Sunday, August 13, 2006

Kite Fighting

Kite fighting was a competitive sport in those days. With the right wind conditions, we would be found along the verandas and staircases flying kites. Unlike today where kites were flown in parks, we flew them from the corridors, usually on the highest floor. A highly competitive sport – where we tried to severe the lines of our competitors.

Having a reinforced and serrated line was the key. We would come up with all sorts of concoctions to reinforce the line. A common practice was to mix finely ground glass with glue to form a sticky paste and coat it on to a light gauge thread. Richard has a younger brother who was crazy over this sport. He took his mum potal to pound fluorescent lights glass to a fine grade and sieved it through a piece of cloth to ensure a uniform calibre. According to the experts, fluorescent light glass gave the best result. Using an empty milk-can, shoe glue was heated to melting point and the ground glass stirred in.

A roll of thread was thrown into the concoction and we secured the free end to a tree and with one hand holding the can, the other holding the thread; we coated the thread using the two trees as temporary anchors to dry the thread. The result was a reinforced serrated thread that cuts easily, most of the time having our fingers cut.

Kite fighting was serious business, anything that could improve the performance of the thread was considered. We tried all kind of crazy formulations to reinforce the lines, going to the extent of trying out iron fillings, which was a bad idea as iron rust.

‘Snatching’ kites provided endless fun. In a kite fight, kite going astray was a prized trophy and a source of cash as they were worth a few cents. Snatching runway kites was an art as you pit against others. One had to be fit and daring to win the odds against the big boys. With a little wit and knowledge of wind dynamics, you can position yourself favourably. Obviously, most of the time it ended in fights and torn kites as there were usually a number of competitors when the kite floated down gracefully.

Sometimes the concentration was so intense that we forgot to look out for cars and dashed across the road. There were many near misses fortunately nobody got knocked down by a vehicle.

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