Thursday, January 15, 2009

Colored Scraps and Blue Skies

Hitch Writer's post here brought about a wave of nostalgia that I was trying to not let surface for some days. I have lived in Jaipur for a few of my growing-up years and my parents still live there, also I've spent two years at MICA in Ahmadabad. If you've ever lived in that part of the country or even been there in the winter months, you would know that with the sun up the skies turn the bluest blue you would see. In the backdrop of these azure days comes 14th Jan, which is a state holiday in both the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat, it being the much awaited kite flying festival, known as Makar Sakranti or Uttarayan respectively.

Although the kite-flying starts many days in advance, THE day is the final reckoning. I have memories of entire households camping it on the rooftops, armed with their music systems blaring the latest bolly music, platters of hot yummy snacks and food making their way ever so often, from a single warrior to an army of 8-10 kite-fliers manning a single terrace and a never-ending stream of visiting friends and relatives contributing to the kite-wars across terraces. These inter-terrace interactions were such fun, there would be much challenging, attacks, counter-attacks and sledging. With such colorful setting and the girls very much in the frey ... the start of a few romances was to be completely expected. After all, we don't watch our movies just for fun, there's much to be learnt from them as well! The colors, the energy, the food, the music, the war and the love of it all. Its to be experienced to be believed.

Although my abilities in the art are amateurish my dad is a pro and has many stories starting from the time when he was a boy and used to make his own manjha (the sharp thread used so that you can cut other kites) by coating the thread with crushed glass. Whenever we are together for the festival we troupe to buy the kites and other paraphernalia; whenever we are not we talk about the times we've had and dad tells me how he didn't feel like flying kites alone(without me) and got only few. Anyway he did most of the flying even when I was there, every time the boys from the neighboring terrace managed to cut more than 2-3 of my kites in a row I would call him to clear the skies for me. The bonus was of course no work in the maths class next day with everyone's fingers taped up with numerous band-aids. It was almost un-cool to not have your fingers criss-crossed with manjha-cuts as a proof of your valiance!

Even in the later years, in Ahmadabad me and my friends would climb on to the hostel terrace and spend the day flying a few kites and making much noise, chatting lots, lazing and munching most.

With all these compelling snaps-shots swirling in my head, I couldn't NOT fly a kite so I did. With no wind (courtesy the tall buildings around), borrowed kites, manjha and in the society compound. They didn't stay up for more than a minute and there was nothing war-like about it. However, I did manage to get them into the air and was as excited as any other kid around me. There are things which give you joy no matter what and it is joy all the same even if some of it may be borrowed from people, places, sounds, sights not present around you at the time.


Mumbai Diva said...

I know. I've witnessed this in Jaipur. some few years back there was a long weekend, and friends of ours in jaipur had invited us over. It was beautiful. And what a spectacle.

Delhi too does this on 15th August. But of course the no of kites are way lesser. Also i think, flying kites in delhi is kinda dying out.

In Mumbai, I didn't see a single kite this year.

The Nomad said...

Diva, after I posted this I kept thinking that I had missed out something which was on my mind ... 15th August in Delhi!

I did my college from DU and lived in the student bastion of Hudson Lines ... the 15th August kite-flying had its own charm, I hope it doesn't die out!

Except for the feeble attempts I mentioned here, I drove past a society where the terraces were PACKED with people and that small scrap of sky was filled with kites. As I was craning my neck Pandeyji told me that its a Gujarati society. Its great to see that people keep that zest but I so hope it doesn't become limited to a specific community thing.

hitch writer said...

Kites are a way of life in Gujarat !!!!

Glad to know i actually inspired you to write about Uttrayan !

Kaipo Che ..... nomad !!!