Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A Bit Potty About Potter: Awaiting the Sixth Harry Potter Book

Another two and a half days to go. For what? Oh, it's the weekend, yes. But it is THE Weekend. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince releases this Saturday. Have been waiting for this weekend since I booked the book (bad one, I know) . . . since I pre-ordered the book about a month and a half back. As did another of my colleagues. And a few (many) others in the office.

This week we finally dropped the pretense of serious, responsible adults. Talk during chai-time (or for that matter any time) around the pantry table revolves only around the Boy who lived. We have had serious hour-long discussions (and project deadlines be damned) about which character will Rowling bump off this time - Hagrid and Dumbledore seem to the favorites, though Ron and anyone else from the rest of the Weasley family are also considered to have the requisite bump-off quotient. People have held summit meetings to consider the possibility of Voldemort finally attacking the Dursley household. And we've had a few round tables centered around the new DADA teacher. Harry's love-life has been dissected and analyzed more than we have ever discussed any of our colleagues. Who will Harry hook-up with this time? Ginny? Luna? Hermione? What then happens to Ron and Hermione angle?

People have already planned their weekends and most of us are thinking of little else than being at the bookshop the minute it opens, picking the book and then shutting ourselves off from the world. I will have to come all the way from Ambernath to Andheri to pick up my copy (Don't want to wait till Monday). I figure that I will read a goodish bit on my journey home. And then through the day and the night and the next day if necessary. The cell-phone will be switched off and will be switched on again only after I have read the book (Don't want anyone to call/SMS any spoilers). The Sis-in-law has been told to tell all callers and friends that I am unavailable (A friend who has returned from a long sojourn from the US of A has been told that he can meet me only on the next weekend -- and yes, he did question my friendship. It cut no ice). The brother has been told that he will have to wait for me to finish before he sets his eyes on the book. Project Managers who have (and some who still will) questioned my devotion and dedication (and of other like-minded colleagues) have been firmly told that there will be no work happening this weekend. I have heard that one persistent PM was threatened with violence. And that somebody else shouted expecto patronum at another PM.

On my way back home yesterday I lectured two of my friends on the Potter universe. One tried to change tracks and talk of Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code, but he was not allowed to succeed.

Any worries over the next two days? Yup! Fear that the monsoon that has taken a break for now might return with a vengeance and halt the trains and the traffic. But that will not stop me.

What am I doing till the weekend then? Have decided not to read any of the earlier Potter books so that no Potter fatigue sets in (Not that it is possible, but why take a risk). Actually need the time to read project documents. Have been sneaking time every few hours to read other blog posts and past reviews on Potter, visit Rowling's site, read stuff like this and this and this and this. Have been visiting various sites to feel the buzz and stumbled across this interesting one: The Alternative Harry Potter Project.

And there's always the chai-break and the pantry table for another round of animated Potter talk.

Two and a half days to go. Suddenly there is much to look forward to in this life.


uma said...

this post is lovely! mandar, thanks for all the links...a~ and i are totally waiting for the book too...:)

Anonymous said...

Awesome post Mandy...I'm counting the days-hours-minutes-seconds (01 days-11 hrs-50 minutes-25 secs). Anyone else who wants to keep an eye on the coundows...pliss to log on to

Vikram A. said...

But Mandar, the Pope doesn't like Harry Potter. Oh no!

Anyway, hope you enjoy the release.


mandar talvekar said...

Hi Vikram,
I had posted a similar comment earlier on Sonia Falerio's blog about the Pope's edict.
Anyway here I go once again:

If Ratzinger comes and says anything anti-Potter in my office, I believe he'll be lynched. I have tried to understand why some people are against these books -- particularly why are some Christian leaders anti-Potter. I have come across essays that said Potter promoted witchcraft or as Ratzinger puts it has "subtle seductions," that are capable of corrupting young Christians.

I feel that all these nay sayers have got it wrong. I am not sure if reading a book about witches and wizards (who - except for the bad guys - are thoroughly nice, celebrate Christmas, and have a jolly good time) can debase young minds. I think we credit the kids with too little intelligence. I am sure kids know that they are entering a different magical world in the books and that reality is different.

Importantly the books emphasize many excellent qualities that would be good for all kids and adults to inculcate - resisting evil, friendship, loyalty, doing the right come what may and individual choice and its implications. To the people who see only the witchcraft in Potter and label it bad, I can only say that you are ignoring the good in Potter. There is much that's good in Potter that you (and the kids) can emulate and discouraging people from reading Potter is a shame.

That's not to say everything about the Potter books is good -- but I would rather restrict the debate on its literary merits (or lack of them as many point out). The last of the Potter novels was a bit of a hodgepodge and many will say that the books are too simplistic in their plot, that some of the characters are too flat and a number of other things. But it is a literary debate and not a debate of Faith. I am not a Christian and have little faith myself so I can't really understand what is so inherently "bad" about the witchcraft in Potter. I do feel however that these issues of faith can be laid aside and the book enjoyed.

Moreover Rowling and Potter should be credited for the amount of people that have taken up reading because of the books. Kids do read it but even the adults love it and quite a few have moved on to reading other books as well after Potter -- something which very few books can claim to do.

Let people choose for themselves (and from the millions of pre-orders we can see that they are choosing to read Potter and ignore Ratzinger's missives).

Let's read Potter and not any religious edicts. The books are at least much more fun.

Uma and Ro, thanks for the encouragement. Much obliged.

Vikram A. said...

Hi Mandar,

I am emailing your comment to the Vatican. :)

Very well said.