• Following Vivek Oberoi: Reporter Nachammai Raman admits that she hasn't seen any of the Bollywood hits - such as "Saatya" or "Company" - which have made actor Vivek Oberoi famous. "Bollywood films are almost always in Hindi, and frankly, my Hindi isn't that good," she says. Her native tongue is Tamil, and she's fluent in English and French. Her film tastes run more to François Truffaut.
So, she wasn't the star-struck reporter while covering today's story about celebrities and their charitable efforts in the wake of the Asian tsunami (pages 1 and 4).
But as she learned about Mr. Oberoi's work - and spoke to him in a village in southern India - Nachammai was persuaded that his efforts were sincere. "I also didn't expect a young Bollywood star, who's reportedly going out with a former Miss Universe, to be so spiritually inclined," she says. "He was working in the village alongside his guru. And Oberoi was leaving that night for a temple in [the state of] Kerala to attend the Hindu harvest festival of Makar Sankranti."
• Met the Pope: While reporting today's story about the rise of conservative Islam in Syria (this page), correspondent Nicholas Blanford met with Sheik Wehbi Zubeidi in his Damascus home one evening. At the close of the interview, Nick asked the conservative cleric about his background. "He was telling me that he'd taught Islamic jurisprudence at Damascus University," Nick says. "Suddenly he interjected, 'You know, I met the Pope.' He dashed from the room and returned about 10 minutes later with a framed photo of himself shaking hands with the Pope at the Vatican. For a guy who teaches that all faiths other than Islam are false, it seemed an odd memento to display."
David Clark Scott