Monday, August 1, 2016

Happy 51st, JKR

I was at hostel in my first year of post-grad in the year 2001, when the Harry Potter craze was doing its rounds. Pirated versions of the first four books were being shoved into my face at traffic signals, by enterprising little urchins, and I usually managed to politely smile them off. I kept hearing these books were for young adults. But I was only just learning the ropes of adulthood, being away from home and on my own for the first time ever. I wasn't going to look at young adult stuff, after having stepped out of architecture school with the Fountainhead on my mind. I was certain, whatever phenomenal success it was, it wasn't for me right now.

Then one day, I wasn't keeping well, and had to spend the entire day in bed. I asked my friend, Monica for something to read. And she lent me Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The rest is, as they say, history. I devoured the book. And when she was back from attending classes, I demanded the rest of the series (up to GoF at that point), and read through the night.

It was not about the fantasy genre. It was not the boarding school genre. It was not the breath-taking scope of her wizarding world, or the epic scale of  7 books. It was alway only about her writing skill.

*COMPELLING* is the word for her writing skills! Even if I could predict where the story was headed, even if I could see gaping plot-holes as I finished the book (the climax of GoF made no sense at all- If Barty Crouch Jr. as Moody, wanted to transport Harry to Voldy using a Portkey, as a professor he could have simply handed Harry *any* object, from a quill to a book; the entire elaborate exercise of leaving everything to chance where any of the 4 Triwizard finalists could have touched the portkey was hugely foolish) and even if I could sense the poor editing in OOTP (the largest tome, which could have easily been 150 pages shorter) that she would later confess to in an interview with BBC.

To call her a very, very gifted story teller, is an understatement.
 I *WANTED* to read what she wrote. Because she wrote everything is such a matter-of-fact way- from politics, to morality, to emotions, to humour. She was talking to her audience. She created characters ( often simply too many of them on the fringes) but every single one of them could be loved, or hated, or despised. But none could ever be ignored or forgotten. Characters like Ginny who were allowed to sparkle and then fizzle out, I wanted her to tell me more. Characters like Luna, who was lovable but honestly speaking, redundant. And Snape, the Weasley twins, Dobby, Peeves, and Fenrir Greyback, Barty Crouch junior, Peter Pettigrew, and Draco. For me, her characters ruled her stories more than her plots.

I suffer from Obsessive CRITICISM disorder, and I hated the epilogue in the end. I wish she would rewrite the last two chapters. At times, after the book series ended and she continued interacting with fans and sharing newer bits of info, I felt like she was dragging around a dead horse. But she knew what she was doing. She loves to write and she wrote. She loves the world she has created and loves sharing it with everyone who would care. And THAT is why I love her. Her flaws make her beautiful.

On the personal front, she has made herself a fabulous modern day icon for all generations and genders: From her rags-to-riches life, to becoming a true badass business woman  who negotiated into being a consultant during the making of the HP movies (writers are usually kept out by the directors), to handling multiple lawsuits, and staying up-to-date with information technology as well as social media to stay in touch with her fanbase, to raising awareness and performing charity, to raising kids and family with privacy. She has done all that and more. In fact, she has proved herself to be a better business-woman than a writer, and I mean that as an ardent admiring fan.

I could write forever about her and her books. But I will simply stop this post with an assortment of famous lines from her books. She remains someone that I will always look up to.*Always*

Happy 51st, Joanne Rowling!


In dreams, we enter a world that’s entirely our own.

Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here!

“Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.”

’I’m not going to be murdered,’ Harry said out loud.
‘That’s the spirit, dear,’ said his mirror sleepily.”

“Really Hagrid, if you are holding out for universal popularity, I’m afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time”

Indeed, your failure to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been your greatest weakness.

Curiosity is not a sin… But we should exercise caution with our curiosity… yes, indeed.

If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.


It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.

Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.

Thoughts could leave deeper scars than almost anything else.

THE WEASLEY FAMILY had the funniest lines of all. 

"So light a fire!" Harry choked.
"Yes...of course...but there's no wood!" Hermione cried, wringing her hands.

"And what if I wave my wand and nothing happens?" [Harry]
"Throw it away and punch him in the nose," suggested Ron.

Yeah, someone might slip dragon dung in it again, eh, Perce?" said Fred. 
"That was a sample of fertilizer from Norway!" said Percy, going very red in the face. "It was nothing personal!"
"It was," Fred whispered to Harry as they got up from the table. "We sent it."

Who's Kreacher?"
"The house-elf who lives here," said Ron. "Nutter. Never met one like him."
"He is not a nutter," said Hermione.
"His life's ambition is to have his head cut off and stuck up on a plaque like his mother," said Ron. "Is that normal, Hermione?"

Speaking quietly so that no one else would hear, Harry told the other two about Snape's sudden, sinister desire to be a Quidditch referee.
"Don't play," said Hermione at once.
"Say you're ill," said Ron.
"Pretend to break your leg," Hermione suggested.
"Really break your leg," said Ron.

"Oh Professor look! I think I found an unaspected planet! Oooh, which one's that, Professor?"
"It is Uranus, my dear," said Professor Trelawney peering down a the chart.
"Can I have a look at Uranus too, Lavender?" said Ron.

"Mr. Weasley, it's Harry.. the fireplace has been blocked up. You won't be able to get through there."
"Damn!" said Mr. Weasley's voice. "What on earth did they want to block the fireplace for?"
"They've got an electric fire," Harry explained.
"Really?" said Mr. Weasley's voice excitedly. "Eclectic, you say? With a plug? Gracious, I must see that... Let's think...ouch, Ron!"
Ron's voice now joined the others'. 
"What are we doing here? Has something gone wrong?" 
"Oh no, Ron," came Fred's voice, very sarcastically. "No, this is exactly where we want to end up."
"Yeah, we're having the time of our lives here," said George, whose voice sounded muffled, as though he was squashed against the wall.

"Mollywobbles," whispered a mortified Mrs. Weasley into the crack at the edge of the door.

"You'd think people had better things to gossip about," said Ginny as she sat on the common room floor, leaning against Harry's legs and reading the Daily Prophet. "Three Dementor attacks in a week, and all Romilda Vane does is ask me if it's true you've got a Hippogriff tattooed across your chest."
Ron and Hermione both roared with laughter. Harry ignored them.
"What did you tell her?"
"I told her it's a Hungarian Horntail," said Ginny, turning a page of the newspaper idly. "Much more macho."
"Thanks," said Harry, grinning. "And what did you tell her Ron's got?"
"A Pygmy Puff, but I didn't say where."

"There's a boy been in here crying?" asked Harry curiously. "A young boy?"
"Never you mind," said Myrtle, her small, leaky eyes fixed on Ron, who was now definitely grinning. "I promised I wouldn't tell anyone, and I take his secret to the-"
"-not to the grave, surely?" snorted Ron. "The sewers maybe...

Ron, you know full well Harry and I were brought up by Muggles!” said Hermione. “We didn’t hear stories like that when we were little, we heard ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ and ‘Cinderella’—“
“What’s that, an illness?” asked Ron. 

"What are you doing with all those books anyway?" Ron asked. 
"Just trying to decide which ones to take with us," said Hermione. When we're looking for the Horcruxes."
"Oh, of course," said Ron, clapping a hand to his forehead. "I forgot we'll be hunting down Voldemort in a mobile library." 

"Oh, very good," interrupted Snape, his lip curling. "Yes, it is easy to see that nearly six years of magical education have not been wasted on you, Potter. 'Ghosts are transparent.'"

Professor Dumbledore - yesterday, when I was having my Divination exam, Professor Trelawney went very - very strange."
"Indeed?" said Dumbledore. "Er - stranger than usual, you mean?"
An unexpected benefit of having read her books, is that I jumped right back into the fantasy genre that I so loved as a child through Enid Blyton's books, as well as Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia (which I saw as a BBC series before actually reading them), and the Wizard of Oz. The direct consequence of which is that I discovered Sir Terry Pratchett when he took a swipe at her in 2005I was her furiously fanatic fan back then, and I had to look up this man who dared say something against her. It is an altogether different story that I fell in love with him once I read his books, for his sheer prolificacy, his excellent cross-referencing of political matters, history and world culture, and of course his obscure and wild sense of humour. I also discovered through her Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus (I can *never* spell that right in one attempt) Trilogy , Phillip Pullman and Susanna Clarke, and Cornelia Funke


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