Viewing conflicts through the eye of Counterinsurgency COIN – Since 2007
I have many times found articles about Afghan culture that included info about how kites are a part of their culture. Today I decided to look around and find some info about this. I was going to ask my new Afghan friends, But, Instead I hope they or Anyone adds some comments and experiences of kite flying here… Ian Bach.
Excerpt from the Book Kite Runner
“Every winter, districts in Kabul held a kite-fighting tournament. If you were a boy living in Kabul, the day of the tournament was undeniably the highlight of the cold season. I never slept the night before the tournament. I’d roll from side to side, make shadow animals on the wall, even sit on the balcony in the dark, a blanket wrapped around me. I felt like a soldier trying to sleep in the trenches the night before a major battle. And that wasn’t so far off. In Kabul, fighting kites was a little like going to war” (Hosseini, The Kite Runner, P.43)
Time Magazine reports:
Agha’s factory is his living room, where he has put his two wives and 11 children to work, cutting, shaping and gluing the intricate tissue-paper mosaics that make his kites stand out for their beauty and superior handling. The secret is in the glue, he says, holding up a pot of evil-smelling green paste. “No one knows my recipe for making a glue that stays perfectly flat when it dries, without rippling the tissue paper,” he says. Business is so good these days that Agha has had to teach his wives how to make kites. He proudly calls one of them “the second best kite maker in Kabul,” although he insists that she will never be as good as he is. “I have 45 years’ experience. She’ll never be able to catch up.” His 6-year-old daughter may have a better chance. Already she is making her own kites to sell to neighborhood children at one afghani (2¢) apiece.
Noor Agha had to take his business underground in order to make kites during the Taliban days, but now his work can be sold openly.
‘Kabul has changed a lot compared with how it was in the Taliban time. During their regime, if a child was even caught flying a (cheap) plastic kite, his father would be thrown in jail,’ he said.
‘But fortunately now, we live like kings. We can do whatever we want. We can fly kites wherever we want. We can enjoy our hobbies.”
Not only does Noor Agha craft traditional kites to a level of excellence, he still flies them once a week with other kite fliers. He continues to experience the sheer joy of controlling a darting kite and battling with opponents for supremacy in the skies. Agha concludes: “Making kites is my job,” he says. “Fighting them is my disease”
4-7-07 Ian Bach
I have flown kites and airplanes since I was a child. About 11 years ago I started flying and taking serious lessons. I have flown soaring airplanes with German WW2 Vets (the Germans are the Best in Soaring – this is because of limits placed on Germany after WW1 – soaring became a big thing), twin engine Beachcraft Baron with a french instructer in Long Beach earning his hours of flight to become a commercial pilot (this was best plane I have flown yet, my dad had one when I was a kid I love it she is fast and a beaut..!), and several types of single engine cessnas with many different instructors.
When I was in my teens I loved to fly model rockets I now have two Real Large hobby rockets (1). Around my 20’s I got into kite flying and loved it. I especially liked my stunt kites with 2 strings for guidance. I use to take my Scottish Boarder Collie (2) to Bolsa Chica wetlands or Sanata Barbara he loved to run around chasing the kite as I flew it from side to side a few feet off the ground and hundreds of feet from side to side. – Ian Bach.
(1) About rockets and link above. You have to call the FAA before you launch these, mine goes about 5,000 ft, the ones in link went as high as 95,000 ft.
(2) ) My Scottish Boarder Collie was named Papillion because he loved to escape from the backyard. The papillion link is to the Movie, and other is info about the breed. If they don’t have sheep to herd they may at times be found herding children. My Dog loved to tell me where to go… hehe
Wow I hope a lot of people see the Movie of the book “the kite runner”
Here is a very nice review I just finished reading
It is an epic tale of fathers and sons, of friendship and betrayal, that takes the reader from the final days of the monarchy in Afghanistan to the control and atrocities of the Taliban regime. It is an unforgettable story of coming of age, self discovery, betrayal and redemption that took millions of readers around the world into a different culture through a dramatic tale.
The main characters are Amir and his good friend Hassan who grow up together until a tragic event causes Amir to turn his back on his friend and leave him to suffer at the hands of a violent street gang. At the time of the event, Amir has just concluded a successful battle with his kite for supremacy of the neighborhood skies during an Afghan festival. Hassan, as always streaks away to retrieve the kites cut during the battle to bring them back for Amir. It is during this “kite running” that Hassan is cornered by the gang and Amir turns away from his friend. The story of the painful aftermath for Amir, Hassan is wonderfully told by Khaled Hosseini in his first novel. The insights into Afghan culture and life are deep and profound. They put a human face on the upheaval and suffering that has befallen the central Asian nation over the past years.
Now, Paramount Vantage and Director Marc Forster, backed by Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks, are bringing The Kite Runner to the silver screen this fall. Scheduled for release November 2, 2007, the movie has already completed shooting and has moved to the post-production phase.
For kite fliers the story has additional appeal in that it focuses on the kite battles that exemplify the kite flying skill typically found in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The tradition of using darting fighter kites flown on line coated with ground glass is strong in these nations and continues to this day.
Due to the difficulty and danger of conditions in Afghanistan, the production team sought alternative locations for filming. Kashgar, China was selected for its close resemblance to Afghanistan. Here, in Muslim neighborhoods, that are very similar to pre-war Kabul in the 1970’s, the movie has been given visual authenticity.
The producers and director have worked hard to provide complete authenticity to the entire production. The streets are full of bearded men in traditional garb and of women wearing burkhas. The cast was selected for both their ability to act and to speak in “Dari”, the Persian l
anguage spoken in Afghanistan. The entire dialogue is in the language and dialect of Afghanistan. This means that English speaking audiences will be following the story in sub-titles. Director Forster is confident that the story will grip movie audiences even though they will have to expend the effort to read and follow the on-screen action simultaneously.
Khaled Hosseini (right) was present throughout most of the filming and worked directly with Marc Forster left) and the actors to help interpret the story that is so important to him.
Kekiria Ebrihimi, age eleven at the time of the filming, plays the role of Amir. Ahmad Khan Mahmiidzada, age ten, plays the role of Amir’s faithful friend, the servant boy, Hassan. The role of Amir’s father, Baba, is played by 59 year old Iranian actor Homayoun Ershadi. Kahlid Abdallah, a British actor with Egyptian heritage, plays the role of the adult Amir.
The November 2, 2007 screening date is eagerly awaited by fans of this great novel and by kite fliers who will be thrilled to see Afghan style kite fighting take a central part in the movie.
For kiters who are movie aficionados, this is not the first time that Director Marc Forster has used kites in his movies. In the movie Finding Neverland, Forster directed Johnny Depp, Kate Winslett and some talented young actors in the story of J. M. Barry, the author of Peter Pan. An English arch top kite was prominently featured in a park scene within this movie. (See: Kites in the Movie “Finding Neverland”.)