x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Mixed feelings about the end of the Harry Potter saga

The story I already knew, but the film just didn't live up to expectations.

l stopped when I saw them. They were perfect for something we'd been waiting for, well, forever. They were sitting on a display shelf at Claire's, an unassuming little pair of earrings. And they were shaped like radishes.

Subconsciously, I'd been keeping an eye out for something that wasn't a hat or a cloak that I could wear to the last Harry Potter movie, something not too noticeable but just magical enough to give a feel for the occasion.

It's not every day, after all, that you get to experience what distraught teens have been lamenting as the end of an era. As anyone with the most basic education (which means has read, re-read and memorised the Harry Potter series) will know, Luna Lovegood, Harry's dreamy, eccentric classmate, once wore radishes dangling from her ears.

We teens are a lazy lot. We refuse to compromise our beauty sleep for anything. I remain grumpy and irritable if I don't get my nine hours of shut-eye every day, but it was with self-satisfied pleasure that I agreed to come to the first show of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II in Dubai Mall.

Danni rang me up and firmly told me that she had secured tickets for us, and if I didn't dutifully show up at midnight at Reel cinemas, I must prepare to face her wrath. I submissively told her that it would be my pleasure: after all, Harry Potter is a phenomenon we have actually campaigned, unsuccessfully, to be included in our English specification at school.

Teenagers traditionally enjoy movies and look down upon books as objects to be best ignored as far as possible, and yet JK Rowling has become a household name in every part of the world.

Anyone who's ever been in a classroom can relate to the characters: the know-it-all nerd; the lanky class clown, who isn't particularly good at anything but can provide comic relief; the seemingly unremarkable boy who got lucky - or unlucky, depending on the way you look at it.

The atmosphere at Reel cinemas was charged with magic to say the least: an abundance of black pointy millinery united the crowd. There was a general spirit of camaraderie and random strangers came up to you, asking if you would want to cry after It All Ends. You would have thought the Apocalypse was near.

As vain teens do, we nipped into the bathroom before the movie began, to ensure, of course, that our hair and make-up were perfect for two hours of sitting in the dark and not interacting with anyone.

Here, I made the mistake of smiling at a gaggle of girls inking lightning bolt scars on their foreheads, gazing critically at themselves in the mirror. They immediately took this as a sign that we wanted to do the same, and graciously lent us lipsticks so we could colour in our faces too. We hesitated.

For about a second. Angry red ("glam sparkle cherry explosion", as it said on the container) scars were chalked out and we strode out of the ladies' resolutely, ready to take on Voldemort, spilt popcorn, a boisterous audience or other such calamities with aplomb.

The cinema was packed with Potter fans, as expected, even though it was the dead of the night. An eternity of waiting was put to an end; the trailers and advertisements vanished, to be replaced by the massive Warner Bros logo that would herald the beginning of The End.

We would have probably enjoyed it more, though, if the guy in front of us had toned down the noisy nacho chewing, and if Ryan hadn't kept making loud remarks about how "fit" Emma Watson looked and how she was making his heart race.

There was fervent applause as the credits began to roll, but I think it's only fair to say that I found the excitement building up to it rather more entertaining than the movie itself. What we would have liked was the horcrux hunt, yes, but rather more romantic scenes and a play on our emotions that would have had us going soppy.

What we got was two hours and 15 minutes almost completely saturated with people (or magical creatures) flinging curses at each other, dying, or blasting apart what looked like buildings of considerable historical value.

We came out relatively content; everyone got married, had children and lived happily ever after. In the meantime, I shall continue to hope Rowling does a bit more writing and David Yates a little less directing, and wait for my long overdue owl with my letter of acceptance from a now slightly charred Hogwarts.

* Lavanya Malhotra

The writer is a 15-year-old student in Dubai.