India’s toxic air, Florida space launch, Sikhs celebrate, locusts on EU menu

Nov 17, 2021 Episode 73

Toxic air shuts schools in Delhi, special report from space launch, Sikhs celebrate Gurpurab and locusts on EU “novel food” list

Episode Transcript

EPISODE 73 – India’s toxic air


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


LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – the news pool for curious kids and adults!  I’m your host Leela Sivasankar Prickitt and, as ever, I’m joined by the big story explainer and sound effects finder, otherwise known as my Mama.

MAMA: As ever, I’m Lyndee Prickitt.

LEELA: And this week on Newsy Pooloozi…

India’s capital is in lockdown again – but this time it’s not because of the pandemic, but… pollution!

We’ll also have a special report from Florida AT the latest rocket launch to the International Space Station.

Plus, Sikhs around the world celebrate their main festival this week – we find out how.

And, it’s official – locusts are on the menu in the European Union. Talk about E.U!

LEELA: But first, it’s time for…

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

LEELA: As if months of lockdown, trying to prevent the spread of a nasty virus, weren’t bad enough – the Indian capital, New Delhi – my hometown – is in lockdown again!

MAMA: At least a partial one as construction work is banned, government employees are working from home and schools are shut.

LEELA: Again! Back to full-time-online learning… (moans)

MAMA: Authorities are hoping to spare people from the toxic haze engulfing the city or – as that’s not really possible as few people live in air-tight homes – they’re trying to prevent the pollution from getting any worse. In fact the air is so hazardous right now, the Delhi government is considering extending the curbs to a complete lockdown, though experts say that will do little to clear the air.

LEELA: But why?

MAMA: Well, one of the biggest causes of pollution right now is the farmers burning stubble instead of letting their crops rot naturally. And Delhi is surrounded by farmers from many different states. But that’s not all. Don’t you remember what we likened India’s pollution problem to this time last year when it was this bad back then?

LEELA: Oh, yeah… a multi headed monster!

MAMA: Yep – so let’s dig back into our archive and play a few minutes from that episode – to remind us what those many monstrous heads are.

LEELA: Go for it, Mama.

MAMA: Well… the point about having many heads means…

LEELA: They’re tough to kill!

MAMA: Exactly. You might slay one head of the monster, but there are others waiting to get you!

LEELA: Aaaaahhhh… Mama….  

MAMA: (laughs) So one head of India’s pollution monster is the smoke from burning fields, then comes Diwali.

LEELA: Which is like India’s Christmas – one of the biggest celebrations here: “The Festival of Lights.”

MAMA: Right. Which people celebrate by bursting fireworks and lighting thousands of candles, or Diya’s, and while that used to be fine… Well, India has 1.3 billion people – that’s four times the amount of people in the US all living in a country that’s a third of America’s size.

LEELA: Crowded…

MAMA: So that’s a lot of smoke going into the air.

LEELA: But only for one day.

MAMA: Well, it’s about a week that the air gets so bad it’s off the charts – past 999 on the Air Quality Index. 

LEELA: Uhhhhh…. Ok, and the next monster head is?

MAMA: Well, so many people still light fires to cook with – the old, old fashioned way, believe it or not.

LEELA: Or just to keep warm.

MAMA: Yep, that’s another monster head – up here in the north of India it gets cold for a few months – temperatures can drop to 7 or 8 degrees Celsius (or 45 degrees Fahrenheit) and the homes aren’t really built to be warm. So, while fires keep us warm and are lovely to look at, they’re super dirty. Especially – again – when there’s sooooooooooo many people doing it.

LEELA: Is that it for the monster heads?

MAMA: No way – we’re only halfway there. There’s the natural dust, sweeping in from the desert that adds to the pollution – although it makes your throat dry.

LEELA: And your nose is full of buggers.

MAMA: Ewww…Totally – but at least it’s not as deadly as smoke pollution. And then there’s construction work – after all this is a developing country, so we’re still building roads, highways, homes, shopping malls, business parks – you name it. And while the West did that gradually over a century – it’s all happening in just a couple decades here!

LEELA: I hate passing a construction site… There’s so much noise and dust… And it seems like every other house or shop is being rebuilt.

MAMA: And then —

LEELA: There’s more?!

MAMA: Oh, yeah. There’s smoke and waste from factories and manufacturing plants. And then the last one – but it’s a doozy.

LEELA: Cars!

MAMA: And motorcycles, scooters, some buses, and especially trucks.

LEELA: I’ve lost count how many heads this gnarly monster has!

MAMA: And if you want to hear more about Delhi’s pollution including some specially commissioned slam poetry describing the effect this air has on your body, then go back and listen to the whole episode.

LEELA: That’s Episode 16, which you can find in the backlog of whatever platform you listen to us on or… on the Podcasts page of our website Newsypooloozi.com. That’s newsy pooloozi spelt: p-o-o-l-o-o z-i. com.

MAMA: And now let’s go over to Florida where we have a special report FROM Cape Canaveral. 

LEELA: That’s right, it’s time for… 


SCIENCE STING – LEELA: “The world of wow, wow, wow… In other words – science!”   

LEELA: Ever wondered what it was like to see a rocket take off for outer-space?

MAMA: Astronauts headed for the International Space Station, to be precise. 

LEELA: I sure have. And I’m totally jealous of our Florida correspondent, Lani Power, who got to witness this herself… 

MAMA: But… She didn’t waste such a privilege. 

LEELA: Oh, no. Like a good reporter, she took her equipment and recorded the whole thing. 

MAMA: On a very windy evening. 

Leilani: It’s dark so it’s hard to see just how many people there are, but quite a few came to watch the rocket launch on the beach in Florida! 

Just about 16 miles away, that’s 26 kilometers, four astronauts are preparing to leave the Earth and go to the International Space Station. 

Three of the astronauts are from the U.S., but the fourth is from Germany! This is actually my first time seeing a crewed launch, so I’m really excited and a little nervous!

When they blast off shortly, they’ll be starting a 22-hour flight to the ISS! The longest flight I’ve ever taken was about 15 hours, and that felt like forever!

Their brand-new Endurance spacecraft is carrying with it a bunch of cool experiments! 

One of which is Bio Print First Aid technology! 

So basically, they are using a bio 3D printer to make glowing band-aids, that’s sticking plaster for those of you out of the United States, to see if it will help speed up skin growth for minor injuries. 

If that works, the idea will be to print the patient’s own skin cells!!! That’s so awesome!! 

Whatever happens on this flight, the results are sure to be out of this world!!! 

This is Leilani Power reporting from Cape Canaveral 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: This week brought to us by the Indian theatre group, Loud & Clear with Storee ki Boree – Aanya Gupta, Aarav Gupta, Shivika Tripathi and Meher Biyani.

Environmental activists are disappointed with the final week of the global eco summit – COP26. They’ve taken to the streets in protest, saying that – despite big promises – in the end, world leaders “watered down” their pledges to work together and stop global warming.

People in Egypt are on high-alert after extreme weather unleashed a massive swarm of scorpions from their nests. Heavy rain, hail,  and dust storms have displaced the creepy-crawlies near the River Nile. So far, the scorpions have stung 450 people – killing three of them!

In art news… a painting with just three blocks of colors – orange, yellow and lavender – has sold for 82-and-a-half million dollars! It was painted in 1951 by Mark Rothko – an “abstract painter,” who became famous for his bold simplicity.

And… in the south American country of Venezuela, 12-thousand young musicians played a classical piece of music – together – for more than five minutes. The National Youth and Children’s Orchestras – known as “The System” – are hoping to beat a Guinness Book World Record set in Russia two years ago. 


LEELA: Wow – thanks a lot to the second batch from the Indian theatre group Loud & Clear with Storee ki Boree – for that world wrap.  And staying in India – well, it’s festival time. Again!

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

MAMA: It’s always festival time here in India! But, yes, the main festive season – for most of the many religions practiced here– is typically from early autumn to the new year. And now –

LEELA: The biggest festival celebrated by the Sikh community – all over the world – is just around the corner. Guru Nanak Jayanti – also known as Gurpurab – marks the birth of the first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak.

MAMA: And our very own correspondent Yuvraj Sahni is gearing up to celebrate this with his family at home and at the Sikh temple, called the gurdwara. He’s got this report.

YUVRAJ:  My family and I celebrate Gurpurab with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm.

Before COVID, the celebrations were grander and processions displaying Sikh martial arts, dance and culture used to happen on roads.

On Gurupurab, we wear new clothes and go to the gurdwara. The gurdwara is decorated with lights, fresh flowers, candles and streamers. People distribute sweets and food is served to everyone.

In the evening, we do prayer at home. We light candles and remember the teachings of Guru Nanak. I love the simplicity of the festival. Wishing everyone a very happy Guru Nanak Jayanti.

LEELA: Thanks a lot, Yuvraj – sounds like fun! And finally, let’s head over to the lucky dip machine and see what final story it has for us 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: Well, actually, this story might not seem so odd anymore, come to think about it.

MAMA: Oh, is the machine broken?

LEELA: No, it’s just – while WE might find eating insects a little odd – apparently more and more people don’t.

MAMA: Ohhhh…

LEELA: In fact, it was almost a year ago that we reported that mealworms were the first insect to be approved by the European Union as “human food.”

MAMA: Well, they are supposed to be really high in protein, fat and fiber. And are a more sustainable option to raise than a lot of other animals.

LEELA: Of course, they’re actually beetle larvae, not really worms. And they’ve been used in Europe as a pet food ingredient for years.


LEELA: “Here kitty, kitty have some crushed mealworms…”

MAMA: But for humans, they can be eaten whole or dried or used with flour to make biscuits, pasta and bread.

LEELA: Hmph.

MAMA: Well, they’re probably as nice to look at as shrimp and crab, so we can’t really get prissy, can we?

LEELA: Well – news alert – now the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is adding locusts to its list of “authorized food for sale.” They’ll be classified as a “novel food” – meaning an unusual food sold in frozen, dried or powdered forms.

MAMA: Well, remember when the swarm of cicadas hit America’s east coast over the summer and one café was selling chocolate covered cicadas?

LEELA: Yes, I also remember how our reporters’ dog kept eating them up. But I’m not a dog.

MAMA: Hold on. But you do love truffle flavored potato chips and have you seen what a truffle looks like?

LEELA: Yeeees… Point taken.

MAMA: We love the edible fungi, despite how revolting it looks. In fact, just this week a huge, ugly Italian truffle weighing around 2 pounds or almost a kilogram sold for an enormous amount o money.

LEELA: How much?

MAMA: $117,000! 

LEELA: Whaaaat? 

MAMA: Like a college education!

LEELA: Forget fungi – that’s more like fund-me. Get it?! 

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 – Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Why?

Many reasons – from farmers burning crops to rampant construction work and cooking on open fires.

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – NASA teamed up with SpaceX to launch four more astronauts from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to the International Space Station – which will take how long?

22 hours

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – The biggest festival celebrated by the Sikh community all over the world is Guru Nanak Jayanti, which celebrates the birthday of its founder, Guru Nanak. What’s the festival also known as? 


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – Locusts have just been added to the European Union’s list of approved food. It’s the second time it’s allowed an insect on its list of “novel foods.” In this instance, what’s novel mean?


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – The first insect approved by the EU was the mealworm. Which isn’t really a worm but what?

The larvae of a beetle

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 almost brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi!

But first – we have an announcement.

MAMA: Yes, we’d like to let everyone know that since next week is that super big American holiday

LEELA: – the day American friends and family sit down to pig out together!

MAMA: and, hopefully, say what they’re thankful for –

LEELA: Yes, we’re talking about Thanksgiving!


MAMA: Well, we try to celebrate wherever we are and yes, that means here in India too. But… since the news, of course, doesn’t stop…

LEELA: We won’t leave you high and dry – oh, no. We’ll all take a quick dip in the Newsy Pooloozi – with a short show to make sure you don’t miss what’s making the news that week.

So, see you then in the splishy-splashy Newsy Pooloozi!