A piece of paper, a few broom-sticks [from the stick broom, not the grass type.] and some string. Put them together with a boy from Belagavi and you have avionics that rival NASA. You pasted the paper onto the stick frame in what approximated a square. The paper had to be fine tissue paper but if push came to shove, even newspaper would do.
Then you tied a Kuni, One up zero down. That’s one finger measured horizontally above the upper connection of string to kite and none at the lower end. Kite flying is not a spectator sport.
The person who drew the short straw [i.e. the smaller one who could be bullied] was given the kite to hoist. He took the kite twenty odd meters away, faced into the wind and when you yelled at him, he would leap into the air and throw it as high as he could. Houston, we have to lift off. If the flier did not coordinate his hauling in of the string, (Manja) it was many attempts before the apple fell away from the ground.
When it did, the hoister had to charge back to the flier and stand a few paces upwind of him with the firki. [If you have to ask what a firki is go listen to Britney Spears.] He had to be ready to give deel. i.e. feed out the manja as your kite soared higher and higher.
You had to get it between the telephone and electric wires, then past the odd branch of the drumstick tree and finally past the television antennae that were the final guardians of the gates to the open skies.
Then you got older and just flying a kite was not enough. Your manja had to have the finest glass on it to make it the sharpest. Your kite had to be responsive to little flicks and tichkis for aerial sorties. Your point man who held the firki had to be tuned in to you to know when you wanted deel and when he had to lapat (rewind). You engaged in aerial combat [ok Lugees] with squadrons of the Luftwaffe, from the buildings down the road, Jockeying for supremacy of the skies. Climbing high into the sun so that with one fell swoop the manja of lesser mortals gave way leaving their kite slowly floating away on the breeze. With a flood of chokra boys running after it, waving long sticks with a twig tied at the end to ensnare the vanquished.
And when you were vanquished you hauled your precious manja in as fast as you could before it snagged on the antennae or telephone cables or trees that you had skillfully maneuvered thru on your way out.
Your firki had to be in the hands of a master, to stop the manja you reeled in becoming one big gotala. This master would turn around and keep the tension on the manja by letting it pass between his legs while he spun the firki with both hands at a speed of twenty frames per second or more.
Yeah, I should have just said a blur of motion. The gurus of kite flying would engage in a lugee, slice their opponents with a skill that made Jack the Ripper look like Mr. Bean, then capture the fallen kite in mid-air by entwining their manja with the trailing manja of the loser and then haul both kites in thru the maze.
Skill? The progeny of Neil Armstrong and Sunita Williams could not do it, with joint parentage.
You have to be born in Belagavi for that.
By AbitOfMe N
2 thoughts on “Kite is in the air”
Lovely read, I try to fly kites here as well, though I miss the manga and firki but its still a nostalgic experience.
Kites called Patang are part of everybody’s childhood. October holidays were reserved for Kite flying in Belgaum. The different types of kites – Bombay top, Sadak chaap and local made ones. Ranjana at Amba Bhavan had all the kites.