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My time with Kites

January 14, 2022

Happy Makara Sankranthi to everyone.

A couple of those who wished me on the eve of Sankranthi enquied if I know how to fly kites and if kites are flown in my city. It reminded me of my time in Gulbarga when I lived with my Maternal Grandparents and Uncle during my primary school days. I currently live in the city of Bangalore and unfortunately, I have flown kite just once in this city. I heard that flying kites require a formal permission from the police today.

I remember visiting Gujarat during this festival season a few years back and kite flying was seen in every nook and corner of the city. It was vibrat indeed but we also witnessed adverse effects: kites stuck on trees, electric poles and wires, street lights, top of buildings that it took away the beauty of the city, not to mention enormous casualty caused to the birds. No wonder that kite flying is banned in Bangalore.

When I was in ‘Gulbarga’ though, Kite flying was serious business. People no doubt enjoyed flying kites, but the involvement was at another level. What was more enjoyable is targeting others’ kites in the vicinity and bringing it down to make it your own.

Without School, Children in Sri Lanka Make and Fly Kites

One of the incentives of having lived in tier-2 cities, towns and villages is that the interest and involvement is far greater even when doing the smallest of things. I haven’t seen so much involvement in flying kites in major cities. We never bought kites in Gulbarga, we made them. Check out the ingredients.

  1. Colour papers – for Kite and its Tail
  2. Flexible sticks – usually from the coconut broom or bamboo
  3. String – 10 metres to 30 metres
  4. Glass powder – as much depending on the length of the string
  5. Gum – specific gum for the thread
  6. Gum or cooked rice
  7. Spool – for the string
  8. Cloth – long enough to tie around both the hands for two people

I was part of the neighbourhood cricket team; this team could also be called kite team, marble team, gilli-danda team and so on. We friends pool in a bit of our pocket money to buy these ingredients. If the team works together, the process mentioned below will take around 2 hours.

The string we get is quite strong but not strong enough to cut the strings of rival kites, so we have to make our string stronger and more importantly sharper. We first collect dry leaves, twigs, stems, barks that are strewn on the nearby streets or parks; we collect a few bricks and arrange them such that a vessel, lent to us by a friend’s mother, could be supported. We would then light the dry leaves and twigs and pour some water into the vessel and allow the water to boil. The string is then soaked in boiling water. Once the string has absorbed the water, excess water is removed and the gum or adhesive is poured into the vessel. When the string becomes sticky, we apply glass powder on to the string. This is a delicate and the most important part of the process and one has to protect one’s hands by tying a cloth around one’s hands. The cloth mentioned under the ingredients is used to tie our hands not only at this juncture but also while flying the kite, else we will just cut our hands. The string is now hung around the trees or clothline and allowed to cool and dry. Once the string is dried, it is rolled around the spool.

NGT Bans Synthetic Threads Used For Kite Flying

Any boy my age in Gulbarga would know how to make a kite. The paper is cut in a shape of a Kite or a Rhombus and the flexible sticks, one made into a semi-circle and one left straight are stuck along the diagonals. The two sticks are tied with string and gum or cooked rice is used as adhesive to paste the stick and the paper.

Buy Ruhani Toys & Gift Gallery Paper Indian Fighter Cheel Kite Patang  (Multicolour, 25x22, Large) - Pack of 25 Online at Low Prices in India -

Quite an art, isn’t it. The expert amongst us will tie the string to the kite. There is a complete geometric process to it. Once the Kite, its tail and string are all connected, we check the direction of the wind, and see which kite should be targeted and accordingly choose an appropriate place to begin our hunt.

We don’t wait for Sankranti to fly kites. It is flown whenever the wind plans to visit us. One or two who take the responsibility of flying the kite cover both their hands with the cloth. One of us would hold the kite and try to lift it helping it to float with the help of the breeze, and one who has the string will pull it towards himself to help it lift with the drag, once it lifts to a particular height, the breeze will push the kite further and the boy with the spool will roll spool to release the string.

Kite flying in the sky to see what the village boys flying kites remember  childhood. - Imgur

This to and fro game of pulling and releasing the string continues till the kite has flown above the trees and buildings, as that’s when the kite gets unobstructed supply of breeze, marking the onset of our poaching extravaganza. The swifter one pulls the string towards oneself, the higher the kite flies , else the kite flies horizontally and it falls reach the height required to poach rival kites. If our kite goes around rival’s kite, then we can more or less cut the string of that kite. An element of skill is required to fly kites and poach, therefore the best among our team flies the kite and rest of us resort to being spool operators, navigators and commentators, but all the while, everyone’e eyes are glued to the kite.

What is the science behind a kite cutting another kite? - Quora

Sometimes, when we cut a rival’s kite, it flows off with the breeze instead of clinging on to our string, so we chase the kite to see where it lands. A bunch of us are ever ready for such a scenario. The kite lands sometimes on rootops, sometimes on trees and sometimes ot top of moving vehicles. There is a lot of fun involved in chasing the kite as we all run in different directions and see who gets it first. The one who gets it becomes the hero of the day. It is also a team effort as it is difficult to ascertain the landing of the kite, so if one misses, the other one gets it. There are times when we have chased a kite for kilometres and we get a huge sense of accomplishment when we get the rival’s kite intact: much like the WWF wrestlers who take the rival’s belt. But there are times when we have just missed it. I remember a time when a the kite haf fallen on the busy road and we were trying to get close to it when a vehicle ran over it. Many-a-times, when a kite it stuck on a tree, the kite is invariably torn and there are times when we lost it to the winds.

There was a time when I was finally elevated to fly the kite but, the string has cut my palm inspite of tying cloth around my hands. I presume the padding was not thick enough. I almost hunted down a rival kite once but due to duel between the two, both the kites perished; it was such a ‘so near yet so far’ moment. Kite flying was fun indeed. It gave us a kind of joy to cherish forever.

From kites to bonfires: The various flavours of Makar Sankranti all over  India - Education Today News

15th Jan 2022

From → Culture

  1. Sheetal permalink

    Nice expression of good old golden memories

  2. Suman permalink

    I didn’t know that you boys took so much effort to make the string!! Sounds like fun 😁🤗

  3. M V Maiya permalink

    Your times with kite is very interesting. Narration is very good. Enjoyed reading. Keep it up

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