Monday, January 14, 2008

Jaipur Kite Festival

We had semi-rushed to Jaipur to attend the annual Kite Festival, as advertised on the Rajasthan Tourist Office's website. As expected, the skies were full of kites. Although the kites were much smaller than ones back home, everyone was flying one.

However, no one had heard of a "Kite Festival." It's just windy in Jaipur and everyone likes to fly kites. Still, we enjoyed watching the kites fly (and fight) and we walked around to see some of the city's museums and temples. Wandering the streets, we stumbled upon a small banner stating "Kite Festival" - we had found the Rajasthan Tourist Office. They informed us that the festivities were over for the day, but that we should head to the city stadium the next day between 11am-3pm.

We showed up to the stadium about noon, and found it practically deserted. It felt like this stadium was the only place in Jaipur where no one was flying a kite. After a while, the official events began, with several photo ops with prominent politicians and a few demonstrations of traditional song and dance. Then, an announcement asked "all foreign nationals" to come forward and collect their free kites.

As soon as were handed a kite, we were mobbed by about twenty local boys, eager to "show us" how to fly it. Basically, they would fly the kite for a few minutes, before handing it off to us, just in time for a quick photo of foreigners flying kites (and for the kite to plummet to the ground). After losing about six kites to kite-fights (the goal is to cut other kites' strings with your own), we left the festival, feeling like we had been the main "tourist attraction" there.

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