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Friday, July 29, 2005

I Don't Know Harry Potter



I was waiting for the hullabaloo over the latest in the Potter series to wither a little before I started writing this. I feared that my voice would be lost in all the cacophony. So now when relative calm prevails I begin...

Who is Harry Potter? I've heard of him, but I don't know him. Six bestsellers (this is an understatement), and I haven't read a word from any of them. Does this mean that I will be lynched by millions (there might be more) of Potter maniacs for my ignorance? I might reason with the mob that I've crossed the compulsory Potter reading age (what is it by the way?), but the little girl with blonde streaks partly hidden beneath a witch's hat, pointing her broom at me will shriek, "My Grandma's 90, and she's potty over Potter!!" "With a grand daughter like you, do you think she has any other option?" my quivering mind ponders. Lesson of Life: When a mob attacks, reasoning doesn't work, running for your life does. And will I discover that those costly sport shoes (costly only because of advertising expenses and dealer margins) out pace the witches' brooms (something must be wrong with the ignition there, they won't simply budge off the ground). And I will live another day to write this post.

In spite of my imaginary brush with the wannabe wizards and witches, I'm grateful to Joanne Kathleen Rowling that in this era of cable TV and video games, the kids (and many grownups too) haven't forgotten the dying habit of book reading.

When I was a kid (and that's not too long ago) we didn't have the electronic media to hype up things for us and influence our tastes and preferences. Therefore we often didn't know what's 'happening'. Apart from sports (the ones played out in the sun and not on electronic gizmos) and a little television (only one channel for a few hours a day) we had to be content with books and comics.

Books ignited our imaginations. Comics gave shape and colour to them. Folklores, fairy tales, Stories from the Arabian Nights, Panchatantra, Jataka Tales... I read them all. Enid Blyton provoked my fantasy flights; I looked for life in my toys. Hardy Boys, a little of Nancy Drew, Secret Seven, Famous Five led to many misadventures.

Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Ruskin Bond et al. tickled my literary aspirations. With Jules Verne and HG Wells for company I went twenty thousand leagues under the sea in my endeavour to go around the world in eighty days, so that I could be back in time for my next journey to the centre of the earth in order to escape the war of the worlds.

I too wore my underpants over my trousers, used a towel for a cape and tried to fly. Always wished if Shillong (my home town) would be a little more like Riverdale and Xanadu or at least the Skull Cave my home. Always wanted to drink the magic potion and beat the shit out of the Pakistanis (it was ingrained in our psyche that all Pakistanis were India's enemies, but time and understanding has thankfully healed those misapprehensions)

Rowling missed me by a few years, because by the time the first of her legendary series hit the stands, I was already in college and had started preferring books without pictures (but I still go loony over toons) and other adult literature (yes, that includes porn too). And today, when I see all the ballyhoo surrounding Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, I'm for a moment tempted. But the overnight queues outside bookstores and the uninviting price tag of Rs. 895 (India's per capita income is Rs. 20,989) made me deduce this: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince = 22.375 bottles of beer.

Of course, I went for the latter.

And I still don't know Harry Potter. Hic!

14 Comments:

dwaipayan said...

first of all. LEARN TO MAKE UR BLOG SHORT. who have so much patience to read such a long post?
and by the way, u needn't be a kid to be affected by the pottermania. i start my 1st one when i was in my 2nd yr in clg. so......

and if u want to read these books, dnt need to buy by deprieving urself from beer bottles, u can get it frm me.both ebooks and normal books.
and by the way, pirated books are notthat bad. i've a lot of them. and its really nice to know that i'm invited in delhi. may be u'l regret ur decision later.because i can chato people. btw, did i say anything bout long blogs?

dwaipayan said...

by the way, who is the kid in the pic? i dnt think its u? is it?

The Bionic 1 said...

Hello, I just bought a salami on rye at the "New Delhi" down the block from me. Get it, NEW DELHI?

Thank you thank you thank you.....
I'm here every Saturday, make sure to tip your waitress.

the_boy_called_hate said...

your taste is really awesome. u r lucky that u r sitting tight in delhi otherwise in calcutta by this time u would become a deadmeat. next time before moving against the wind think of me. take care, hope goodness will keep u well .

Anonymous said...

You can never really be too old for Harry Potter, as long as you like good fiction. Sure instead you can get a bunch of beer, but the beer will only last you a little while, while a good book --which you probably already know based on that list of books and authors-- can last for much longer, since you can reread them, and the stories will last forever somewhere in your head. Of course, if your beer is that important to you you could always borrow the Harry Potter books from a library (if it has them). That way you can keep your beer and still enjoy a book that, though written for children, has become a fantasy book for any willing reader to read, no matter what the age.

Glory said...

Thanks for your recent comment on my blog--but rather than go searching for "As I Lay Dying", go get the first Harry Potter book. You'll be hooked.

Vardaman called his mother a fish, I am told, because she was dying (or perhaps dead: I haven't read the book either. This is what my daughter tells me.) His only previous experience with death is that of a dead fish in his childhood. Hence, his mother is compared to the fish.

Now...go read your Harry Potter.

Enjoyed reading excerpts of your blog--you have a nice, lyrical style.

Stop by any time.

Harry Potter fan said...

I used to think exactly how you did about Harry Potter. I worked for a major publishing company time and there was a book forum. And all of the editors were hyping Harry. I could not understand why the supposed literati, saw in these children's books. I then saw the first movie, and I really liked it. And then I saw a documentary on Rowlings and how she used all of these mythological references. For example: Hagrid really is the gatekeeper to all of heaven's animals. If you don't want to spend the money check it out from the library. That's what I did. And you're right, it's great that we're reading.

educatedunemployed said...

I loved reading this post.True, I felt a similar..'Have I really grown out of these books'..I doubt one ever does.I only recently completed reading the five books.Trust me, once you start its hard to stop.Who says there is an age for fantasy and wands, and please no pun intended here.I do hope you read them some time.I'm almost tempted to say, if you don't get the books,Ill be more than happy to send them to you..Well did I say almost..Cool I think I'm covered..

fish said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

really nasty negative comment, learn to shut up!!!!

first of all. LEARN TO MAKE UR BLOG SHORT. who have so much patience to read such a long post?
and by the way, u needn't be a kid to be affected by the pottermania. i start my 1st one when i was in my 2nd yr in clg. so......

and if u want to read these books, dnt need to buy by deprieving urself from beer bottles, u can get it frm me.both ebooks and normal books.
and by the way, pirated books are notthat bad. i've a lot of them. and its really nice to know that i'm invited in delhi. may be u'l regret ur decision later.because i can chato people. btw, did i say anything bout long blogs?

Soumyadip said...

Seems like I've got some anonymous support here.

Hari Puttar said...

Woah....makes us non-potty maniacs subservient dunnit?
No worries. I never read books thaty are mass produced and gasp! actually has fans in the country of counterfoils and counterfeits (OKOK the latter)...aka China
;)

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed a lot! » »

Anonymous said...

That's a great story. Waiting for more. »