With the third phase of the nationwide lockdown in effect, Tripura skies have a welcome new addition: soaring, colourful kites. Youngsters are no longer interested in violating the lockdown to get a peek of life outside their homes, but have instead taken to flying kites on their rooftops every afternoon.
The fact that the business of making kites has picked up pace is testimony to this popular new hobby — as kite runners are busy buying kites, ‘latai’ (rollers) and tempering threads with ‘manja’.
Sukhen Saha, 40, a small businessman of Maharajganj Bazaar area in Agartala is selling 50-60 kites a day. He ran a small grocery shop in his locality but since the lockdown, business took a hit. Now, Saha is focusing on making kites full time. He makes around 60 every day, with as many ‘latai’ and ‘kamani’ or kite-frames.
“I sell all the kites I make daily. We used to be crazy about flying kites as kids. But with television, video games and modern technology, children don’t want to enjoy the old fun anymore,” said Saha, “Lockdown has brought all these back. It’s a boon in disguise. Our children will get a chance to live our childhood.”
Saha’s kites come in three sizes: small, medium and large, and sell between Rs 10 to 30. He sells ‘latai’ between Rs. 150 to 200. The demand is usually high, sometimes even 50 or 100 kites per customer. So, for a kite that normally sells for Rs 10 and ‘latai’ which costs Rs. 50-60, the price is now more than double. And Saha are among the few who are selling it cheap.
“I make these kites and sell them on retail. There are many others doing the same. But demand for kites has skyrocketed since the last few days. I simply cannot keep up. But I am trying to sell at a much lower rate than others,” he said.
Pradip Das, a local businessman of Lake Chowmuhani area here, said he is selling kites better when compared to the five-six years. “We are selling kites between Rs 15-30 a piece. There is a sudden jump in demand and price,” he said.
Kite runners are mostly seen in the afternoons as they climb on rooftops and roll out their colourful wings. Sreshtha Das, a Class VII student at a city-based school, said she finds flying kites relaxing.
“It helps me beat the boredom of lockdown. We can’t go out now due to the coronavirus outbreak and neither is sitting back at home fun,” she said.
Sushanta Dey of Bhattapukur area here said he needs four to five kites every day as many of them are ‘cut’ by competing kite runners. They make their own ‘manja’ preparation with broken glass powder, semolina and other ingredients, heat it up and apply it on the thread to temper it.
Biplab Baruah, another youth from the city, said he has taken to kite flying as well. “I didn’t have much experience in kite running but I am picking it up now. It is fun,” he said.