Kites in Cairo, a way to forget about the pandemic

Cairo, Jul 3 (efe-epa).- Every evening just before sunset thousands of kites fill Cairo’s skies and soar over the Nile.

It has become a welcome escape for people living in quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic in the Egyptian capital.

Every evening since the coronavirus outbreak hit the country, 20-year-old Shamy Ezza takes out a kite he bought for 80 Egyptian pounds (about $5).

The kite, made of plastic bags and wooden sticks, rises over the waters of the Nile from the top of the Cairo University Bridge, in the heart of the city.

The young man can finally relax after a 12-hour shift at a car repair shop.

“The virus has not only affected work but also freedom because I have no money and without money, nothing is easy,” Ezza tells Efe.

“I enjoy it when the kite is in the air, flying free. I feel free like it. I’m not happy without it because life is difficult,” he laments as his kite is lost among the countless others that cover the sky above the Nile.

There are all sorts of shapes, colours and decorations on the kites and some of them are even equipped with lights on their struts that illuminates them after the sun goes down.

Yaser Abdelnabi has three kites that he has designed: one with the face of Liverpool’s Egyptian star Mohamed Salah, another with a drawing of the Chucky doll from the horror film and one bearing the image of the character Leonidas from the movie 300.

He tells Efe that he was a fan of kites when he was little and now, at 24, he has rekindled his hobby because lockdown has forced all the cafes he used to go to with his friends to close.

Now the group of friends gathers to talk as their kites intertwine.

“Sometimes we compete with each other to see if we can hunt the other’s kite and make it fall,” he laughs from the bridge but warns that before “an agreement must be reached” so that the no one gets angry.

Mohamed el Bawi, an Uber driver, is a specialist in ‘hunting’ other people’s kites.

That is why his kite’s name is Number 1 and has a drawing of a hand with its middle finger up, something he says he has as a joke.

He made it himself with four bamboo sticks that serve as the main structure and then wrapped them in plastic bags taped together.

Each corner of the kite is tied together with a piece of string more than 60 meters long which he uses to control its direction.

“When the kite is in the air I feel joy. It is like having control of everything,” he tells Efe.

In an instant, Number 1 manages to intertwine with another and he quickly tugs on the string to drag his friend’s kite onto the bridge.

His adversary acknowledges defeat with a laugh.

Friends gather on the bridge because the clear skies above the river are perfect for kite-flying, unlike their neighborhoods which are crowded with too many buildings and traffic.

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