India’s COVID crisis, world dance day, virtual Olympics, Asian dog holiday

Apr 28, 2021 Episode 44

COVID coping – an episode full of distraction hacks – let’s dance, let’s “game” for gold, let’s learn and get ready for dog days



Episode Transcript

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




LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – the podcast the New York Times likes to call a “news variety show.”


I’m your host, Leela Sivasankar Prickitt. And, as ever, I’m joined by my producer, sound engineer, big story explainer and Mama all-in-one…


MAMA: Hello, hello – I’m Lyndee Prickitt. And as we’re living and broadcasting from India…




LEELA: This week on Newsy Pooloozi, no, we can’t avoid talking about the nasty coronavirus. We’ll tell you why India’s been hit so badly and hear from one of our kid correspondents who got the virus, along with her mom, and recovered just fine.


We’ll also share our number one stress-coping-strategy: distraction! We’ll give you an episode full of our favorite distractions, which also happen to be making the news this week… from dancing to gaming, movies to pets.


Yep… Let’s dance! It’s world dance day – we’ll tell you why there’s more to dancing … than just the fun of it!


Another distraction? Sport, of course! Both games and gaming!


We also love movies – so hear who the winner was  for the best animated movie at the Oscars.


And, there’s nothing like a little civics lesson to distract you. No, really. After last week’s epic verdict in America, we realized most kids don’t understand how trials work – including me – so we’re gonna walk you through it.


Finally, you won’t believe how much they love their dogs, or should I say their breed of dogs, in the country of Turkmenistan. (And don’t worry, we’ll tell you exactly where that is, too!)


All that and more, but first it’s…


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



MAMA: Now, whether you’re in America, Britain, Taiwan or anywhere in between, you’ve probably heard that things are bad here in India.


LEELA: It used to be just friends of friends you knew… who were COVID positive. Now, just about everyone here in India personally knows someone who’s got it and maybe even knows someone who’s in the hospital too.  I do.


MAMA: And as we said last week, there’s a dire shortage of hospital beds, oxygen tanks and medical supplies that’s only gotten worse now, especially for those without the means –


LEELA: You mean money!


MAMA: Money, connections – it’s a tough country, especially for those who are poor.  But what a lot of you – even here in India – may not know, is –


LEELA: Why has it gotten so bad, so fast!


MAMA: Well, the biggest factor is the most simple. There are just too many people in this country compared to the resources and healthcare available.


LEELA: 1.3 billion people live here!


MAMA: That’s one-seventh of all humans on this earth, living in India – a country that’s about a one-third the size of America.


LEELA: And having soooo many people means most of us live very close to each other, some even crammed into little spaces – one or two rooms.


MAMA: Another reason is that there are mutations, or variants –


LEELA: Which is a fancy word for versions, as in other versions


MAMA: That’s right. There are new versions or variants of the virus, which are thought to speed up how quickly it can be passed from person-to-person.


LEELA: So see, before these new variants showed their ugly faces, loads of people were acting like the virus had come and gone.


MAMA: Yeah, because it seemed as though India was pretty prepared, or lucky, when the first wave came.


LEELA: So then people started meeting up – often without masks – having birthday parties and big playdates.


MAMA: Large weddings resumed as did huge religious gatherings, never mind that big farmers protest, that’s still going on. And the politicians, instead of leading people to stay vigilant and be cautious, were holding big election rallies too.


LEELA: Mostly without masks.


MAMA: And so here we are.


LEELA: Staying put.


MAMA: Trying to stay safe. Despite 350-thousand new cases every day here in India. But the good news is, other countries are stepping in and offering to help supply medical equipment and elements needed to make produce vaccines, which were in short supply here.


LEELA: Didn’t India give a lot of help to other countries, like with supplies and vaccines, over the past year?


MAMA: Yep. India was quick to manufacture protective gear and then vaccines, shipping millions out to poor and rich countries alike.


LEELA: Payback time!


MAMA: Well… What’s really important now is to remind ourselves, that for the vast majority of the people who get COVID19, it’s like having a bad cold or flu. And then you recover. Especially for children.


LEELA: Three of my closest friends got it! Two were asymptomatic – that means they don’t have any symptoms. Phew. But our very own correspondent, Ananya Kazmin Roy, had a fever for several days last week. We’re happy to say she’s much better now and wants to share her story!


ANANYA: (Not transcribed)


LEELA: Thanks, a lot, Ananya. You don’t know how happy I am that you’re doing better! Which was no fun. But she’s better now. In fact, she was exercising today and attended her online craft class.


MAMA: And the more adults who can get vaccinated, the more chances we have of stopping the virus from spreading and mutating further – wherever you are in the world.


LEELA: And as for dealing with the stress of this thing…



LEELA AND MAMA: (sign) “Let’s dance! Put on red shoes and dance the blues…”


LEELA: So the other day, I came in to my Mama’s office and that song was playing SOOOO loudly and – yes, you guessed – she looked like a crazy dancing lady!


MAMA: Let’s put it this way – I went into the office in a very bad mood and came out… feeling much better.


LEELA: Well, actually, it’s a thing.


MAMA: Dancing to feel better?


LEELA: Yep. In fact, now that we’ve got the Covid story out of the way, let’s begin with our “Distraction Hacks.”


MAMA: It’s World Dance Day on Thursday  an event that’s been around since 1982, when people started to realizing the importance of dancing.


LEELA: As our very own dancer, Maia Sodha, is about to tell us.


ACE STING – LEELA/MAMA: “Now it’s the ace part of our podcast: Arts, Culture and Entertainment. Darling.”


MAIA: Thanks Leela, thanks. We all know dancing is fun… but did you know how GOOD it is for you too?


Yep! Let me share the top seven reasons why you should get your boogie on!


Number One – It’s a fun workout! Whether you’re 8-years-old or 80, dancing moves muscles in our body that we don’t usually use, while also giving a boost to our heart and lungs.


Number Two – If anyone in your family has bad knees, dancing is a perfect low-impact workout.


Number Three – Dancing also helps improve your balance. This is  super important, as our bodies turn to mush by sitting so much!


Number Four – Areas of the brain that control your memory and skills, like planning and organizing, actually improve with an exercise like dance. Think about it – when you dance you have to “jog your memory” to make the right dance moves. “Jog!” Get it? Haha…! (giggles)


Number Five – Did I mention it’s a great way to be creative and to express yourself!


Number Six – And it’s a super fun way to be social and feel part of a group. Yes – even online dance parties!


Number Seven – It’s portable – you can dance anywhere, to any music, with anyone or even – like Leela’s mum (giggles) –  dance by yourself!


I’m lucky – because my mum is a licensed Zumba instructor, so we dance a lot in our house!


Like… right… now… Gotta, go, Leela…*


In Mumbai I’m Maia Sodha, dancing for Newsy Pooloozi!*


LEELA: I’m on it! (Singing to the beat) Thanks so much, Maia!


MAMA: And that’s not the only bit of arts and entertainment news we have.


LEELA: Our favorite distraction number two – watching movies!


MAMA: It was the annual Academy Awards show and the best animated film of the year is…


LEELA: Drumroll please.


SFX Drumroll


MAMA: The movie called “Soul”  wins Best Animated Film at the 2021 Oscars.


The story of Soul follows a jazz musician who tries to reunite his soul with his body, which had become accidentally separated.


LEELA: Happens all the time.


MAMA: Uhhh….  Right. Soul is movie by Pixar and its first film to feature a Black protagonist (voiced by Jamie Foxx) and the first with a Black co-director (Kemp Powers). That’s not all – because of crazy COVID times, the movie was only released digitally, streaming exclusively on Disney+Hotstar


LEELA: I know what we’re watching this weekend then.


MAMA: When we’re not doing –


LEELA: Distraction Number 3.


SPORTS STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “It’s time to play ball… Score… Sports News!”


LEELA: This story is about both watching and playing sports. Both on the field and on the sofa, really.


MAMA: Yep – you’ll never guess what the International Olympic Committee is doing to get people all over the world fired up about this summer’s Olympic Games.


LEELA: Well, we’ll have to go to our England tech and sports correspondent.


MAMA: Who has the story that combines those two favourite pastimes – Jackson Hosking.


LEELA: Take it away, Jackson!


JACKSON: Ha! Ha! That’s so true Leela – Thanks to the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, I can pretend I’m a world-class athlete and go for gold – all from the comfort of my gaming chair!


That’s because the IOC is introducing virtual Olympic gaming – ahead of the real sporting event.


There’s virtual Baseball, Cycling, Rowing, Sailing and even Motor Sports.


The IOC is teaming up with game publishers and sports federations to make it happen.


For example, the cycling training app, Zwift, is joining up with the cycling federation, UCI.


And for motor sports, the FIA has teamed up with the makers of Gran Turismo.


I love this racing game, so I can’t wait to see what they deliver as part of the Olympic Series.


It all starts May the 13th and will run until the 23rd of June, a month before the Tokyo Games start.


I, for one, will be going for gold!


And when my Mum tells me to stop gaming and go play some sport – and I can say: “But Mum, you should be proud, I’m an Olympian now!” (laughs)


In England I’m Jackson Hosking, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi




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: European soccer’s breakaway Super League project might be in tatters, after all six English Premier League clubs backed out after dismay from fans, but soccer powerhouse Real Madrid is holding out hope. It’s president has said the 12 clubs who were part of the European Super League couldn’t abandon it due to binding contracts, promising the project would return after a period of reflection.


Good news on another vaccine. COVID isn’t the only thing for which we need protection. Malaria is a deadly disease that you can get from mosquito bites in certain parts of the world, like India and Africa. That’s why they’re celebrating in the African country of Burkina Faso, where a new vaccine has been trialed and is showing to be 77 percent effective. Yes!


A few weeks ago we told you about NASA’s plans to try a device, we like to call the “breath box,” that’s part of the Mars Perseverance mission. Well we’re happy to say the device, officially called MOXIE, has worked –  converting carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere into pure, breathable oxygen. This could make future missions to the Red Planet so much better.


And finally, Pop-It is THE new fidget-toy – mostly thanks to the billions of views of #PopIt on TikTok. It’s proving so popular in Australia that stores have run out! But take no tension – manufactures are on it, producing more as I speak.


LEELA: Thank you very much indeed for that 80 second trip around the world of news…


MAMA: You’re very welcome. Now, it came to our attention, that while many listeners understood it was an epic verdict delivered by a jury last week in America for the trial the ex-police officer found him guilty of killing George Floyd, we realized a lot of kids weren’t really clear about the process of the trial.


LEELA: Including me – I mean, what really happens in a trial, who is the jury and why are we now waiting for something called sentencing?


MAMA: Indeed. So we thought it was a good time to explain the steps of a trial in the US.


LEELA: And for that we thought we would get our  legal eagle correspondent, Chaska Power, to help run us through the process.


MAMA: First – just to be clear – in a criminal trial like this there are two sides. The prosecution, that’s usually the government or the state – and the defense, that means the lawyers for the person defending themselves against a crime they’re accused of.


LEELA: Alright Chaska, take us through the steps.


CHASKA: Thanks, you guys. Let’s think of it as a six step process.


MAMA/LYNDEE: Step number one.


CHASKA: First, twelve members of the jury – plus two back-ups – are chosen by attorneys for both sides. This is one of the most important aspects of America’s justice system – that people facing trial will be judged by their peers.


LEELA: Wait. By their peers?


CHASKA: You know, people who are at your own level, everyday people, your equals.


LEELA:  So it’s not the judge, who wears the long black robes and has that gavel in their hands –


SFX OF GAVEL “Order in the courts!”


LEELA: Who makes the judgments, like it is here in India?


CHASKAS: Nope. Not for cases that could land you in jail for six months or more.


LEELA: And any adult can be on the jury?


CHASKA: Yep. My Dad’s even served on one. But both sides have to agree on the men or women selected for jury duty. This can take days or even weeks. Like the two weeks it took in this case.


LEELA: Okay what’s next?


LYNDEE: Step number two.


CHASKA: The attorneys for both sides briefly tell their side of the story in what’s called an “opening statement.”


LEELA: Gotcha.


LYNDEE: Step number three.


CHASKA: This is the main part of the trial when all the evidence of the crime is presented by both sides. Like the video showing Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes, cutting off his air supply. It’s also the time when people who witnessed the crime, like the woman who took that video, are called onto the stand to testify, that means they sit next to the judge in front of the whole courtroom and say what they saw or heard.


LEELA: That’s why they’re called “the witnesses?”


CHASKA: Right.


LYNDEE: Step number four.


CHASKA. The objections.


LEELA: “Objection, your honor!”


CHASKA: You got it. This is the part of the trial where attorneys on both sides can question a piece of evidence presented.


LYNDEE: Step number five.


CHASKA: The Closing argument – in other words, the last chance for attorneys of both sides to speak to the jury and persuade them their side is right.


LYNDEE: Step number six.


CHASKA: The members of the jury go away to discuss all the evidence they’ve heard. Together they have to make a unanimous decision on whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.


LEELA: OK…  and unanimous means?


CHASKA: EVERY single member of the jury has to agree, one way or the other, if the defendant is guilty or –


LEELA: Not guilty!


CHASKA: Exactly!


LEELA:  And if not?


CHASKA: Well, Leela, that’s called a “hung jury.”


LEELA: Hung jury? That sounds scary!


CHASKA: It’s just an expression for when all of them can’t agree – the decision is sort of hanging in the air, I guess.


LEELA: Even if just ONE person doesn’t agree?


CHASKA: You said it! Even if just one person doesn’t agree.


LEELA: And then what happens?


CHASKA: Retrial!


LEELA: What?! Do it all over again?


CHASKA: That’s the process.


LEELA: Well, luckily that didn’t happen here.


LYNDEE: Step number seven.


CHASKA: Now it’s the sentencing.


LEELA: That sounds like something my English teacher would say!


CHASKA: Yeah, I know what you mean. But it actually means the prison sentence, which is how long someone has to spend in prison for the crime.


LEELA: Does the jury come back to decide that?


CHASKA: This time the judge gets to make that decision – each kind of crime is allotted a minimum and maximum term – and it’s different in each state.


LEELA: And that’s what we’re waiting for now?


CHASKA: That’s right. And it’s expected on June 16.


LEELA: Got it. Thanks a lot, Chaska. And now let’s head to the lucky dip machine and see what funny story it throws out today.


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, maybe, depending on your priorities. But I’d say it’s perfectly reasonable.


MAMA: What’s perfectly reasonable?


LEELA: Loving a breed of dog so much, because you believe it’s native to your country and pretty perfect, that you not only write a poem about it, you not only get one – but two – statues of it, (made out of gold no less!), but you also create a national holiday for the breed. Well, you do if you’re the leader of Turkmenistan, that is.


MAMA: Wait, what?!


LEELA: Yep, that’s a country in Central Asia.


MAMA: So not far from us here in India?


LEELA: Right. It’s just the other side of Afghanistan. It was once part of the Soviet Union, but before that it was a stop along the important Silk Road.


MAMA: Ahhh, the old trading route from China to Europe, called the Silk Road or Route because of all the silk –


LEELA: and spices and horses and even dogs –


MAMA: – that were traded back and forth.


LEELA: Right. And in Turkmenistan they’re very proud of the Alabai breed of large shepherd dogs they say is indigenous, or native, to their land.


MAMA: So they gave it a national holiday?


LEELA: April 25 in fact.


MAMA: National Dog Day.


LEELA: National Alabai Day, yes. Along with a competition to find the best of the best Alabai and a medal of courage awarded to a border service dog.


MAMA: As you do.


LEELA: If you’re Turkmani.


MAMA: Talk about dog days..


LEELA: They also love their horses. In fact the new holiday took place on the same day as a festival celebrating the Akhal-Teke horse breed, which Turkmenistan also considers part of its national heritage.


MAMA: I see.


LEELA: Which I say is just right. And since this episode is all about distractions, well, I’d put pets and nature on the top of any list. Wouldn’t I, Patchy and Tiger? Oh, yes I would.






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 – India is struggling with its second wave of the virus – one of the reasons is because people live in such cramped conditions, making it easy for the virus to spread. Just how many people live in India?

1.3 billion people live in India – a country about a third of the size of the US.


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – The second wave is hitting India hard also because the virus has mutated into new, stronger variants. What are variants again?

Variant is a fancy word for another version of something.


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – The ex-police officer Derek Chauvin is awaiting his sentence after a jury found guilty of murdering George Floyd. And in a criminal case in America, how many members of a jury are there?

There are twelve members of a jury in a criminal case, though usually at least 2 alternatives are also selected as back-ups.


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – When someone is found guilty they are given a prison sentence – by whom?

The judge usually decides how long a guilty person must spend in jail.


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – The country of Turkmenistan loves their Alabai breed of shepherd dogs, so much they gave it a national holiday. Where is Turkmenistan?

The former Soviet Union country is in Central Asia, next to Afghanistan.


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


MAMA: But before we go – we’ve promised to read a poem every week this month as part of national Poetry Month.


LEELA: And, boy, what a poem we’re going to end on today.


MAMA: OK – it’s a little self-indulgent.


LEELA: That means it’s “all about us!”


MAMA: Yep, this poem was written about us from a listener about five months ago – Sahasra Sridhar.


LEELA: Best. Fan-mail. Ever.


MAMA: We’ve read it out before, but now we thought we’d ask her to read it.


SAHASRA: Newsy Pooloozi – the boiling hot spa of news!

4th day of the week

It’s what I seek

Skip going out to play


The world of WOW

Elections, and how

They found a McDonalds nugget in space!!

A – C – E

My humble plea!


That’s what my whole family says!

Wednesday – Pooloozi day

Dive in! It’s time to say

Wow! Cool! I didn’t know that!

Eat up all this news and you’re brain’ll get fat!


LEELA: Thanks again, Sahasra!


MAMA: I think we need to get her on the podcast.


LEELA: Oh, yeah.




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