June 2000

Airport Alarm
Barbara Benham's look at the current state of airport security ["Is This Any Way to Run an Airport?", April] was right on. Last summer, the door to my departure gate was closed by the time I arrived. I opened it and ran down the Jetway only to discover a plane backing out. What shocked me was that nobody said a thing. The door had a keypad that wasn't locked, no alarms sounded, and nobody cared.
Timothy Fuller
Dallas, Tex.

A Woman's Stand in Saudi Arabia
Some information in Ted Conover's article ["Shifting Sands," March] is not correct. The statement "Typically, [a woman] can leave the house only if accompanied by a husband or male relative" is totally wrong. (Has the writer mixed up Saudi Arabia with Afghanistan under the Taliban?) How does he account for the females in the malls, at the banks, and at their jobs (at least 5 percent of the workforce)?The comment "When women gather outside a school . . . their children sometimes recognize them only by their shoes, because no other part of them is visible" is derogatory and untrue.
Marianne Alireza
Author of At the Drop of a Veil
Pasadena, Calif.

Ted Conover's reply: Saudi women can travel without a husband or male relative; I am sorry for this mistake. We saw very few of them, though--women are not allowed to work in hotels, drive cars, ride bicycles, or speak with unrelated men in public. It is true that more are entering the workplace and slowly getting jobs beyond the traditional ones in women's banks and schools for girls. As for the children recognizing their mothers by their shoes: a bookmark I brought home from Saudi Arabia shows a humorous drawing of a child amid several identically veiled women. The child is saying, "Mama?" It was in this spirit that I offered the anecdote.

Omaha on the Rise
Many thanks for the Insider's quick look at Omaha ["Happening in the Heartland," April]. Two celebrated medical schools, a popular community playhouse, a top-tier symphony, the headquarters of five Fortune 500 companies, and a per capita restaurant ratio second to none make the city a T+L cover-story-to-be.
Richard P. Jeffries
Omaha, Nebr.

Reader's Find: Mexico
On a recent visit to Mexico City, I ate at two superb restaurants. Hacienda de los Morales (525 Vázquez de Mella; 52-5/281-4554; dinner for two $75) is in a colonial jewel that was once the residence of Spanish viceroys. The Mexican cuisine and relaxed atmosphere were memorable. The interior of Cicero Centenario (79 República de Cuba; 52-5/521-7866; dinner for two $40) elegantly blends Spanish colonial and French opulence. And the huitlacoche-filled chicken breast is absolutely delicious.
S. Saenz
Annandale, Va.

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