Magic in the New Year

We decided to start the New Year with some magic, and so we booked the Making of Harry Potter tour by Warner Bros Studio, London on New Year’s Day.

We drove to Watford on New Year’s Eve and stayed in a hotel near the Bhaktivedanta Manor (ISKCON temple). We visited the temple that evening (given it was safe to do so on New Year’s Eve than on a New Year’s Day). Given that it was at least 20 mins away from the Watford Town Center, it was quiet and apart from some fireworks we had a relatively calm and quiet end of the year 2021. On New Year’s Day, we went to the Town Center (parked at Atria Shopping Center) and roamed the almost empty high street for a while. Found a place called “Crispy Dosa” where we had our lunch. They had very good south Indian food. I loved my Chettinad Dosa.

After that, it was a 15 min drive to the studio. Mr M was getting on my nerves as he was very leisure and wanted to arrive at the studio only a few minutes before the start of the tour. I wasn’t so sure but given the new year and the new me thing going on in my head, I decided to give him the benefit of doubt and tried to do my calm breathing exercises (it worked!!!) We were spot on time and the tour began as soon as the majority of the folks had arrived. Didn’t realize that there would be that many people in there and this was reduced count. I wonder how many normal attend the tour in a non-pandemic situation.

They warned us that the tour takes around 3 hours and there would be a cafe halfway through for us to sit and have some rest and refreshments if we wish to do so. The entrance was well done, with interactive screens and people talking etc. From there you go on to a small theatre room where they show the video of what the place is about and then the screens go up and you see “The Great Hall” and that is the actual entrance of your self guided tour. The lady who was explaining the stuff in the Great Hall was too fast and too loud. She could have done it a little better, but I zoned her out and was on my own exploring stuff.

There is so much to see and experience and enjoy. This tour also shows how much goes on in the background for something that comes up in the movie for a mere 2 seconds. I have always appreciated the effort by the artists who work behind the scenes to bring something which might closely resemble the imagination of an author or a fan. It is not easy and sometimes it fails, but when it clicks and succeeds you get something like Harry Potter which becomes a huge sensation. The detailed sketches on the architecture of the buildings that were built, the makeup, the costumes, the food that is shown on the tables, the automotive used, the amount of mechanical and electronic wizardry involved in all these things is amazing. It was so much fun.

One of the highlights of the whole tour for us was the awe-inspiring Gringotts Bank and the way the dragon demolishes the bank. It was amazing. The Diagon Alley was another one of those places which I loved 🙂 and when we were ooh-ing and aah-ing over these things we come to the halfway point and then we have to go out for a bit to find the Knight’s bus and Potter’s Place in Godric’s Hollow, the Privet Drive and the Hogwart’s Bridge all sprinkled with some snow. Such fun! 🙂 The Goblins was one more thing that surprised me. How much work has gone into their makeup and I didn’t know that Warwick Davies played two Goblins apart from being Professor Flitwick. Interesting. Since we didn’t take a break at all and didn’t linger too much on the things which are more catered to be more interactive with kids (where kids could practice their spells for the battle, or do the Yule Ball steps, etc. etc.) we kind of completed the tour in about 2 hours and 15 mins or so. But by the time we browsed the shop towards the end and bought a souvenir and came out to the Food Hall our legs couldn’t hold us up.

If you like Harry Potter this is a definite must-see place. Makes you appreciate the effort that has gone into the movie more and also the effect of a series on a whole generation (or two). I am glad that I belong to the generation of Harry Potters (not necessary grew up on it, but was there to see it grow into a phenomenon). Also, it would be wise to stay after the trip (unlike us who had to drive all the way back to Swansea afterwards) as the tour can be tiring. And they have a food place (apart from a Starbucks and a Frog’s cafe which sells amazing milkshakes) inside the studio which we weren’t aware of. If we had known then we might not have stopped off at Watford (and then I might have missed my dosa!!!).

I am glad we started this year with this tour. I truly enjoyed it. Here are a few photographs from the tour.

Mischief Managed

After close to two months of solid effort and losing some of his precious hair, Mr M finally completed his Christmas gift jigsaw puzzle, Marauders Map. It was hard work but it was fun to watch it take shape. I wish I could have it framed but it is too big, sadly.

Well done, Mr M. Mischief managed.

Harry Potter :The Ultimate Indian Theme

Raths and Rage

Yesterday we had been to the Rath Yatra organised by ISKCON in London. It started from Hyde Park and ended at Trafalgar Square. We were there until the raths crossed Picadilly. That itself took around 2 hours. It was my first time and the energy and the unity were astounding. I loved how everyone irrespective of caste, creed, nationality, colour, and race joined in what they believed and brought joy not only to themselves but also to the people who were watching them too.

At the same time, India-Pakistan match was going on. We heard a few of them talking about it on the way. By the time we were heading back home, we knew that it was a lost cause for India. We already have enough reasons to disrupt the peace and harmony of any place. We don’t need sports as a reason. The best team won. Sports is all about sportsmanship. No point showing your hurt by raging against the team who won. Whoever it might be. That’s so shameful. I was reminded of Hermione’s quotes when I read that news article.

“That’s the trouble with Quidditch,” said Hermione absentmindedly, once again bent over her Rune translation, “it creates all this bad feeling and tension between the Houses.”
She looked up to find her copy of Spellman’s Syllabary and caught Fred, George, and Harry looking at her with expressions of mingled disgust and incredulity on their faces.
“Well, it does!” she said impatiently. “It’s only a game isn’t it?”
“Hermione,” said Harry, shaking his head, “you’re good on feelings and stuff, but you just don’t understand about Quidditch.”
“Maybe not,” she said darkly, returning to her translation again, “but at least my happiness doesn’t depend on Ron’s goalkeeping ability.”

It is just a sport after all. 🙄

WPC: Wish

If you are a Harry Potter fan, The Millenium Bridge would be on your wish list. We decided to fulfill that when we decided to go to Tate Modern a couple of weeks ago. Here are few photographs of the famous wobbly bridge. And yes, it is a bit wobbly.  There were these kids who ran past us as if the dementors were behind them, screaming ‘come on, run fast. if this bridge falls down, we will be the only ones who will be alive and safe‘ 😀

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