Kites of Kabul

As anyone who has read the best-selling novel The Kite Runner knows, springtime in Kabul is heralded by flocks of dipping, looping and diving kites. But these aren’t the kites of lazy weekend picnics. They are finely tuned flying machines sensitive to the slightest tug of a master’s hand. The Afghan penchant for competition and (though few will admit it) gambling means that almost anything offers opportunity for a fight and a punt, from dogs to cocks, quail, sheep, boiled eggs and, yes, even kites. The object of this cruel ballet is to slice your opponents’ string with yours, sending the vanquished tissue-paper jewel spiraling to the streets below. Packs of boys too poor to buy their own kites race for the downed warcraft so that they too can enter the fray. They are the kite runners.

Reported by Jane

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