Kite Flying–Mumbai for Kids TOI 10 Sep 2010

It’s Friday today and Times of India has another article in its Mumbai for Kids section titled – Kids, go fly a kite.  So have a look and go for it if you like…

Kids, go fly a kite

If you want to put the wind back in their sails, take your kids to the kite-flying workshops in town – Meher Marfatia

Those who thought the sport of kite-flying was becoming extinct, resuscitated every year by one sole festival—Makar Sankranti—can think again. The city’s rooftops as well as open public spaces like Versova Beach, Cheetah Camp, Shivaji Park, Mahalaxmi and Chowpatty are the ports from where these winged beauties take off in round-the-year flight.

And for those kids more adept at the kind of hand-eye coordination demanded by Play Stations, there are even workshops around the city that bring them back to the basics.

Groups like Golden Kite Club at Babulnath (which is representing India at the weeklong International Kite Festival in Dieppe, France) and Space Apple in Virar actually teach kids how to not only fly but also make their own kites. Dilip Kapadia, who launched Golden Kite in 1973, waits eagerly for Sunday afternoons—a time when he and his son Deepak engage in “friendly matches’’ with about 20 or so other players. The Kapadias are also open to teaching kitemaking and competitive kiteflying in schools or even as an unusual high point of children’s birthday parties.

The beauty of kites lies in their varied brilliance. At such workshops, the two-dimensional diamond morphs into elaborate shapes like dragons, birds and deltas as kids fashion paper, plastic or fabric into cellular kites, box kites, para-foils, power kites and stunt kites—which hold their own in mild as well as strong winds. Space Apple invites juniors to short sessions where they create kites stuck with glue or machine-stitched over frames of bamboo, graphite or carbon fibre rods.

Those who want to fly a kite can, among other things, sling on a haversack and join India Outdoors on one of their trips. This adventure sports group for kids above six years lets them have a go at everything from kite-flying and rock-climbing to hiking and outdoor games at their Durshet campsite.

There’s more to kite-flying than meets the eye. First of all, the activity keeps kids mentally alert. They have to work out strategies for when and how to cut the string on an opponent kite. Constantly watching a furling kite hones vision. Tugging on it mid-air demands strong, regularly spaced breaths which develops lungs and other vital parts of the body to their fullest.

And kite-flying, contrary to what one might assume, isn’t all aggression and adrenalin. Both art and sport, it can be therapeutic for child and adult enthusiasts alike, calling for great calm and concentration, as expert kitefliers like Ustad Patangwala tell us. Born Abdul Rauf, Ustad opens his kite shop on Mohammed Ali Road only between October and January, the season marking the countdown to Makar Sankranti’s traditional Kite-Flying Day on January 14. When his little store rolls up its shutters, it reveals a seemingly endless stock of imaginatively shaped kites. From simple, local models shaped like stars and flowers to fancy imported specimens like the Chinese dragon, Ustad has them all.

On a cautionary note, adults should ideally be around kite-flying children, especially inexperienced youngsters—the sharp cord could cut into tender skin. After all, maanja is wound from 32 ingredients which both bind and slice sharply. These include fine-powdered glass, gelatinous isabgol, a sticky rice derivative called glugdi, cinnamon, egg yolk, aloe vera, baking powder and bhusi from thinly crushed, carat-measured diamonds. Another danger is rooftops, where children should never fly unsupervised. The bottomline is safety—both of the flyer on the ground and the ones in the air—birds.

So the next time someone tells you to ‘go fly a kite’, try it.

Golden Kite Club (Deepak Kapadia): 2368-8280/93222-4669 /
Space Apple (Samson D’Silva): 98224-99281/
India Outdoors: 2410-2446/2418-6360
Angels of the Sky: 99607-32717
Ustad Patangwala (Abdul Rauf): 98929-32084

Here are earlier articles in Mumbai for Kids section – Times of India

Children – Treks & Workshops – Mumbai for Kids – TOI 3 Sep 2010
Mumbai for Kids – Times of India Articles-Jul/Aug 2010

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