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Kabul kites fly away to Hollywood

May 19, 2007 11:10 PM IST India India

Kabul, Afghanistan: Kite-flying is a popular recreational activity around the world. But in Afghanistan, it's much more than that. Once banned by the Taliban—kite flying is back in Kabul. And Afghanistan's top kite man is now helping a big-budget Hollywood project. Kite flying is not just a calm afternoon pastime here, but a centuries-old competitive sport and a passion. The Talibanis repressed it, but now kite is beginning to flourish anew in Afghanistan. Based on American best seller The Kite Runner a Hollywood flick is coming out soon that shows how central is kite flying to life in Kabul. Mohammed, a 4th generation kite-maker works in his mud-built house in Kabul. Last year he won a national award for kite making, but says he's even better at kite fighting. Mohammed has been asked to train actors for the big-budget paramount pictures movie. “They came here and asked me how I make the kite. They found out that I am the best in the kite flying market,” said kite maker Mohammed Essam. Mohammad the articulate artists marks his kites with a scorpion sign to prevent imitations. He gets $200 for the best kites—that's a lot of money here, three times the average monthly government salary. And he gets onetime orders of as many as 500 kites at a time. On the war scared hill side, the pages of Kite Runner are played out. Young boys chase the loser's fallen kites—and keep them as trophies. But for Mohammed there is always one nagging worry. “Some times I ask my mother whether I have become more famous than my dad used to be. And my mother says I’m one step ahead of my father,” he says. If the movie is half as popular as the book he can stop worrying about who's the best. Until his children grow up.