A kite flying lesson…

IMGP5836_1From the rooftop of my Afghan friend’s home, we had a good view of Kabul and the many flat rooftops, the mountains set in the background and colorful kites gliding through the air as far as the eye could see.

If you’ve ever read or seen the Kite Runner you’ll remember the day of kite flying and the competition of cutting your competitors’ kite strings.  We successfully cut two before being chased and cut by someone we’ll never know from a far away rooftop.  I asked about the cut kite and the response was ‘it doesn’t matter what happens to it, it has no honour!’ I smiled and wondered who would catch it as it fell. It would live to see another day.

Some of the kids looked so professional, they seemed to have all the right moves and were extremely focused on the game.  I don’t think they were very impressed by my ‘skills’… I shall have to practice some more.  You can buy kites here for 5 Afs to 250 Afs.   With weekends and Eid, they must get through so many kites! Now that would make a good social enterprise…IMGP5806_1

It’s Small Eid, the 3 day celebration post Ramadan where people dress up in their sparkly clothes and visit each other, bless one another and eat good food! The rule is that Day 1 is for your family. You meet with your own parents first, who normally live in the same compound as you, and then you aren’t allowed to visit or receive others until you’ve visited your in-laws.  Day 2 is for visits to other relations and friends and also a time to receive guests so at least one relative needs to remain home in case someone drops by.  With large families living in the same compound, visitor shifts are somewhat smooth.  Visits can last between 10 mins and 30 mins, unless invited specifically for lunch or dinner.  A group of young people visited my friend’s home yesterday and were there for all of 2 minutes, just enough time to drink a glass of green tea and to say ‘May God grant all your prayers prayed while fasting’ or simply ‘Happy Eid’… ‘Eid Mobarak’… I perfected this bit of Dari the day before.

As a visitor you always bring some cake, sweets or nuts, placed subtly on the seat beside you so as not to draw attention to yourself. You drink enormous amounts of green tea and eat some wonderful food. Before you leave you need to remember to give the smaller kids some money, anything from between 10 and 50 Afs.  The little girl I met had asked her dad ten times already that day how much money she had collected.  ‘Dad’ also becomes advisor on what the children can buy after Eid.  For girls it’s dollies and for the boys… you’ve guessed it…kites!

I visited two families during Eid and had a wonderful time with them.  What a privilege to be able to share in what is a very special celebration for the Afghan people, learning a little more about this fascinating culture.   As the sun came down, more sparkly clothes appeared as people got ready to visit other friends.    Driving home under the light of the street carts selling all sorts of fruits and cakes, everything seemed alive and exciting.  As my friend reminded me earlier in the day as we discussed the differences between a collective and individualistic society, no matter the difficult times people face, all around the world people take the opportunity to celebrate together, and as far as kite flying is concerned, well time will always be made for that!

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Posted on September 22, 2009, in Reflections. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Every time I see Cambodian children flying their kites in the boulevards, I’ll think of the very same thing happening in Afghanistan. It sounds beautiful!

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