Saturday, January 16, 2010

Uttarayan Part III

Where were we? Yes, 7 AM - to the terrace. Now, be it usual or unusual, the wind would always die down on Uttarayan day, from @ 930 AM, for 1-2 hrs and it would be fun to sit on the terrace and watch the kiteflying enthusiasts doing their best to get their kites up.

By 1030-11, our family friends would begin arriving- a palpable excitement would be there, as they climbed up the ladder and began taking out their kites and phirkis. Let me add here, since the roof was sloping, and prone to attracting dirt, we would put a carpet on it, and use an old huge suitcase(They don't make them like that anymore.) to store the kites in. Keeping them under a stone sometimes led to the stone also flying off the terrace in the wind, and could lead to a disaster. And, of course, in the afternoon, the metal roof would get so hot that standing on it direct would mean everyone had to hop around to avoid the feet feeling too hot.haha.

Our competitors would usually be people from the terrace two buildings away- their building was the same height. Now, in kite flying, one big point is the direction of the wind. If it used to be in the direction from our building to theirs, which we always hoped for, we would have an edge, since it's always easier to fly a kite and sneakily cut off their kite as soon as they began to fly it. And, of course, we would have the first chance to catch a cut kite, too-how can I forget that?

By 1130 AM, the first round of tea and buiscuits would be sent up from our home. And, the ravenous flyers(and non-flyers) would happily finish it off, with the extra-enthusiastic people who insisted on flying before having tea, being left out. (Read' tea-less'). Thus, the day would continue into the evening- there were a few tense times-like, when the excited Uncles would begin jumping up and down on the terrace each time they cut a kite- we would wonder whether the roof would hold up to that jumping.(Can you imagine the scene- grown-ups doing the kangaroo jump, albeit, in the same spot?) Winding the Maanja(thread) back on the phirki when one's kite got cut was the most irritating part. Who wants to pull all that thread back and then begin winding it up?

Holding that huge 'brambled' rod up to catch a cut kite used to be another challenge- but, we would love it- one of the Uncles also became an expert and would run with it from one end of the sloping roof to another, something like a javelin thrower or even a pole vaulter(Now you can imagine how long the rod was) and would usually be successful in catching the kite he was after.

Lunch used to be only at @ 2-3 PM, when the wind died down. The smorgasbord of food- from undhiyun-jalebi-puri-shrikhand-chikki-kadhi-rice-blah blah would get finished quite fast. After a bit of rest, the families would come back up-this time, the Aunties of the Uncles would also come up to enjoy the fun(None of them flew kites, thought, except for holding on to the thread of a flying kite once in a while).

And, lest we forget, us being boys-schoolboys/college guys, would have a nice time bird-watching, with or without the binoculars. For some reason, people would always turn out on the terraces in their best clothes-with beach caps and cowboy hats et al to boot.  Some of my enthusiastic friends would even try and see if they could get one of the smart females to strike up a conversation if they were close to our buildings, but wouldn't succeed. LOL.

(That's really something like what the scene used to be towards evening, in the city...exciting, isn't it- see the sky dotted with kites)

The flying used to continue right upto  7 or 8 PM, even after sunset(That was another sight to behold- the golden sunset- we would sit, mesmerized, watching the sun go down in the horizon)- one of the Uncle's sons had owl-sight, I think -he could make out his kite(white, of course) even in the dark until he was sure the last kites had been cut down.

The next day would be the 'waasi Uttarayan' day, and the Uncles would usually come in the afternoon, after spending some time at their offices. Till then, we(me and 1-2 friends and my younger brother) would just be on the terrace passing time, getting a sunburn and flying the occasional kite. Prime activity would,of course be kite catching.

Once or twice it happened that our Uncles cut all the kites of the 2-buildings-away neighbours- so, they'd throw a langar(A stone tied to a thread) to us, and we would lend them kites from our collection. And, in five minutes, we'd cut that too. Great fun.

In the evenings of both these days, people would fly those huge gas balloons into the sky-there'd always be four-five let off from the vicinity of our building and we would follow their ascent via our binoculars. Sometimes the wind would catch up with the balloons and with a sway here and there, it would fall onto the ground. Other people used to fly 'kandils'(small lanterns) tied onto their kites late at night, and that would be a pretty sight, too.(With the Uncle's son just waiting, shark-like, to cut those special kites).

And, that would be the end of another Sankranti. The left-over kites and threads would be neatly wrapped and kept in the suitcase- either for the next year, or for giving the kites for burning at holi-time. One more waasi-Uttarayan day would be 26th Jan, our Republic Day when everyone has a holiday, but, the fun then would be nowhere near the fun of these two days.

And,thus endeth some great memories for me- memories which can never be forgotten, and, never be brought back, since all the people in the group are not in Baroda anymore. Some abroad, some in other cities- and, most of all, our ancestral home is also not with us anymore. Sigh!But there's always more to look forward to in life, so there!

Now, the suspense- the reason for the last short post?I'm in Dubai now, for two weeks. Yes, I had to leave on 13th Jan to be here(work related reasons, of course) and missed Uttarayan in Baroda. So, maybe next year...Cheerio!!:)


Lazy Pineapple said...

cool description. Reminds me of our kite flying in Nagpur. Its equally competitive there. Though we did not resort to all the badmashi you guys did :) very nice posts...loved it.

austere said...

I envy all the fun you had.

My part of town was very boring, though I used to go to my mashi's place near khanderao market.

Jaunty anima said...

If there were degrees in blogsville, you have a PhD in kites...!!:)

Yet another interesting post!!

AmitL said...

Hi,LP-tks- and,I think we deserve a post from you on this festival,soon!!:)
Austy-u were in the 'elite' area..haha..:)But,yes,K.Market was the hub of activity during Sankranti,na?
Hi,Anima-tks-that compliment made me smile...:)Glad u liked the post.