dark outside, with just a few checkered boxes of light in the buildings around. The streets below are quiet and empty. It is still. After coffee, I make myself drink water, lots of it. Can’t get dehydrated.

Read more.