In 1998, when cellphones didn't take digital pictures, iPods hadn't been invented, Bill Clinton was still president and there was no Department of Homeland Security, Pamela Constable was called into the foreign editor's office at the Washington Post and asked if she wanted to go to Delhi as the newspaper's bureau chief in South Asia.
Spanning India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal, the region was considered relatively quiet at the time, nothing as dangerous as Latin America where she'd spent much of the eighties and early nineties as a roving correspondent for the Boston Globe.
"My editor said, 'Oh, you'll write about sacred cows or you'll write about caste problems. But you'll have a nice, quiet time,'" Pam recalled last fall with a rueful smile, while speaking at an upstate library. "The week after I arrived, the U.S. military bombed Afghanistan. So I never actually unpacked. Never really met the elite of New Delhi I was supposed to be having tea with for the next six months. I basically spent the next six years running from crisis to crisis, from extraordinary dramatic moment to dramatic moment."
A journalist for thirty years, Pam Constable has reported on guerrilla wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, dodged sniper bullets in Haiti, argued the merits of Beethoven with bearded Taliban officials in Afghanistan and witnessed last year's battle of Falluja while embedded with the U.S. Marines in Iraq.