Balanava! Look! There, in the distance …

Balanava!  Look!”,  my neighbour called out to me yesterday.  Knowing what he was talking about, I grabbed my camera and rushed to the little balcony off the landing, searching the sky.  There it was – a speck in the clouds, far in the distance.

Zooming in some more, I recognized Moon Walker highlighted against the clouds.

It’s kite season – the inter-monsoon period when the winds high up in the troposphere are streaming across our island in a dependable, easterly flow – the time when little boys tear down dusty lanes outside their houses to launch their latest creation, and the sky comes alive with diving and dipping kites of all shapes and sizes.

Sometimes launch and landing results in mishaps – kites in trees, straining against a stiffening breeze.  But always, by the next morning, they’ve been rescued.

In the evenings, and on the weekends, crowds flock to Galle Face Green – the great urban space at the seaside that has been the playground for the people of Colombo  since colonial times.  During kite season people even come from out-of-town to fly, and watch the flyers.

When I returned home one evening, high up in the darkening sky, I saw a new kite – larger and higher than any I’d seen before.

Then yesterday, as the smells from the kitchen began to titillate my taste buds, I heard insistent, but unintelligible, cries close by.  The kite I’d seen as a speck in the sky the other night was being disentangled from the branches of the mango tree.  It’s straining line had snagged on the peak of the roof as it was being reined in after its’ morning flight.

Made of strong nylon and plastic shopping bags pasted and sewn onto a springy bamboo frame, it is a work of artifice and visual deceit, larger than its creator and handler – a wiry man in his fifties.  It made me laugh with delight to watch him clambering like a boy over the rooftops, reeling in the captured kite, gathering its diaphanous tail – which wasn’t a tail at all, but highly articulated legs.  By the time I’d retrieved my camera, he’d made it to the wall beside my house and it seemed safer to have him use the mango tree as a ladder back to earth.  And so I met my neighbour-but-one.  He launches from the roof of my immediate neighbour’s garage, and I’d say, like Hanuman and his family, over the years he’s been learning to adapt to the urbanization of his once sparsely populated village on the outskirts of the city.

“Did you get pictures?” he called, grinning at me as he squirmed the upper part of his body through the branches of the custard apple.  Leaning way back in a chair, with the tripod balanced on two legs almost on top of me, I had, indeed taken pictures.

Not only did I have pictures of Moon Walker, as I’d christened his distinctive red and white sky dancer, but also of another kite, higher up, which often disappeared behind the clouds.  At maximum digital zoom the photographs reveal just how taut their thrumming lines were as they pulled against the wind, far in the distance.

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Many thanks to Jake for his inspirational challenge – From a Distance .  I know this isn’t quite what you had in mind, Jake, when you set the challenge, but it was too tempting for me to resist using it as a springboard to showcase the kite season.  I  also to drew upon the Urban theme proposed by the Weekly Photo Challenge this week.

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47 thoughts on “Balanava! Look! There, in the distance …

  1. Wow that kite is amazing (he just needs to add slightly longer arms for 200% effect!) the other ones that were my favourites were a very long skinny white and green striped one and the one that looks like feathered bird wings….
    BEAUTIFUL! they should be proud of them ALL!!!

    • Yes, I thought some arms would add to the effect, but when it’s moon walking, it does look just like Michael Jackson, with his elbows tucked into his sides! The feathered bird is a commercial kite – probably out of China – but it does look amazing when it’s in flight. Those long snake kites are a new one on me, but i love the way they buck and jibe across the sky, diving one minute then changing course. So glad you got into it Kiwidutch.

  2. I loved kites when I was younger and enjoyed the construction and flying with my own children… maybe it’s time to get involved with my Grand kids and start again… the enjoyment of flight of today’s kites, seems so sophisticated to those that I have made, but your post has got my juices flowing to design and build a kite… thank you… can’t wait till I see the Grand kids again…

    • How terrific to hear you’ve been inspired by Kife Season! Yes, I can see from of the shop bought kites that some of them are quite sophisticated constructions nowadays, but wonderful simple constructions seem to give people hours of enjoyment, so I’ve got my fingers crossed the grandchildren agree 🙂

  3. What a grand and green use for plastic bags! Lovely jubbly. My son is a fantastic aerobatic kiter – I must look out some of my pictures, though they are much more pedestrian (!) than yours. There is a biennial kite championship on a long (90km) sandy beach near here, which your Sri Lankan kites would win hands down.

  4. I loved this post. I think of all the cultures that can’t wait for kite season.The creativity in making them and the aerial shows they put on just add to the community spirit, competition and fun. Am so glad you captured this.

  5. Great photos. I was in a shop yesterday in San Francisco that sells all kinds of kites, from the simple to amazing ones that you can do tricks with. I’ve never flown one.

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  7. Oh lovely! We have a kite season too in Jamaica but for us it is in April/May, when the Trade Winds are blowing hard…They are all up in the sky. And ours are handmade from plastic shopping bags too! This is a great design though… Might share it with one or two neighborhood boys… 🙂 Oh, and we have a Kite Festival too, on the north coast. It’s quite a recent thing but getting popular. Glorious photos, as always!

    • Great to hear the Trade Winds provide you with a kite season – somehow they retain their magic for us even into adulthood and must make the world a better place for that reason alone! A festival sounds like a good idea.

      It’s a great design, isn’t it? Fun and very aerodynamic at the same time. It was unbelievably difficult to get the distance shots in focus and it wasn’t till I saw just how much vibration there was in the lines in the sky that I realised just how much vibration/movement would have been affecting the kites themselves! From dozens at dusk I got just that one, hence the tripod. I have some wonderful sequences of dance steps – which is the glory of this kite, although it does look pretty spectacular streaming across the sky at great speed. I wonder if any of your guys will take it up? That’d be great 🙂

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  10. Great kite images. It’s kite season in Sydney too. There were families flying kites in the park on Saturday. It was lovely to see the new generations enjoying this simple, timeless pastime.

  11. I think this was a perfect interpretation! And beautiful images. Brought back vivid memories of my brothers flying kites in summer! I remember how the strings would be coated with powdered glass and could cut through skin like butter!! Chennai used to be famous for kites too. Don’t remember seeing any of late, sadly. Thank you for stirring fond memories 🙂

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