• So Many Interviewees, So Little Time: Peter Ford was a bit nervous when he visited Taiwan recently for the first time and was asked by his editor to file a story within 24 hours of arrival. Experience in Beijing had taught him that finding government officials to interview could take weeks. "In Taipei, however, officials, opposition figures, legislators, and analysts were only too happy to receive me," Peter says. "I was in the embarrassing position of having to turn down an interview offer from an adviser to the president because I could not fit him in." Peter suspects that this is not just because Taiwan is a democracy, where people feel free to share their views, but is also a product of Taiwan's small voice on the world stage that officials like to amplify when opportunity strikes.
• A Saintly Cachet: On a trip to India's south, staff writer Mark Sappenfield found that Christianity inhabits a curious place. "There is, on one hand, the aversion to Christianity's penchant for evangelism," Mark says. "It's something completely at odds with the Hindu ethic, which is naturally inclusive – and even reverent – of all faiths." Yet Christianity, he notes, is also linked to some of the most cherished remnants of British rule, from hospitals to charity.
"Nowhere is the appreciation of Christianity greater than in education. 'Convent educated' is shorthand for someone who was taught at an English-language school – schools with names usually preceded by 'Saint' or 'Holy,' " says Mark. "Some families will only consider girls who are convent-educated when looking through local matrimonial pages for would-be brides. Moreover, one source once told me that some Muslim schools were adding 'Saint' to their titles in an effort to bestow a greater sheen of respectability – yielding incongruities like 'St. Ahmad' and the like."
Deputy world editor