x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Afghans catch the winds of change

War, it has been said, is "that mad game the world so loves to play". In Afghanistan there's at least one alternative that's more acrobatic and colourful to engage in.

Strand Bazaar is an oasis of levity in Afghanistan's desert of despair. It is there that Afghan children of all ages harness the wind and set their sails skyward. As we report this week, as little as 20 cents buys a colourful paper and bamboo kite at a dusty Kabul marketplace, and with it, something priceless: an escape.

Such peaceful pleasures are in short supply in a nation ravaged by conflict. Banned by the Taliban government in the late 1990s, kite flying - more aptly known as kite fighting - has returned to the capital's skyline with a roar. On most evenings, hundreds of handmade saucers dip and soar over the city's hills. It's not uncommon for grown men to howl like children as they navigate their flying machines with the skill of trained aviators.

"When I see my kite climb into the sky, I feel happy", says Ahmad Hassani, who, at 13, has seen more than his share of bloodshed. "I enjoy it".

War, it has been said, is "that mad game the world so loves to play". In Afghanistan there's at least one alternative that's more acrobatic and colourful to engage in. So may these good times soar and provide a preview of more peaceful days for Afghanistan.