Friday, 31 January 2014

Go, Fly a Kite

If you’ve missed flying a kite on Makar Sankranti (14 Jan) go fly one today. If you’ve missed the bus hop on one and fly at the International Kite Flying Festival today at Pune. The 3rd Delhi International Kite festival at Dilli Haat got underway last Friday itself. The 3-day extravaganza from 24-26th Jan reaches its climax today. Kite flying is traditionally celebrated in the old city in Delhi on I-Day, i.e. Independence Day i.e. 15 August. The sky is full of a myriad kites and not even a shower can spoil the fun. The convention in Delhi is now being sought to be extended to today, Republic Day or R-Day as well. Belgaum had theirs last week.

So what is it about kites that has us all tied up in knots? The childhood sport has morphed into the big league with state Governments promoting it assiduously. Gujarat was the first off the mark to promote kite flying as an international event in Ahmedabad. It was also there that I flew my first kites. Dinesh was better at it in Gandhidham where we lived. Armed with kites, phirkee (spindle to wind the string) and manjha (string) we set out, somewhat diffidently at first, on our terraces or the maidan (open grounds) to conquer the skies. Of course you needed an acolyte who would hold your kite for you and give you the ‘lift’ when you tugged your kite into the sky at take-off.

I decided to relive these moments on Makar Sankranti in Vasco. But there wasn’t a single kite to be seen in the sky! Hearing that kites are flown beachside at Baina I rolled down there for a dekho but was only greeted by the magnificence of the sea glinting in the wintry sunlight. Wrapped up in an afternoon party for my little son’s birthday I didn’t quite get the time to fly a kite that day during daylight hours. Since flying at night seemed a trifle daft I put it off till today.

In the meantime I bounded across to a Book Fair – yes, a book fair in Vasco! – and came away with The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. This was to commemorate Makar Sankranti -- no matter if it was about kite flying in Kabul in the Winter of 1975. In the lyrical novel I learnt how the childless couple, Amir and Soraya, break the ice with the traumatized Sohrab – Amir’s half-brother’s son – by flying a kite with him in the San Francisco Bay Area, USA in the Spring of 2002.

And so today I am going to pull out all my kites, big ones, small ones and heave them into the sky. It’s ages since I flew a kite. I’m going to need help with tying the kanni (knot to fasten the string to the kite). Ironically the idiomatic meaning of the expression ‘go fly a kite’ is to tell someone who is annoying you to get lost! Sure – I am going to lose myself flying those kites!

Published in Gomantak Times Weekender on Sunday 26 January 2014; Pix taken by me of dad conducting a game for my son's birthday party at home on Makar Sakranti - 14 January 2014.

P.S. Yes, I did go out and fly those kites on R-Day like I said I would. Once in the afternoon and next in the evening by the sea at Baina beach where a kite festival had been organized! 

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