Kite Flying in India Q & A – Part Three: Time and Watches

KAP Jasa – kite team Slovenia has been a part of the International Kite Festival Gujarat 2024 for the fourth time now (check out our reports from 2023!), but our adventures in India did not end there. Half of the team went to the beaches of Goa to get some well-deserved rest, and then went on to the heart of Karnataka, flying kites in kite festivals of Belagavi, Nipani, and Hubbali. As we get a lot of questions about a lot of stuff that happened (or may have happened, or did not happen at all), we compiled them in this multi-part Q&A session (Part One is here, Part Two here). Enjoy!

Dear Slovenian kite flyers,

it seems all you do is go from one place to another, fly kites, eat, drive, sleep, fly kites, eat, sleep, and fly kites … from eight in the morning till eight in the evening. Doesn’t it get – boring?

Mr. E. Picur Esq., Cambodia

Well, Mr. Picur – yes … and no!

Boredom is a subjective function of time; and time, while it may seem entrapped in stuff like calendars, atomic clocks, and appointment schedules, is really, unstoppable, shapeless, and uncontainable.

As Johan said, the difference between us and India is that we have watches, but India has time.

A lot of time.

Johan’s huge delta with an inflatable leading edge … he obviously has a lot of time too …

Remember the last Q&A and the bus ride that was said to take eight hours, but it actually took twelve? It’s not that they would deliberately tell us a lower number so as not to scare us. It’s about a delicate crochet of space and time in India, where a place we are going to is “far”, and it will take “a lot of” time to get there. Sure, one can quantify both – “410 km”, and “eight hours” – but these numbers are in our heads only, there are no “eights” lying around. It doesn’t – and can’t – matter what number you assign to reality; numbers are made up, and reality is, well, real. The correspondence between the real and the imagined is tenuous at best, and numbers are nothing more than numbers

“Let me give you an example. Think of a number, any number.” 
“Er, five,” said the mattress. 
“Wrong,” said Marvin. “You see?”

So when Mahesh said “eight hours” and Gregor said “twelve hours”, they were both “right”, and “wrong”, but not on the same level. Mahesh made a mistake of ignoring the map while talking about the territory, but Gregor was making a territory out of a map, and this mistake is wayyy more fundamental.

And don’t forget the even more profound error that the Oman team and the rest on the Boring bus made, when they took Mahesh for his word and expected that the ride would “really” take eight hours, because it took twelve hours and the difference – the dissonance – took its toll on their mental health: such mistakes cause suffering, and boredom.

Anyway, we don’t want to bore you, Mr. Picur Esq, so into the medias res: it can be boring at a kite festival, especially when everyone is aggressively waiting for something to happen, when the bus takes forever to move, when there is no wind for hours …

And it can’t be boring, because look at this!

Kite aerial photo of the kite field near Dhordo village, Rann of Kutch

Hundreds of kites in the blue sky above a most magnificently white salt desert … one can’t even grasp boredom, much less feel it!

And our olm, Human fish, Proteus anguinus maximus, flying among them!

And the Romanian pilot kite (that got away in Ahmedabad and was found a day after, which is a not-boring story in itself), floating in The Blue above The White …

And us standing on a thin crust of salt, not having a clue about where the hell we really are …

On the right we got master KAPer Pierre Lesage, the French Policeman himself, launching his Rokkaku with a camera

Boring? Here?

“Challo, challo!”

When you hear a team of organizers frantically shouting challo, challo! – let’s go, let’s go! – the best course of action is to light a beedi and sit in the shade. This is the way to deal with a unique form of Indian pastime, aggressive waiting.

Like in that comic where a guy is waiting for a bus, and his wife calls him and asks where he is and what he is doing; he replies that he’s waiting for a bus, and she urges him to wait more quickly …

We all know there are different kinds of waiting. Waiting for something good to happen (like love, or wind), waiting for something bad to happen (like at the dentist, this type of waiting does not apply in India), and waiting for anything to happen, because we are turning into a goo from all this waiting.

And then it’s Challo! Challo!, and we are rushed somewhere else to wait, for the place we were waiting suddenly isn’t good anymore, and the subtle art of waiting must now be displayed there and not here, because you simply don’t know how to wait.

“What’s the time, Johan?”
“It’s wait o’clock …”

So we wait … aggressively.

Mostly for the wind.

Or for the bus …

Challo, challo!

But then you find yourself in a bar in Nipani – yes, Nipani, a place so far off the “beaten track” that the first guy we’ve met asked us “But why are you here…?”

Downtown Nipani

You know, every person has a superpower … like a lady I know who can tell you instantly how many letters are in a word (you say pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis and she fires off “45!“), or knowing which note a steel rail makes when you thunk it, or Gregor who can promptly fall asleep in any vehicle (and sleeps through most takeoffs, let alone hours of flight).

Our superpower is finding a speakeasy, a shady bar with cheap beer and strange clientele.

So we found ourselves in a speakeasy, a shady bar with cheap beer and strange clientele – in Nipani.

Why are you here?”
“To have a beer or two.”
“No, I mean, why are you
here, in Nipani?”
“To fly kites!”

Having a beer with a policeman, a soldier, a government guy and a tax collector was anything but boring. And the tax collector just had a baby so rounds of drinks were incessant, and so were selfies, and hellomyfriends, and whereareyoufroms, and howdoyoulikeindias

“Very much, sir!”

Or, you sit on a balcony of the most distinguished club in Hubbali, the Gymkhana, and listen to a person … it’s midnight (or three in the morning), and there is beer, and beedis, and herbs, and the guy from Odisha is reading a poem …

… observe the sky draped in unlike hues,
observe the people drowned in melancholic blues …

It’s hypnotic, it’s magical, it’s beyond time, and it’s never boring – the very concept of boredom dissolves in the soft drone of a gentle voice in the dark, the velvety night pierced only by the orange glow of cigarette tips, the enchanting litany by the horns of rickshaw drivers and the snores of Kabir Bhai.

… observe the observer who is a part of you,
observe the artistry in the past he drew …

Or, you are in a Party bus going back from Dhordo to Ahmedabad (yes, another 12 hours), and the bus gets into a traffic jam somewhere beyond Haripar, and you really need a smoke, so you and a couple of nicotine-starved idiots go out the bus and light the beedis – but then the jam unplugs itself and the bus drives off …

… for he met another person, hidden in him,
he struggled for hope,
in helplessness his voice changed,
his words withered …

So you run after the bus on an Indian highway in the night, the endless stream of trucks and cars and carts and rickshaws bathing you with a wind decidedly not suitable for flying kites.

Crazy? Yes. Stupid? Perhaps. Boring? No!

Or, you sit completely exhausted on a chair in the mess hall and watch the intricate dance of the most aetheral kite ever, The Angel, flown by Bob.

This kite – a prototype! – is a perfect example of the way the small, delicate kites beat up the huge flying monsters … They are not imposing, they don’t shock and awe – but they are beautiful.

And beauty can’t be boring …

… and now for a moment look into empty space,
seek all those answers, trapped in unknown phase …

And of course, there are people – friends from all over the globe, friends who became a family. They take you to dinner, they invite you to their homes, they help and joke around and care and laugh – and make the whole experience of kite flying in India a deeply personal, emotional one.

But that’s another story … 😉

So, Mr. E. Picur – is flying kites in India boring?

Yes, it can be.

And no, it’s not.

… every moment is a gift,
every breath is a rebirth …

(Excerpts from a poem by Bhabhani Chand used with author’s permission)

3 thoughts on “Kite Flying in India Q & A – Part Three: Time and Watches”

  1. Words and poetry strung together by a stringpuller, the two collide to convey to Mr E Picur and anyone else with similar thoughts, that like life, kite flying cannot be considered boring unless you see through it.


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