I’m writing you from a hood in Jaipur, a city in the northwest desert state of Rajasthan, where the season’s annual Kite Festival, Sankranti, is going full speed.
Here, in this part of India, neighborhoods are called colonies. Morning in the colony sounds like eyes first open quiet with old school and new school noise coming to a slow boil, a rising cacophony, a red winter sun. Scooters kick starting, rickshaws horn blaring, vegetable, bread, and milk, sweet, salty, and silk sellers slicing the air with wares turning their product into prayer calls on early morning rounds.
Sankranti is a festival day when the sun moves out of Capricorn, the harvest comes come, and the households climb up to flat rooftops to fly after kite after kite. A sky full of glints, winks, cloudlessness held, birds felt, seen again, necks upraised, hands awash in string singing praise, the sky, the wind, these were our concerns today.
Every rooftop as far as the eye could see, hundreds, thousands, packed with families, steroes, piping hot fried foods, string, strategy, sunglasses, saris, salwaars, akademic brand button downs, shouts from all around: Cut! Patang!
Patang means kite. And its either yours or mine that’s gonna get cut so lets see what you got in that flick of wrist, twist of arm, cocked back quick like a polaroid picture of a cricket wicket pitcher, lets see you get your kite high flying in a sky just dying to blow you, to blow you, away.
Rooftop love for real y’all. Music? Hot pakoras, puri’s, samosas, seseame sweets? Kites by the dozens? On the roof with a sculpturer family generations strong? Over, done. Curtains folks, it was a sunset wrap. Never seen nothing like it.
You wanna fly?
Okay, first thing you do, is you get yourself a wad, a thick fisted handful of paper black-white, purple-black, blue- red backed kites. Less than 30 cents a pop. Its paper, kite shaped, stretched over one up and down length of stick, and one left to right stretch of stick, placed like a “t,” towards the top of the kite, and arched up, to create the tension of width.
Poke two holes towards the top like dracula fang bites, two holes towards the bottom. Double up a length of string, push through the top fang holes, loop through the bottom fang holes, bring up the two ends of string into an unequal triangle, do not, repeat, do not tie the not in a triangle with equal sides. Why? Your kite won’t fly. String knotted? Alright, now bend the kite over your head, to get that wooden stick arched just so.
Now tie onto your kite some of that glass covered string from off the heavy wooden spool, and try and try till the wind catches your prayer and makes that sucker fly.
Point to the wind. Listen as it rips. Plunges, soars, tips your stare up to the sky where luck keeps you naturally high.
The trick is to strike a balance between keeping your kite in check by tugging it higher notch by notch, and letting your kite fly far and free, your spool of string unwinding into the horizon so your kite can stand tall, up there where the birds are. This ain’t nothing, one older uncle told me, when i was a kid, our kites flew so high, we used to use binnoculars to find em.
I believe you, old timer, I do.
Here go some text-haiku’s on Sankranti, click on the link to *learn more*.
Stay tuned for the next installment of “All The News That’s Fit To Flip.” Copy me, hate me, but no matter what, read me.