Kites soar high no more...


With houses getting smaller and open grounds disappearing from the city’s landscape, we are sure losing a lot more than what we anticipated. Many activities, which kept the tiny minds alert and bodies active, have less space in the ‘extra-modern-living-with-all-amenities-provided’ urban setting.

Hence, some of those who relished lagori, uppu-kodu, chinni-dandu, marakoti-aata, joot-mutt and chowka-bara and the quintessential gaalipata, cringe at the fact that their children spend most of their childhood living thorugh borrowed adventures of Tom and Jerry and Pokemon among other cartoon populars.

Months around monsoon, when rains took a breather, was when kite flying took centrestage.

Ajjas and Ajjis across households, watched their grown up sons and daughters accompanied by their children sending kites soaring in the skies. Open spaces near the residential areas provided for ample entertainment along with social interaction too, between ‘parents’ of the children who were busy kite-flying.

The preparation was no less. A kite was to be made with super dedication. Select proper material, preferably a newspaper, and source some bamboo sticks to be bent and stretched across the diamond shaped kite.  There was a straight stick to hold the kite aloft, and across went another one, slightly bent to provide requisite strength to fix the direction of the flight.

Glue was either home made ‘maida ganji’ or cooked rice pasted across. Fevicol was something unheard of. With a diamond shaped kite kept ready to dot the skies, there was ample time to add ‘accessories’ in the form of a tail. Length of the tail of ‘balangochi’ was associated with individual dignity and bravado. Longer the tail, higher the number of viewers for it. See, the concept of TRPs is not entirely new!

Subsequently, it was the ‘twine’ time and the responsibility of buying the strongest string (some strengthened it by applying ‘manja’ - which is again maida ganji, smeared on the string) was always on the smart ‘mama’ or a cousin who was few classes ahead of the children in the house. This was one arena where ‘appa’ clearly didn’t know much and was sidelined without any mercy.

With all this, it was time to set to fly the kite. The activity would resemble the meticulous planning that went into preparing for wars.

The space, the surroundings, the enemies, the electric wires and of course, the direction of the wind mattered much more than life and death. Special honour came in the form of being handed over the responsibility of setting the kite off in the skies after running along the ‘runway’.

The one holding a string was a smarter cousin, who perfected the timing and pulled the string so as to set the kite off at the nick of the moment. An innocent kite, sailing in the peaceful skies was a sight to behold.

Returning home after a successful feat, in case the kite didn’t get stuck in a tree, or didn’t wrap itself around an electric wire or did not stay put on someone’s high terrace -- begot a hero’s welcome.

Lunches or dinners after that were filled with interesting and highly-charged stories about how the kite, which by then would have gained a persona of its own, hoodwinked all the villainous hurdles such as crosswinds, other kites, trees and terraces, like a hero and sailed like a lone soldier for quite sometime.

Today, kids do set the kites sailing too. But, for that, one needs a special programme dedicated for it on cartoon network or Pogo channel. Until then, its a long break.

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