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Let’s Go Fly A Pakistani Kite

April 15, 2013

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There are many things which are best done by the under-20s: re-setting an iPhone after it’s become stuck on Cyrillic; burning DVDs; and, funnily enough, stringing a kite.  I only discovered the latter during a trip to a Basant festival on Saturday.  Basant is the Pakistani Spring festival and is known for its kite flying.  It’s actually illegal, as in 2007 11 people died during the flying of kites.  Who knew it was quite so perilous?  Apparently it’s the string that does it – people of nefarious purpose were coating the strings of the kites in metal and glass, which is not only unkind but, to my mind, unnecessary.  I now have experience of trying to negotiate my way across a field of kite flyers and can confirm that common-or-garden wax string is lethal enough.

We arrived at the festival and were handed our kite and the world’s largest ball of waxed string.  They were obviously more optimistic about our kite-flying abilities than we were.  The first obstacle was how to attach the string to the paper kite.

I did my usual thing of standing waving the kite in one hand, the ball of string in the other and looking confused (slight aside – apparently when my face is completely relaxed my natural look is one of complete confusion.  I only discovered this at university when a friend pointed it out, but I finally understood why my teachers at school would periodically start talking to me slightly more loudly and slowly).

Happily, a natural characteristic of the Pakistani is to be helpful and kind and so we were soon guided by a chap towards his teenage son who, he said, was an expert kite-stringer.  You can see by his expression just how chuffed he was with his father, but he still very kindly strung our kite for us. 

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And then to fly the thing.  Gosh, it’s hard.  We grabbed a passing ten year old who got it up into the sky for us, passed us the string and watched as the kite came crashing to the ground.  He walked off in disgust.  Then one of the festival organisers approached.  He, again, got the kite flying and passed A the string who promptly brought the kite down on the head of a chap slightly further up the field (we ought to have had a good 100 metres radius of clearance for our ability level).  Said chap had every right to be a tad disgruntled after being bopped on the bonce, but he just turned round, smiled at us and threw the kite back up in the air for us.  We promptly crashed it again.  

By this point H had decided that kite-flying with his inept parents wasn’t all that exciting, especially given that there was a bouncy castle in the vicinity, so he and A headed off to explore the delights thereof.  I was left with the pushchair trying to negotiate a web of 100s of metres of waxed cord, the majority of which was promptly eaten by the axles of the pushchair.  In the end I had to cut our way out of it.  J and I retired to the cake stand to sit, munch, and enjoy the show which was far more sensible and enjoyable all round. 

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