20 Glorious Years: Harry Potter and the Amazing Power of written words!


imageHarry Potter Books have turned 20…And…what a fabulous  journey it’s been! It seems like yesterday that I picked up Philosphers Stone, .the first Harry Potter book. I was a young mother then and I got hooked on to a children’s book…and that also a fantasy full of magic , a far from reality book. . Adults know better than that ….there is no magic out there…and so did I. And then came Hogwarts, Harry Potter, Hermoine Granger, Hagrid, Voldermont, Ron Weasley, Dumbledore, Doby: the elf, Draco Malfoy,, Sirius Black and Snape in my life. My children were barely three and four or even younger , when the Harry Potter bug caught me. And it caught be bad ….I started reading the series and kept waiting impatiently for the next book to come out ….not once leaving the make believe magical world that Rowling had built so masterfully. I loved them so much that I wanted my kids to be a part of that magic. I would read a section of the book everyday and wait for the night to fall to tell that story to my children everyday …spinning a web of Rowling Magical words on their little brains. And how my kids who could not read on their own then loved the stories …almost worshipped the words that came out of my mouth. Rowling kept writing, I kept reading and I kept telling her stories. From the Philosopher’s Stone( 2001)to the Chamber of Secrets (2002),the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), the Goblet of Fire (2005), the Order of the Phoenix (2007), the Half-Blood Prince (2009), the Deathly Hallows, pt 1 (2010)to the Deathly Hallows, pt 2 (2011).

I happily gave myself some credit too along with Rowling of being a master story teller. My kids kept wanting more …and more …the invisibility cloak , Tri Wizard competition, the dementers, Hagrid’s dragon, Hedwig, the magical spells …..I tried my best to make them imagine the magic in my stories. Stories that they could clearly see in their heads ….words which had the power to touch hearts and take us in the alternate reality of Wizards and Witches. I remember them forever wanting to cross over from being muggles to become  a wizard and a witch playing quiddich in Hogwarts. How they wished they were Gryffindors working hard to win against the Slytherins.How my daughter enjoyed hearing the tales of Hermoine being smarter than a lot of boys in her class….and how Hermoine remained a favourite and an awesome role model for so many girls out there. How my son wished he had a scar like Harry’s and how he practiced in his limited vocabulary …the most famous magic spells from the books …..Wingardium Leviosa – spell that made things levitate, or Ridikullum – spell that turned scary things into something funny.

Then came the first movie ..and the second and then the next. Our family rushed to the cinemas to see the magic on the screen with all eight Harry Potter movies over the years. My kids started reading on their own after the third book. But we kept the family discussions on and kept discussing the magical spells for a long time.

What fun times were those …to have a book series and movies in which the protagonists grew up side by side …with our children every year. How beautifully Rowling kept including the milestones , the issues and hassles and pleasures of being a kid , a preteen , a teenager , an adult. How a whole generation grew up along with the main characters in the book over the years with same insecurities , hopes for future , going through the same trials and tribulations. Amazing how it had never occurred to another author before Rowling to do this ….There was  never before , available a book series that became a whole world in its own. From books , to movies, to Harry Potter world, merchandise of every kind…etc etc …Harry Potter Brand has an empire of its own , a cult following , magic that never fades and a common thread that brings the readers of Harry Potter series and fans of its movies together. People who feel that they are  better than the have nots …..meaning people who haven’t heard or read or seen a Harry Potter book or movie in their life…..and sadly haven’t had either the opportunity or the inclination to have their lives being touched by the Magic of Rowling’s World.

An unknown single mother …almost broke … got an idea to write a story on a train …she penned down her ideas in a small Cafe in Edinburgh ….spun magic on random pieces of napkins.. And ….went on to become a legend….and helped build an alternate world full of magic. A world that has been enchanting young and old alike for the last twenty years. A world which is a safe haven for young and not so young kids  and also for their parents . It’s really inspiring  to see that Harry Potter and Rowling are what they are today in spite of the circumstances …circumstances which were hardly congenial to writing a master piece, a game changer, making history or becoming a unparalleled success story.

This post is my tribute to the Series which will remain an important part of children books history forever. Harry Potter books have touched millions of lives and have imparted many life lessons on the way.  The books opened my eyes to the realisation that words are powerful …more powerful than anything else in the world. And if our words can touch hearts…can impact lives …we should write. Even if only a few people read …..we should write if we can. And encourage all our children to write …good or bad doesn’t matter, but write and express as often as they can on paper, tablet or on their darling computers. Thanks to Harry Potter series and Rowling, I got inspired to write , have some good writings to my credit and the confidence that by writing I am using my time well. Hoping my writings have the ability to touch hearts at least a few of them if not more.Cheers to the amazing power of written words that brings Magic in our lives everyday!

Some life lessons from Harry Potter Books for our Kids and Us:

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

-“The truth.” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

“It’s our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”-Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

“Because that’s what Hermione does,” said Ron, shrugging. “When in doubt, go to the library.”-Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

“But you know, happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban

Those who criticise our generation, forget who raised it !

 Teenagers Opinion ” Those who criticize our generation forget who raised it”.

Universal Parental Opinion: Our children lives are tougher today. The zones they are living in are much more complicated than those simple days of our growing up life. Internet , loads of exposure to lives of others, peer pressure, materialistic attitudes etc etc. Also the general unrest in the world , conflicts between countries and different sects , terrorism, intolerance for other people’s beliefs, religions, sentiments, ideology and so so many varied influences. Thousands of news and TV channels, apps, portals, information sources …some genuine …some fake, zillion options for everything….one click snap decisions etc etc. Not to forget the Social Media frenzies …..Facebook, Instagram , what’s app, snapchats have all made our world smaller , more cohesive and connected …and that is good , very good . But what’s it brought with it is people getting a chance to peep into others people’s lives…a look into neighbours and friends homes and a overzealous interest in things beyond their own spheres.

Life lived through filters, smart phone lenses, selfies, posts and updates seems like a pretty dangerous made up…pretend world to our generation. While I am a worried parent…..like so many others parents of our generation ……scared for our children losing their innocence a little too soon.I am not sure if it’s the exposure, the Internet, the smart phones or the new generation to be blamed. We were not born in the computer age and are the ones who are finding it harder to handle these mediums.It’s us who are misusing it ….getting affected the most ….finding it distracting because we come from a time where words like online friends , click of a button weren’t part of our dictionaries. These gadgets and social media platforms are new toys in our hands and we are going crazy. Some of us have learned to not take anything and everything on social media as gospel truth , are more discerning in our choice of what we do with it, use it to find old long lost connections and keep our time fruitfully engaged by staying away from envy and judgements. But some of us have fallen prey and are living pretentious lives, a life stunted by the ease of having a view of what others are doing, how others are living and making comparisons.

My Opinion : It’s our problem! Sadly …I hate to admit that the intolerance for other people’s opinions, beliefs, religious and political views and the fixed mindsets problem is more of our generation’s problem. We don’t see young people tweeting stupid things, or sharing their life stories on Facebook,worrying who is eating what, wearing what and doing what or getting into what’s app family group or friends group fights.As a parent of teenage kids,I have had many opportunities to watch closely …my kids and their friends and lots of other teenagers out there in my circle and they seem to be much more sorted than what we all give them credit. They had their phase of doing some stupid things ..yes..over sharing of their lives ….but a lot of it is finished and done with. They are off the Facebook , they never tweet to sensationalise, their Instagram stories are creative and fun , their snapchats …I don’t know …but are maybe ok because I haven’t seen them having emotional road blocks over social media or seem to have feelings of envy and distress over other people’s livesor have insecurities like …everybody is happier than me….or I am the best ….look at my illustrious life …everyone is travelling the world , have awesome families but me etc etc …kind of heartaches that what we adults have had in our share post the advent of Internet and Facebook.

The new generation is so much more sorted than us in terms of where they want to go …they have confidence of having the courage to work for what they want from life. They are smart , quick and can use GPS , google maps , Wikipedia and all kinds of technology much better than us. They don’t need to be directed …instead we are dependent on their directions which in turn is helping us navigate through this new world. They know where to find answers from and have the right key words and the right questions to manoeuvre their way through anything. They are the empowered ones !

Why are we then worried for them? ….instead we should worry about us and help ourselves …to make peace with the idea that this is the new world …which has information available on one click …where everything is out there and in our children’s reach. And there is nothing that we can do about that but use it to our advantage.Live our lives more creatively and happily and enjoy the fact that we got a chance to see this change right in front of our eyes. Be role models for our children ….role models of people who are smart to see the pros of the dynamic new world and make the most of our time left on the earth…thanks to new amazing new options…learning more and doing more meaningful things with our lives. And our children seeing us making the right use of the information overload and make better decisions about online safety, privacy and using the power of Internet and social media to make a difference in this world!

Even if the times aren’t simple anymore …our children are not complexed and are not disadvantaged..rather they are  much better equipped and empowered to live their lives to the fullest!

Our Partners in Crime…Our Sisters & Brothers!

Our sibling relationships …close or distant, happy or not so happy have the capability of sculpting our life scripts. They have the power to shape our character, our histories and our future. Our brothers and sisters might not admire us always , but they remain interested in us , our lives , our successes and our failures forever. They are our partners in crime, our emotional punch bags, our biggest fans and also our worst critics, our team mates and can be our strongest rivals, our closest confidants who if they want can become ruthless spies and can sell us out anytime…they are people who know us the best inside out.

Life keeps moving, years pass …like they have been riding a bullet train…and we all get busy with building our careers and our new families. From sharing the same room, to different rooms in the same house …to different houses in the same city …to different houses in different cities or maybe different countries to living on the opposite sides of the globe. The distance keeps growing …..miles between siblings keep increasing ..physically and sometimes it’s heartbreaking to see them walking in opposite directions emotionally too. Some of us are able to keep the warmth alive,while others spend much less time investing in the relationships bonded by blood and end up taking them for granted. The brothers and sisters who we knew better than ourselves …..sometimes become strangers. And other times they keep working at being the security nets they have always been. Sometimes the rivalry remains, other times the memory of rivalries become the bridges to bring us closer. There is nothing half hearted in sibling relationships …the fevicol bonds, the fights, the love, the hate, the competition,the comparisons….all feelings and emotions that the siblings evoke in each other remain fiercely intense always.

And then comes a time when we become parents of siblings and see the story of their siblings unfold in front of us. Our children find their own punching bags, emotional hangers and secret keepers in their siblings. And we see our hearts warming up to their life stories and relationships.

Remembering today ….

All those fighting episodes with my siblings , pleading and touching each others feet to beg for that last bite of maggi left on the plate!

The fun, the pleasure and the power of being the whistleblowers of my brothers and sisters deeds to our parents!

Those beautiful lazy days and cozy nights of watching Pakistani dramas,Voyages of Star Trek Enterprise and Bold & Beautiful soap opera marathons!

All the cribbing, crying and ganging up against our parents unreasonable no’s and limiting rules curbing our independence!

All the wardrobe swapping ..a chance of expanding our choices of clothes with or without the permission of our siblings!

Tagging along with the friends of our older siblings and being pampered like crazy and spoiled rotten.

Those scooter rides and potato chips eating sessions on our way back home from college!

Having the easier way out ….with our older sibling making all the mistakes and us learning from them!

Cheers to my dynamic, larger than life older sister whose capacity to love, undying spirit and energy has been inspiring for me always!

Cheers to my sensitive, very positive always, funny younger brother who is my go to person forever!

Cheers to our old memories & Amen to many many more beautiful new ones!

And A big Cheers to my children and their awesome siblings. Hoping they too keep making lovely memories together forever!

( Dedicated to my sister on her Birthday.. 23rd June 2017)

None of us are Disaster Proof …nor are our kids!


Disaster Management is such a dry word …so clinical, a sugar coated word for mayhem ….only seen used in news reporting after disasters have already happened. We don’t talk about possibility of disasters with our kids ….we don’t consciously speak about resilience. We believe in giving a beautiful life to them , we feel children should be kept away from seeing pain and suffering in this world. We try our hardest to show the beautiful side of things to them. We feel that they won’t have a choice but to see a lot of it that is not okay with this world , once they grow up. While that is the way precious little ones should be brought up ….with loads of love, lots of sheltering and protecting, by parents being a shield for them, a filter to sieve through the painful experiences and keeping the toxic environment miles away…

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None of us are Disaster Proof …nor are our kids!

Disaster Management is such a dry word …so clinical, a sugar coated word for mayhem ….only seen used in news reporting after disasters have already happened. We don’t talk about possibility of disasters with our kids ….we don’t consciously speak about resilience. We believe in giving a beautiful life to them , we feel children should be kept away from seeing pain and suffering in this world. We try our hardest to show the shiny pretty side of things to them. We feel that they won’t have a choice but to see a lot of it that is not okay with this world , once they grow up. While that is the way precious little ones should be brought up ….with loads of love, lots of sheltering and protecting, by parents being a shield for them, a filter to sieve through the painful experiences and keeping the toxic environment miles away from them. But we all know, how much ever we try but we can’t put them in glass boxes and despite our trying our hardest …they will get in their share some unpleasantness too.

As nobody and nothing is disaster proof.Disasters happen…and there is no way we can keep them always away from our children.We can reduce the negative impact but we also should prepare ourselves to teach them what to do ..if and when a disaster strikes. We need to let them face obstacles and overcome their obstacles on their own. When disaster strikes , it takes a lot away from us in its waves …our calm, our feeling of security and leaves us vulnerable and scared. It brings in feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. To counter these we need to teach our children about resilience.

We need to teach them to be strong and to be tough and ourselves model resilience that helps them to not crumble in wake of a disaster. We need to prepare them for those times as well when things don’t go right and don’t go their way. The ugly head of Terrorism is surfacing everywhere and incidence of war, conflicts, death ….is in our face everyday. We should keep talking of hope and tell stories of courage and people bouncing back from disasters instead of brushing the tough talk under the carpet.

The best way to teach children resilience is to tell them family stories …not just happy days stories, holidays and festivals and family togetherness stories ….but “voyage and return stories”, “heroic stories in times of disasters”, “overcoming the monsters stories” too. Stories about Illnesses and death in the family , natural disasters,accidents, terrorists attacks, conflicts….should also be a part of our family’s story chest. Voyage and return stories told in a positive way …can teach our children that there is a way back from an illness or a bad incident …the journey back brings hope and a will to make things better. Overcoming our monster stories help children learn that …their shortcomings,fear or failures are normal …and we had a lot of those in our share too….and how we can overcome them and move forward. Heroic stories of people coming forward and helping people during the times of disasters like fire accidents, terrorists attacks, war like what’s happening in Syria today help take the focus away from the hopelessness of a degrading world order. Such incidents should make us parents tell our kids that there is enough good in the world too. Stories of people bringing toys and food for Syrian kids, stories of courage of the firemen during the recent Grenfell Tower fire in London, or what’s happening closer to home like families celebrating the person who is no more, a couple handling their divorce well and not letting bitterness creep in,devoted care of a loved one helping in recovery of a family member or friend from a fatal accident, grandparents story of courage during partition etc.

We can’t stop disasters always …death, terrorism, accidents, the famines and droughts , the war, the plane crashes, happening in the world around us or the sad events that happen in our family or with our friends and us..will happen …because that’s the only rule that applies to all of us …..that life doesn’t move in a straight line …it has crests and troughs : goodtimes and downtimes for each and everyone of us.

So let’s teach our children to be prepared for the downtimes ….to face them …and deal with them ….and learn from them.

Let’s teach them to be sensitive people who have a helping hand always stretched out for people suffering in disasters and who are in trouble!

Let’s teach them to be tough for themselves too when a disaster hits them …to push themselves to get back on their feet again!

Let’s teach our children to overcome their own monsters and learn to deal with whatever life throws at them too …instead of lying to them that there are no monsters anywhere and they are safe forever!

Let’s teach them resilience because that is the only thing in our control …not the monsters , not the disasters , neither is God’s will !

The realisation that human life isn’t precious anymore …..is hitting us with the speed of a tornado!

Shaken to the core I am today ..and my heart is crying. Our lives are very fragile and it takes just a couple of minutes to change so much. A fire engulfed a part of our neighbour’s house leaving a home alone senior citizen with more than 90% burns …she is right now fighting for her life in ICU.

The realisation that human life isn’t precious anymore ….in today’s world …..is hitting us like a tornado.The course of events following the fire ….say it all. The safety measures in our country are in a pathetic state. Our own disaster management understanding is so so limited . Why ? We have never been through a fire drill in our lives , we don’t keep fire extinguishers at home , we take our lives for granted, we believe in leaving things “Ram Bharose”, our private hospitals don’t have Burn Wards, nearby famous starred hospitals have the courage to flatly refuse to take in a burnt victim because of the high risk of fatality of the accident, the fire stations shamelessly say , they will help but ideally we should call the station which handles the jurisdiction of our neighbourhood, and when finally the right fire station is informed …..it takes a long time before the fire brigades reach , the police emergency number 100 takes forever to connect and the fire emergency number 104 doesn’t answer.

Thankfully the gas pipeline people …do their job the fastest and cut the gas feed into the house…. And neighbours pitch in big time ….it still takes a long time to get the fire in control…The first floor of the house is salvaged …and the ground floor though gutted completely has a chance to be rebuilt…. Houses can be rebuilt , material things can be bought again ….if life goes on …spirit to rebuild future remains.

But what about the pain , the horror , the trauma that a eighty five year lady had to go through, what about the daughter who is seeing her mother lying helplessly in a government hospital that doesn’t care, what about the only hospital in NCR with a Burn Ward being short staffed …where the attendants tell the relatives of the patient to nurse the burn wounds…as they don’t have enough doctors or nurses…what about precious time lost at the local hospital which negligently said there is nothing to worry ….and the patient will be fine …as the burns are only superficial….and change their story completely with the doctor on duty losing patience and who starts screaming …. asking for the patient to be taken elsewhere because their surgeon is off duty …and he for sure is either a reservation quota doctor or a medical college bribe case recruit ……and to top it all…the hospital help comes in the form of overcharging for the sub standard first aid given and saying that they could order an ambulance on charge for the shift but can’t spare a doctor to go with the patient in the ambulance.

What about the insensitive world we live in? what about a human life being so cheap ? …where has all the goodness gone?

It seems ….she is hanging in there….. Ram Bharose!

Me ….Praying hard and in gratitude to our guru and fellow beings who are sending healing right now! Don’t know what else to do but for keeping faith in God’s Will! And telling my children it’s up to them , up to their generation to be a force that brings a change ….that makes this world a better place to live!

Have to end with the news that I just got…Auntie left for her heavenly abode..leaving us all short of words and with hearts bleeding!