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Papery Flight, Kathmandu

By August 7, 2014 Jonathan

Sun mixed with rain, vapour rising from humid Kathmandu lanes, a mango-tinged afternoon, clouds pass and flow onto Himalayan snow ranges.

Tibetan monasteries’ gilded domes, reflecting the gently arriving eventide, spot the city- and country-scape. Mountain biking out to those hills, I open up snacks to share with monks, some as young as four.

I find something precious as I water our rooftop vines, careful not to fall off down over the rough concrete roof, feeling shy as the fragrant crowds passed below, yet most people would not look up, if they did they they would see me running downstairs past my smiling wife onto those familiar muddy cow-hoof-printed mud streets. People would stare as I handed a few coins in exchange for paper fragile joys to fly.

A kite, a Nepali kite, to flicker and fight through the air streams.

Soon I am back looking heavenward, seeking the Wind. The kids next door from rooftop and rooftop call out to me “Dai” (Elder brother),

I feel my soul lightly sing, the wind lifts, launches our kites higher into a cosmic battle, laughter as some fall to be gathered up by small beautiful brown hands.

Those little ones treat me with such a warm welcome to the skies, never owning them, not cutting the kite off from my pale western hands, teaching me the way of flight, calling out: “Like this, elder brother, like this!” I copy their skill and find to my thrill my kite higher than before. They pause to show me, I could leap to join them on their rooftop it is so close, yet two stories up, we all standing precariously on the edge of our humble apartments.

So many flickering, colourful, fragrant afternoons filled with the last of the day’s de-light.

Maybe I will fly back in my dreams to that afternoon when my kite caught by a wind from the mountains.

In the morning I would find strings and kites on the roof by my garden. The strings that connect us.


For my Tibetan and Nepali friends and to all who love to fly paper in the sky.
Memories from life in Kathmandu by Jonathan McCallum


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