iconimg Saturday, July 04, 2015

Hindustan Times
Mumbai, January 13, 2009
It’s time now for cutting-edge technology of another kind. Come Makar Sankranti every January 14, and the skyline is dotted with paper diamonds. Kites soar, swoop down or ‘kill’ one another with their manja string’s deadly precision. As a cool wind picks up over the city, so do the hopes of kite fliers gathered on rooftops and open spaces like Shivaji Park, Mahalaxmi Racecourse and Chowpatty.

Patang gul

Golden Kite Club members meet Sunday afternoons for friendly matches. They unfurl kites along distances between 1000 and 2000 metres.

Kite aficionados like Dilip Kapadia, who formed this club in 1973, can’t wait for weekends when his son Deepak and he indulge in friendly matches with kite addicts. They also teach kite-making in schools and as party entertainment.

Dragon, diamond and delta are the forms to create. Kids fashion a collection of paper, plastic or fabric kites —  including cellular, box, power and stunt kites — which hold high in mild and strong winds.

Samson D’Silva of Space Apple conducts short sessions demonstrating how kites from rip-stop polyester are stuck or machine-stitched over frames of bamboo, graphite and carbon fibre rods.

You can even learn how to put together your own kite at workshops with Angels of the Sky, headed by Ashok Shah from Dahanu.  

Come fly with me

Flying kites is good for body and mind, keeping one on high alert. Precise strategising decides how to cut an opponent’s kite, a skill that demands quick decision-making.

Kite flying is therapeutic. Both art and sport, it needs sound judgement and a cool head. Eyes trained constantly on a kite bobbing way above hones keener vision. Tugging it mid-air demands strong, regular-spaced breaths developing the lungs to their fullest.

The activity isn’t all adrenaline and aggression. It calls for calm and concentration too, says Abdul Rauf, the popular Ustad Patangwala. His shop opens only from October to January, the season marking the countdown to January 14.

Veteran of several international kite competitions, Rauf stocks imaginative kites — from those shaped like stars and flowers to fancier imported specimens like Chinese dragons.

Truly, there’s more to kites than meets the eye in the sky.