Flying a kite in Hong Kong was a big deal. In a congested city where the sky was sacrificial to high-rises, air traffics and deadly smog, wind only blew freely in isolated pockets along the coastline, where the view opened to the ocean. Everybody made their own kite in Hong Kong. We tore pages out from school calligraphy booklets, and stretched the thin paper against bamboo sticks. The sticks had to be firmly tied and precisely positioned or else the kite would keep spinning in the sky. A tail made of toilet paper could be added to increase stability. To make a spool, we ran cotton strings around Coke-Cola bottle. I was taught to dip the line with glue and glass dust made of crushed fluorescent light tubes, so that it would slice and break other lines should my kite cross path with others. In the city you could never be alone even when flying a kite, and if you’re serious about flying you had to learn to protect your property. It was a competitive business. One day, my kite was cut off by a stranger’s and was never retrieved. That was the last time I flew a kite in Hong Kong.
After my family moved to Vancouver, my father took me to a children festival, where they had kite-making workshop under a tent. The sky was clear and there was ample room in the field. Like all other kids around me, I was given some wood sticks, a white plastic sheet and some felt-pens. The plastic sheet came with sleeves into which the sticks were inserted, and a kite could be made without much effort. I spent a lot more time decorating my kite, but later realized that it didn’t make any difference. When the kite was high up in the sky I could not see what I drew. I thought I had a lot of fun that day, because I didn’t have to worry about losing my kite to others. People think differently in this society, and they worry about other things, like the weather or ice hockey. For reasons I cannot recall, I ceased to fly kite after that day. Something was lost in the sport, or perhaps in me, in that open field where different groups of people gathered and busy with their own different things. Before I realized, my desire to fly a kite had become memories.