This incident happened with me a few weeks ago. It was just another regular day. I got up in the evening, got dressed and started on my way to work, taking the same route that I have been for past several years. I do not know if it was some sixth sense or a gut feeling but for reasons unknown to me as well, I had little trouble deciding that evening whether I should drive to work or ride my Royal Enfield.
Between 5 pm to 8 pm is the peak rush hour in Delhi so I usually prefer not to take out my Car out during that time. In the back of my mind, something was telling me that I should drive today but giving myself the excuse of traffic, I chose to ride my motorcycle to work instead. I had been doing it for several years so there was nothing new about it that day as well.
I am not a guy who believes in rash or fast driving. I rarely take my motorcycle beyond 60 kmph unless it is of dire need. Another reason behind is that I own older Royal Enfields and that motorcycle itself is not meant for riding hard. Maintaining a moderate speed, I reached the Palam flyover in West Delhi.
Now this flyover has several sharp turns on it and it is just a 2 lanes road on both sides so the speed for everyone on this road comes down to 30-40 kmph on its own. Same thing happened with me. Bringing my speed down to 20-30 kmph, I took a turn on the flyover when I suddenly felt a sharp cutting sensation on my neck.
My left hand immediately reached my throat to investigate what was going on and the sensation shifted from my neck to my hands. As I applied brakes and brought my motorcycle to the side of the road to a complete halt, which obviously took me a few seconds, I could feel something cutting through my skin and burying itself deep inside my fingers.
By the time I came to a stop, my fingers had started to bleed and what I found wrapped around my fingers was indeed of a shock to me. It was a Manja, the string that is used in India for kite flying. Someone must have lost a kite somewhere during the traditional kite flying and the Manja was flying around on the road. My fingers were hurting like hell and there was a sharp burning sensation on my neck. I wasn’t far from home so I immediately turned my motorcycle around and came back. After washing the blood, this was the condition of my left hand and my neck.
I didn’t even know who to blame for it. More than half of the India indulges itself in the traditional kite flying and kite fighting in the months of August. I couldn’t even decide whether I should blame someone for it or should I just consider myself unlucky?
When I started talking to people about this incident, I found out that I wasn’t the only unfortunate one to get hurt this way. Several other motorcyclists ended getting cuts due to Manja lying around on the roads. A few days later, while I was watching TV, one of the news channels was reporting a medical camp set up for Birds who got hurt because of the same reasons. Several birds, as the channel reported, fell to their deaths as they got entangled in the Manja while flying and fell to the ground.
I Googled a bit and found that this type of incident or manja accidents have been on the rise for past few years. If a kite breaks, it floats for quite a distance before it touches the ground, dragging a significant length of string or Manja along with it. There have been accidents of kids falling from the roofs or in to a well while they chase a broken kite. Specially Boys from poor families or slums, and in most cases barely a few years old, run after the kites with their eyes completely fixed on it and they do not bother to see where they are running (road or anywhere else). The most alarming and disturbing however are the innocent two-wheeler users, unmindful of the danger which is laying in wait for them. The Manja, practically invisible, gets entangled in the body, many a time, it defaces or mars the face, severs neck veins etc.
I as an individual have never flown a kite ever in my life as I could never understand the fun in it but since so many people from our society do it every year, I didn’t know what to think or feel. Is it OK or is it just another example of Indian society being self-occupied as individuals, with zero respect or sense of obligation towards society? Visit the link below and you would agree that by god’s grace, I had a narrow escape and escaped with only minor injuries. Please be advised the links below contain disturbing images.
Update: This year what I read in the newspaper terrified me. What I was saved from proved fatal for two kids in Delhi on 15th August. Search Google and you can read the news report about how two kids died this year in Manja related accidents. I wonder where all this ends and when will we have some laws against kite flying within city and densely populated areas.