Kites, Friends & Independence Day!

It was Independence Day! 15th August 2012. The country had been Independent for 65 years! It meant different things to different people.

Since my childhood, Independence Day was special in it's own ways. My earliest memories of the day meant getting a chance to hoist my very own hand-made paper flag, which used to be pasted around a stick with fevicol. Of course the process would not been complete without the preparation that went into the making of that flag the day before. It was like my little being was paying homage to something that was so important. Independence Day!

With time, the paper flag turned into a cloth one... and a little bit of more money turned into the fine silky one! THAT was special! With time I lost the motivation to hoist one on my roof... lost respect for the day? No! Not really! Lost innocence, perhaps!

There was another tradition that really went hand in had with Independence Day celebrations - yeah besides the "holiday", the patriotic songs on radio and television and a loudspeaker in nearly every neighborhood. Something more than Sir Richard Attenborough's Gandhi which had Ben Kingsley playing the Father of the Nation - Kite Flying!

The sky on the 15th of August would be dotted with kites. The energy and excitement palpable from every terrace, every landing that was good to fly one! It was a ritual... it was something you had to do!

Here I must confess that I never ever managed to take one off the ground... but I would still go and buy a few, some colored, toughed (with glass powder, adhesives and what not) thread and a fancy looking spindle - latai in Bengali, charkhi in Hindi!

This year, a few of my school friends decided to play out the tradition that had maybe got lost in the vagaries of life and growing up! So all of us from all around the city landed up at one of our friend's place!

One of us had actually pinned the Tri-colour on his chest. Which at first seemed a little strange... but now that I sit and write this I feel it was really a wonderful gesture.

Everyone was prepared... with their arsenal! Latai's stocked with various varieties of "manjha" and another one for "kachha" the one that would form the later part of the thread since when you going to bring down the opponents kite the frantic pulling and tugging would make you cut your fingers. So sharp was the "manjha".

Honestly I never knew so many varieties of kites existed. In fact a day before one of the gang actually sent a message on our group's whatsapp saying he had got "about 1 dozen soyakatin... 2 dozen ektel... ordinary... 1 dozen kurimaar & 6 addha..." The last variety was specially for the two of them who were pros!! BEAT THAT! :-)

Here they are getting ready for the day!

And then when the conditions were just perfect, they started... and how... Krishnendu, Siddharth and Rajiv... and all the while they made fun of me and my camera! Yeah, I was the only one who had no idea how on earth could these things get off the ground!

Necessity is the mother of invention they say.. and this is never more obvious in these little innovations that the "pros" think up to take care of their needs... So what do you do when you need both your hands for the attack on the opponents kite? Where do you keep the spindle so that it is close and yet keeps on supplying uninterrupted thread?


All this frantic activity went on for sometime... little did these boys realize that they were not as young and pro at things like flying kites like they were maybe a decade ago. Rajiv was the saviour here... he got just what was required on a hot, sweltering afternoon... Nice, cold thick coffee!

And then the moment happened... the first of that afternoon... when all that the boys were hoping for came true... 




Bho Katta... - as my friend Krishnendu insists it should be spelled... (at that's Rs. 1000/- for the word - the spelling comes free he says :-) ) - is what the war cry you scream when you get the opponent's kite down!

And this was not the first... there were many more such war cries that afternoon!

We lost some... we gained some, but what were took back that evening was a time well spent with friends and a little brush with our pasts'... it was truly an Independence Day to remember!

Thank you guys! It was worth it... every bit!

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  1. And then there is the Kite Runner!!

    Kite flying - apparently an ancient custom in India, it seems has lost its flavour with the youth today. Perhaps, the odd day when everyone steps out to fly a kite, it doesn't really speckle the skyline as it used to (from what I've heard). I personally, have never flown a kite, though I do remember chasing fallen kites as an 8 yr old in Jaipur.

    And kites have been making inroads into the Kolkata psyche again, I'm told, thanks to books/movies like Kite Runner and Japanese Wife, or is it just me?

  2. One always does get to see them flying on special days like the Independence day and Vishwakarma Puja which is a in September and THE time for kite flying in Calcutta.


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