VILLUPURAM: "It is an ancestral art and one can be incredibly creative with the endless patterns," exclaims 52-years old Kaathadi (Kites) Venkatesan, a kite maker who has been in the trade for 31 years.
Situated between the Hanuman Statue Pond and the busy market street, Murugan Kaathadi Shop is where Venkatesan does his bit to make the world a happier place.
"I was only 19 when I entered the business and never looked back," says an excited Venkatesan, who has made a living out of paper, sticks and thread, the three core ingredients of a kite.
Born into a family of five girls and two boys, Venkatesan watched his father stitch clothes for a living. The passionate tailor inspired his son to find his own path.
Soon, the young boy was on his way to becoming Kaathadi Venkatesan.
"I was good at studies but making kites was a fun activity to boys our age back then, and so I decided to make kites for a living. It was a fast-moving business in the 80s and I earned so much. In fact, I married off my five sisters and a brother with my earnings from selling kites. But the scene is bleak now," Venkatesan remembers.
According to him, until the late 2000s, kites were sold for good rates in bulk and he and others like him had to work tirelessly to make hundreds of kites in a day.
"The process is not as easy as people might think. An elaborate 13-step process is needed to make the kites kiss the sky," Venkatesan says.
"From making a decent cut of the paper, placing sticks at right corners, using the glue sharply where it is needed, everything requires keen attention. Just a little more glue than is needed can make the kite heavier and prevent it from soaring," he adds.
The papers come as half sheets, full sheets, A and S -- the sizes as referred to by kite makers. The sheets must be carefully handled so that there won't be even a tiny hole until the process is over.
Venkatesan is one of the few kite makers in town as opposed to the thousands in Chennai, especially in Washermenpet.
"In Gujarat, there is a kite festival conducted by the government.," he says, hoping that kite flying will get a boost from the government in the near future.