Celebrating Eid, ants repair trees, Japan’s salty chopsticks, Spain’s smelly art

Apr 27, 2022 Episode 96

Celebrating Eid around the world, ants repair “trumpetrees” in Panama, Japan’s latest taste-tech, Spain’s smelly high art

Episode Transcript

OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”


LEELA: Hello and happy Eid! This week on Newsy Pooloozi…

We’ll have special reports from around the world on how Islam’s biggest festival is being celebrated.

And you won’t believe what a central American teenager discovered about ants and trees when he went out with his slingshot.

The man behind the tasty TV and what we like to call the “taste pop” is at it again, with another taste-tech invention from Japan. (Hint – you can skip the soy sauce!)

Aaand ever wondered what your favorite painting smelled like? No – of course you haven’t. That’s bonkers brains. But there’s a European museum which has.

I’m Leela Sivasankar Prickitt and this is Newsy Pooloozi – the news pool for curious kids.

MAMA: And a lot of adults like it too!

LEELA: And that’s my Mama, I mean my sidekick and the big-story explainer.

MAMA: Hello, I’m Lyndee Prickitt.

LEELA: Alright, let’s dive on into it…

BIG NEWS STORY STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The big news story of the week!”

MAMA: Now, if I say Eid Mubarak – you’d say…

LEELA: Happy Eid! Eid is the biggest festival of the year for Muslims. Though technically “Eid” means celebration and “mubarak” means blessed…

MAMA: Well, that makes it a holy celebration. Which happens after the Holy Month of Ramadan.

LEELA: Some say, Ramzan.

MAMA: Yes. And it’s always in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which shifts according to the moon. And do you remember what this holiday celebrates?

LEELA: Yes, we did this last year in Episode 46 and learned that it was in the ninth month back in the year 610 that the Quran – or the holy book of Islam – was first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed by… Allah.

MAMA: Which is the Islamic god. So, let’s cut across to our Mumbai correspondents, Nyla and Nuwi Farooqi to find out how they’re celebrating here in India

LEELA: Take it away, team India.

NYLA: This year is super exciting because there are no COVID restrictions, so we’re traveling!

NUWI: Yes, I can’t wait to celebrate with everyone after so long. We will be meeting cousins, eating delicious treats like Biryani and special rice pudding. And did I mention we’ll get gifts and money from our elders, called Eidi?!

NYLA: You said it, Nuwi! I also love how we dress up and eat lunch as a family together after a month of our parents fasting.


LEELA: Thanks Nyla and Nuwi!

MAMA: So, as they mentioned to mark this holy month, their parents, like Muslims all across the world, are fasting. That means they don’t eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset – not even water – for the whole month.

LEELA: Impressive! And in this heat – no water in the middle of the day? Man…!

MAMA: Well, it’s even more impressive when you start young – like our Maldivian correspondent Shaiba Jamsheed, who’s moved to Malaysia by the way and is now old enough to fast as well.

LEELA: Gosh, that’s gotta be hard!

MAMA: Well, let’s have a listen.

SHAIBA: This was the Ramadan that I fasted and went to school. I got up early in the morning, had a meal, prayed and went to school. The first few fasts were a bit difficult. But I got used to it. It helped that all my Muslim classmates were fasting too.

This is my first Eid in Malaysia and I am excited to see all the beautiful decorations in the roads, Malls and also in the lobby of my condo. The decorations in my condo include lots of lights, stars, crescents and a big backdrop that says Hari Raya Eid al-Fitr.

LEELA: Thanks, Shaiba! Sounds like Christmas in America. So magical…!

MAMA: Exactly. And “Hari Raya Eid al-Fitr” is the Malay way of saying –

LEELA: Let me guess – happy Eid?!

MAMA: More or less, but to be precise, “Celebration Day of the festival of breaking fast.”

LEELA: Thank you for that precise translation, Mama.

MAMA: Now – you mentioned Eid is as festive as Christmas is for other parts of the world. Well, our last report is from Malak Ibrahim Athi, who lives in the United Arab Emirates, and has different connections to make about Emirati culture and other Western holidays.

MALAK: In Emirati culture, children in the past would go to their relatives and/or friend’s houses to get gifts and treats. It’s almost like going trick-or-treating for Halloween. However, nowadays even though less children are going door-to-door they still receive wonderful gifts like money or toys. I love the Eid decorations. They’re always so pretty and detailed. Emiratis have a lot of delicious food to eat on Eid. For example, biryani. Even though it originated in India, Indian traders introduced it to the Arab world and it has been a favorite of the people ever since. There are also sweets, fruits, dates and even bread.

LEELA: Wow – that’s so interesting! Thanks, Malak. And to all of our reporters for sharing their celebrations with us.

MAMA: And, do have a listen to Episode 46 if you’d like to learn more about the customs and traditions around this special, fasting holiday.

MAMA AND LEELA: Eid Mubarak!

MAMA: Now it’s time for…

NATURE STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The call of nature. Get on your safari suit. Or squeeze into your scuba gear. And get ready to hop into a jeep. Or submarines. Submarine. Because Mother Nature is calling! Nature.”  

MAMA: So, this is a crazy story that starts with a teenager and a slingshot.

LEELA: Uh-oh. Did someone get hurt?

MAMA: Something – a tall, thin tropical tree called the Cecropia tree, nicknamed the trumpetwood tree – because.

LEELA: I got this one – it makes wooden trumpets!


MAMA: You are so smart. Musical instruments in fact and tool handles.

LEELA: Unless there’s a slingshot around.

MAMA: Well, the sling shooter has inadvertently, or accidentally, made a massive discovery about the trumpet wood tree and ants.

LEELA: Ants? Those amazing insects that can lift a THOUSAND times their own body weight, live and work in intelligent colonies and, man, oh man, can sting?

MAMA: Those are the ones. So, this all started almost two years ago when a teenager from Panama, in Central America, was playing around with a few sling-shots and accidentally shot a clay-ball right through a young trumpet wood tree.

LEELA: Wow – that’s some shot. Naughty boy.

MAMA: Well, to be fair, he was concerned for the plant and went back the next morning with his dad. Who just happens to be an entomologist?

LEELA: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah – those are scientists who study insects.

MAMA: Correcto. Well, when they investigated the plant, they found out that the hole was nothing but a speck!

LEELA: What? Dun-dun-duuuun!

MAMA: It had been completely patched up! Well, now they were really interested. So they drilled small holes into several trumpetrees, tiptoed a little away and waited.

LEELA: Shhhhh. What did they see?

MAMA: Seven to 10 these small, sand-colored Azteca Alfari ants emerged from inside the root and got busy repairing the damage.

LEELA: Wait – did you say emerged from INSIDE a, ummm, solid tree-trunk???

MAMA: Yep, a queen ant chews her way inside a young, hollow shoot and sets up a colony. Of course, as the tree grows, the colony grows, but moves to younger branches. And did I mention they ants feed off the tree too?

LEELA: Well, then I guess it stands to reason they’d do this repair job – it’s their home and food, after all!

MAMA: I guess you’re right. And that’s why this is called a mutualistic relationship or interaction, because two or more species are getting something out of it, there are mutual benefits.


LEELA: I thought that was called symbiotic?

MAMA: It’s a TYPE of symbiotic relationship. But mutualism is one where there are benefits on BOTH sides. In some symbiotic relationships only one side benefits.

LEELA: Still, I guess it’s another thing that’s brilli-ant about ants. Never mind playing around in the forest with a slingshot. Hmphh!

WORLD WRAP STING – LEELA: “What’s that? I’ll tell you what. That’s the halftime bell! Which means… It’s time to hear what’s making news around the rest of the world. Hold on tight, it’s around the world in 80 seconds.”

MAMA: As fighting continues in the Ukraine war, more than 40 nations gathered at a US airbase in Germany to discuss their response to the war. Speaking of Germany, its government has changed its policy and now says it WILL supply about 50 anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine.

A potentially hazardous asteroid twice the size of the Empire State Building will SKIM past Earth this week, according to NASA. Traveling at more than 30 times the speed of sound the asteroid will come within about 2 million miles of us, which is about eight times the distance between Earth and the moon. Phew.

An ancient goddess of beauty, love and war has been found… OK, well, part of a stone statue of this goddess that dates back 4,500 years, that is, has been found by a Palestinian farmer digging his land in the Gaza Strip.

The world’s oldest person died in Japan aged 119. Kane Tanaka, who was born in 1903 – long before the internet, cell phones, TV and even airplanes – died of old age.

And a restaurant in Saudi Arabia is shut after it was found out to be making samosas and other types of snack food in its toilets for the past 30 years.

LEELA: As ever, thank you so much for that whippity-whappity-zippity-zappity wrap of what’s making headlines elsewhere in the world, Mama.

MAMA: My pleasure. Now – this next story is for chopstick lovers who need to cut back on their salt.

LEELA: And even if that doesn’t apply to you – just wait till you hear about this latest tech gadget to come out of Japan.


TECH STING – LEELA/MAMA: “It’s time for…. Technology News, technology news, tech news!”

LEELA: So, some of our oldest and most loyal fans might remember the story we did about taste-pops from Japan.

MAMA: Way back in our very first episode.

LEELA: In fact, it’s one of my favorite-ever tech stories – about a lollipop-like gadget that lets you “taste” different flavors without eating a thing.

MAMA: That was a great story. If you haven’t heard it, you really should check it out.

LEELA: Well, Professor Homei Miyashita is at it again – this time bringing a salty flavor to the tips of chopsticks.

MAMA: Thanks to a wire for more on this let’s cut across to our tech correspondent, Jackson Hosking, for the details.

JACKSON: Thanks, you guys. Like you said, the man behind the taste-pop, officially called the Norimaki Synthesizer, and the lickable TV screen (yep – you heard me right) – well, he’s at it again.

This time with a more practical usage to his tasty tech. Meiji University professor Homei Miyashita and the Japanese beverage company Kirin have developed computerized chopsticks that enhance salty flavors.

This could be a huge help to people who need to reduce salt, or sodium, in their diets. (Yeah, that’s not us – but our parents and grandparents or anyone with high-blood pressure should probably take note.)

The chopsticks have a little wire hanging off one end that’s attached to a mini-computer worn on the wrist, like a watch.

It sends weak electrical currents transmitting sodium ions (as in tiny bits of salt) from food, through the chopsticks, to the mouth.

This enhances the salt flavor by one and a half times – meaning less real salt is needed.

Clever, ehh?

It’s just a prototype right now, but they hope to put them on the market as early as next year.

So, save up your pocket money – now you have the perfect gift for the salt-lover in your life.

In the south of England, I’m Jackson Hosking for Newsy Pooloozi.

LEELA: Thanks a lot, Jackson. I sure did like how you managed to get an electrical current into your story. Are you our tech correspondent or our “electric” correspondent?

MAMA: Well, staying with one of the five senses – I have it on good authority that the lucky dip machine is a bit smelly this week…

ODDBALL STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “Step right up, step right up… Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? An oddball, no doubt!”

LEELA: Odd and artful, to be more precise. Mama, you won’t believe what they’re doing to a painting by one of your favorite artists, Jan Brueghel.

MAMA: Ah, I love Jan Brueghel the Elder and especially his father Pieter Bruegel. Both packed their detailed paintings with playful, sometimes fantastical, touches.


LEELA: Right. Well, his 17th-century painting The Sense of Smell is the same. There’s a woman who’s oddly not wearing any clothes, but you know, high art and all that, who’s in a lush green garden with a young child and some mansion in the background and is surrounded by darling, adoring animals and loads of flowers. I mean, it looks more like a scene from Encanto. Well, an old-fashioned version.

MAMA: You’re so right!

LEELA: Except for the no clothes bit. Whatever.

MAMA: Yeah. And I think his old friend Peter Paul Rubens helped paint the allegorical figures on this painting, actually.

LEELA: Well, it’s been on display for years at Madrid’s Museo del Prado. But this year… The Prado is inviting visitors to stop and smell the roses. Or the “defusing stations” as these high-art air fresheners are being called.

MAMA: Ummm, high-art air fresheners excuse me?

LEELA: Well, the Prado and a large Spanish perfume manufacturer (Puig) made a special aroma inspired by 10 items from the painting—mainly flowers, such as jasmine, rose, iris and orange blossom, plus a fig tree, a child’s glove how does that even smell? and just to make it realistic – the musky odor of an animal called a civet.

MAMA: Oooookaaay.

LEELA: All to make the painting come alive.

MAMA: Well, I’m glad they chose such a beautiful painting. Would hate to smell a medieval marketplace, never mind a battle scene.

LEELA: I wonder what a Picasso would smell like, hey?

MAMA: Ewwww, that might not smell right at all…

FAB FACTS STING – LEELA: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top five fab facts heard today. Here goes…”

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 1 – Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid, which always comes when?

In the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which shifts according to the moon.

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – Muslims greet each other during this festival by saying, “Eid Mubarak.” What does that mean?

Eid means celebration and Mubarak means blessed, so basically, a holy celebration – in other words – happy Eid.

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – When the tropical Cecropia tree in Panama was damaged, the Azteca ants that live inside went to work repairing the damage. That’s a type of symbiotic relationship called what?


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – Ants are pretty amazing insects that not only live and work in intelligent colonies, but can also lift something that’s many more times its own body weight?

1000 times

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – At a museum in Spain you can not only see a famous painting called The Sense of Smell, but now you can smell it too. Who’s the painting by?

Jan Brueghel the Elder – with a little help from Peter Paul Rubens in fact.

And don’t forget, if you want to test yourself later on, then go to the Lucky Dip page of our website,  newsypooloozi.com, that’s pool-o-o-z-i, and take this quiz online in your own time!

LEELA: And that brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi!


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