Calling all wizards and witches: Pottermania sweeps Karachi

Harry Potter enthusiasts donned robes and hats and armed themselves with wands at Liberty Books’ launch of the eighth book in the acclaimed series. PHOTOS: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

Harry Potter enthusiasts donned robes and hats and armed themselves with wands at Liberty Books’ launch of the eighth book in the acclaimed series. PHOTOS: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

KARACHI: Karachiites came out en masse on Sunday for the launch of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I and II, the eighth book in the acclaimed Harry Potter series. Garbed in Hogwart’s black robes with witch hats and wands, the bibliophiles gathered at Dolmen Mall Clifton at 10am to queue up for the latest addition of their beloved book series.

Paying homage to Harry Potter and the series’ author JK Rowling, the launch was held on July 31 around the world, Harry and Rowlings’ birthday.

Teaming up to create a launch party like never before, Dolmen Mall and Liberty Books arranged an extravaganza. A massive replica of Hagrid’s house dominated the main courtyard of the shopping centre, with stalls sprinkled around selling memorabilia and Harry Potter-themed goodies. Balloon artists from Magic Hands created balloon broomsticks, hats, wands and owl hats for fans, while The Cakery sold baked goods fashioned in the form of Harry Potter memorabilia. A photobooth had also been set up, with props and costumes ready to be used.

Mishal, from Magic Hands, said they take five minutes for the ‘complicated’ sculptures and can create the simple ones in under two minutes. “We came up with the designs ourselves and had to learn everything from scratch,” she said, her hands furiously twisting balloons as the figure of an owl came to life.

“Pakistanis look forward to these sort of activities and we wanted to make it big,” said Anum Nadeem, head of marketing at Dolmen Mall. We wanted to meld together the magical and muggle worlds, she said. Many non-wizards or ‘muggles’ as the books term them, were present at the event but the crowd was dominated by pointy hats and maroon Gryffindor clothes. Some Slytherin fans also snuck into the event, wearing sinister looks and green clothes.

Dolmen Mall was chosen for the launch because, according to Liberty Books director of business strategy and development Sameer Hussain, it is big, in both name and size. “Everyone knows where it is,” he explained. “We organised this event because we felt the readers deserved it,” said Hussain. The launch of the seventh book in 2007 was cancelled due to a bomb threat, so the organisers wanted to make this one extra magical. To guide participants, volunteers were recruited from several O-Levels schools.

We received a lot of feedback on social media from customers who wanted a launch party, said Hussain, who added that 300 people pre-booked their copies of the novel. Though the response was not as great as they expected, the decorations and atmosphere at the event surpassed all the attendants’ expectations. All the participants, young and old, were in a jovial mood, complimenting each other’s Harry Potter-themed clothing and costumes and allowing amateur photographers to snap their pictures.

“I have never experienced a Harry Potter launch in Pakistan before; my friends went but I could never go,” said 29-year-old Tuba. Waiting in line for the book for 30 minutes, Tuba and her friend Adeel were dressed in black gowns with make-shift brooms that they assembled the night before. “Rowling’s presence in the book is enough for me to buy it,” claimed Tuba, who said she was glad the newest book was a continuance of the previous novels. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play that has been co-authored by Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. “I’m going to be disappointed if the book isn’t good,” she added.

Also at the event was 10-year-old Emaan Khurram. A dedicated fan already, she forced her bleary-eyed father out of bed to come to the launch, even though they arrived in Karachi a few hours ago. “I’m currently reading the Deathly Hallows but I’ve watched the movies like 20 times each,” she enthused. A touch of fate, her bout with Pottermania began when she discovered the first book in a cupboard at home and began reading it.

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