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The monsoon will subside, the sky will again turn deep blue, the wind will change direction and the paddy fields will ripen to gold. It's Dasain. Time to shop, party, eat, drink and most importantly, fly kites.

Kids will climb to their rooftops and terraces and the collective victory cry of 'Chaaaaaait!' will ring in the ears of city folks.

The earliest written account of kite flying comes from about 200 BC when the Chinese general Han Hsien flew a kite over the walls of a city he was attacking to measure how far his army would have to tunnel in to reach the defences. This ingenious method of surveying worked. His troops tunnelled into the inner city, surprised the enemy and were victorious.

It is believed that kite flying was eventually spread by traders from China to Korea and across Asia to India. Each region developed a distinctive style of kite, flying techniques and the cultural context in which to fly them. So we don't actually know if kite flying came to Nepal from the north or the south.

Choosing a kite is an art in itself. Nepali kites have no tail and two sticks of equal length are crossed and tied in the centre. A string pulled tight across the back of a cross-stick bows the surface, making the kite self-balancing. A specialty of traditional Nepali kites is the hand-made lokta paper out of which they are made.

These days lokta kites are becoming something of a rarity, and you're as likely to come across a plastic kite with random brand names patterned across it. But many kite enthusiasts prefer the lighter and more manoeuvrable 'Lucknow' variety, which is flattened with a conch shell and sports distinctive stripes. Lucknows are the Spitfires of kites, with classic dog-fighting qualities: capable of sharp turns and diving attacks, they emit a hissing sound in a dive and have good line response.

The cost of a kite in Kathmandu ranges from Rs 5-50 and lines cost Rs 200-1000. The most popular kite shops are in Asan and Kalimati. It's not too late for a spin in the sky!

EDWIN KOO

MIN RATNA BAJRACHARYA

KIRAN PANDAY

KIRAN PANDAY



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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