Reporters on the Job

• COLOMBIAN CLASSMATES: While reporter Charles Gepp had never interviewed the Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt prior to today's story (this page), he had met her before - in high school. Both attended the same private French school in Bogotá. "She was two years ahead of me, but I remember her arrival. I suppose it's vulgar to say, but all the boys were struck by the beauty of the two new girls [Ingrid and her sister]."

Charles didn't use the connection to secure his interview, but did mention it to her after their first meeting. "She said she remembered my face." Charles also relates to Ms. Betancourt on another level. He, too, is a Colombian who left the country after high school, and "feels a sense of duty to go back and contribute to his country."

• POETRY RECITAL: While reporting today's story about an Indian city where Muslims and Hindus live in harmony (page 1), the Monitor's Scott Baldauf was treated to an impromptu poetry recital. He was interviewing a local governor, or nabob, about his Sufi beliefs.

"As we got into deeper religous issues, he called his first cousin and brother-in-law in to join the discussion," says Scott. "They began to recite the works of 18th- and 19th-century poets to answer my questions - each jumping in to finish the lines recited by the others. Apparently that's not uncommon among the elites. The Sufi-influenced beliefs of the local rulers teach that God communicates to man in a state of ecstasy, through poetry, dance, and song."

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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