Reporters on the Job

Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters
PRAYER WATCH: Thousands of Buddhist monks (above) gathered in Bangkok's Royal Plaza to pray for peace Wednesday.
Fahad Shadeed/Reuters
On the same day in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Saudis gathered to pray for rain.

A Little Levity Helps: Staff writer Mark Sappenfield was struck by how much difference an interpreter makes – and it's not just getting the words right (see story).

"My usual interpreter was not available on that day, so I turned to a friend of his. He was an excellent interpreter and very professional. But perhaps he was too professional. My usual interpreter tends to have a joke for every occasion, and when a situation is tense, he usually breaks it with laughter," says Mark. "I can't remember a time when he approached someone on the street for an interview and was turned down. "

But as Mark tried to interview people in a west Kabul neighborhood about President Hamid Karzai's government, few wanted to talk. "This could have had something to do with the neighborhood, the decline in security since the last time I was in Afghanistan, or the subject. But on such a controversial topic, perhaps a joke or two would have broken the ice."

David Clark Scott

World editor

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to Reporters on the Job
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today