There is a great magic to seeing a place at sunrise, before the rush of day clouds it. Early in the morning, there is a bliss that relaxes the faces of early risers, as though they are reminded that there is still magic in life, how can there not be? Light colors the sky as stars give way to the great sun, and stillness can still be heard over the water.
One of the wonderful phenomena to watch in Shanghai parks and on its riverside in the early morning, is the congregation of retired men sending their well cared for and brilliantly crafted kites high into the city sky. They do this for long hours watching the extensions of their souls soar into worlds unknown, higher and higher above the noise of the city where all is calm and harmonious, into a state of freedom where they too one day wish to be…
Sunrise on the bund is an experience I have been wanting to have for as long as I lived in Shanghai. This morning it all worked out : clear day, not freezing, day off, a friend joined me, and it was meant to be. As the first light of the day started appearing at 5:45 AM, the first kite runners started to show up unrolling their threaded kites and getting ready to practice a life long tradition in the most beautiful and open part of Shanghai. It was amazing to watch them getting into their practice that obviously gave them so much joy. I chatted with them about their kites, basically asking which one is theirs, as I could not at all make them out, there were so many! They were so friendly and playful, I am so grateful for this special experience . I am sure I will go back.
Fengzheng 风筝 —Kite, was first invented in China as early as 500 BC, and was originally made out of wood, and later out of bamboo and paper.
They have been used for sending messages, distributing propaganda, and even some were large enough to carry people on them for war strategic purposes.
Nowadays, the main purpose of kits is play, and in the case of some photographers, to carry cameras for bird’s-eye views. During a nice day in Shanghai, the kites fill the sky.
Children, adults, old people, all are flying kites. There is even a kite festival in Shandong province in April that I dream of one day attending!
But flight in all forms is so exhilarating to us humans, whether it is brief while on a swing, carried between 2 parents in pretend flight as a toddler, bungee jumping, parachuting, paragliding, pretending to be superman, or having a flying dream; we just wish we could do it.