Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Greatness of Saturn...

Ramanajun wrote in the preface of his book Folktales from India:
Stories and words not only have weight; they also have wills and rages, and they can take differenet shapes and exact revenge against a person who doesn't tell them and release them into the world.... They are there before any particular teller tells them; they hate it when they are not passed on to others, for they can come into being again and again only in that act of translation. A book such as this is motivated by such a need. If you know a tale, you owe it not only to others but to the tale itself to tell it; otherwise it suffocates.... Traditions have to be kept in good repair, transmitted, or else, beware, such tales seem to say, things will happen to you. You can't hoard them.
(Ramanajun 1991, pp. xxx-xxxi)

Friday, March 30, 2007

Since the Ides of March...

I am gearing up for my return to India. The countdown is on. Although I have a lackadaisical approach to getting back in travel mode. I'm looking forward to moving with the wind and letting it carry me to my destinations. That freedom is unparalleled. I have thought to myself after spending these many weeks amongst family here in Pakistan, what's wrong with me?! Not so much that I'm thinking it but it is what family members here think. No doubt about it. They say one thing but think another and those thoughts have power. The reason why they think something is wrong with me is primarily the fact that I am not married, not to mention the fact that I am resilient to cutting my hair ;). I'm thirty one years old and not married, their only conclusion is that there is something wrong with me or the wiring is suspect. People marry very young here in comparison to Canada. "Vhen you are going to settle down?" It's something that has never been to settle for in my opinion. If heaven had a height, then that's how tall I've set my heights. If I'm wrong... then I don't want to be right.

The cultural differences upon first entering the realm of family here went unnoticed to begin with. The more I spend time with family the little nuances of teasing and love come flowing. I'm not used to such nosiness of people knowing your every minute's minutes. It's warming though how close-knit the family is here though. If I could exist with a percentage of their nosiness and loving nature then I will be a better person for it.

The one thing I have noticed is that the environment that kids grow up in reflects how they will grow. My young nephew (12 years if that) was commenting on the Pakistan Day celebrations and how he wants to wield a Kalashnikov assault rifle. A great kid but growing up in a world full of military presence and guns, this is what he looks up to. I guess most kids when they are young want to get the toy guns and play 'army' or what have you but these kids don't just want to play, they want to enroll.

An interesting thing occurred to me a few weeks back when entering a store in Abbottabad in the NWFP (North West Frontier Province). I bought something worth 200 rupes and paid with a 500 rupee note. I left and an hour later realized I did not get my change. I went back to the store and asked the man if he had something to tell me. His response was that of ignorance. I told him that I came in, paid with a 500 rupee and did not receive the change. He tried playing dumb with me (maybe he wasn't playing ;) and tried to tell me it was someone else that took my money. Now, I highly doubt there are many guys rolling around with big hair, dark sunglasses and not wearing a kurta in the hills of Abbottabad. So I said pretty much that. I asked him if he was a Muslim. His response was yes. So then I asked him why he would want to steal from another. He still played ignorant with me and so I just calmly told him that I would gladly go get a police officer and explain to him the situation. I'm quite sure that the policeman would not have taken kindly of a merchant trying to oust money from a guest in their city. All of a sudden the store keeper's memory was jogged and he then began lecturing me that it was my responsibility to get my change. So I asked him if I ignored my responsibility to collect my change, it's now your responsibility to put it in your pocket? He laughed and gave me my change back. But again, his environment taught him that if someone forgot to get their change, it was his.

I joke with family here about the values that are valued here. In North America, it's all about how many cars you have and how big your house is. Here, it's how many kids you have and how big your belly is ;) I keep my beliefs to myself when I am amongst my family because they don't meld very well with theirs. I find myself feeling isolated, not being able to relate, and just want to recluse to my own comforting surroundings of nature and talk to it's inhabitants. I know I'm not alone in having these feelings. I reached out to a loved vun to reassure me. Us crazy folk are far and few and we can relate to one another in planes that are unknown to others. So thank you to the crazy people in my life, the insane, the awkwardly reclusive that can no longer exist in that other way.

"Well, the Ides of March are come," and the seer said to him softly: "Ay, they are come, but they are not gone."

Take time to smell the flowers...

I'm in the Walled City of Lahore once again.

I have had a fever for the past week and finally succumbed to a pill for a speedy recovery. I hate pills. But when in a land where there are 100 more strains of viruses than there are back home... I'd much rather kill the beast with toxins than willing them to cease and desist. I am weak and need to spend my energy wisely.

I have had plenty of time to catch up on movies thanks to the large piracy market of films here. The most recent pirated copy being The Curse of the Golden Flower. The imagery is mind blowing and the attention to detail phenomenal. I cannot do it justice with words, experience it for yourself. A moving tale full of color, treachery, amazing battles and most of all, yellow chrysanthemums.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My other car is a tank...

I'll soon to figure this YouTube out... but for now, here is one of many of the little shorts I've created. This one is on top of the tank that I drove ;)

I will be entering the rest of the videos in the archives when and where they occurred.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

One way, or the other...

You're never alone. I've heard it so many times and it's true, you are never really alone. But you can be lonely. And that's the feeling I got last night as I felt my mother sitting in her seat aboard a non stop plane to Toronto. She was stuck in her head, conjuring up thoughts. I know what that feels like and can recognize it in others and that's why I felt it.

To venture off from your familiarity and set off on a journey requires courage to begin with. Eventually you have to go back and there lies the struggle of the entire journey. How to do you go back after experiencing this world? Take the love, the experiences and lessons and apply them to your life as it once existed? It's never the same. My mother spent two months with family that loves her to no ends, met with a family she hasn't seen in 50 years, reunited with her baby boy, and now she was going back to Canada to an empty and lonely home. I told her why I thought it was necessary for her to experience the last year the way she was and how I was. I am honored that I was born to such a resiliently strong woman, it's not a surprise, my grandmother was amazingly the same, if not more. It's tough not only seeing your mother and what she goes through, but to actually feel her while she experiences. That is tough to stomach.

Returning home will be more difficult than leaving in the first place. The courage that is needed to face the world you previously existed in as a completely different person. Can one escape and not succumb to returning to what they once were? The collective experiences of a traveler on average is quite hard to believe. I'm not traveling, I'm a traveler. When you give up the need to stay in accommodations that have stars attached to them and opt for the ones that have no electricity, and surrender to existing contently where you are, then you are a traveler. And the experiences you have will fuel imagination. You'll be able to conjure memories from a mere picture, word, phrase, song or simply a thought. They have all been energetic exchanges. With the people, the places, the cities, the stars, the universe. All of it is just an exchange. I have gained experiences and a new perspective but they don't all necessarily have to take place in some pilgrimage across India on a motorbike, they can take place in your place of residence. Travel is a perspective in which you choose to see what you want to see. You can travel 20km outside or your dwelling and you will have traveled. Pack a picnic basket, hit the road and just go. Unpack your basket and enjoy your surroundings.

I have been having a picnic for sometime ;) There is another world out there that I have left and need to return to. With that, I will take my experiences and travel where ever I am.

The journey will continue to display the unpredictability of energetic exchange.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Vhich where to go...

My canvas from a window...
Originally uploaded by theusual.
I'm ripping down the motorway towards Nowshera. Bhangra remixed and banging out of the tiny 6x9 speakers attached to the cassette deck. The whistling background noise of metallic tape hissing with the moving scenery was a symphony long forgotten to me. The sun falls on the warm ground and coats the sky with aliveness with the grim contrast of the horizon hazed over with dust and exhaust fumes.

The plan was unexpected. I was heading to Lahore on a 1am all nighter. Instead I'm rolling with some family to go meet some more family. The magnificence of Pakistan is amplified by this day declared as Pakistan Day, the day of The Lahore Resolution. The handshakes and hugs of camaraderie exchanged filled the passenger seat window, my picture, my show, my movie. Lorries hurtling down the road looking like lushes going out on the town seeking attention. Chains dangling and dingling, and talk about make up... these trucks are done up with layers of paint and to top it all off, a great horn. One lorry was said to be spotted in my travels with 18 horns laying with the under carriage. They range from the jungle inhabitants like elephants or birds, bad pre-polymorphic ring tones and then there are those ones that don't even have to have to do anything, they just drive and everyone gets out of the way, they are beautiful. Respect.

Currently passing by an area called Wah makes me thing of the meaning of wah, which is amazing or impressive. Driving past this beautiful scene with the sun slowly resting behind mountain shadows, all of it deep with dust and dryness. Their is the odd courageous patch of greenery that dares make the sacrifice as I look up and the peaking rays of light streaming across the sky towards Wah. Wah, wah! ;)

Everyone flowing along their days with their long kurta's catching the wind and dancing with exuberance. Sonia Lagda is playing on the cassette deck which translates to roughly "Looking beautiful". I thanked the music, looked out the window and listened to the whistle horn of a big lorry heading into the sunset hitting me up with an Amen! ;)

Bil qul sonia lagda... khubsurat hay.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Embarrassing embassies...

I spent the day at the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad today. Existing with a flu that I have never experienced before. I needed to do this regardless of my physical condition. Time is running short and apparently I have to be on a schedule... I forget what that means. Filofaxes, day planners, phone calls and meetings. No thanks ;)

March 23rd is Pakistan Day and offices are closed, so it was today or never. With the upcoming festivities I witnessed air force jets flying over performing their rehearsals. Jets in packs of four would roar above and set off nearly every car alarm that could be. The enormous sound that is projected from these machines was absolutely phenomenal. Then after the fighter jets do their tantrums in the sky, they come back with show jets with their streaming colorful smoke making their ever so dainty painting in the sky. No to mention the dozen or so parachutes floating down to the sky like a dry dandelion in the wind. As I was driving by the markets, no one eye would meet mine. They were all fixated on the sky and the wonderment of flight and fancy.

I managed to arrive at the Diplomatic Enclave not knowing what to expect ;) It was all about making some money from my first impression - I'll explain. You enter an area where no cars are allowed, so you have a car park available near by for 10 rupes. Then once in the waiting area, you must purchase a round trip bus ticket through the diplomatic enclave for 15 rupes each way. Then if you happen to have a briefcase or any kind of bag on you, another 5 rupes and finally, the mobile check for another 5 rupes. I was appalled at the set up that they had, nothing like any other embassy clad area I've ever been to. And I can't tell you where any of the money is going because nothing is pretty or nice. Weeds grow wildly and by weeds I literally mean weed. Wafts of marijuana would hit you in your face as the wind gently blew by. It looked like the embassies of the Swiss, Indian, Turkish and UK were growing a surplus.

With the embassy work for the day completed I was on my way to retrieve my belongings with a strange feeling that there would be something missing from my bag that I checked in. I removed the thought and proceeded. Bag check, check. Mobile check, check. Everything was copasetic and all right. I was approached by a young taxi driver and we soon to have a liking to one another when I asked how much he wanted, his response translated was, "Give me what ever you like or that what makes your heart feel good (happy)". I offered him 5 rupes on a 200 rupee fare. We laughed. He turned up the music to it's bearable limits of distortion and shot down the road like a bullet out of a barrel. Weaving back and forth in a tiny little car with no seat belt and releasing all control is such a wonderful experience. Something I'll miss where lines painted, signs posted to a certain degree are obeyed. Keeping beat with my fingers to the driving drum beats with softly coated declarations of love and I watched the flow of the sea in front of me, weaving back and forth. The drivers in these parts are world famous for their abilities to drive what seems to be recklessly crazy. On the contrary, mon frere... there is method to their chaos and it works, somehow, it works. Magically drivers can communicate with one another and find their way. It is rare that I see or hear of accidents. No accidents with great speeds involved, unless you're me and you happen to have a couple of cows get together for a pow wow ;)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Occam's razor states...

The principle states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating, or "shaving off", those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory.

Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem
which translates to: entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity.

This is often paraphrased as "All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one." In other words, when multiple competing theories are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selecting the theory that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest hypothetical entities. It is in this sense that Occam's razor is usually understood.

I am reducing my assumptions and trimming down my postulates with the fewest hypothetical entities. The formula proves to produce amazing data. Our results show slight variations, which are minimal, with a small standard of deviation. In other words, the experiment proved without a doubt that the formula dependent on our variables can have a tremendous result on our lives. Reduce the equation down to the smallest amount of variables and keep the unknowns down to their fewest ergo resulting in the simplest solution with the least amounts of unknowns.

Graph of data can be found in figure 1.2 on page 11 of the report.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Opium, heroine, hashish... Oh my...

After the constant rain of Abbottabad the dry desert like filth and dust of Peshawar was a welcome change. I had the absolute honor to witness something quite amazing. My mother met with a family that was very dear to my grandmother, like a sister in fact. My mother had not seen these people in over 50 years. It was truly something I will never forget. This area of the North West Frontier Province is filled with fair skinned beautiful people. I even came across the National Geographic worthy Afghani/Pattan looking girl with the slightest of freckles, the tiniest of nose rings and the most amazing innocent eyes that take you to some amazing place where there is silence enough to hear the leaves of the trees pass on messages of the universe. I'm thinking of going back just to get a shot of this unbelievably stunning innocence and beauty.

I did however come across the unsavory in Peshawar as well. It is a city that borders Afghanistan. I managed to get a chance to spend some time among the Afghan camps that the UNHCR were lending aid to for resettlement in other countries. These mud huts with their twists and turns of alleyways or thorough ways was quite a sight. With a massive yard that housed the lounge abouts and the kids playing cricket, the shear amount of people was astonishing. I also had the opportunity to be made aware of the severe substance abuse that occurs in this region. The Afghani's get to collect a profit of $80 for their marijuana plantations whereas they make 100 fold that with their opium and heroin production. You can see where the motives lie and how badly the product slips into Pakistan. This is the route of so many trading companies for centuries and centuries, it's natural that not all the trading was on the up and up. It is a sad deal to see these beautiful people succumb to something so ugly.

I wish I could have captured the images with a camera but to no avail since mine (r.i.p) was put down. I do have some good news that while I was hooked into the world wide web I managed to procure a new and improved version of my traveling camera and is on it's way from New York to me sooner than later. I plan on making a quick trip back to capture the real Peshawar that I was until now unable to see.

Peshawar is not the safest place to be, I'll admit. The American franchises are prone to be a target for a bomb threat or two, think twice about going to KFC, McDonald's or a Pizza Hut ;) The last dinner may look a little different from your perspective. For some reason I hear this news and it doesn't even effect me. These bomb attacks happen everywhere, I have no control over them, they'll go off when they go off and if I happen to be included in the newscasts of survivors or victims, I also don't have any control over that I could live my life tip toeing about trying to avoid certain situations but the long and short of it is you'll always have a story to tell and an appreciation of everything else.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I talk too much...

I really do. I've always been talking. Talkin' shit, swallowin' spit. That's the only way I can sum up my fanatical oratory performances. I've been searching for an outlet for this excess energy but lo and behold I find myself talking once again ;) Stand up comedy was a great release where I was entertaining with my verbal diarrhea instead of imposing my words on unwelcoming ears. So to those whom I have overwhelmed with just talking and talking, interrupted or over powered them, I offer my sincerest apologies. I've always liked attention and overcompensated by being loud, crazy and funny. Now, I no longer overcompensate, I'm just loud, crazy and funny ;)

I think words are such a waste. The mind chatter that pollutes our thoughts and manifests them - chitta vritti. I am not good enough... I am not smart enough... I am not. If you concentrate on what you are not, then you'll be exactly that, something you are not. I am thankful for having an ability to visualize what I wish to manifest in my world. My eldest brother taught me my first lesson in visualization. I was standing at a free throw line and was told to visualize myself shooting and watching the ball just catching the net and making that ever so majestic sound - swoosh! Then I would perform my ritual of dribbling the ball three times, spin the ball with my right hand just before I cradled it and waved goodbye to the ball. It worked! I saw it before it actually happened. I kept that lesson strictly to basketball without thinking that I could extend it to everything I did.

My second lesson came while drowning in confusion. My abilities to visualize were very strong, however, I managed to use them to fuel the 'worst-case-scenario' scenario. Anything I feared or was taught to fear I could visualize. Then it would happen. Imagine that, the thoughts that you are consumed by appearing in your life as if you intended them to. I found myself always concentrating and stuck in the vortex of ill thought and what if's. The culprit, insecurity. If you could incarcerate insecurity the flow of thoughts become that of gratitude, appreciation and intent. Insecurity is serving a life sentence. I am a free man and am grateful, appreciate this boon and have set my intentions.

Defining the unknown before it could be known, that's a court violation and loss of possession. With thirty seconds left on the clock and my team down by one point, how could I be so stupid. Ah, there's the rub... I loved to beat myself up. So, I've decided to take the opportunity to find a solution to my challenge. We had thirty seconds left, a world of possibilities are available, just converge on one and own it. Visualize it and it will be. Instead of giving up hope and blaming myself for losing the game, I had an opportunity to utilize teamwork and make the ball go through the hoop.

I am thankful and grateful for having this once in a lifetime opportunity to be face to face with the unknown. This unknown of traveling through foreign lands, meeting foreign folk and doing it on the seat of a motorcycle. I never expect anything and can't give it any thought until I actually am walking the unknown, then it becomes known. Now the known is a story, a picture, a regurgitation of my experience. I will share and speak of, my delights and triumphs but some remain housed in my vaults. I am trying to accumulate an accurate recollection of my collective experiences so that I may be able to one day expel them with impeccable truth.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The rank tank I almost sank...

I have been staying in a military base for the past few days and have been having a great time with my nephew-in-law. He is a tank squadron leader and trains the tank handlers. So upon arriving he asked me what I would like to do and suggested driving a tank. A tank?! I've never driven a tank before ;) I quickly accepted the offer. Now when I get back to Canada I can finally get one of those bumper stickers that reads, "I drive tanks" or even better, "My other car is a tank". I think that will go over with a smashing success.

I remember driving up to the tank instructional area. A assortment of light to heavy tanks. One included in this is the Pakistan made Al-Khalid. This one I was unfortunately not able to drive due to the advanced training that is required to operate it. I had it's junior at my disposal by the name of Al-Zarrar. It still weighed around 40 tons and sported a gigantic canon on top, you know, your basic tank. I was schooled in the gunner's position, the communications position and finally the driver. I was right at the front of the tank and all that could be seen was my head. A six slot gate housed the transmission and the two sticks as my steering wheel. The clutch, brake and gas pedals were fit for the foot of a sasquatch. I barely managed to force the pedals down to get the beast into gear. It was a little overwhelming at first to be operating a machine of war but when does one get a chance to add that to accomplishments. I have no need to train to operate one in practical application but I have to tell you that I'm an exceptional tank operator ;) I maneuvered through the obstacle course and was sporting an ear-to-ear the whole time.

The images from movie Tank Girl kept playing through my head as if this was my very own tank decorated in my charming stylish ways - I'd definitely have the fuzzy dice, that would be mandatory ;) I was going to attempt the hair in pom-pom's and sport ripped up fishnet stockings housed by my big black boots, except, I was on a military base and was getting enough stares and questioned looks. A civilian operating their tanks was quite the sight which I'm positive that just doesn't occur. I didn't want to push it. Grenade practice was next but since I had so much fun with the tank I lost track of time and grenade practice will have to find another day ;)

Horse back riding on cavalry trained horses that are sent in the North West Frontier Province for months to endure the heat, terrain and challenge was indeed a challenge. These magnificent creatures of mammoth proportions were the most beautiful sight. The eyes of this one horse as I was getting to know it spoke so much. The eyes were a silver blue with a dark pupil that would just focus on me as I came close to let get used to my energy. So I decided to talk back. We had an understanding. I have been horse back riding before but a member of the Military Pakistan polo team was leading our adventure, I was intimidated to say the least. I've ridden through a mountain, once, and before that horses didn't play a role in my upbringing other than a ten year old's birthday party. I opted for just trotting about the tank obstacle course mixed in with the tanks as they were gearing up for a rehearsal to show off their capabilities. After my spine was realigned with the trots, gallops and canter of my horse, so affectionately called 'Number 9', I had a rubber spine. My back aches, my rump is roast and I had an amazing time in the military town of Nowshera. Off to the tranquility of the north in Abbottabad with my mom ;)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

How many fool muns?

I left Lahore at one in the morning to start my journey north to arrive at Rawalpindi at half five, again, in the morning. I tried to sleep in the reclined chairs but the back pains experienced didn't allow for any kind of slumber. So departing the bus and looking up to the sky I witnessed something that completely bewildered me. Time seemed to have slipped past me. The night before I remember gazing up to the sky in all it's wonder, the ground beneath me well lit with the fullness of the 8th full moon since my departure. Tonight I was only seeing a sliver of the moon and was completely perplexed with where the time went. Was I on the bus for more that six hours, was it six days? Where am I? I had no explanation and when I don't have one, I usually just accept it for what it is - a crescent moon.

What I was informed of later is that it was a lunar eclipse of the full moon. A time where there is a shielding of energy and a time of darkness. I imagine if one was to be born on such a day that they would have all the energy and light of the moon stored in them awaiting the day that they could accept it and shine light upon a midnight ground and light the way ;)

The one thing about the crescent moons that I have witnessed while being in this part of the world is they are not the same as when I'm in Canada. In Canada it is the familiar sight of seeing the crescent at a slant, the Dreamworks studio introduction to all their movies, you know, the kid with the fishing pole sitting in the arc of the moon. Here, the crescent resembles the Cheshire Cat smiling in the sky and soon after his body should materialize, thank goodness for creative visualization ;) It brings me to a world of Alice and just refreshes my memory and allows me to go further down the rabbit hole.

'How far down the rabbit hole are you willing to go?'

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Basant Experience...

Shouts of Bo-kata (there is a cut) rang through the air. The rooftops were filled with thousands of people wielding a thousand more kites. The images we see solicit emotional reactions and in this case I was experiencing the spectrum of emotions. I sat in observation mode taking in certain bits of information for analysis for the first half hour of my experience. I was wondering to myself as to how I would go about communicating my experience to someone who has never witnessed this sight. The only visual I could conjure to properly describe this event was that it was an underwater city that came up to their rooftops to watch all the tropical fish do their dance in the sea. The colors were that of tropical fish off of some tropical island in some tropical area. There was a fresh breeze blowing with a storm approaching and thousands upon thousands of kites, small and large, were swimming the sky.

The rooftops were crowded with young, old and just about everything in the middle watching the festivities. 'Kite flying has been a passion with Lahorias who waxed eloquent of their kites and boasted of their accomplishments in this field'. It is said there there is no other place in the world where kite flying as a sport has reached such commanding heights as in Lahore. The guddas/guddis, as the kites are called here, come in so many different varieties and purposes: guddis, peris, guddas, Lucknow kats, patangs, teerahs, kups, etc. The guddi has a small tassel at the bottom while the male version, the gudda, has a triagular piece in place of the tassel. Kite making is an art and the artisans are still renowned for their crafts stamped to certify their authenticity. Spending all year labouriously crafting their kites for the winter kite flying season, these artisans would produce all the kites for Lahore, the principal center in the world for kite flying.

The art of producing the right kind of dore (string, cord or twine) was perfected in Lahore with just the perfect way of wrapping the cotton. There were three common thicknesses, 8, 10 and 18 - 10 being the most common and versatile. The well twisted and durable thread was rubbed with a mixture of flour paste and levigated glass until it became armoured. This made the dore so sharp that is caused blood to drip from many a finger holding it. This is why there have been kite flying bans in Pakistan, mainly due to one man getting decapitated from an armoured dore.

There is kite flying, then there is kite fighting. Pecha larana, the skill of entrapment: catching the other kite from above like a bird or pouncing on it like a lion or even wrapping around it like a boa, depending on the other kite their were many means of bringing one down in battle. The skill lay in crossing dore with an opponent until the vanquished kite, cut loose, floated helplessly over the rooftops performing it's majestic sad ballet. The victor and his teammate would announce the defeat of the rival with load cries of Bo-kata and throw a challenge for a return pecha. The cheers ring out in unison with a victorious rooftop jumping up and down and mocking the other kite flyers. The defeated rivals would accept the challenge and stir up a fresh kite out of the pile to fire up into the sky.

Often heard is the shrill of commotion on the rooftops and the boys would run with bamboo poles to catch a drifting kite. A falling kite in a street or bazar also created a stir and passers-by of all ages would run to catch the booty. Some boys could not afford to buy kites often and simply amused themselves by watching pechas and catching the falling kites. There was always a happy ending, whether it be in victory of cutting a dore, the accepting a challenge to gain redemption or the fallen heroes of the sky finding new homes and new life.

Food was laid out on the table with the special 'keema' stuffed purees, something distinct to Basant. The melding of music from stereos and radios drowned out the calls to honor a rematch. The elders of the family tapping their hands and feet, on one level of the rooftop, the youngsters all up on the highest part restringing their next kite, making minor repairs to the kites where they have suffered injuries of war. A tight knit family exchanging stories and sharing experiences. A stack of at least fifty kites lay strewn about the roof waiting for their turn to harness the wind and ride it like a rodeo star. I bonded with relatives, learned how to fly a kite, witnessed many a battle and came out with an truly amazing first experience of Basant that I will remember and babble on to many a child for many moons to come.

As the kids are saying these days... "Go fly a kite!" ;)

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