• First Beauty Pageant: Contributor Daniel Pepper found himself in northern India this weekend covering the first beauty pageant of his professional career. While there were a few other foreign correspondents there, the local media were enthusiastically covering the event. "It was on the front page of the Dharamsala paper," he notes.
The scale of the event made access easy: there were only five contestants. All but one spoke English. A sixth contestant, who was reported to be a member of the Indian Army, withdrew before the event started. If she had attended, the pageant would have set a new record for the number of participants. Daniel was told that one year, only one contestant out of five entries showed up.
"It takes some courage for Tibetan women to step up and go against their traditions and participate, not just in the swimsuit competition but in the contest itself," he says.
• Not a US Representative: As correspondent Bikash Sangraula trolled for quotes among Kathmandu's power brokers during peace talks this weekend, he discovered that working for an American newspaper comes with some disadvantages. After Bikash, who is Nepalese, told Krishna Bahadur Mahara, the Maoist spokesperson, that he was reporting for an American daily, the tone changed dramatically.
"He's normally a very approachable person, which is why he's the spokesperson," Sangraula said. "Maoists are very critical of India and the United States. They think that India and the United States are both in favor of reinstating monarchy in Nepal."
David Clark Scott