Leela and I were really chuffed* to be featured in one of India’s most prestigious newspapers, The Hindu. It was one of those long interviews over the phone where it was clear the reporter, Praveen Sudevan, had done his homework, read all about us and listened to several episodes.
Sudevan, cleverly, began the conversation with flattery, saying he liked the podcast so much he was recommending it to his niece. At this we were more than happy to rabbit on and on. Even when he pressed us about the possible dangers of exposing kids to news that is not always sunshine and fun.
Leela admitted: “Sometimes I get scared of what’s gonna happen, reading about the glaciers melting and all that.”
It’s true, global warming and climate changes does shake up kids, perhaps more than adults. But I’d rather Leela is aware of it early on than come late to that kind of realization. And there is a lot of other news that can be harder for kids to digest. But we’re taking them one story at a time.
As I said: “It’s tricky, of course. A lot of us have strong views, which we consider is the right one… You try to report just the facts and say both sides of a story. The idea is to introduce children to news and make them curious, not impose your views on them.”
I confess I probably do this better as a kids news podcaster than as a parent! But it’s good to have goals, right?
Mostly chatting to Sudevan, and others showing interest in Newsy Jacuzzi like Mumbai’s Midday newspaper, it was great to be able to elaborate on how important it is for children to be exposed to news early on – the good, the bad and the goofy. This is something at the core of Newsy Jacuzzi – spurring curiosity. Arousing interest not just about the events happening in children’s own backyards but halfway across the world too.
As a teenager I was in awe of foreign exchange students who seemed to know so much more about the world than I or my classmates did. My parents watched the news every night, the newspaper was read every day and news was often discussed in our house. So why were so many words and concepts these German, British, South African and Taiwanese students discussing so alien to me?
It was with a fair dose of disappointment and, probably hurt American pride, that I grew to realize how insular my country – the great U! S! A! – was. And still is.
When I moved to India some 14 years ago, it didn’t take me long to realize how the same was true here. And while being culturally self-sufficient is something to be proud of – being insular is not.
So, Newsy Jacuzzi was partly motivated by my own private desire to make sure my daughter stays aware of the greater world. Especially at a time when we are physically cut off from it, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
I just love that the podcast is helping other parents and kids do the same.
(*Chuffed is a British way of saying thrilled but in a more folksy, less piercing, way.)