Basant is all about the party. Families dress up, put their boom-boxes on the rooftops (and I do mean BOOM boxes), bring out the bhangra remixes, lots of food, tons of kites and strings, and every person you know – young and old. On adjacent rooftops are your neighbors and rivals. Afternoons start off amicably enough; genteel challenges, good-natured banter, innocent flirtations, there may even be gentlemanly agreements on avoiding hath-pherna [hard yanks]. Eventually, the shine wears off and competition heats up; boom-boxes get turned around to face the enemies, the girls disappear, the old ones abandon the chaat to the boisterous ones, the sharper strings come out, cuss-words fill the air, AOWAYY! BOO KATA!!. Night falls. Flood lights search the skies for that little piece of paper with reflecting patches. Time, for once, replaces Wind as your enemy. Fingers bleed, get taped, bleed. Proud patches of a day well-spent for the next week. The knee-high stash of gudis dwindles away. The string flies away from the fingers.
But that is not the Real Basant, Aamir would say. The Real Basant happens in the old city around the Minar-i Pakistan. That other one has no rules. Kids macking, sheesh. This Basant has rules, teams, khalifas [certified captain], referees.
- You stand on a bench (or in a small demarcated space) from which you cannot budge.
- The Lahori rules stipulate a small standing place [2’x3′], allows big kites and restricts tugging. The Karachi or Nawabi rules stipulate a bigger standing area [30’x15′], uses smaller kites and allows tugging. The Kabuli rules have no restriction of standing area but do not allow any tugging.
- The paich [contest] starts when the referee blows the whistle and the two kites move towards each other.
- If one of the kite breaks away before the contact, it is null.
- If it breaks during the contest, that player loses.
- If both break, the refree decides who gets the point.