• City of Turbans: Usually a visit to Iran's religious center of Qom, with its mosques and seminaries and countless clerics, is a hurried day trip from Tehran, says staff writer Scott Peterson. He seldom has time to see any of the holy sites as he moves from one interview to another.
But during his latest visit to report on Iran's upcoming elections, gaps emerged in Scott's schedule and he was able to visit the shrine of Masoumeh, sister of the Shiite Muslim's Eighth Imam, Reza. "There was such a rich tableaux of Iranian life there," says Scott of the expansive blue-and-yellow-tiled shrine. "Couples sat together talking in remote entrances and doorways; bodies were carried by mourners as they circled the shrine and prayed."
And at dusk, "it seemed that every other person on the street was a cleric; there were turbans everywhere!"
• A Home for Orphans: When correspondent Simon Montlake traveled to Sangkhlaburi, the border town in his story about an Italian nun who has set up a home for abandoned children, he was pleasantly surprised. "My previous reporting along the Thai-Burma border had led me to expect a rundown, dusty, somewhat tense town. But Sangkhlaburi sits on the banks of a large artificial lake that draws tourists from Thailand's capital," he says.
"I ran into an American journalist friend from Bangkok with his wife – a member of my book club – and their young son, who was diving fearlessly off a moored raft into the cool lake.
Dulci Donata, the nun, told Simon that she first came to Sangkhlaburi in 1988, during the failed Burma uprising that send tens of thousands of refugees over the border. She began taking supplies to refugees living along the border. In 1990, someone left a baby with her, temporarily. Word got around, though, and soon she had more abandoned children.
– David Clark Scott