Hello, readers of Furree's blog!
The post you are about to read <is extremely hot> is the fruition of many many days' and nights' imploring, coaxing and subsequent nay-saying (from my end) and finally, arm-twisting and tsk-tsking from the lovely Furree, whose determination to wring out a guest post from me is the reason why I am even writing all of this now. Sitting on my bed. Wrapped up in blankets. Laptop and courage held in a firm grip by my keyboard-warmed, not-having-blogged-in-many-many-months-and-hence-rusty hands. For you must admit that it does take courage to submit my ramblings to FIVE. HUNDRED. AND COUNTING. pairs of eyes, that too when said ramblings are, in my true style, very rambly. Oh my god, did I just ramble about rambling? ANYWAY enough with the dillying and the dallying. The post I've written is about something that was a big part of my childhood - and millions of others', as I have found out, ever since I acquainted myself with the Internet - and is not so much a phenomenon as much as it is a.. mania.
Yes, you've guessed it right, freeze your incredulously widening eyes - it's POTTER MANIA!
Phase 1: The Beginning of a Life-Long Affair
Little Shrija is walking along one summer evening alongside a dusty, much-populated road in Bangalore, Karnataka.
She is accompanied by her mother, her mother's mother and her uncle, who have dragged her out with them, enforcing her to abandon whatever it is she did to keep herself amused and entertained before she discovered that which was to change her life forever.
She is walking quickly and with irritated eyes, hoping to finish with the adults' silly excursion as soon as possible and get back home before she melts in the sweltering evening air. Yes, she remembers it all this vividly, remembers her uncle halting suddenly with a cry, remembers the hawker who was the reason for him to have done so. Remembers her uncle, oh that well-informed soul, recognizing the treasure he had beheld instantaneously, and buying immediately books 1, 2, 3 and 4 in their pirated, paper-back form. Remembers the stern voice of her uncle as he thrust the then seemingly voluminous tomes into her hand, saying "I want you to read all of these before summer is over."
And that is all it takes. Like any great and timeless love affair worth its salt, it all starts by accident, with a wisp of perchance or persnickety..
Phase 2: The Obsession
Little Shrija was always one to take the words of elders to heart.
On coming back home, she dutifully makes her way over to the calm and cool master bedroom, away from all the hungama and the heat. Perching herself onto a comfortable corner on the bed, she begins to read.
And that was that.
Phase 3: The Obsession Deepens
The next day, Shrija's uncle brings home the Philosopher's Stone DVD.
By this time, Shrija has finished book 1, and is halfway through book 2. Giddy with excitement - for it was the first time that a book she has read has been made into a movie - and beside herself with the hopes of finding the actual likeness of the characters she has just acquainted herself with but has already started to love, she scrambles to a spot as close to the TV as physically possible, and as is acceptable by her mother's standards. With the book in her hands open to the relevant page, she sits through the entire movie without moving a muscle.
That is when she realises that movies are always, always, anti-climactic. She thinks Harry is perfect, of course, and immediately begins crushing on him - a different kind of obsession, which is to last for an embarrassingly long time
She likes Hermione as well, and though she thinks Ron looks a little
funny, she likes him too. She thinks Snape is much too scary, and loves
McGonagall with her wrinkly skin and gumption-filled eyes. However it is
Dumbledore she loves the most, Dumbledore that she thinks looks just as
she has imagined, aided by the drawing on the booksleeve.
She also realises that her eyes now have a sparkly, shiny aspect to them which, as she later will understand, characterise love, passion and appreciation, and will forever be the signs and the corresponding feelings with which she will identify these sentiments.
Phase 4: The Obsession Establishes Itself
Shrija is now a preteen.
While on holiday, she inadvertently visits Hogwarts as shown in the first two movies, and Diagon Alley.
She gets to share this experience with her younger sister, something which, she is sure, helped bring them closer to each other
She finishes reading book 5 by now, and is eagerly awaiting the release of book 6.
By now she also manages to finish watching movies 1 to 3 in DVD.
Nothing, nothing can explain the horror she experiences when she sees the New Dumbledore.
Immediately she starts to hate the movies even more than she already did.
Until one day, her friend, her perfect kind amazingly generous friend!!!!!!!!!, invites her to go watch the fourth movie for a nightshow ON THE DAY IT WAS TO RELEASE. She goes, needless to say. Till date it is her best movie-viewing experience in life. The shared excitement, the shared shock at the parts that were mercilessly chopped off (NO QUIDDITCH WORLD CUP????), the hooting and the cheering, and the Hermione scene. Oh, the Hermione scene, the way the theatre, the entire movie theatre cheered for her during her grand entry. It may just be her favourite movie scene of all time, too.
And Cedric. Shrija distinctly remembers the way she completely and embarrassingly fan-girled all over Cedric. Much to her friend and friend's mum's joint amusement. But then again it was already established that Shrija had/has a bit of a Harry Potter guy fixation. Just a bit.
And then come the quizzes.
Harry Potter quizzes.
Conducted in schools.
Conducted in colleges.
Conducted in bookstores.
Shrija attends them all.
Even wins a few.
She attends Harry Potter themed Christmas celebrations, has a Harry Potter cake for her birthday <that turns out HORRIFICALLY TRAGICALLY UGLY>, gets Harry Potter related presents, and is slowly growing up with the comforting companion that is this mania by her side all the time; which enables her to strike up conversations with her peers easily, helps her makes new friends, and most importantly, gives her something to look forward to and cheer for along with the millions of other like-minded souls around the world. She feels such a sense of belonging with the elite yet welcoming clique of the Pottermaniacs of the world.
Yes, indeed, she discovers that there are others like her in all parts of the world, thanks to that most powerful of all communicational tools, the Internet. There is a point when she visits Mugglenet daily
reads up on all the amazing trivia, and news, and eventually.. fanfiction.
But that is another phase altogether.
Phase 5: Disillusionment
Another one of Shrija's uncles buys her Book 6 and gives it to her the very next day after its day of release in India.
It is the first hard bound genuine copy she is to own. Shrija doesn't know how to react. It is the sweetest thing he's ever done for her. She thanks god for giving her so many uncles all of whom seemingly want to fuel her obsession. She wastes not a second in reading it that very day.
She has already heard from her spoil-sport friends in class who had managed to read it before her that
dies. She had
been filled with disbelief then but as she is reading it late into the
night, she is dumbstruck. She
feels an overwhelming sense of anti-climax when she finishes the book.
She can't believe what she's read. How can she have done
But she is convinced that
is not bad. She is convinced despite the overwhelming evidence to the opposite.
And she knows right away who RAB is. It's so obvious. And sad. She can't believe she has to wait two more years for the next book!
Then one day after class Shrija and her English teacher are talking about the books.
It is then that he breaks the illusion for her, with all the effortlessness of a cheetah breaking a gazelle's long and slender neck. He rips away from her the warm and comforting cocoon she was hitherto ensconced in with the words, "The writing is not all that great, it's only mediocre."
Shrija is struck dumb yet again. She nods helplessly, agreeing with him that "The story is gripping, though, and that is what credits her success" before walking back to her place and slumping down in a stupor of sorts. She doesn't think the books will ever be the same for her.
Phase 6: Acceptance
Shrija does not watch the 5th and the 6th movies as soon as they are released.
She accepts that she is 'grown up' now, and can no longer be silly-ly hung up about things like fictional magical worlds. In fact she hears her father saying something to that affect one day, and is glad. She is.
When Book 7 is released, she borrows it from a friend and reads it, not right away but within the first few days.
She falls back in love again.
She can't believe that she could ever pretend that fictional magical worlds had no effect on her. For they DID.
She feels like something huge in her life has come to an end. She wishes there was more, that the end were drawn out for a bit longer. It is all so overwhelming. She wishes she
had written it in two parts. But of course she understands
her reason for having exactly 7 books, no more, no less.
She watches movies 5 and 6 now in the hopes of making up for what she has missed. Despite her earlier belief that the movies weren't all that great, she appreciates them now for what they are.
She accepts that her mania is sort of a life-long thing, and though she is 'growing up', it doesn't mean that that part of her will ever leave her.
She watches Part 1 of the seventh movie online, and manages to GO TO THE THEATRE FOR THE NIGHT SHOW FOR THE LAST MOVIE. She is beyond excited, but her excitement is not shared by her companions this time. They - her friends, her friend's dad, her friend's neighbours - all ridicule openly and loudly the overall cheesiness of it, and though she finds herself secretly empathizing with them in certain parts - because of the inaccuracies! She hates those! - she doggedly tries to savour it as best as she could. For this was, after all, the culmination of all the things she held dear ever since she was a child.
But then Voldy hugs Draco.
And she gives up trying.
She hates the epilogue with all her heart.
She never watches the movie again, unlike the others.
Phase 7: Fanfiction, or The Obsession Lives On (omg I wasn't planning for seven phases it just happened!!!!!!!!!! omg omg omg POETIC JUSTICE)
It is now more than a year after the end of the phenomenon. But the mania lives on. In other, less mainstream ways..
Shrija remembers her initial days of reading fanfiction from Mugglenet and one day decides to find some more to read. AND THAT WAS THAT.
She finds fanfiction.net, and thus begins a whole other kind of mania.
Maybe one day she will write one of her own. Maybe.
But now, now she can't go to sleep without reading a fic or two at night. She is hooked, and it is her guilty pleasure. She has read.. many, many things, some downright disturbing, some sweet, some angst-y, but mostly ALL HOT HOT HOT. And she LOVES IT. Loves that through these fics she is back to obsessing over her favourite characters albeit in different ways than before,
mostly, she loves the closure that she gets when she reads
fanfics. Because these fics have better versions of the epilogue. The AUs help to
imagine a more satisfying direction to the lives of the characters, and
she loves the flexibility of it all. There are fics and theories and
scenarios to fit her every mood and whim, she is literally spoiled for
And this is the stage at which she is now. Living in a bubble of fluff and smut and slash and all the deliciously naughty yet fulfilling words that she has managed to learn while indulging in this particular obsession.
She now is waiting to see what new turn this obsession/mania/life-long relationship is going to take. Maybe she will read it to her kids. Maybe not. Maybe she will hoard it all to herself. Maybe it will be the deciding factor for her when the time comes to choose a life partner!
All she knows is that whether she acknowledges it or not, this phenomenon will always remain a part of her.
Shrija (aka Lioness Without A Pride) is a perfect writer. Every word she types out is beautiful and expressive and opulent and intelligent and magnificent. I LOVE HER. Visit her amazing blog Bespectacled Views and FORCE her to start blogging regularly again! The world needs more of LWAP. Seriously.