Fair warning: this post contains a heavy dose of wishful thinking and naive pondering – some of it reasonably snicker-worthy and possibly entertaining.
Ever since I started reading Harry Potter; as a young and excited child, my wandering mind created its own private Harry Potter World, right here, in the little corners of Pune, conjuring up scenes and recreating equivalent landmarks from my favourite fantasy book.
This was before any concrete visuals accompanied the story through the movies, and it was my way to keep ‘The Boy Who Lived’ alive in Pune, at all times. I had it all figured out in my head; atleast for the Philosopher’s Stone book, just in case there was a bid to bring the whole Harry Potter premise to Pune, and just in case J.K. Rowling decided on a remake in our city – we had to be prepared!
Pune would certainly make a rather magnificent World Of Harry Potter. Katraj Snake Park, for instance, would make the perfect reptile house, where Harry would set the Brazilian boa constrictor free- because where else in Pune, would Harry have his first Parseltongue experience!
Somewhere amidst the hustle and bustle of Tulsi Baug, there would be a walled courtyard; that Hagrid would tap to reveal an archway, into Appa Balwant Chowk– Pune’s Diagon Alley. Centrally located, ABC would be the one-stop-shop for all the Hogwarts supplies.
Books and wands would be bought at Natraj Book Stall and VenusTraders– Pune’s Flourish and Blotts and Ollivanders, respectively. Mak-Drap would be the perfect store, just around the corner, for robes and cloaks. Cauldrons and trunks would be bought from the lanes of Raviwar Peth– flanked by metal and steel supplies on either side, and Harry would buy his ghubdu, Hedwig, from Raviwar Peth too.
While I’m still conflicted as to what would make the perfect Hogwarts, I think Fergusson College and Ness Wadia College make for fair contenders, with their Victorian-Gothic Architecture, lavish corridors and attached grounds. Harry would play his first Quidditch match, as a Seeker, at Balewadi Stadium. While Azkaban didn’t make its debut till the third book, it’s only equivalent in Pune would have to be Yerawda Jail.
While my pondering is far from done, I leave the rest for another time. But the next time you pick up the Sakal Times and see the images stirring, or the next time someone asks you the way to platform nine and three quarters on Pune Station, I urge you to get over your muggle self and know that something magical is about to happen in our city.
And believe, Pune. Because as Roald Dahl said, “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
Happy birthday, Harry Potter!