Saturday, January 23, 2010

Colorful Kites

Let’s go fly a kite,
Up to the highest height!
Let’s go fly a kite
And send it soaring!

This is what I said to my friend a little over a week ago on Sankranti (I would've sung it if we weren't typing to each other). Unfortunately, it was already almost dark, we were here in America, and at least a 40-minute drive away from each other to boot. But last year at that time, I was in India in the winter during Sankranti for the first time in over 12 years. It was then that I flew my first patang. More than flying or fighting or even chasing kites, though, I simply loved the festiveness of the day.

Colorful kites in a shop in Lucknow (from Wikipedia)

My cousins and I, along with a few of the other children in the building, had gone up to the roof of the apartments (no snow = flat rooftops). The sky was filled with fluttering bits of color and the rooftops with children, from first graders to college-age kids, as far as we could see in any direction.

The view from our rooftop. The kites are small and hard to see in the picture, but you can see kids on the roofs nearby.

A maximum of two people could simultaneously pilot kites from our rooftop, so the rest of us watched the fights upwind, waiting greedily for a string to snap. Any kite that flew our way, trailing its remaining string along the rooftops, was fair game to catch and re-use.

We’d cheer for the underdog kite, not so much because we wanted it to win as because we wanted a chance to grab that well-flying kite – the kite that seemed to be winning the majority of its battles. Maybe it would get unlucky, cut at a weak point in the glass-coated string, or attacked with a quick, unexpected swoop from below.

A couple of fallen soldiers, one tangled up and caught on a lightpost.

We started with 3 kites, and by the end of the day, we’d caught and additional 5, wound them up with either their own string or ours (whichever was of superior quality), flown, fought, and eventually lost all but two.

Two of the three kites we bought to begin with. That yellow one was quite a fighter, but even it fell in the end.

But nobody cared about the loss. The only reason two were left was that it had become too dark to fly them. After all, what good was a kite if you didn't fly it?

(Sorry about the left align, everything but the pictures is okay with being in the center, and since the pictures would not cooperate, I just made everything stay on the left.)

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