Reporters on the Job

NO SHORT INTERVIEWS: The Monitor's Scott Baldauf thought he would drop by Calcutta's (aka Kolkata)Presidency College for some quick interviews with students about this week's elections (this page). The school has a reputation as the Harvard of India, attracting the cream of Indian youth. "I didn't realize, however, the time implications of starting a political conversation at the student canteen. At first, I could only find Communist supporters, who gave long, well-argued reasons for keeping the Communist Party in power. Then, a few supporters of the Trinamool and Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party showed up and gave their reasons for tossing the Communists out. The back-and-forth was always courteous, but it never ended," says Scott. Two hours later, he made his escape.

A BETTER VIEW? Richard Wentworth, who has a masters degree from Harvard Divinity School and was once the Monitor's Soviet/East Europe editor, has long been interested in the policies and politics of this Polish pope (page 1). Richard, who now lives a short walk from the Vatican, made it a point shortly after his arrival in Rome in 1992 to attend Pope John Paul II's regular weekday public audience in an auditorium near St. Peter's. He expected reverence, but he wasn't prepared for a rock star's welcome. "People were clambering up onto their seats at the conclusion of the audience, just so they could see the pope pass by," he says.

ONE MORE TRY: A Spanish adventurer launched a third attempt this week to cross an ocean in a boat made of reeds. Embarking from Spain, Kitin Munoz and his eight-member crew will try to make it to the Colombian city of Cartagena, Associated Press reports. They are trying to prove that long before Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas, local sailors would have been able to cross the Pacific Ocean to Asia in similar boats. "The important thing is that we have kept the strict spirit of the primitive expeditions and there is not one nail and one screw in the boat," says Mr. Munoz. Two previous attempts, in 1998 and 1999, failed.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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