Kathmandu is a city with a vibrant “rooftop” culture.  Imagine rooftops 6-8 stories high, nestled closely together with bright paint schemes, decorative gardens, and strings of colorful flags hanging between them.  Now picture these same rooftops with children flying kites on them.  This is a typical Kathmandu scene during the Dashain holiday.

As I reached the rooftop of my Nepali friend’s house, I was stunned by how many kites I saw in the sky.  Every other rooftop seemed to have a team of Nepalis flying a kite for this Dashain tradition, creating a dazzling sky of blues, reds, greens, purples, and various other colors.

And when I say that a “team” was operating each kite, I mean something like a pit crew: one to fly the kite, some to make any needed repairs, and several to coach the flyer.  Everyone has a job to do, as this is no casual day of flying kites in the park – tension is in the air (literally!).  At any moment, someone might yell a challenge to a nearby rooftop, and then the battle is on!  The flyers attempt to cut each other’s kites down by pulling hard on the strings.  The winning team chants the victory cry “ACHEIT” while the losing team’s kite drifts away in the wind, but both teams smile and laugh together in good fun.

Luckily for the losing team, the local corner stores have plenty of kites for a rematch!

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