City kids quiz Sunita Williams

Speak to the NASA astronaut via radio.

In an uncommon celebration of Children's Day, students from various schools in and around Ahmedabad spoke via radio to NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, who is currently on-board the International Space Station, and queried her on how she spends her day, what the heavenly bodies look like from there, how the astronauts keep themselves clean and even what they eat.

"We have all sorts of things to eat here. We have the normal American food, some chicken, some potatoes. We have some Indian food like palak paneer, some Japanese food, some rice," said Williams in reply to six-year-old Riddhiraj Kumar's question about what they ate. The mention of meat evoked a gasp from the audience of children and parents, most of whom are residents of a state that its chief minister describes as "by and large vegetarian".

Williams had begun her short address to the waiting audience with a "Happy Diwali and New Year" wish.

To eight-year-old Dhruv Pandey's question on how they keep clean at the ISS, Williams, whose father hails from Mehsana in Gujarat, said cleanliness wasn't really a problem in space since there is no dirt there, but that they use "a vacuum cleaner to clean up" every once in a while.

To 17-year-old Deepti Parida's query on the astronauts' daily routine, the American Indian said they maintain an eight-hour working day, and try to sleep for eight hours, and spend the rest of the time doing "housework".

"It's a lot like being in a house. We have to cook food and do some repairs," Williams said over a cracking radio link, which was established between Science City, where Wednesday's programme was hosted, and an amateur radio ground station operated by Claudio Areoti in Casale Monferatto, Italy.

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