The narrow Old Market Road, in Shivajinagar, is crowded with tiny shops, most of them selling foodstuffs. Walking past the small crowds of customers, the gunny bags filled with grains at the front of the shops, and cartons stacked with fizzy colas – you’ll find S.H. Karnataka Kite Centre (previously known as Barkath Kite Center) in the middle of the road. The gentle breeze flaps the line of kites that hang at the shop’s entrance announcing that you’re at the decades-old shop.
Sabir Hussain, the second-generation owner, promptly appears and cheerfully invites you in and immediately starts pulling out kites from the surrounding shelves. His father, Murtaza Khan, got into the kite making and selling business in the 1960s. The business started off in a small shop in RT Nagar. It still exists, along with three other establishments in Avenue Road, Hegdenagar and, the most famous one, in Shivajinagar. Over the years, the shop’s fame has brought in countless customers, TV cameras, reporters (like us) and the shop’s kites have even been featured in Sandalwood productions.
While the family still makes a few kites, they source most of them from places like Bareilly and Ahmedabad. Of course, there are plenty of China-made ones too. At the store, you can pick from piles of traditional, paper kites or you can step up and get with the times with the popular, colour-happy kites that are made from a type of flimsy cloth. They are the more exciting ones at Barkath anyway. And come in the form of soaring eagles, butterflies, Mickey Mouse, Chhota Bheem, Spiderman, and Ben 10.