Thursday, 23 May, 2024

COVID-19 restrictions give wind to kite-flying


By Aashish Mishra
Kathmandu, Sept. 30: Krishna Malla picked up a kite for the first time in 18 years last week. The 38-year-old claimed that he last flew a kite when he was 20. “Then, life got busy, my neighbourhood friends stopped flying kites and I lost interest,” he said.
But this year, because of the ‘work from home’ arrangement brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, he has been quite free. His 10-year-old son is also home with very little to do. So, he decided to find his old spindle, wind some thread and teach his son the skill of kite-flying.
Seeing Malla flying his kites high, his old neighbourhood friends have also joined in. “It’s just like old times now,” a happy Malla exclaimed.
With the Dashain approaching, brothers Bhola and Nischal Khadka have also taken to the skies. Bhola, 19, and Nischal, 13, had given up flying kites long ago, finding smartphones and computers more enjoyable. But this year has reignited their interest in the activity.
“There’s only so long you can sit in front of a screen before you get bored,” said Bhola. “Schools are closed too so we have no place to go,” Nischal added.
“So, seeing as how Dashain is coming, we wanted to fly kites and it is super fun,” Bhola said.
Dashain has always been associated with kite-flying in Nepal. The image of children on rooftops and fields with spindles in their hands and eyes firmly fixed on their kites in the sky often pops up in people’s minds. But the practice had been declining in recent years.
“This year, though, children are at home and have leisure time to spend. So, they are gravitating towards kites,” said Bishwas Regmi. Regmi is a teacher of English and Social Studies to students of grades seven and eight and he shared that most of his students were ecstatically flying kites. “I ask them what they do after their online classes and during the weekends and they all immediately answer ‘Kite flying sir’. Even those that don’t know how to get their kites airborne are learning from their parents or elder siblings.”
Kite seller Hanuman Joshi has also seen a surge in his sales. He has been selling paper and plastic kites for more than a decade but says that this year has been the busiest. Since the middle of August, kites have been ‘flying’ off his shelves, he said.
“I have to restock my shop every other day.”
In the past month, Joshi shared that he sold over Rs. 50,000 worth of kites. “Most of the buyers are young boys, but adults have been buying a considerable number of kites too,” he said.
Kite maker Mohammad Ahsan said that he had made and sold around 1,000 kites in the last week alone. “In the past few years, Dashain sales had been dwindling. But this year has seen a steep rise.”
Along with kites, people are also buying wooden spindles and threads, Ahsan informed.