Guess Who This Gujarati Kite Seller’s Biggest Buyer is? Pakistan!
We may be sharing more than just a border with our neighbours. Patangbaazi – or the love of flying kites – may just be the common thread we have always been looking for.
Hemant Dave, an entrepreneur from Ahmedabad, who sells high quality kites and related accessories online, has maximum orders coming in from – wait for it, Pakistan. During Makar Sankranti, when most of western India, especially Gujarat, celebrates its biggest kite festival called Uttarayan, Dave sells hundreds of kites across the world and it is Pakistan who picks up most of the stuff.
People From Pakistan Want His Kites for ‘Basant’
Dave, a graduate from Nirma University, started his online shop called ‘patangdori.com’ in 2009 after a dismal Uttarayan the previous year; he didn’t find time to make his own manja or thread during the festival and a readymade, low quality manja spoiled his kite flying experience.
“The next year, I contacted makers of kites, manja and threads from Surat and Bareli and started the store, out of pure passion for the sport,” he says.
His largest orders come from Pakistan and that too, throughout the year.
Dave re-launched his website in 2012 after a hiatus of two years. Today, he has a shop in New York as well, in collaboration with a Pakistani partner.
Dave sources his products from all over India; kites from Khambhat, Ahmedabad, Ludhiana and Bareli, manja from Surat, Bareli and Ahmedabad and white thread from mills across the country. His customers are from the US, Australia, Africa and the UK – apart from Pakistan – and most of them keep coming back for more.
“The people abroad hold kite fests for fun, picnics or even charity. For instance, the CRY Foundation held a kite flying charity recently, the proceeds from which went to the underprivileged,” he explains.
The Jungle Book: Another Feather in His Cap
Running this entrepreneurial endeavour on capital earned from his other business, this Amdavadi’s biggest break came when he shipped kites and spools for Warner Brothers’ upcoming release The Jungle Book.
An avid lover of Uttarayan, ask him if people from Gujarat order his products – and pat comes the reply:
“No, they prefer to go to a shop physically to bring the kites home. After all, that also counts as tradition.”
(Runa Mukherjee Parikh has written on women, culture, social issues, education and animals, with The Times of India, India Today and IBN Live. When not hounding for stories, she can be found petting dogs, watching sitcoms or travelling. A big believer in ‘animals come before humans’, she is currently struggling to make sense of her Bengali-Gujarati lifestyle in Ahmedabad.)