A Harry Potter Birthday

I met Padfoot (my nickname for her. She calls me Prongs) in junior college. She was a commerce student and I was studying Humanities. We bonded over our mutual love for young-adult fiction. Four years from then, we are the best of friends. We chat incessantly for hours on the phone, discussing everything from our tangled love lives to the latest Game of Thrones episode. Whether the news is good or bad, she is always the first one I share it with. She chides me when I worry too much and cheers me up when I am low. I try to do the same for her.

Yesterday was her birthday. Now I have my exams coming up in a few weeks and I am also interning with an ad agency. Work and studies take up so much of my time that I have very little free time left. Yet I wanted to do something special for my friend’s birthday. Another common friend and I scoured the shops looking for gifts. We bought her a few goodies we thought she would like, including a LED book lamp.

But I still felt like something was missing. I wanted to do something more. Not a grand gesture, but a small one which showed how much I appreciated and cared for her; something that commemorates our friendship. So I went about creating goodies inspired from one of our favourite books Harry Potter. 

We made her a Chocolate Frog Card, a letter from Hogwarts, a ticket to the Hogwarts Express leaving from Platform 9 3/4, and a box of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans. I will tell you how I went about it, just in case you want to make something similar for a special friend of yours.

The only thing you will need is a modicum of talent in Adobe Photoshop or a similar photo-editing software.
For the chocolate frog card, I took an empty template off Google (just Google Harry Potter chocolate frog card template) and opened it in Photoshop. I put my friend’s picture in another layer. Then on the first layer, using the magic wand tool (kind of apt in this context) I selected the empty space inside the card, and made it into a layer mask. Then I carefully positioned my friend’s image in that space.
For the platform ticket, I again took the image from Google and on top of the place where it said London I first erased the word using the clone stamp tool and then I wrote Mumbai on top of it.

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This is the end result


Then I drafted a personalized letter from Minerva McGonagall, the Headmistress of Hogwarts, awarding an honory degree to my friend.
For the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, my friend and I purchased a cheap plastic container. We filled it with different types and flavors of sweets – gumdrops, mints and colourful chocolate balls. Then we put the chocolate frog card inside and decorated the container using coloured craft paper.
A tip in case you are using a plastic container like us – use tape instead of glue to attach the craft paper onto the box. Glue we learnt from trial soon ebbs away
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Then giftwrapped the box and put the letter and ticket in an envelope. At the back of the envelope we put a picture of an owl with the words Delivered by Owl Post , and on the front we wrote her name and address.
The project took an entire day and by the end we were very tired. I hadn’t studied anything and I had work the next day. But the effort was well worth it, because Padfoot loved the gift. She got teary-eyed with happiness and her happiness was our reward. After all, what are good marks in front of a friend’s happiness. I am glad I spent as much time and effort on her gift as I did. She had been with me through thick and thin, and she is one of the best people I know. She deserved a gift that would make her feel as special as she is.

I am participating in the#DilKiDealOnSnapdeal activity atBlogAdda in association withSnapDeal.

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How I Came Across Harry Potter

Today’s Daily Prompt: Reader’s Block

What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without reading a book (since learning how to read, of course)? Which book was it that helped break the dry spell?

Now, this is what I call a tough prompt – I can’t remember the last time I did not have a few books lying around, except….maybe….uh, there’s a little spark of memory here —

I was in seventh grade, and had ‘overgrown’ Enid Blyton. Well overgrown isn’t the right word, but I had finished seven mystery series be her, three sets of school stories and thousands of short stories. I had read all the Nancy Drew novels in my local library, and was now in the painful dilemma of trying to decide what to read further. Needless to say, I had quite high standards.

This was when my mother suggested that I give the ultra-famous Harry Potter series by JK Rowling a try.

“I have been reading quite a few reviews of it in newspapers. Apparently children all over the world love it”.

I wasn’t really enthused, “Ma, you know I don’t like all that magical mumbo-jumbo. I never liked ghost and fairy stories. I want real stories, mysteries if possible!

But my mother was adamant, “People wouldn’t like it if there wasn’t something good in it. Read it. You might be surprised“.

I grudgingly agreed to borrow the first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone from the library, but made sure to borrow a Nancy Drew mystery at the same time. Just in case!

The Book that changed me

The Book that changed me

While we were still on the bus, I flipped the book open, and started reading the first chapter – The Boy Who Lived

 I couldn’t put it down! The Nancy Drew mystery lay untouched, gathering dust, as I reveled in the magic of Rowling’s words. I was hooked. 

The next two weeks, I dragged my mother to the library every alternate day for the next part, and gobbled it up with as much enthusiasm as I had read the first book. I forgot everything else in the world….including my studies. So my dad laid down a ruling – NO MORE BOOKS TILL AFTER EXAMS. 

I was on the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and the verdict destroyed me. I just had to find out what happened next! The suspense was agonizing. Voldemort was out there somewhere, and(*SPOILER ALERT*) Dumbledore was dead! There were seven horcruxes and they could be anywhere! Ginny and Harry had broken up, and stupid Ron still hadn’t kissed Hermione! I had to know what happened next.

But my parents remained firm.

That night I dreamt of the seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I kept trying to pick it up and read it, but it kept moving away from my reach; so tantalizingly close yet just an inch away.

DeathlyHallowsCover

I pounced on it and was about to read it — when I woke up, and found myself clutching my pillow.

I burst into tears, which melted my mother’s heart long enough to let her make a bargain with me – I could get the book, but I had to finish it in one day.

It wasn’t a bad bargain. The book was so engaging that I could barely put it down anyway! I stayed up the entire night reading it, and fell asleep with the book still in my hands.

With Harry Potter began my newfound love for the fantasy genre. Soon Chronicles of Narnia followed. Followed by Twilight, Vampire Diaries, Vampire Academy, Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, Artemis Fowl, The Mediator Series and The Kane Chronicles. I remain an ardent fan till date, and all because:

Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

The Room of Requirement

Today’s Daily Prompt: An extra room has magically been added to your home overnight. The catch: if you add more than three items to it, it disappears. How do you use it?

My own room!! Oh yay!! Been waiting for that for so long. 

Hmm…only 3 items are allowed :\ Ah, that’s okay, we will manage. All I need is:

  1. My Laptop with a Good Strong Wi-Fi Connection: So that I can type away to my heart’s content, update my blog posts, chat with friends, download e-books, watch films and videos. 
  2. My Diary: As much as I love the rhythm of my keyboard, it really can’t compare with the magical melody of my pen’s nib scratching against the blank white paper, leaving beautiful inky designs behind. Looking at a blank white page in my diary always gives me an adrenaline rush – if you keep a diary too, maybe you can empathize. A blank white paper today will be stained and etched with my heart’s dearest secrets tomorrow. Events I can’t even imagine today is already destined to be etched onto that page in the future. How can one not find that exciting?! 
  3. My Mp3 Player: My third love (after reading and writing) is music, so having my mp3 player with me at all times is a must. In this room, my own secret lair, I can blare my favourite songs at the maximum possible volume, and maybe even sing along (I hope the room comes with soundproof walls 😉 )

There my Room of Requirement is designed. Now, where is that extra room??????

7 Reasons as to why I am Hermione

All those who have been to High School that it is impossible to pass through high school without acquiring a collection of nicknames. One such nickname which I was often teased by was ‘Hermione’ (from the Harry Potter books), and my last birthday gift from one of my friends was a Hermione figurine-key chain. I didn’t mind this particular nickname as much as I minded some others. Hermione is the favourite character of 90% of all Harry Potter fans, and definitely falls on the list of Top 5 favourite characters of all others. This might also be due to Emma Watson’s good looks though – detailed research is needed.

Here is a list of my 7 quintessential behaviour (there are lots more, but my readers’ patience is limited and seven is THE MAGICAL NUMBER according to Harry Potter) that earned me the sobriquet:

1. I always had a tonne of books with me wherever I went. Throughout my school life, I have spent a majority of my recesses in the library, poring over literary volumes. My poor friends had to track me down there, if and when they wanted to talk to me, and converse with me under the pointed glares of the librarian and her constant shush-ing; and in all probability I would be so lost in the book that I wouldn’t be listening either. I have spent most of my P.T. periods leaning against the pillars in the balcony and reading books too. Even on those rare occasions when I could be dragged out into the playground, I would be found on the swing, reading a book. Inducing me to play, like inducing Hermione to fly on a broom, is an activity fraught with peril. I remember one fateful Games period when our coach forced me onto the pitch with a bat in hand and a runner in tow. All I had to do was hit the ball with the bat. The runner would get my team runs. The first ball was a wide. On the second, I swung the ball hard and hit — my runner hard on the forehead. My classmates left me in my books in peace from then on. 

2. My Hand was constantly up in class. I am not even kidding. Sometimes I would raise my hand even before the teacher had framed the question. It grew to a point where teachers started completing their questions with anyone else besides….yours truly…

3. My Marks were usually over the average. You know how there are some students whom you seek out after exams to ask their scores so that you can know exactly how well you have done? Yeah, I am one of those. 

4. I have lectured teachers. If there is one thing I can’t stand it is incompetent teachers and bad teaching. The next generation depends on teachers. They can’t afford to be lazy. The number of fights I have had over teachers who made mistakes in class would fill a volume. Some common topics were — Kolkata is on the sea side – it isn’t!; Ammonia cannot be liquid and other such errors. 

5. I do not care how I look. Why? It is simply time consuming. I may wear make-up and make an effort to brush my hair on special occasions say the Yule Ball but otherwise it is just too much effort. I would rather study or read books.

6. I have asked teachers for extra homework. I like studying. Seriously I do. It is fun to learn stuff, like exploring dimensions you never knew about. To me it is an adventure. So, yes, after finishing my class work and home assignments, I have spent time asking teachers for extra work. I have taken more subjects than anyone else too. While we were required to take only five papers for graduation, I insisted and took six.

7. I have fought hard for what I believe in, and always stood by my friends. Arts students should be allowed to study science subjects, and vice-versa. I fought so many battles over that with my principal, and finally became the only student to opt for subjects from both streams. And the extra effort I spent in studying for them were amply rewarded in my marks that only proved my point. You might be now wondering how such a nerdy, geeky person like me ever have friends – simple, I am also very loyal. You tell me a secret, no one else will ever hear of it. You need my help, you just need to ask. My friends mean a lot to me, and are perhaps the only people for whom I would keep the book aside.