A different kind of Brotherhood

Posted: September 15, 2011 in Kites

It has been almost 6 months since I first peered out my bathroom window (with my shower in full swing) to be greeted by the sight of 2 huge manta rays in the sky. Each in shocking pink and lime green, at least 5 metres across and had tails of lightweight nylon 15 metres long. And yesterday it was deja vu, but this time it was a huge ink black cuttlefish with eyes as big as hubcaps  peering into my bath.

Seafood can fly

Nice colours on a bright day. Kite # 5 I think

It's always a treat when a real eagle gets curious and circles this fellow wondering, What the heck ???

Within those months, I’ve had the good fortune to befriend two neighbours from across the street and fly these giant kites from the field below my apartment block. For simplicity’s sake they’ll be referred to as KB 1 and KB 2 (KB for Kite Brother)

KB 1 is the real enthusiast with dedicated equipment like a pro.

A special kit bag to hold half a dozen kites and spare bits like carbon rods and swivel hooks. Reels of various sizes with lines of various lengths and poundage. Yes, like fishing, one must take kite lines seriously. The capacity to hold or fly a kite in the air with the weight of a full grown adult, say 160 pounds, before out of luck mayhem happens like a broken rod or snapped line. Then comes the reels of various diameters, the larger ones being able to reel in or let out a kite faster than what the kids use. Remember rolling pins or old Coke bottles?

KB 1 all excited, and that's his bling stainless steel reel in mid air tied to a tree, holding another kite

KB 2 being younger has the knack of buying the latest and the best, easily swayed by marketing. I mean look at his car, decked out with bits of carbon and fiberglass. No wonder he’s in the business of selling ‘car bits’ cleverly designed himself and some parts made to order from a factory in Malaysia – online of course. This leaves KB 2 ample time to indulge, what with his fast car’s boot chock full with kites, picnic chairs and the all important ice cooler box, filled with various brands of …. chilled beer !

Occasionally KB 2 will show up in the evening with his 2 young sons, who after 5 minutes will turn their attention to their laptops and I phones. So much for the great outdoors, shrugs KB 2, as long as the cooler box is also filled with fizzy drinks and food, the kids will be fine.

Bored chubby kids, busy dad

30 % left, not good

KB 1 being the true kite master is down at the field 3 to 4 times a week. That’s a lot when multiplied by 6 months. Sometimes twice a day, with a break at mid day for lunch. Needless to say in our tropical climate, this Chinese man has the complexion of a Toblerone  chocolate bar ! And with a wife whose constant bickering about the bad effects of sunburn.  I try to avoid the heat and UV when I can but heck sometimes, to quote KB 1. “To fly a kite, one must embrace the wind no matter what time of day”

Bicycles are handy kite transporters

KB 1 is also the most helpful of strangers you have just met. As he had learnt the ropes literally by himself,  he’s always keen to teach newcomers not to make the same mistakes he did.

Stay away from the trees. Stretch your line out a few hundred feet before lifting your kite. No point in running like a mad hatter when the wind is dead zero. There were just too many times in which KB 1 took my kite without me asking and walked away with it. With the line laid out at 300 feet, reeling it in fast and seeing it soaring in to the evening sky, we spent many hours in total kiting bliss, so much so that sometimes, our wives will make the trek down to see what the fuss was all about !

KB 1 even looks after the field mind you, and has even told off some clueless soccer kids that leaving their trash on the field was not cool. “Watch out for the 3 deep potholes in the field”. He has since fill those out with rocks and waste wood,  just today. Carried on his rusty bicycle’s basket no less.

What are brothers for ?

When one spends hours on end tethered to a kevlar line guiding sails of parachute nylon and carbon rods in shocking colours, it won’t be long before ‘man gossip’  happens. I mean how else would I know that KB 1 led a life of driving huge oil tankers at all hours, before a bad work accident twisted his left foot 180 degrees?

Apparently his compensation was enough for him to stay at home and fly kites at age 54. And there are stories about him having to work at a young age so that his single mom could send his brother KB 2 to school. KB2 being the more successful at this point in time showers KB 1 with many manly gifts from pricey Oakley sunglasses, nice watches and even kites that have lost his fancy. KB 1’s two sons are all grown up and have joined the Singapore Navy, and yes his wife laments that her whole family (except her) are too tanned.

KB 1 has graduated into stunt kiting, a natural progression he says, edging me on constantly to move from static kites to the next level. In local parlance this is akin to ‘poisoning’ in that I have to spend and acquire more stuff that I am not ready to play with.

I kite therefore I am (sunburnt and aching)

It was a sad day too when I asked KB 1 about KB 2’s absence from the field. It seems some unsavoury Middle Eastern blokes were keen on moving into the ‘bits of plastic and carbon to make your Japanese car look faster’ business and were also hacking his website and claiming to be the designers and vendors of those ‘bits’  Isn’t having loads of oil under your deserts enough ?

NOT a taxi by a long shot

I was mildly incensed at this but more than that KB 2 went AWOL for 3 months or so. We both missed that cooler box too ! KB 2  like most Singaporeans had made the best of the situation and took up a night course in attaining his vocational taxi driving license. Very handy when the next recession strikes. Now the running joke  among us is, will he use a Lancer Evo 10 as a taxi. I’m sure there will be a demand to find out what 250 kmp/h feels like.

Lo and behold, 24 hours ago, I see  a giant black cuttlefish from my bathroom and KB 2 is back. Grabbed my kites and camera and headed down, much to my wife’s amazement who muttered something like, “Oh, all  the brothers are back”  There was so much chatter between the KBs that I decided to sink in my camp chair and let them  carry on.

Yeah yeah, spending many a glorious sunset with two other guys may seem weird, but really, when the winds pick up, that’s all that matters (almost)

these 2 are about 500m up

KB 2's $195 worth of 'kite poison' and a tad difficult to fly 😦

PS>  In our increasingly urbanised enviornment, kite flying has grown in leaps and bounds. There’s just something about having control of one’s kite that’s sailing high up in the open skies that says, I am in control, and want to be in control of such a simple flying object  (well there are complicated pricey kites too) in a wide open space, that has timeless appeal.

Perhaps it’s the many restrictions that are imposed upon our everyday lives that makes kiting the total opposite.  Training one’s sight on a faraway object sure beats hours in front of the computer screen, unless it’s to check today’s wind and weather conditions! And of course being outdoors in a cool evening breeze, among the brothers, with similar passionate interests, is a sure way to forget the worries of the real world, if only for a few windy hours. I dare you to not bring your phone along too.

Don’t go peeking into peoples’ bathrooms OK?

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