Mobility from Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar or a nearby city for earning a living must be commonplace, but here is a group that travels to far-off places, that too for a few pennies! These are the poor families of the city that are involved in making kites.
While Amdavadis are busy flying kites on their terrace on the day of Uttarayan, some families pack their bags and prepare themselves for the journey to Uttar Pradesh (UP).
While many think that kite-making is a seasonal business, these families have turned it into a round-the-year activity. Seeing opportunity in kite festivals celebrated during different periods, these families travel all the way to UP and Delhi.
Talking to DNA, a kite-maker, Hashimbhai Ashiq, said, “We have a particular schedule to which we adhere to and travel for five months in Gujarat, five months in UP and two months in Delhi.” Explaining the schedule, he said, “In Gujarat, we make kites and manja from August to January. Immediately after Uttarayan, we move to UP, where we start with the same work for Ganga Dusshera which falls in June-end.”
Once done with the ten-day Ganga Dusshera festival, the group moves to Delhi for two months (July-August), as kite flying is observed in Delhi on August 15 every year.
While these families work hard, the returns are minimal. “During the eight months of work in Gujarat, the gross earnings reach Rs1 lakh, against a gross expenditure around Rs40,000,” disclosed Naseer Saiyed, who makes and sells kites in Kalupur. This implies an approximate income of Rs7,500 per month, on which the entire family depends.
A look at their working style indicates how each member of the family specialises in different activities. “Kite-making is laborious and cannot be done by machine. While my brother is quick in cutting paper/plastic, I do the work of sticking the thin sticks on it and my brother ties the tail to it. This way, we make around 1,000-1,500 kites in a day,” said Asif Saiyed, a resident of Jamalpur area.
Although many families are into this field as their only means of earning, others continue making and selling kites in an effort to preserve their family business. Stating his reason, Ajmeri Nawaaz of Jamalpur told DNA, “Ours is 30-year-old business started by my father and since I have become the earning member of my family, continuing the legacy is the best option.”
Echoing a similar opinion, Mansur Bashir of Kalupur said that his was a 50-year-old business that was started by his grandfather and now the entire family was involved. “So, it is better to continue the same as we are experts in making it now and are used to the schedule of travelling and making kites,” the kite-maker added.
Hashim of Kalupur opted out of school to jump into this business. “When I opened my eyes to this world, I saw kites. When I started understanding the world, I was surrounded by kites and its material,” he quipped, adding that he studied till the tenth standard and joined the family trade. He was so engaged in making kites since his childhood that he had to drop out of school and burn the midnight oil, he said.
Mohammed Rasul of Jamalpur said he had to take up this job since he was in Class 9, as his father had lost his job. “Suddenly, all eyes turned to me and expectations arose when some mills closed down and my father lost his job. I didn’t even complete my secondary education,” Rasul told DNA. Now a proud earning member of his family of four, and calling himself a businessman, Rasul has a few workers under him. However, his income amounts to only Rs9,000 a month.