In 2002 The New York Times inaugurated a regular Saturday Profile of what it called "surprising, interesting and intriguing" people, a sort of counterpoint to its serious-minded "Man in the News" columns, except these people are mostly outside the news.

Surprising, Interesting and Intriguing

An Artist Preserving Life’s Little Moments

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia,
July 2, 2001 : So far, there have been 128 events in Svay Ken’s life, almost all of them unremarkable.

He shined shoes at a hotel. He carried suitcases. He got married. He labored under the Khmer Rouge. He returned...

Continue Reading »

A Quiet Middleman for Presidents and Comrades

October 1, 2005 : EISENHOWER and Khrushchev. Carter and Brezhnev. Reagan and Gorbachev. In almost every photograph there is a slim, dark-haired man standing in the middle, anonymous but...

Continue Reading »

Cambodia’s ‘Year Zero’ Haunts a Photographer

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia,
July 8, 2000 : He risked his life to take the pictures 25 years ago in one of the most terrifying moments this country has known. And in a few more years, he says, he may finally be ready to publish them.

Al Rockoff, once a wild and daring much...

Continue Reading »

A Pakistani Dancer and Her Life Underground

May 11, 2002 : For the well-dressed, well-heeled and well-bred of the Horticultural Society of Pakistan, it was an unusually daring event, even risqué. Organizers had obtained a rare government permit and admission was tightly controlled...

Continue Reading »

The President’s a Jailbird, in a Most Unusual Nest

MANILA, the Philippines,
December 28, 2001 : At least somebody takes his laundry home to wash and iron.

Neatly folded, his clothes are stuffed into three unzipped suitcases at the back of his gloomy little bedroom. Boxes...

Continue Reading »

Oh, This Shark Has Missing Teeth, Dear

ANGELES CITY, the Philippines,
February 16, 2002 : In the back of a dim two-table pool hall behind the bus station, a funny-looking man with no front teeth is practicing trick shots with his cronies. The yellow one-ball flies through the...

Continue Reading »

The Hard Man of Singapore Knows the End is Near

September 10, 2010 : “So, when is the last leaf falling?” asked Lee Kuan Yew, the man who made Singapore in his own stern and unsentimental image, nearing his 87th birthday and contemplating age, infirmity and loss...

Continue Reading »

It Takes a Woman to Face Down Putin

MOSCOW, Russia,
February 14, 2004 : BORING! More questions about her personal life. More questions about this unusual creature, a glamorous, sharp-tongued half-Japanese woman who is making a lot of noise about being president...

Continue Reading »