Category Archives: Reflections

Re-reading Philosopher’s Stone

If you know of me, chances are you know me as a Potterhead. I’ve obviously read (and watched) the books at least 10 times. I also make it a point to read at least one of the books twice a year. And I do all of the fandom activities- online forums, podcasts, you name it. But this post isn’t about my obsession (is it?).

The first time I read the books, I was eleven years old. It’s been eleven years since. That means half of my life, I’ve been a Potterhead. (Should I be worried that that’s my identity for many?) And obviously the way I engage with the books is different each time. The last time I read Deathly Hallows, for example, I cried when Harry thought about the relationship between his parents, Sirius, and Ron and Hermione, if his parents and Sirius were alive. It was such a small detail- probably a line, or an opening paragraph. The first time I read Deathly Hallows, I cried about how beautiful Snape and Lily’s relationship was. Now I dislike Snape, and I realise just how creepy and nasty he is.

That’s the thing right? When I first read it, I was perhaps twelve, or thirteen years old. I thought that if you did something for love, it was okay. That Snape, a thirty year old man, is fighting for the good because of his childhood friend/crush/love. But now I realise that that’s utter bullshit. If Lily weren’t dead, he’d be a Death Eater till the end of the day. Did he really need someone who he claims to love (yuck) to die to realise killing people is not a good thing? 

I’m reading Harry Potter again, and I’m realising newer and newer things. I also can’t help seeing the parallels between the politics of certain countries and the Wizarding World. I definitely know a political leader who is like Gilderoy Lockhart. I know enough pure blood fanatics like Lucius Malfoy. I somehow do not know Umbriges, but probably don’t know enough politics. But I do not Crabbe’s and Goyles.

I’ve often been surrounded by Draco Malfoy lovers. But I really don’t get why he’s so great. In Philosopher’s Stone he literally bullies Harry for not having parents! I mean come on! His pure-blood mania is literally like any fascist “You do not belong here” ideology. And please don’t give me the “family” explanation, because a. Tonks. b. Sirius Black. 

On a lighter note, there are things that I never before noticed that I appreciate now. For example, Rowling is hilarious! I’ve startled my parents laughing out loud at certain parts. Now that I’ve seen brilliant screen adaptations (hello, The Handmaid’s Tale), I’m also realising how shitty the movies are. I’m not saying those who have only seen the movies are not real enough fans. But they definitely are missing out on the essence of the canon. It’s like plot, like a brick structure, but it’s not your story, and will never be home. If you don’t have time, just listen to the audio book! It’s equally good! 

I guess I’ll always come back to Harry Potter in the end. No matter how old I am. No matter how demystified by some characters I get. I’ll always pick up Prisoner of Azkaban every time I’m in a reading slump. I’ll always read and reread Marauders and Next Gen fanfiction, because canon isn’t enough (no The Cursed Child doesn’t count as Canon). I’ll always be ‘that Potter girl’.

More than anything else, I feel like I’m rediscovering magic, as I read Philosopher’s Stone again. The awfulness of Dursleys to the beauty of Hagrid. I want to ride the scarlet train from platform nine and three quarters home. Hogwarts has always been there to welcome me home. (I know I’m being sappy, and using intertextuality, but every bit of it is magic).

 You’d think that after more than a decade, I’d bore of it (all my relatives certainly thought so). But somehow, I love it more. I’m so glad Rowling went down the Classics corridor that fateful day. I know it didn’t go well for her in the short run, but the world is a better place thanks to that, for a million people worldwide.

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Domino.

Your haughty arrogance, and your sharp demeanor would render everyone insipid. Your sharp edges, and your pointed looks, your unshaken spirit, and your straight, unsmiling lips are masks they wish to bare open. They look at your dark patches and wish to scribble colour into them.

Unbeknownst to you, they try to scratch your surface and tear open barely healed wounds. They scar you and scare you. They make a spectacle out of your polished quite, and push you believing it a grand joke you’ve orchestrated. Seemingly unhurt, you try to retreat, but they have chained you with expectations you’re now honourbound to fulfill.

They don’t know you, darling. The struggle to open your eyes in the morning, and brace yourself. They don’t know you’re hardened against the tide of uncertainty, and hopelessness. They don’t know the scars you hide underneath your fancy suits, or the crescent moon on both your beautiful wrists. They don’t know that your laughter once meant joy and life, not just obligations, and pretence. They don’t know that you’re drowning and you’re shattering, and your greatest struggle is to load the dishwasher, and doing your laundry, and driving to work, and not deciphering stock values, or doing that extra credit assignment, or writing codes for the most complex programs.

Because to them you’re playing the hard-to-get game till they have drawn you out. But, they don’t know that your dark patches came from an amalgamation of different hues, drawn over and over and over.


I’m sorry but I am not into Golden Age Thinking.

Three years ago, I was convinced that the perfect time for me to be born was the late 1950s, in America, where my parents were probably friends with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S Boroughs. I wanted to be a daughter of the Beats, and grow up and go to college in the 70s, so I could be a part of the First Wave Feminist Movement, and against the Vietnam War, and a bunch of other liberal political movements.

A couple of years before that, I wanted to be born in Edwardian England- Victorian Mannerisms were oh so charming, and a Darcy was definitely waiting to be introduced to my wit and intellect. Ah, such sweet, naive dreams.

Today, I realize, that I’m okay, the way I am- not as a person, but as a product of my time. The future is cooler than the past.

We are talking about Social Justice, but now in an inclusive manner. We are talking about Feminism, but Intersectionality is understood and valued. We are talking about so many different issues, about what the Government needs to be and do- about what is right, and whose right it is, and what is wrong, and is it really wrong?

We have made some excellent Scientific Breakthroughs, and I don’t just mean gadgets, I also mean Psychology, and History, and all the other Social Sciences. I also mean how some of us understand that if a particular group of people do terribly in a test, it is the test’s fault for not being inclusive (Culture Fair Tests), and not that the group is inherently inferior

We, as a species are better off today than we were before, especially in terms of violence– one of the most taken for granted myths is about how violence is increasing (but also, as I have argued before, are good enough?) And as far as I can see, we will only get better. We will talk about our collective conscience, and try to be as woke as posible, and come off better, on an average. For example, do you think the Pepsi Debacle would have infuriated so many people even a decade ago?

I was also a hardbound-second hand, classica kind of person a couple of years ago. But today, I am a Kindle person. You may say I’m a shitty person and technology is shit, etc., but it’s also so much cheaper, in the long run. If, like me, you read mainly during your daily commute, Kindle is really the answer. It’s so light weight, compared to a book, for one. Second, to co-passengers (and to yourslef), it is not annoying (Context: I live in Bombay, and the local trains here are so crowded, you’ll have someone’s armpits on your face all the damn time, and when you try to turn your page, you poke someone else, yes, but also your arms can’t move much. A Kindle only requires me to lightly touch it.) The Kindle has also helped me increase my speed of reading- so much so that what I read in a year a couple of years back, today, I read in a couple of months. I could go on, but this post is not about Kindle. You can say whatever you what about the touch and feel of a physical book, but technology is much much more practical. I mean, would you write all your assignments by hand than through a computer, because it feels nice? No, right? Letters feel amazing, but texting is just more efficient.

Everything is simply better now than before. The “old fashioned way” is simply not charming, or perfect. For example, monogamy is new. If you want to say romance is dead, by all means go ahead. But people have cheated on their partners since time immemorial. So what monogamy? What “romantic”? The idea of “staying in a relationship no matter what” is ridiculous, for example. Do you know what this no matter what implied? Abuse. Cheating. Toxicity. Thank God, I have the option of not staying in the relationship if it’s harming me in anyway. People are getting divorced now because now we have choice in moving away from abuse, now we have that option of opting out. We don’t need to be in a long marriage if we don’t want to.

Sometimes, like right now, I do wish I were in the Roaring Twenties so I could figure out Zelda Fitzgerald, and go to Jazz Clubs, and be a Flapper. But then I think, fuck, Hitler is gaining power somewhere and Europe is invading a thousand countries somewhere,and next decade is going to be The Great Depression. All this only if I were White and relatively privileged. If not, I’m fucked anyway. Also, my husband (I’d have a husband by now, or I’m an old maid) would have returned from war and is most definitely lost.

Thank God I have a phone and a blog to vent into. Thank God things get better in the future. I can’t wait for it!

P.S. If you are reading this, what do you think? I really want to know. Do you agree with me, or do you not? Why?

P. P. S- Y’all should read Better Angels of our Nature, and watch Midnight in Paris (I know I hate Woody Allen too, but that movie is my absolute favourite).

P.P.P.S- I know most of these examples are from WEIRD populations, but I couldn’t find examples that I was very familiar with from others. I have tried, though, but just not my best. I apologize.

P.P.P.P.S- It feels really great to be blogging long form + opinions on this site again. I’ve been blogging (setting up and trying hard to create content) on my Poetry Blog, where I’m doing NaPoWriMo currently. If you have been following me for long, you’ll know my earlier struggle with writing poetry. But now I’m trying extra hard you guys. Please check it out too.