Kite Flying Returns to Afghanistan: Part One
"Every winter, districts in Kabul held a kite-fighting tournament. If you were a boy living in Kabul, the day of the tournament was undeniably the highlight of the cold season. I never slept the night before the tournament. I'd roll from side to side, make shadow animals on the wall, even sit on the balcony in the dark, a blanket wrapped around me. I felt like a soldier trying to sleep in the trenches the night before a major battle. And that wasn't so far off. In Kabul, fighting kites was a little like going to war." Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner.
Jawid runs a shop in the Shur Bazaar, the kite-selling market in old Kabul. "People have been flying kites [in Afghanistan] for more than 100 years. It was banned during the Taliban. They would say that kite flying was illegal. We sell and buy from 500 to 2,000 kites every day in our shop. The Taliban banned this and used to beat children when they flew kites. Long ago, kite flying was part of our national games, and my father won a trophy 25 years ago during [former Afghan President Mohammad] Daud Khan's time." Read more of this article by Grant Podelco here.
Kite flying, or "gudiparan bazi", is a two-person affair. One person, the "charka gir," holds the wooden spool around which the wire, or "tar," is wound. The second person -- called the "gudiparan baz," or kite flyer -- actually controls the movement of the kite in the air.
In Afghanistan, wherever there are kites, there is kite fighting. During the fight, or "jang," two kites are flown close to one another, often at great heights. The object is to use the wire of your kite to cut the wire of your opponent's kite and set it free. Kite fighters often wrap a piece of leather around their fingers to protect themselves from the taut wire, which can cut to the bone.
When an opponent's kite is cut free, it flutters like a colorful, dying bird into the far reaches of the city. Such kites are said to be "azadi rawest," or "free and legal," and can be retrieved by neighborhood children to fly another day. Each neighborhood crowns its own "sharti," or kite-fighting champion.
Khaled Hosseini's excellent book, The Kite Runner, is being made into a movie to be released later this year.
Until then, we shall settle for our own kite making pictures and kite flying video, courtesy of our boys.
Wood is measured twice and cut once.
The plan is implemented.
I know who is in charge.
The boys follow their leader's instruction.
The kite is constructed and ready for paint.
Some people are relegated to supervisory positions.
The finished product is ready to fly.
NEXT TIME: THE KITE IS READY TO LAUNCH