Reporters on the Job

Elena SkochiLO/AP
Young boys in Cholpon-Ata City, Kyrgyzstan, race across the ice on homebuilt sleds.

Small Talk About Frogs? Sometimes a story will take a reporter down unexpected paths. In today's story about Malaysia's equivalent of the Guinness World Records book, correspondent Simon Montlake found himself dining with zookeepers and biologists.

"It was a struggle to get an interview with Danny Ooi, the entrepreneur who created the Malaysian book," says Simon.

Finally, Simon was told that he could see Mr. Ooi at a hotel outside the city, where he was handing out awards that night to the National Zoo.

"I arrived breathless, after a traffic jam, at a ballroom full of diners who were in town for an amphibian workshop. The organizers were surprised to see a Monitor correspondent crashing their dinner, but graciously offered me a spot at the table. I explained that I was there to meet Danny, and I was ushered over to a middle-aged Chinese man in a sky-blue jacket who entertained my questions."

Chilly Exchange: When staff writer Ilene Prusher arrived at the site in Jerusalem where residents of Sderot (pronounced SDAY-rote) were staging a protest Monday, a tent had just been set up. Workmen were trying to hook up electricity so the protesters could stay there through a cold night.

Then she overheard an exchange between a visiting member of the Israeli parliament, Eliyahu Gabbay, and the mayor of Sderot. "He arrived around 3:30 p.m. to show solidarity with the group. But Mr. Gabbay was clearly cold. He looked around for a hot-water pot, and seeing none he rubbed his hands together," she says.

"You don't have coffee out here?" Gabbay asked.

The mayor shrugged. "No."

"You're the mayor," Gabbay said. "Aren't you supposed to take care of services here?"

"I'm trying to take care of services in Sderot," the mayor replied. "You should come visit us there."

David Clark Scott

World editor

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