Muggles around the world celebrate the return of Harry Potter


Platform 9 3/4 looms ahead. Can you make it through with your trolley? Or, are you going to be stranded like Harry and Ron were in The Chamber of Secrets? Luckily, it doesn’t matter here, as this platform is open to wizards and muggles (non-magic folk) alike. As Harry Potter and the Cursed Child released worldwide yesterday, coinciding with Harry’s 36th birthday, Phoenix MarketCity organised an event to celebrate the book with its many fans.There was breakfast just like in the Great Hall — Honeydukes cauldron cakes, Hogwarts Express sandwiches, Butterbeer, Chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans (thankfully, none of ours were in any awful flavour), a quiz aptly titled OWLs (after the Ordinary Wizarding Level exams that students take in their fifth year), and a costume party, followed by the launch of the book.The eighth story in the Harry Potter universe commences where the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, ended. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is however, not a novel. It is the script of the play of the same name that is now playing in London. The original new story has been penned by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, and is the first stage adaptation of the series. Some of the dialogues are familiar — reminiscent of Ron and Harry’s first journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry — but, the rest of the story focuses on how the past affects the future. No spoilers here.  “You’re giving away too many clues,” complained participants taking up their OWL examinations. The quiz master looked apologetic, but his questions got tougher. That was hardly a deterrent for the 300-plus Harry Potter fans armed with wands and pens. “Britain declared war on Germany in 1939. The brand was named as a mark of patriotism towards Britain. Initially, it came only in black. In the books, we typically see it in a light blue colour and it has greater abilities than the one in real life.” This was one of the tougher questions but the teams managed to answer that too. We will save you the Googling: Ford Anglia is the answer.There were contestants of all age groups and sizes, but the majority was a sea of waist-high children in capes and hats. In between all the excitement, a couple diligently took the quiz, while taking turns to pacify their toddler. They trickled in as early as 8 in the morning to collect their pre-booked copies (which were released only at 11.30 a.m., at the same time as the U.S. midnight release) and pose with the installations from Rowling’s most acclaimed series. Nimbus 2000, snitches, Hogwarts, The Sorting Hat, Cabinet of Curiosities, floating candles… they were all there.Apart from those garbed as Harry, Ron and Hermione, there were also a bunch of others dressed as Dementors, Dobby (with large ears and mismatched socks), Death Eaters, Professor Snape, Bellatrix Lestrange, Dolores Umbridge (in an all-pink ensemble) and even Moaning Myrtle! While some had just slipped into T-shirts with quotes and graphics, a few Potterheads took the effort to cut, crimp and colour their hair. The euphoria was infectious.Over at The Brew Room in Savera Hotel, a Quidditch snitch flitted around prettily with the words “I open at the close” around her waist. The grown-up Harry Potter — in a suit, tie and a scar — accompanied her. While there were a number of younger kids accompanied by eye-rolling parents here as well, the 20-somethings outnumbered them. Most of them had put in quite an effort to not just be there at 10 on a Sunday morning, but also to dress up for a chance to win prizes for the best costume.Well-loved characters like Nymphadora Tonks and Luna Lovegood, and villainous ones including Bellatrix Lestrange and Rita Skeeter, walked about together, chattering excitedly. The surfeit of Harry Potters was not surprising, but there was a disappointing lack of Ron Weasleys and only a couple of Hermione Grangers.The event, organised by The ilovereadin’ Library, in association with the venue, was a place to meet other witches and wizards, although there were a couple of muggles in the mix as well. A miniature version of the Platform 9 3/4 entrance, the sorting hat, wands and photobooths kept the crowd entertained. The organisers didn’t want to miss out on the fun — they dressed up as Dobby (a hairband with cutout ears stuck on either side), a broomstick and as Sybill Trelawney (walking around with a teacup, in case you didn’t recognise her with her mystical outfit).As the timer counted down, the excitement increased. And when the first books were handed over, the lucky ones wasted no time in opening their copies and settling down to read it immediately. And while all these celebrations might sound a tad ridiculous to those who are not of this fandom, as Severus Snape said to the great love of his life, Lily Evans, “It’s real for us.”

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