Calming Crying Kids – Puneet’s Way

Puneet happens to be a gem of a jeweller friend––a burly figure; used to weigh 20 stones at one time. Although much less at 18 stones, he is no less burly; can easily eclipse two of my size. I just met him and told him about my blog He was amused when I told him about the Section on “Being Parent” and about some of the posts contained therein.

I was a little surprised when he told me that he too has to deal with crying kids, and on quite a regular basis. Parents come to his showroom with children, mainly girls, to get their ears pierced. The process lasts a few seconds for each ear. The child is confused when one ear is pierced. But when it is time to pierce the second, she becomes uncontrollable. A team of five people including the parents standby to assist when the second ear is pierced.”

Puneet has a way of calming the child. “First I tell her that the stud fitted in her first earlobe is looking pretty. If she doesn’t get the stud in her second ear, she would look funny. I show off my own studs and her mother’s earrings. If this effort does not calm her, I show her a mirror.” He says that children, girls in particular have a decent opinion about themselves; they wish to look pretty, always. They stop crying when they look at themselves in the mirror.

“I use the Brahmastra when my normal efforts don’t seem to work,” he adds. “I start crying and wailing louder than the child.” He explains that children are not used to seeing adults crying; a giant of a man like me crying baffles them. They give a pause to their crying and try to understand me. It is also a fact that their memory is short, and they tend to forget and do not resume crying.”

The formula works.


Straight from a Goof’s Heart: The “Putting Ball”

It just happened one day half way through the game; on the tenth tee. I hit the ball 60 degrees off the intended line. I thought my stance, swing, follow through, …the works––which I had perfected by playing regularly over a year––were just fine. It didn’t end there; it repeated with every shot thereafter. The error of 60 degrees was a constant. What was disheartening was the inconsistency of the direction, left or right, which made corrective action impossible. I took six strokes to make it to the green (par 4). With shattered confidence, I carefully aligned my ‘putting ball’ and struck. A seven-foot putt just made it to the hole; dead centre. The sound of the ball falling into the cup was music to the ears.

The story repeated on the eleventh, the twelfth and the thirteenth holes––dismal performance along the fairway. But the putts were face-saving. The stance I took to prevent the ball going off the fairway was funny and yet it did not work because I was inconsistent with the direction, left or right. Then there was an assault on my self-esteem as a golfer.

“Sir, I think you need to take a break of a few days and go to the range,” advised my caddie. I took a sip of water and swallowed it as I did the pearl of wisdom given by the caddie. My golfing world was coming crumbling down..

As I trudged to the fourteenth tee, I banged the palm of my left hand with the right fist with the ball in my hand. It was a desperate physical and psychological action to retrieve what ever remained of my confidence. That’s when I found something strange; something weird. I could feel and hear the ball rattling. I shook the ball close to my ear and I could hear tIMG_3928.jpghe rattling more clearly.

“Eureka!” I was playing with an old golf ball. Its core had separated from its shell. And the shell was chipped too. Its dislocated centre of gravity and adversely affected aerodynamics were causing it to travel erratically through the air. Elementary Phisics!

I played the remaining game with my ‘Putting Ball’. I regained my form as instantly as I had lost it. That was the day I threw the idea of a ‘Putting Ball’ from my mind. I started playing with the best ball in my bag. Thanks to friends and dear ones abroad, my stock of new balls never depletes. Very soon I earned a handicap card of 14. IMG_3934Although modest by all standards, it was enviable handicap in that environment.

Lately, my passion for writing has made my visits to the golf course less frequent. I do hit a few balls across a football ground with a pitching wedge to retain my muscle memory. But when I do return to the course (once in a blue moon, though) I feel comfortable betting with friends who use a ‘Putting Ball’.

 The probability of hitting the target is high when one uses the best arrow in one’s quiver.

“Can you make me look like Shah Rukh Khan?”

It was a terribly warm day in mid-May; the outside temperature was in excess of 40C. I had wound up early from the office and was driving back to Noida. I wanted to get home fast. A traffic jam on the Ashram flyover had caused a holdup. I entered the Delhi-Noida-Delhi Expressway and heaved a sigh of relief. “I can speed up now.” I thought. Just then, I saw a man on foot, about a hundred metres ahead, dragging a motorbike.

I stopped by his side, lowered the glass and asked him if I could be of any assistance. He was sweating at each pore. Wiping his forehead, he said, “ Sir, my bike is not starting. I don’t think you can do anything.”

“Don’t tell me you will drag your bike four kms across the DND Flyway in this scorching heat.”

“I don’t have a choice.”

By then I had come out of the car. “Why don’t you lock your bike and come along with me to Noida and get a mechanic.”

“Sir it will be a big exercise, if the mechanic is unable to detect the fault. Besides, he’ll fleece me for coming here. Please do not bother. I’ll manage. Thanks anyway.”

He was in a pitiable condition. I wanted to help him somehow. I had my towrope in the car. And I had had sufficient experience of towing cars––until then I had towed more than sixty cars on Delhi roads. “Would I be able to tow a bike behind my car?” I debated in my mind. “I just have to tow the bike the way I have been towing cars. It is this guy who has to balance the bike.”

“I have a towrope. What if I tow your bike?” I asked him. “Will you be able to manage? It’s a long distance.”

“I can give it a try.” He was hesitant.

“Are you sure? It will be a tad risky.”

He mustered courage and said, “I’ll do it.”

I tied the towrope to his bike and connected it to my car. I then briefed him on the hand signals that I would use along the way. And finally, I briefed him about the likely emergencies, and the actions in those situations. I wished him good luck and settled in my car.

Thumbs up! And we rolled slowly. I gained confidence as we moved. I had an eye on him in the rear view mirror. I gave him another thumbs up; this time, to indicate that I was going to accelerate. He smiled and gave me thumbs up to go ahead. I was tense all along the way, worrying about his safety.

When we reached the tollbooth at the other end of the DND Flyway, I disengaged the bike to get past the barrier and asked him to re-join me on the other side. When we met on the other side, he looked at the IAF stickers on my windscreen and enquired, “Sir, are you from the Air Force.”

“Yes, I am a Wing Commander,” I nodded.

With gratitude in his eyes, he said a few sentences in praise of the armed forces. I cut him short politely and asked him to reposition his bike for towing further, he said that it was OK and that he would manage further. When I said I had no issues towing him up to a mechanic, he said that he had to go close by. “Sir, Thank you so much. Please don’t bother anymore. I have to go to the Film City. It is just here.”

“Do you work there?”

“Yes Sir, I am a makeup artist,” he said with a sense of pride.

IMG_3925I was impressed. I posed to look smart, and winked, “Can you make me look like Shah Rukh Khan?” That question was just for fun; I didn’t want an answer.

He smiled and said, “Sir, you must be joking. Shah Rukh Khan is just an actor. You are a real hero. Does he do what you are doing? If at all, the likes of Shah Rukh Khan must crave to be you; act your role.” He gave a pause and winked back at me and said, “In any case it would be easier for me to make you look like Anupam Kher rather than Shah Rukh Khan.”

We parted on that light note.


Years later…

My book on Operation Cactus had been published (I had participated in that Operation in November 1988). Discovery channel had telecast a documentary on Operation Cactus (they had given me the credit as ‘Episode Consultant’). Bollywood producers had expressed a desire to make a feature film on Operation Cactus.

I was sitting with two producers, a director and a scriptwriter and was discussing the film in Mumbai. I recalled with a sense of déjà vu what the makeup artist had said that day. I thought, “If all goes well, a Bollywood star would be acting my role in the film.”