Posted by: miilee | July 19, 2011

Harry Potter: The Guy We Grew Up With…


I am a crazy fan of the Harry Potter books; therefore, by default, I don’t like the movies. However, J.K. Rowling was the one who brought the magic of reading to me when was a kid and Daniel Radcliffe and cast gave that magic a face. Therefore, though I might not like the way the book story is slashed to make the movie, there still is a connection. The first Harry Potter movie marked the beginning of the most exciting years of my life; the last one ties up the ends, sums up those years and neatly turns the last page on  the book of the collective childhoods of the people who grew up with me. Here is a ride down memory lane. The time line could be a little skewed but I’ve tried to recall as much as I can… Its a longish post… but it has been a decade of my life…. 

My first Harry Potter book, ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ was a gift to me by my aunt at a time when the name was barely heard of. I was ten years old then. I must confess, I barely showed any interest in it for a whole year. Then, one fine morning, I saw the cover of that same book in the morning paper; something about the book being a sensation abroad and about a movie being made on it. I was intrigued to know that something I possessed had the worth of appearing in a news paper!

It took little after that for me to pick up that red book and start off. Within one hour, I was drawn into the book. By the end of two weeks, I remember begging, pleading and pestering the entire household for the next book, ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’. My mother was astonished by this sudden love of reading and made a special trip to Pune to get me the precious book.

I promptly finished it in another week’s time and was back to begging for the next one, ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’. My aunt promised to lend me her copy if I scored well in the tests that were coming up. I have NEVER studied that hard in my entire student life as I did in those three weeks. I scored a whopping 83% (I had a constant, dependable average of 50%). The moment I laid eyes on my score sheet, I paid no heed to the fact that I’d ranked second in class. I ran into the house, got my mom to call up my aunt at her home in Mumbai and demanded that she couriered the book at that very instant. When she did, I ran to the door every time the bell rang; got the book three days later. Finished it in four days.

That was in 2000; when the third book was barely a year old, a fourth book was to be released any day and the first movie was rumored to be released soon after.

When the fourth book, ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ was out, I hungrily grabbed the copy that my aunt gifted me and finished the thing in two days flat! My cousin too was a Harry Potter fan. I remember vividly, the hours and hours of talk we had about the books! The theories we came up with; about what will happen next and the ideas that we had. There was something about these fictional characters and their worlds. They were as unreal as possible. Yet, they were relatable; one of us. The friendship of Harry, Ron and Hermione; the teachers, the parents, all of them were as real to us as the people around us. By the end of that book, I mourned the death of Cedric Diggory and dreaded the future, now that You-Know-Who was back….

Then that summer, all hell broke loose when the first movie released. We were too young then to realize that parts of the book had been chopped in the movie. For us, it was a front door entry into a magical world we’d only seen in our heads so far! It was magnificent; to finally see the Hogwarts castle and the people who’d populated our minds for so long now. The 11 year old on screen felt like he was our best friend; someone we knew for ages! We saw the movie in a theatre in Pune and there was nothing else I would talk about for months after that! Somewhere in my heart, I wanted to receive an owl from Hogwarts, informing me that I’d secured a place in the school!

Another magic had entered our lives by then; The Internet. My cousin had a net connection at home; those which now look painfully slow but back then, were a wonder! Surfing was costly back then, so we spent a little time going to the Harry Potter site. We religiously read all the discussion threads and ‘news updates’ on it. We sat and hatched our own theories about what would happen next and quiz each other about all that we’d read! Everything from hexes, curses, jinxes, spells, names of friends, pets, ghosts, odd references, and some of the most randomly obscure things from the book! I swear, if there would have been an exam on Harry Potter, I’d have been competing for the first place!

Then in 2002, the second movie came out. By then, we’d finished our Ph.D’s in Harry Potter. My younger sister too had joyfully boarded the Harry Potter bandwagon and had digested the books at almost the same rate as I had. I’d finished reading the second and third books almost a dozen times each. I knew them off by heart, back to front! We went for the second movie with full gusto. We came out slightly disappointed; they’d skipped some of the parts in the book and somehow, the movie didn’t feel complete; like something was missing. But we easily forgave that and got caught in a wave of information about Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.

When I was all of 13, I had a tremendous crush on the little wizard. I cut out every little news piece about either the film of the artist. (I still have that folder!) I bought notebooks with Harry Potter images on the covers and didn’t secure the brown paper covers with cello tape so I could take a sneak peek at that heart throb even in the middle of classes.

In the summer of that year, the 5th book, ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ released. I went mad! I was still living in Lonavla where there wasn’t a single reasonable book store. I wanted to lay hands on the book the second it came out but such was fate that I had to wait an entire month before I got a copy. Finally, my brother lent me his copy. Then it took me two days again to finish reading; I didn’t leave the book even at the dinner table, much to my mom’s chagrin. So eager was my sister to grab the book herself that we read the book together; lying on either side of the book and holding up the pages in a manner that she could read the earlier chapters as I raced through the rest of the book. Harry Potter kissing Cho Chang was the highlight! In my teen mind, that was romance! The thrill of the adventure was intact; I held my breath even as I turned each page!

The year after that, the third movie came out; by now, needless to say, I could recite the book in my sleep. Again, needless to say, I was super disappointed with the movie since it chopped out some of the best moments from the book. I went back and re-read the book and decided never to see any of the following movies.

In 2005, I gave my SSC exams and soon after I joined my junior college, the 6th book, ‘Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince’ released. Predictably, I secured it within a few days (My uncle gifted it to me this time) and finished in a couple of days after that. I cried buckets at the death of Dumbledore. My book still has the tear marks.

Later that Year, the fourth movie came out. I didn’t see it in the theatres but watched it on TV when some cousins came over MUCH later. Didn’t like it much but hadn’t kept any great expectations.

Then I think it was in 2007 that the last book in the series, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ came out. I could have killed to be in one of the lines outside Crossword but once again, I waited until a week later when a friend handed me her copy that she’d finished reading in a couple of days. I’d just started my college in Mumbai and reading the final book was an emotional journey of its kind. I cried through the revelations of the pasts of the characters, the deaths and the battle of Hogwarts. I cried when Snape’s story came out after his death and by the end of the book, I was in a place where I’d never been before; In the shoes of a grown up Harry Potter who was a parent of three, waving them good bye as they set of for school. I remember sitting at the window in college and wondering when I’ll take that 19 year leap to where I’d be bidding my kids as they left for school.

I didn’t watch any of the movies after the Goblet of Fire. However, the other day, my friend Vallari suggested that we meet up since we hadn’t seen each other for a really long time. We decided to go for the final Harry Potter. I’d decided long ago never to see another Harry Potter movie but something in me gave way. I’d seen him enter the world of magic as a 11 year old. I had to see the final part. So I went.

I sat through the movie and even as my mind took notes of all the things that were different from the book, somewhere, I recapped the last decade I’d spent with this guy; Harry Potter. I’d cried for him, laughed with him. Sat at the edge of my seat, chewed off my finger nails, and cheered for him. Suddenly, it felt like yesterday that I’d seen the cute, innocent little chap being introduced to the alternate reality of witchcraft and wizardry. Yet, it felt far away; almost a life time ago. I pictured his face as it was back then even as I saw him now. He had changed, grown up. Just like me. Like all of us.

As the grown up Harry spoke to his son and bid the kids farewell with Ginny and Ron and Hermione, something in me shifted; I’d probably be doing the same in a few years. Harry Potter had become an adult and it made my adulthood more real to me than any of the other things had so far. It is appropriate after all; the boy who opened the treasure chest of the magic of teenage for me, was the one with whom I bid farewell to my youth….

Good Bye Harry Potter; the Boy I grew up with….

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Responses

  1. Damn ! every single HP post is making me miss him all the more *sob*
    Totally relatable post ..

    • I will always cherish the memory like that of a faithful friend… God bless JK Rowling for filling our lives with magic…

  2. I feel like it’s my story. It really does end here after all 🙂

    • *sigh*… it was a magical joyride, wasnt it?

  3. goosebumps can totally relate.

    i searched and searched and got my hands on the final book 30 hrs before the official launch of the book.
    YES it was piracy.

    But, the feeling was amazing, to be reading something before “ALMOST” everyone. 🙂

    i remember tabulating all jinxes, curses and hexes. wand lore and speculating who might die.
    and the ultimate discussions about how the BOY who lives actually survives.

    those were the days. : |

    :)))))

    • I wish I could relive my childhood….

  4. Allright! I can relate to it in a non-linear kinda way…….with the DaVinci Code series! Same initial excitement,frustration,criticism,reflection,reconciliation,……and ultimely…..open embrace! The emphasis points never seemed to hit the mark, the actors, whether the ‘incompetent’ legendary French actor playing detective Fache, and even the great Hanks, never seemed to match up to my superior imagination, which had already killed the Oscar-nominated Audrey Tautou!…Ofcourse, now, after about 5 viewings, I have begun to like seeing it through their eyes! And same goes for the sequel!

    Anyways, back to the point, you should also see the Hindi version of the concluding fairytale..’Maut ke Tohfe’..it has very good voice-overs, and ofcourse Potter crying out ‘O Teri’ a few times sounds heart-achingly funny, and may I add ‘surreal’!…let’s not forget the end when the translated names of the different Hogwarts ‘houses’ makes u wanna faint!But overall, a terrific experience…….you’re right, we’ve grown up with them, but something inside does’nt let me feel that it’s the end of youth, nor that it will ever be so…..as long as you believe in MAGIC……and the POTTER WITHIN US !!
    Ending with Dumbledore’s iconic final words…..”Ofcourse, it’s in your head….but what makes you think it is’nt real”!! …….FINAL GOODBYE!

    • You mean the Dan Brown series? (DaVinchi Code was just one book). But I get it… the only book to film project that I have been able to appreciate is The Time Travelers Wife… Barely ever go to watch the movie version of any book that I read…

      • Yup, I meant The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, but u get it. Others that were good projections, for me, were Doctor Zhivago, Disclosure and Jurassic Park. Dinosaurs (and Demi Moore) never seemed so cool on paper!
        On the other hand, one book I wish I had read after seeing the film is: The Godfather!..(I will make him an offer he cannot refuse!!)….makes the hair at the back of ur neck stand up!…. and also JAWS!……absolutely no time now though! *sigh*.

  5. awesome nostalgia..
    http://mayank18dreams.blogspot.com/2011/07/boy-who-will-live-on.html

    • 🙂 glad you dropped by to read!

  6. Good one..
    Enjoyed reading.. Recently i wrote a blog about HarryPotter..
    http://netgiz.net/word/?p=229

    • Glad you liked the post…

  7. Wow. So many memories. With me it was the other way around. I saw the first 5 movies first. My bff kept asking me to read the books, but you know i just couldn’t read it (all friends used to call it a girl book 😦 ). By the time the 6th movie came, i thought that i should read the books (again constant nagging from my bff) .. So i downloaded the first 2 books as pdf. (Piracy Zindabad!) and i finished both the books nonstop in 3 days! I was so hooked that i made my friend courier the books 3, 4 and 5 to me in my hostel. it reached 2 days later and i started reading it.. I remember it was my college exams time and i didn’t care. I just had to find out what was happening with Harry!! my exams finished and i completed reading the 3rd, 4th and 5th books :D. The 6th movie was to release in a week and i didn’t want to watch it before reading the book, so i downloaded the pdf book again 😀 and finished it in 2 days flat!! my roommate thought i had gone mad!!!! And for the 7th book went to Crossword and bought it (the only HP book i bought) and read it in one day flat. Slept for 2 hours, skipped lunch and dinner.. I was soo crazzy for it..

    I wish i could have grown up with reading this. But as they say, Better late than never.. 😀

    • LOL!! Sounds so much like a Harry Potter fan story!! Film first or Book, an HP fan is always an HP fan!! Welcome to the club!!


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