A torn, red kite glided onto Mohammad Mohiuddin’s terrace in the spring of 1935. As he gaped through a hole that had punctured the lifeless object, the five-year-old did not have the slightest inkling that he was destined to grow up to be one of the most popular kite flyers in the country.
“I was spellbound. It was one of the most magnificent things that I’d ever seen. I started getting impatient as I waited for my father to get home from work. Even before he could enter the house, I was tugging at his clothes to buy me my own kite,” Mohiuddin recalled.
A kite-flying club, thousands of competitions in India, numerous international kite-flying and kite-designing awards spread over seven and a half decades transformed the curious five-year-old Mohiuddin into Matia Mahal’s famous Bhai Mian patangbaaz (80).
“Many people don’t even know that my real name is Mohiuddin. Even when they invite me to competitions or send me gifts, they address them to Bhai Mian,” chuckles the veteran kite flier.
Success came to the elderly kite-flier one step at a time after he created the popular Diamond Club in 1970.
“Gradually, the Diamond Club became one of the most popular in the country. We started getting invitations to kite-flying competitions getting held all over the city. I had never stepped onto a train in my entire life. Thanks to my hobby, my last trip was an all expenses paid one to the UAE in 2007. I had been invited by Sheikh Mohammad, the ruler,” he said.
But the old hand is dismayed at the way the younger generation is gradually losing interest.
“It is said that Hakim Lukman, considered the most expert among all Hakims, used to prescribe kite-flying as an exercise to his patients. Watch,” he says as he jumps up and breaks into different kite-flying postures to illustrate his point, forgetting his age and the pain in his swollen feet.
“See? Kite flying is a combined exercise for one’s mind, body and soul. I wish the young ones of our country could understand that.”