This week’s photo challenge is ‘cherry on top‘. At the beginning of the year, my university holds a plant sale for students who want some greenery in their rooms. I spotted this flowering cactus during my first year. Let me know what you think!
“Mr. and Mrs. Durlabh of 186/A, Hedua Street, were proud to say that they were ekdom normal.”
These are the words beginning the tale of an Indian Harry Potter. The settings of the Harry Potter series are significant, providing fantastical backdrops through locations real and imaginary. So let’s see what would change if Harry started his journey at Howrah instead of King’s Cross and discovered magical locations in the bustling city of Kolkata.
- As a Bengali, Harry Potter — that is, Hari Poddar — would spend his childhood running to the nearest paan shop for his uncle, accompanying his aunty to the fish market to carry bags of ilish, and watching his cousin Dodlu stuffing his face with roshogollas and luchis. Contrary to the Bengali prevalence for rotundity, however, Hari would remain quite skinny thanks to his cousin’s preference for both the rosh and the golla.
- The neighbouring snoopy mashimas, who would often stop by without warning to discuss the latest serials and gossip, would make it difficult for the Durlabhs to hide their nephew. But they would easily pass him off as their cleaning lady’s son that they were harbouring out of the kindness of their hearts.
- Whilst there is no post on Sundays, there might also not be any from Monday to Saturday, depending on the postman. But Hari’s life would change by pigeon mail inviting him to be a student at Hooghly Jadubidya Karigari Eschool.
- Haldar, the school’s janitor, would track Hari down and introduce him to the world of magic. They would go to a dhaba by College Street (the taxi driver would initially refuse to drive such a short distance, but Haldar would use a certain persuasive spell at Hari’s discretion).
- The dhaba would reveal a hidden section of College Street Market filled with shops, hawkers yelling and shoppers yelling over the hawkers. They would see kurta and sari stores with materials weaving themselves, food stalls with self-filling plates, and double-purposed broomsticks to both fly and clean with (Swachh Bharat, a sign would remind them). Hari would keep an eye out for the Phooljaru 2000. Haldar would buy him a pigeon named Harkara.
- On September 1st, Hari would take the Sealdah down train from platform 74½ at Howrah Station. On his first train ride, he would meet his future best friends Rohan and Harmonium.
- First year students would be towed to school by rickshaws pulling themselves. They would be sorted by a Nehru tupi into one of four houses named after the sweets Roshogolla, Sondesh, Mishti Doi and Jilipi. The school’s headmaster would be Professor Damodor; the head of Hari’s house and teacher of Transfiguration would be Professor Majumdar. Sen Sharma, a man with inexplicable hatred for Hari, would teach Potions.
- Throughout his years at Hooghly, Hari would be haunted by his nemesis Bhorotemort (originally known as Botuk Chandra Khashnobish). Whilst narrowly escaping from Bhorotemort’s clutches numerous times, Hari would manage not to fail his classes by memorising his textbooks, and to play on his house’s flying cricket team.
- Bhorotemort’s Horcruxes would be secret (non-perishable) ingredients needed to make each house’s signature dish. Since Hari would have trouble finding the exact bag of sugar made into a Horcrux, Bhorotemort would probably win.
- And some misplaced Bengali ostadi would probably reveal the existence of magic to Muggles.
And that concludes an alternate version of Harry Potter! This blogpost is an entry to the Blogging Contest, a part of the book launch of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, in association with Kolkata Bloggers.