Saturday, August 24, 2013

Potter-ing Away

The first Harry Potter book came out in 1997; I was thirteen then, the perfect age for me to discover this boy wizard. But no I had to wait sixteen years, when I’m about to touch thirty to discover the magical and completely addictive world of Harry and his friends and their adventures at Hogwarts. Yes, you can throw stones at me for I have been an idiot.

My recent obsession with Harry Potter began after I watched a documentary on J.K Rowling’s life. I was fascinated, bewitched rather! I couldn’t stop and watched more of Rowling’s videos and interviews (including a fantastic one with Oprah). Her rags to riches story was unbelievable, yet fascinating and inspiring. Here was a woman who rose from being a single mother and struggling writer, living in abject poverty (as poor as you can be in Britain without being homeless, as Rowling often says in her interviews) to a celebrated author and a billionaire while at it.

In her interviews, Rowling spoke about how the idea of Harry occured to her on a delayed train from Manchester to London and how the death of her mother six months into writing Harry Potter deeply effected her and the character of Harry significantly. I was in awe! Why hadn’t I read Harry Potter all this while?

It’s not like I had never read Harry Potter at all. I had read the first two books when I was in college (again much later than I should have) and enjoyed them thoroughly and then for reasons I can’t remember, I didn’t read any further. If I remember correctly, I don’t think I knew there was to be a sequel to book two and just like that I forgot all about Harry Potter.

Later, when the sequels did come out and films were made on the books and I saw all the craziness surrounding the book launches and release (I used to work at Delhi airport at one time and at the release of one of the books a crowd of passengers the size of a small army had descended at the airport bookstore to buy their copies) I had lost interest in Harry and Hogwarts. I guess I thought of them as only children’s books and brushed off any thoughts of ever reading them.

After watching Rowling’s videos I got myself all seven Harry Potter books on my Kindle and oh my goodness I am hooked! I finished book one in two days and I’m currently on chapter four of book two. I think the reason people take such an enormous fancy to Harry Potter is the fact that the books allow you to escape to a fascinating and magical new world of wizards and witches and ghosts and goblins, where you can turn matchsticks into needles and make broomsticks fly. The books are so gripping, it’s like a spell has been cast on me, making me wonder if Rowling indeed is a witch!  But the one theme that runs consistently through the books (at least so far) is love and the power of pure and true love. I wanted to share some bits of the book I’ve loved, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else like me who hasn’t read the books till now.

The first few lines of this blog post was my status message on Facebook a few days ago and a lot of people were surprised that a book nerd like me hadn’t read Harry Potter all this while. While some also commented on how reading them now means I’ve saved myself the wait and anticipation of the sequels coming out, but I guess the wait for the next Harry Potter book was part of the whole experience of enjoying the books. I imagine it must’ve been a lot of fun as well, waiting for the book and then lining up outside bookstores from the night before, dressed as wizards and witches (as a friend mentioned how he’s take his daughter dressed as a witch to the bookstore) , waiting to get your hands on your own copy.

There are moments while reading Harry Potter I think of what I'd say to J.K Rowling if I were ever to meet her and here’s all that I can think of saying (just in case she reads this)- Thank you for writing Harry Potter and thank you for preserving a large part of my childhood in these books. I can go on,but it’s time I went back to the book. 

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