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I am a Potterhead. Period. If there is one thing that can be my trace anywhere, will be any sign of Harry Potter or anything remotely related to it. At age 12, I discovered the boy wizard through the first feature film, and moved on to being a die hard fan of the franchise. I read and re-read. I made scrapbooks out of newspapers and magazines articles, and furnished each with interesting finds and observations. Even after the final book and final movie release, the love for Harry did not die away, so much so, that at the age of 25, I made my first visit to London and missed the Buckingham Palace change of guard, but managed to go to Leavesden Studios in Watford. And to be honest, it was better than any dream I could’ve seen in my life.

The fact that you walk the same steps at exactly the same places, where all actors filmed the eight movies, ‘is beyond comprehension.’ (As stated by Daniel Radcliffe on the European release of Prisoner of Azkaban in 2004, yes I remember some of the things these actors stated way back). The settings take you back to all your favourite scenes and you finally get to taste the classic Butterbeer! Warner Bros Studios is an experience, something which reignites your love for the boy wizard. The visit to Hogwarts Express, the trolley push through the wall, Bertie Botts every flavour beans (earthworm tastes foul) and the entire miniature Hogwarts castle, is legendary. Stuff made up of dreams, I tell you. You can buy the really expensive items there and design your own Hogwarts dream. One thing, Hogsmeade isn’t there. I walked and clicked, and smiled and gazed, and read and listened, but the experience did not get saturated. I am still left for more.

As I eagerly await for the eighth book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (I have never stood in lines for Harry Potter books at midnight, for reasons less important), I am reminded of my first book and my first read in 2002. Fourteen years later, on Harry’s and Jo’s birthday, I am still crazy about the fandom. One thing I have from the Studios, is a train ticket from Platform 9 3/4 to the school, as Jo said, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.

Mariyam Raza Haider

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A journalist by training, Mariyam Haider is a writer and performance poet in Singapore.
She is the researcher of the book The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age written by James Crabtree.
Her writing has appeared in Hindustan Times, Livemint, Feminism In India, New Asian Writing and Kitaab.

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