"How's Bin Laden?" someone asked Beria.
But their life went on. Beria and Homaira had another son and a daughter. And then early in 2006, Beria got a message on his cellphone -- someone from a place called DreamWorks.
He ignored it. A few days later, the woman left another message. Again he ignored it. Finally, she got him on the line.
"Did you read the book 'The Kite Runner'?" she asked.
He said no, but he knew about it.
She explained that DreamWorks made movies and that she was a producer.
Then she asked if they could see him fly his kites.
On a Sunday afternoon, the director, Marc Foster, and a dozen or so producers and crew members met Beria at Balboa Lake, where Afghan and Pakistani kite fighters regularly competed.
They watched Beria fly his kites. He explained how they moved with just one string, how they were made, how they cut. They offered him the job of "kite master" on the set in western China. It would pay $1,000 a week.
Beria jumped at it, even though he'd have to quit his job at the Holiday Inn. This was his big moment to strike.
He flew to the ancient city of Kashgar with 100 of his kites. Walking the narrow alleys twisting through the desert below the Tian Shan mountains felt like walking through his childhood Kabul -- the food, the smells, the Turkic faces.
Beria relished this job. He felt like kites were his calling.
He read the novel by Khaled Hosseini -- about a well-off boy who flees Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation. Beria felt that the novel unfairly portrayed the Taliban as an Afghan creation -- when the movement originated out of Pakistan, and Afghan Taliban were mostly uneducated, brainwashed orphans of the Soviet war, he says. But the book brought a level of focus on his country, and his beloved kites, that he welcomed.
For 15 weeks, he taught more than 150 local children how to fly the kites and got involved in every detail of the kite-flying scenes. He would later take great pride, walking Homaira and his three children down the red carpet of the Egyptian Theater on opening night and watching his kites soar across the big screen.
When Beria got back to California, he had no job but a firm vision. He was going to sell the kites that people would see in the movie. He scrambled to get some money together. He found a bit of storefront space at the north end of the NoHo Arts District.
He decided he'd better sell other items. He'd seen kite stores go under. He put on a pot of Farmer Brothers Coffee and set up a rack of magazines. He loaded up with sundry items -- cigarettes, Twinkies, knock-off watches.
He hung his kites on the walls and displayed his spools of handmade tar.
He opened in March 2007. Customers trickled in, mostly for coffee or cigarettes. He made only 35 cents profit per pack. If 30 people came in for smokes in a day, he made just over $10. He wondered if he'd made a dreadful error.