Sunday, January 16, 2011


It is always evening even though what we celebrate is the sun's journey northward. On the first evening, the air-carrying fire under the waxing moon. No other light is necessary.

Last night, green beams of light carrying kites. Bits of silvered paper or plastic roaring in the sky and some lanterns that escape their flames.

Carnival on Road 12: streetfood, cops in riot gear, marauding kite-hunters - boys with tin knives and scooters. Above, the terraces where the parties are, from where the green beams are born. We're invited up from the street where we were standing and craning our necks like enthusiastic amateur astronomers. And why not? The kites look like constellations in the sky, in a mad filmmaker's speeded-up version of the birth of the universe.

We have *no* idea whose terrace this is or who the host is, but if he's cool, we're cool. Inevitably, Sheila and Munni are the anthems of the night. There's chaat, booze, kids trampling the disco lights on the floor and calling it dance. A kite seller and his assistant are frantically prepping the kites that guests fly and fight with. Manja is freely available and kites are cut as fast they are sent up into the sky. One kite is stuck on a cellphone tower, with enough string to keep it flying safely. There are crackers adding their salute to the skies.

This morning it is still, with the threat of summer. There's a pole of sugarcane to consume and kites to coax into the air.


JP said...

That was lovely. A perfect word-snap worth a thousand pictures.

I never liked kite flying. I was a strange child who never wanted to do anything anyone else liked, and growing up in Hyderabad, kite flying was yet another common source of joy that I was unable to see any point in.

I still find the use of manja-coated kite strings dangerous and irresponsible.

I did love chewing on sugarcane sticks though. There's a flavour I'd like to revisit.

dipali said...

So evocative!

Space Bar said...

JP, Dipali: Thanks!

JP: I don't know - I don't mind manja at all, if one's careful. It's somewhat like saying electricity is dangerous so don't use irons or hairdryers. It's how you use the stuff, no? Kite-fighting is huge fun and needs skill. I admire the folks who can do it well. (Tho of course, I don't think running after the cut kites across trafficky roads, or climbing high tension wires to get one down is a smart thing to do. And if you fly kites at night, it doesn't harm the birds...).