Reporters on the Job

The Drama of It All: Mr. Joshi is the man responsible for driving staff writer Mark Sappenfield around New Delhi, negotiating anarchic roundabouts and cow-crammed roadways that turn chauffeured Westerners into cowering lumps of terror. He also is never short of an opinion, says Mark.

"I asked him, 'What do you think of pesticides in Coke and Pepsi, Mr. Joshi?' He waved his hand dismissively. 'It is all political.' "

He's hinting, Mark says, at something that hits the foreigner like a water buffalo: India loves its theater – on the Bollywood screen or on the front page. "Does Coke really have unsafe levels of pesticides? Who knows? Mr. Joshi, for one, still drinks his Coke. But it makes for great drama – an Indian Erin Brockovich played out daily in bold type."

And like any blockbuster, Mr. Joshi told Mark, "Give it a few months and it will all go away."

Shifting Influences: In reporting today's story on a crackdown against radical Islamists in Kyrgyzstan, contributor David Stern says he had to make do with the tools at hand – most notably, his taxi driver.

David, a Russian speaker, found himself tongue-tied when he tried to interview Imam Muhammad Rashod Kamalov, an ethnic Uzbek who heads the As-Sarakhsiy mosque in the city of Kara Suu. The imam did not speak a word of Russian.

"More and more, you encounter young people [in former Russian territory] who don't speak any Russian," David said. "Fortunately, my taxi driver, also an Uzbek, jumped into the fray and did a decent job of translating."

David says that he was surprised at how young the 28-year-old imam was. "He is now the religious leader of one of the biggest mosques in the region," David says. "Although he spoke quietly, his angry rhetoric left no doubt that he would be a firebrand at the pulpit.

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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