Friday, 31 July 2015

the summer i became a potterhead

where exactly do i start this one ? with a confession ? with a disclaimer ?

how exactly does one explain discovering and falling in love with something that everyone else in the world has been doing for nearly the last 2 decades ?

this is the summer that i became a potterhead. in lay terms, a harry potter fan.
the (slightly embarrassing) confession i have to make is that i am in my 30s. (not that being in my 30s is embarrassing, but admitting that i haven't read harry potter till now, kind of is.)

i hadnt given much thought to either the books or the movies when the whole world was raving about them. i had never been one to buy into hype - never standing in lines at midnight to buy anything or queuing up in front of theatres to watch first day shows. and so for nearly two decades i didnt really bother about harry potter, even being slighly dismissive of it as just over hyped children's or young adult fiction. (yeah i know, it sounds judgemental or prejudiced, but i assure you im not normally like that.) also, i'd always say that it was not really my kind of genre, being that i had never been interested in fantasy fiction like LOTR, narnia, etc.

some months back, a relative whose opinion on books and other academic stuff i had respect for, recommended that i read the books. and later, in the first week of june, one of our neighbour's kid was gifted with the first book, and i ended up borrowing it to read. thus was my entry into the harry potter universe. needless to say, there was no looking back. borrowing alternately from the neighbour's kid and the library, i finished the entire series in less than a month, including the gaps of the days i had to wait to find the books in our library.

what made me a fan was the extremely well constructed plot and the excellent writing. it has suspense, humour and also in many places a philosophical touch with dumbledore's sagely quotes, which i loved.
it is not so much about magic as it is about the triumph of love over evil. what makes it great, is that it is not just about some 'make-believe' stuff that you try hard to fit into, but is about very relatable issues that you've known and seen all around you.

love, hatred, jealousy, friendship, loyalty, discrimination, war between good and evil, rumour-mongering press, obstinate and corrupt governments - rowling weaves it all in between well constructed plots and an impressive narration that leaves you convinced that you actually belong there.

one of my favourite things about the series is the female characters - they dont just sit there, being pretty and waiting to be saved by some macho guy. each of the female characters (both the good and bad ones) shine in their brilliance and strength. they dont have men and women sporting teams, but men & women play a sport as team-mates, as equals.
the development and transformation of the characters as they grow, is beautiful(with neville longbottom taking a special place). and the best thing - subtlety. im a big fan of subtlety and rowling is a master of it. it is those touches, the effort she has put into everything right from the characters' names, that i really love. for example, her choice of the name of remus - its the name of one of the founders of rome who was raised by a wolf.
and hermione's patronus being an otter - otters belong to the family of weasels and im not sure if rowling intended that as an symbol of her future being 'weasley' :) but it certainly feels nice to think that way, given that the weasely family also lives in 'ottery. st.catchpole'.

and more big and little things, like each horcrux being destroyed by a different person, the black family first names all being after stars or constellations, and prof. mcgonagall's dressing gown always being tartan.

as of now, however, i have only seen one movie in full - the first. the rest i have caught some scenes here and there, and i consciously avoided watching them once i started the books since i didnt want to watch before i was finished reading. you cant of course, isolate yourself totally from inadvertently seeing movie clips or references now and then, because, they are practically everywhere. this meant that i knew mostly which characters were going to die even before reading the books, but still that did not ruin the suspense as i did not know how and when, the exact details... in fact i should say it lessened the impact of shock i would have otherwise had the first time.

if at all there is one thing i wont forgive rowling for, it is that she caused too many deaths from the 'good side' (the order) than was necessary, in my opinion. my most favourite was the third book and the least, the fifth. i just couldnt tolerate harry's teenage temper tantrums and the resulting dragging of the book more than i thought was necessary. also, i wished the last book had more of a closure than the epilogue provides, but then the innumerable tumblrs by fans, and pottermore kind of make up for it.

in the coming weeks i plan to finish watching all the movies - (i love the excellent casting and the sets) - and i know i'll come back to reading the books many times over, as i always do with all my favourite books. it is a world that once you enter, you dont want to leave, and i know generations of kids to come will discover and fall for its magic.

so, this day draws to a close the month that i finished reading harry potter for the first time, and the reason why i'm posting this today, 31st July 2015 -

Happy 35th Birthday to Harry Potter and Happy 50th to J.K.Rowling !

apologies for the pathetic picture - thats all i had the time and patience for today :( 

Monday, 13 July 2015

Thursday, 9 July 2015

throwback thursday - TBT #15

on 9th july 1877, the first wimbledon tournament began - at the 'All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club' in wimbledon, london.

the program of the first wimbledon is below, announcing the players, the prize money, and the dates. the original date of the finals was to be 16th july and was later postponed to 19th july due to rain.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

throwback thursday - TBT #14

july 2nd, 1962 - the first walmart store opens in arkansas, USA.

walmart is today the world's largest company by revenue and the world's largest private employer.

crowd gathered outside the store for the opening day 


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