Friday, May 31, 2013

eBook Review: PYAR AUR POETRY By Roopa Menon

Arundhati is beautiful, intelligent and a go-getter. Nikhil could not seem more different. He lacks confidence despite being intelligent; he works hard but does not know how to promote himself and he is not too popular. Professor Nadkarni insists that these two students get together to host the Founder’s Day program at St Paul’s College. Will it work? Arundhati is all set to murder Nikhil while the young man just plain adores her. In the meanwhile, there is this D.G. Beckett who gets between the two. While it seems as if Beckett must also be from the same college, the man remains incognito. Arundhati is strongly attracted to Beckett while Nikhil works hard – with a lot of help from his grandmother – to woo her. Who will win Arundhati’s hand? Nikhil or Beckett? Pyar or Poetry? Read the book to find out more.

What struck me the most is the excellent language in which Pyar Aur Poetry has been penned. I was truly impressed by Roopa Menon’s play with the Queen’s language. Kudos! The story is simple and beautifully written and the plot very interesting.

I liked Nikhil being there for all things Indian and how he slowly manages to convert the snooty Arundhati who is absolutely Firang in her tastes – in food, books as well as films. I enjoyed reading the Rajnikant sequence and Nikhil’s simple joy in teasing her.

The end has turned out beautifully and I found it absolutely romantic. Keep up the good work, Roopa Menon! Looking forward to more from you!

Click Here to order your copy of PYAR AUR POETRY By Roopa Menon

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Mumbai Mirror carried an article on the deteriorating state of health among people who are barely thirty living in Indian cities.

Click Here for the original article in Mumbai Mirror (28.4.2013)

I feel the main reason for this is the lifestyle that is led by people. Please understand that I am just citing examples and not criticising here.

Work hard, party harder

Perfect! But one must also understand the limitations of the body. Sleeping for a minimum of eight hours is a must. Keeping your electronic gadgets at least a few feet away from you, while sleeping, is most important.

When you socialise, it’s not always necessary that you have to guzzle down hard drinks like there is no tomorrow. There are those who say that beer is harmless. In the long run, it most definitely is. Train yourself to enjoy your drink and just have a peg or two if you really must. I understand that drinking gives you a high, but it also wears out your body in a horrible way. Okay, after all this, you do continue to drink day after day – please have at least four to five litres of water every day. I can just hear someone argue that “Arre, already I am drinking so much fluid, why the hell should I add to it with water too?” Do understand that alcohol dehydrates the system. All the more reason for you to drink an extra litre of water every day!

Balanced meals on time

After a late night with a heavy dinner that was consumed at around 2 am, it’s very difficult to face breakfast at 8 or 9 am. Tough luck! You chose to party. If you miss this meal because you got up late or felt like puking, you are abusing your body.

There are those who are so deep into their work that they just don’t have the time to stop for lunch. Why? You understand you need to work hard to have a great career. Then, don’t you understand that you need to feed your body to make it work, especially to the limits that you stretch it? Check out brain foods and eat those more than food that is required for the physique. That might help you if you are sitting in front of your computer most of your waking hours.

Have your dinner by 7 or 8 pm at the most and try to snack lightly if you are out fraternising at night.

Regular Exercise

You hit the gym at least five times a week or go walking, running, jogging or whatever that suits you. This keeps you fit and helps you go that extra mile – literally and figuratively. This keeps your body well conditioned – your muscles, nerves, your blood circulation and your heart. It also ensures you don’t gain that extra fat that is so harmful to your system.

Yoga and meditation

Yeah, I just heard a lot of you groan. Who has the time? Well, if you fall ill and are forced to be hospitalised at the young age of 30 or 40, can you argue with the doctor that your work or social life is suffering? You don’t have a choice but to drop everything and get stuck in bed round the clock. From that perspective, I am sure you are able to understand the value of yoga and meditation. Just 10 minutes of your time for a few Surya Namaskars and another 10 minutes for either Pranayama or Chakra Meditation – every day of the week – can do wonders to prevent sickness from attacking your system.

What these processes do is to strengthen your aura. Any illness first touches one’s aura and takes at least a few months to reach the physical body. If you have a strong aura, it can absolutely stop the disease from ever reaching your physical body. It’s the truth.

Yoga and meditation also help relieve stress which is the main culprit for hypertension and high blood pressure and all kinds of heart disease.

Don’t pop that pill!

Have a cold? Take Action 500 or Crocin or whatever! Stomach upset? There are loads of medicines out there to stop it. Fever? The chemist has a variety to offer! Headache tho hona hi hai - what with lack of sleep and dehydrated bodies! Wake up with a hangover, pop a pill and rush to work without eating or drinking anything.

This is the shortest route to the hospital. To begin with, these pills break down your body’s immune system. Yes, the body is created with its own immune system that works very well.

When you have indigestion, your stomach gets upset. Give it a rest and allow it to spill its guts – literally. Have a lot of fluids and avoid eating heavy food. Having methi seeds, chaas, coconut water and pomegranate juice can do wonders. And have a lot of water! If your stomach upset does not stop within a couple of days, visit your doctor. If you take a tablet to stop your stomach from clearing itself, you are forcing it to find other methods and that’s when you come up with a major sickness.

Fever usually suggests that there is something wrong with your system. Instead of finding out what it is, you try to cure the symptom with pills. The fever goes away but what about the original illness that had caused the fever? That’s still very much there in your body. Keep doing this repeatedly and why are you surprised when you land up in bed?

A common cold happens when your system is heated up. This is your body’s way of cooling down. There is this common saying that a cold remains with you for a week at least – whether you take medicines or not. Try to have hot soup or rasam and treat it with freshly cooked food. Why bother with pills that abuse your body?

Headaches happen mainly due to dehydration. If you have a bottle of water, the headache usually disappears. Sometimes, it is due to stress. Well, yoga and meditation definitely help. Maybe you are just hungry and the body is craving for fuel and that’s why your head is hurting. You need to be observant. You can’t allow your body to remain without food for more than 4-6 hours, unless you are sleeping. Too many fizzy sodas also dehydrate the body and create headaches.

Click Here to read about how to understand your body.

Alternate Cures

To my knowledge, I find that unless it’s an emergency, alternate cures work better than allopathic medicines. More so, when the treatment is prolonged like in the case of diabetes or the heart. Homeopathy  or Ayurveda medicines – after consulting a doctor, of course – don’t have harmful side effects. You can’t beat nature cures.

Click Here to know about the Wonder Seed Methi.

Click Here to know about the value of Lemon & Water.

Click Here to know about how your body is nourished with Water.

In the long run, I am sure you will all agree with me when I say that Prevention is better than Cure as this involves the least wear and tear on this wonderful body that we are born with.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

eBook Review: UNSETTLED By Neelima Vinod

I somehow feel that Black Clove is going to be one of the favourite series of books on Indireads. It deals with the supernatural and hence is quite fascinating to the public. Although I am a great fan of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter Series, I am rather wary of reading the genre.

But I have to mention here that I just loved reading UNSETTLED by Neelima Vinod. The book was totally fascinating and well researched.

Divya and Raghav’s married life appears to be going down the drain. When Divya visits the psychiatric Dr. Ray, he convinces her to bring Raghav over to the clinic. That’s when Dr. Ray persuades the couple to go on a quest to find the mythical Scrolls of Love. Unable to refuse, the two of them set out on a strange quest which brings them in touch with a Yakshi. Will the Yakshi agree to give them what they need? And what about their relationship? Is it possible for them to get back to a normal life? You will have to read the book to find out what happens.

An unusual book well put together. I thoroughly enjoyed travelling into this supernatural world. Keep up the good work, Neelima Vinod.

Click Here to buy your copy of UNSETTLED by Neelima Vinod. 

Monday, May 27, 2013


Orion Mumbai. From left: Pritesh, Ashwin, Vigneshkumar & Anshuman
Some of you might wonder why I am suddenly writing about the Rolling Stone Metal Awards 2013 - Best Band. Well, my son Vigneshkumar Venkatraman is the lead guitarist/vocalist for the metal band ORION and the band has been nominated for this year’s awards.

I am so thrilled to see that they are second to only one other band and the voting is still on. I request each one of you who has a Facebook account to please vote for Orion.

Click here to cast your vote for Orion.

Click here also to cast your vote for Orion.

Do not forget guys, click on both the links to vote for ORION.


Friday, May 24, 2013

e-Book Review: FULL CIRCLE by Yamini Vijendran

Malini is 60 plus and lives with her son, daughter-in-law and teenage granddaughter in the city of Chennai. She’s been widowed since two years and feels a strong urge to visit her roots at Kumbakonam. Much against her family’s wishes, Malini shifts to a Retirement Home there. Is fate calling out to her?

I am amazed at Yamini coming up with a 60-year-old heroine for a romance novella. But the author has proved that she can write a convincing story and how! Beautiful story, well-written making for a thoroughly enjoyable read.

There were at least two situations where I could not help shedding tears. Congratulations, Yamini Vijendran! Considering this is her maiden venture, the author is bound to get better and better. It really makes me look forward to more from her.

Click here to purchase the e-Book FULL CIRCLE by Yamini Vijendran on Indireads.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

e-Book Review: THE CONTRACT by Zeenat Mahal

Shahira is a 30-year-old divorcee with a small son and she is most definitely not interested in being tied to another man, ever. Hussain is a widower with a young daughter and is thoroughly disillusioned with matrimony. He’s a jet-setting businessman always on the move, while his daughter is brought up by his mother, Salma. Salma decides that Shahira and Hussain should get together and goes at it like a bulldozer. The two of them finally cave in and enter a contract. But what will happen when Hussain refuses to stick to his side of the contract? You will need to read the book to find out.

A very cute novel by Zeenat Mahal set in Pakistan. It felt so good to read about the happenings in our neighbouring country and I realised I did not know much about it. They are so like us.

The characters are well-etched and the relationship between Shahira and Hussain is quite stormy. Nudrat adds twist to the masala. I simply loved reading this book. Kudos to you Zeenat Mahal!

In the author's words, "I feel all marriages are a contract…some weirder than others :) and this one has a rags to riches kind of twist too. It’s for people who like the marriage of convenience classic plot, with loads of romance and glamour."

Click Here to purchase the e-Book THE CONTRACT by Zeenat Mahal on Indireads.


Aloo Mattar in Tomato Gravy
I have been making this dish since about a couple of decades and my husband and kids just love it.


Potato – ½ kg (skinned and cut into large cubes)
Peas – ½ kg (shelled)
Oil – 2 tsp
Jeera – ½ tsp
Bay-leaf – 2
Turmeric Powder – 1 pinch
Chilli Powder – ¼ tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar – 1 tsp
Malai (cream) – 3 tbsp
Kotmir (coriander leaves) – 1 tsp (chopped fine)


Onion – 2 (medium)
Tomato – 2 (medium)
Green Chillies – 3
Ginger – ½ inch piece
Garlic – 5-6 cloves


Saunf (Fennel seeds) – ½ tsp
Khus Khus (Poppy seeds) – ¼ tsp
Cloves – 4
Cinnamon – 1 tiny piece
Dhania – ½ tsp
Jeera – ½ tsp
Star Anise – ¼ piece


1. Grind all the gravy + masala ingredients into a smooth paste.
2. Heat the oil in a pressure pan and add the Jeera and Bay-leaves when hot.
3. Immediately add the gravy to the sauté. A word of warning here: The gravy will tend to splash when it touches the hot pan. Be careful not to get any on your skin. It hurts.
4. Mix well and add turmeric powder, chilli powder, salt and sugar to the mixture.
5. Now add the cubed potatoes and shelled peas to the mixture along with a cup of water.
6. Stir well and pressure-cook the whole thing for 3 whistles.
7. Beat the Malai to a smooth paste.
8. You can open the cooker after some time and then add beaten cream.
9. Mix well and cook for a couple of more minutes.
10. Garnish with kotmir and serve hot with rotis or pooris.

I promise you that you will simply love the yummilicious Aloo Mattar in Tomato Gravy.

NOTE: You can use 1 tsp of Garam Masala Powder if you don’t have the masala ingredients. But of course, the fresh ingredients definitely add to the flavour.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

e-Book Review: THE GANDHARVA By Bhavana Murali

When I read the book for the first time, it was a culture shock. That was (note the past tense) probably because I have never been exposed to the genre Urban Fantasy. It was difficult to digest.

Well, the second time round, my perception is altered. I looked at it for what it is. The Gandharva is extremely well thought out, and very well written. The characters are very realistic and well grounded. Kudos Bhavana Murali!

One cannot help but feel sorry for the 17-year-old Maya who leads such a dismal life with a violent father and a weakling for a mother. The handsome Dev is quite a character and one cannot but hope that he would be Maya’s saviour.

Does the book end happily? Well, the book actually does not end. There is a sequel to look forward to….

Click Here to purchase the e-book THE GANDHARVA by Bhavana Murali!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Cafe Pico @ Phoenix Market City, Kurla

It was Mother’s Day. My daughter Vinitha wanted to go shopping and insisted on taking me along. We landed up at Phoenix Market City in Kurla. We had visited this mall about 10 months back and at that time barely one-third of the shops were taken. Now, the mall looks simply awesome with all the shops taken by so many brands – both Indian and foreign. There were also a number of fine-dine restaurants as against the food court that is housed on Level 2. The outlets at the food court serve stale food and are quite boring, actually.

The two of us checked out a number of outlets while Vinny purchased a pair of harem pants and three tops at ‘Tomato’ where a permanent sale is on. We also went to Pantaloons where she bought a lovely pair of cotton elephant pants or that’s what they used to be called when I was young.

Inside the restaurant

Finally, the two of us went to Café Pico for dinner. They have a set menu offer going on for the summer and it is to last till May 31, 2013. Once we found out what they were to serve on the menu, Vinny and I decided to risk it. Well, the result was absolutely worth it.

The Set Menu available till May 31, 2013

The set menu comes in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian and offers four courses each. This includes a soup, three starters, one main course and a dessert. The best part is that the food is unlimited. This information is of course for serious gluttons. It did not make a difference to the two of us. The meal costs Rs. 350 plus taxes.

Tomato Coriander Soup

THUMBS UP 1: The Tomato Coriander Soup they served was hot and tangy. I needed some more salt and pepper. While they gave us a salt shaker, the pepper was added straight into the soup by the waiter who used a pepper-mill. It was absolutely fresh and added  a zing to the flavour. The soup was simply yummy. The bowl was quite large and they served it half-full. You can always ask for more. It was perfect.

THUMBS UP 2: The Paneer Shaslik came skewered on long sticks. There were two portions, each having two pieces of the freshest possible paneer; green, yellow & red peppers and onions, all cooked perfectly. The taste was too good. We ordered one extra portion of this starter.

The starters, yum-yum!

THUMBS UP 3: The Baby Potatoes in Spicy Tomato Sauce were finger-licking good. The sauce was perfectly spiced and the baby potatoes cooked to perfection. There was quite a quantity of this yummy starter that we absolutely relished.

An extra helping of Salsa

THUMBS UP 4: The Nachos with Sour Cream and Salsa were good too. Only the nachos were obviously from a readymade pack and hence not the freshest. The salsa was not quite what one understands the dish to be. It was a mix of chopped onions, tomatoes and coriander. But the combination was quite tasty and hence no complaints. Vinny liked this form of Salsa – more like a salad – and we asked for two extra portions.

The aromatic Spaghetti Aglio Olio

THUMBS UP 5: The Spaghetti Aglio Olio was the most incredible dish that I have ever tasted. At the first glance, it appeared as if they had served us plain spaghetti. But the aroma wafting from it was simply divine. Exploring further, I saw that the dish had chilli flakes, garlic flakes and olive oil in it. While there was a mite too much oil for my taste, the spaghetti tasted divine. The portion was just right as it was the third course and we did not want to get stuffed.

Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice-cream

THUMBS UP 6: The Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice-cream was the perfect finale. The brownie just melted in the mouth and was ‘oh so fresh’. I only wish we had insisted on taking only one portion between the two of us. Considering that it was a set menu, I was sure they would serve a small brownie and a small scoop of ice-cream. The brownie was huge and so was the ice-cream scoop. Neither of us could finish the whole thing. It was just too much.

Chefs at work in the display kitchen

THUMBS UP 7: The ambiance and seating was very good and the service excellent. After the taxes were added the bill came up to a little less than Rs. 450 per head which is not too bad considering that it was a four-course meal. A superlative one at that!

I will definitely go to Café Pico again whenever I can.

Café Pico,
Upper Ground,
Phoenix Market City,

They are open from 11 am to 11 pm on all seven days of the week, while the last order may be placed by 10 pm.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Mixed Sprout Sabzi

I had some mixed sprouts leftover after making Kolhapuri Misal. I used them to make a yummy and healthy gravy along with potatoes, tomatoes and onions.


Mixed Sprouts – 250 gm (You can buy them readymade or make your own)
Potato – 1 large (peeled and cut into lengths like French fries)
Onion – 1 large (peeled and chopped fine)
Tomato – 1 large (chopped fine)
Jeera – ½ tsp
Oil – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Kotmir – 1 tsp (finely chopped)

Dry masala

Dhania powder – ½ tsp
Jeera powder – ¼ tsp
Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
Chilli powder – 1 pinch
Garam Masala powder – ¼ tsp

To grind

Green chillies – 2
Ginger – 1” piece
Garlic – 3-4 cloves


1. Pressure-cook the mixed sprouts and potato with half a cup of water, some salt and turmeric powder for three whistles.
2. Heat the oil in a saucepan and allow the jeera to crackle in it before adding the chopped onions.
3. Cook till golden brown before adding the dry masala powders.
4. Mix well before adding the chopped tomatoes. Cook on a slow fire for 3-4 minutes till the tomatoes turn soft. Add salt.
5. Add the cooked sprouts and potato mix to the saucepan (along with the water, if any) and allow the mixture to cook together for about 5 minutes. Check for salt and add if required.
6. Garnish with kotmir and serve hot with rotis, pooris or rice.

Mixed Sprouts Sabzi is healthy as well as delicious!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Film Review: AASHIQUI 2

Aditya Roy Kapoor is Smoking Hot!

Cast: Aditya Roy Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor
Director: Mohit Suri

I had not seen any rave reviews for the film and would probably have not seen it but for my son Vignesh’s band Orion playing in the background along with Aditya Roy Kapoor. Yeah, Vignesh and other band members Anshuman and Ashwin were all part of the song the film begins with. While it is a minuscule on-screen appearance, I could not help but be thrilled with my son’s appearance in a mainstream Bollywood flick.


Rahul Jaykar (Aditya Roy Kapoor) feels lonely at the top and this drives him to alcohol. He has risen high up in the musical ranks too far, too fast. Now he has nothing to look forward to and keeps drowning in beer bottles and whiskey pegs.

Meeting Aarohi Shirke (Shraddha Kapoor) in a sleazy Goa bar brings Rahul a new lease of life. Hearing her sing, he is confident that she has the makings of a star. He cajoles her into going back to Mumbai with him.

Unable to refuse, Aarohi goes back to Mumbai, promising to call him the moment she is able to purchase a SIM card. She is from an extremely poor family and does not even have a cell phone. Rahul has given her his contact number, address and his manager’s cell number.

Just as she calls him from her new number, Rahul is beaten up within an inch of his life by goons for cancelling his shows. He lands up in hospital while Aarohi waits for him in vain. The media has been informed that Rahul has left for London for doing some programmes.

Will Aarohi ever get to meet Rahul again? What about the stardom he promised her? Watch the film to know more.


Aditya Roy Kapoor is Smoking Hot! He is your typical ‘tall, dark, handsome’ hunk. His acting is not too bad either. But there is a lot of room for improvement.

Shraddha Kapoor looks so beautiful and can act too. This is her third film. While I haven’t watched the other two (Teen Patti & Luv Ka The End), it’s obvious that Shakti Kapoor’s daughter can act.

Except for the title, I can’t see any comparison between Aashiqui (Rahul Roy & Anu Agrawal) and Aashiqui 2. Unless one means that both are romances and have excellent songs.

The music and lyrics in Aashiqui 2 are simply mind-blowing. Considering that it’s a musical, it’s a joy to hear good songs with great lyrics set to awesome music. I read on credits that Irshad Kamil is one of the lyricists. I could not catch the other names. Good work guys! We have Mithoon, Jeet Ganguly and Ankit Tiwari to thank for the excellent music. Kudos guys! Keep up the great work.

The dialogues were actually lame – at least most of them. Thank God there weren’t too many.

While I cannot personally relate to Rahul’s cowardly behaviour, the character was absolutely realistic and Aditya has done a good job portraying it. Having said that, I am not too sure how the film will appeal to the masses.

VERDICT: It’s worth a see if you like romances. Take some tissues along as there are a few heartbreaking moments in the film.

RATING: ***Smart


Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Kancheepuram Idlis
I have tasted Kancheepuram Idli as a kid and remember disliking it, absolutely. That’s because I had not acquired taste for black pepper. Venkat simply loves the dish and makes it a point to order it at almost all South Indian restaurants where it’s available, only to be disappointed with the taste every time. I have learned to appreciate the taste of pepper over the years and the recipe came to me at the right time when my sister Jayashree told me a simple way to create yummy Kancheepuram Idlis.


Idli Batter – 1 kg
Ghee – 1 tsp

For sauté

Black Pepper – 1 tsp (ground coarsely)
Jeera – 1 tsp
Ginger – 1 inch piece (grated0
Curry Leaves – 8-10 (chopped)
Hing – I large pinch
Turmeric Powder – 1 large pinch


Heat the ghee in a saucepan and add all the sauté ingredients at one go and stir a couple of times before adding them to the Idli batter.

Steam the Kancheepuram Idlis in Idli Moulds and serve them hot with Coconut Chutney or Onion Chutney. They taste simply delicious.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Recipe: Gujarati Dal

Gujarati Dal
Dal generally means Toor Dal in Indian Cuisine and is made differently in every state. Gujarati Dal is a favourite at home as it is both spicy and sweet in taste. I learned to make this from my Gujju friend Asha who used to stay in the same building. She lives in Nigeria nowadays.

I know the Gujarati Dal tastes quite simple and yummy. But a number of ingredients go into it to give it the right flavour. It’s best to follow the method step-by-step to ensure that the Dal is absolutely delicious.


Toor Dal - 1 cup (large)
Tomatoes - 2 (medium, grated or chopped)
Oil - 1 tbsp
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Jaggery - 2 tsp
Salt to taste
Kotmir - 2 tsp (chopped)

Green Masala

Green Chillies - 5
Curry Leaves - 8-10
Ginger - 1” piece
Garlic - 5 cloves

Dry Masala Powder

Turmeric Powder - 1 large pinch
Chilli Powder - 1 small pinch
Dhaniya Powder - ½ tsp
Jeera Powder - ½ tsp
Hing Powder – 1 small pinch

For sauté

Rai - 1 flat tsp
Jeera - 1 flat tsp
Methi Seeds - ¼ tsp
Cloves - 2-3
Cinnamon - 2 tiny pieces


1. Pressure-cook the toor dal with two cups of water for 8 whistles.
2. In a small bowl, cut the green chillies into two pieces each; add the curry leaves, grate the ginger and garlic on a cheese grater and keep them together.
3. Heat the oil and ghee together in a saucepan and keep the flame on medium.
4. Let the Rai crackle in it before you add Jeera, Methi, Cloves and Cinnamon.
5. Add the green masala items immediately after and turn it once or twice.
6. Immediately add the dry masala powders - 5 of them. I usually keep these also together in a small bowl so that they can be added simultaneously.
7. After mixing these in, add the tomatoes. Allow the tomatoes to cook in the masala for 2-3 minutes before adding 2 cups of water to the saucepan.
8. Add the salt and jaggery and allow the whole thing to boil for about 5 minutes.
9. Mash the cooked toor dal to a smooth consistency with a pav-bhaji masher and add it to the saucepan.
10. Mix well and allow it to cook for another 3-4 minutes.
11. Switch off the gas and transfer the delicious Gujarati Dal to a serving vessel and garnish with kotmir before serving.

Believe you me, you will get quite addicted to the taste soon!

Friday, May 3, 2013


To begin with, I feel extremely sad that the Harry Potter saga has finally ended. But of course, it’s a good thing that it also means the end of Lord Voldemort.

Hah! What a story! JK Rowling, you are the best!

These words uttered by Dumbledore resonated deep within me: "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"

I had to read Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows three times before I understood the book properly. It really made me wonder about the kind of research that must have gone into it before the author could come up with this book. Simply amazing! What a tale she weaves!

Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione are quite lost without Dumbledore to guide them. They have decided not to go back to Hogwarts for their seventh year but to seek the horcruxes and destroy them ultimately making the destruction of Lord Voldemort possible.

Hermione has wiped out the memories from her parents and made them move to Australia so that they are not targeted by Voldemort’s minions. In the meanwhile, the ghoul at the Weasleys’ home has been transformed to resemble Ron and is supposed to suffer from a contagious disease. Better still, Hermione has had a small handbag bewitched to hold everything they would need if they had to stay in hiding for a long period – books, clothes, tent, polyjuice potion, essence of dittany and loads more.

They escape from right under the nose of the death-eaters at Bill & Fleur’s wedding and find refuge at No. 12, Grimmauld Place. Soon, Kreacher, the house-elf, turns quite loyal to his new master, Harry. The three of them have a secure home to live in with three square meals cooked by a loving Kreacher as they make plans to find the horcruxes.

But they are forced to go on the run when the death-eaters find their hideout. Things turn horrible when Ron gets frustrated as things are moving too slowly for his liking. He just ups and leaves.

The story takes a number of twists and turns with the highlights being the trio’s visit to the Ministry of Magic where they help a number of witches and wizards escape; breaking into Gringotts with the help of Griphook, the goblin; flying away on a dragon, escaping Nagini; and getting away from Voldemort and his henchmen at the nick of the moment – not once, but many times.

Finally, they land up at Hogwarts and the war begins. Who will survive? Lord Voldemort or Harry Potter? Of course, we would all just love it if things happened quite smoothly and Tom Riddle died. But is it possible for things to happen that easily?

No, Harry has to die to ensure that his enemy dies too. Isn’t that a shocker? Well, that’s what the seventh book is all about.

Then there is Severus Snape. Is he what he appears to be? Does he belong to Voldemort or is he Dumbledore’s man through and through? JK Rowling has woven an incredible tale that makes one begging for more.

After I had read the seventh book 6 times, my sister sent me a short story by Bruce T Forbes – three stories, in fact. These are about the characters from the Harry Potter series. They are cute! The last one is something like a sequel and is extremely touching. I could not help as the tears rolled down my eyes while reading the story. I have shared the last story on this blog for you to read. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Click Here to download (free) Harry Potter Short Stories by Bruce T Forbes.

Below is the third short story copy-pasted from the downloaded PDF.

Harry Potter and the Morning After: My Ending to the Final Book
By Bruce T Forbes

Ms. Rowling didn't even give us a memorial service for the death of our friends! And by the end of the last book they are our friends! So here you go …

HARRY POTTER WAS DREAMING. Although Voldemort and the Death Eaters had just been beaten and he thought this would be the first night for a very long time that he might dream happy dreams, he wasn't. He felt his body being constricted; absolutely no room to move and barely enough to breath. He couldn't feel Nagini the boa constrictor moving but it was the same feeling. He felt panic rising and was ready to scream… … when suddenly he was awake.

“Morning, Harry, dear.” Molly Weasley was lying beside him on top of the covers of his bed, high atop Hogwarts in the Gryffindor dormitory tower. A snore made him turn his head and he saw Arthur Weasley fast asleep on his other side. So it wasn't a snake; just a very crowded bed. A quick look around told him that all five beds in the room were full of Weasleys – Charley, Bill and Fleur, Percy, George, Ron, and Ginny, and also fast asleep with the family was Hermione. He immediately felt Fred's absence.

“Mrs. Wesley,” Harry said out loud, “What…?”

“Professor McGonagall let us in last night. You disappeared from the great hall and no one knew where you'd gone. The whole school was searching the castle until that lovely Lovegood girl suggested you'd be in bed. 'After all, Harry's the sensible sort,' she said. Don't blame you; after all you've been though.” She smiled. "You've been asleep since yesterday Noon. You missed Charlie's dragons; they had to return… "

"Where's Neville and… "

"Neville's in a guest room with his grandmother; didn't want to leave her alone. Seamus and Dean are with their families as well."

Harry tried to pull the sheet and blankets over his chest as he sat up. “Not to be rude, but I haven't anything on. I didn't have any pajamas… ”

“Then you just stay under the blankets and we'll serve breakfast.”

At that there was a cracking sound and a dozen house elves appeared, led by Kreacher, all carrying various heavily-laden trays of breakfast foods. Everyone in the room woke for the smell of breakfast.

“It's nearly Noon, but none of us have eaten anything sensible since before the battle,” explained Mrs.Weasley.

“An owl has brought Master Potter a package,” began Kreacher, holding a long, thin package up for Harry to take.

Kreacher smiled wickedly. "An owl from Malfoy Manor."

“It looks like a wand,” Harry said as he took the offering.

Mister Weasley smiled. “Before the Malfoys left I cornered Lucius and informed him that since you had beaten Voldemort, then Voldemort's wand now belonged to you. It'll go nice with Draco's wand. It's no secret Voldemort had been headquartered at the Malfoy estate, so I told him that if it didn't arrive today a number of us would come looking for it.” At this everyone in the room but Mrs.Weasley snickered - it was obvious who the 'number of us' would have been. "So, there's your own wand's twin… "

“You used his name, Mister Weasley," Harry whispered. "You said 'Voldemort'. Three times!"

Arthur smiled. “I could get used to it.”

“Mrs. Weasley,” Harry began, “I… I'm sorry. It's all my fault. Fred… ”

Mrs. Weasley faced the boy head-on, bringing up the handle end of her wand and touching it to the boy's chin. “Get one thing straight Harry, dear: if you try to take blame for anything that's happened to this family then you'll wish the Death Eaters got hold of you instead of me! None of this is your fault, and if you try to make it so then the stories the boys have told you about my temper will pale in comparison to what I'll do to you!” She took a breath and smiled, her familiar, motherly face returning. “Are we clear on that subject, Dear?”

“Yes, Ma'am,” Harry said slowly, remembering how the woman had taken on Belletrix the day before. “But Fred… I mean…”

Mrs. Weasley's faced softened to what Harry always imagined a 'mommy' face to look like. “Yes, boy; I'm hurting inside more than you can imagine, and I suspect you are, too.” The two of them were sitting up by now, and Mrs. Weasley pulled Harry close; he'd never been held like this before. “I've spent most of yesterday and last night crying, and when it's time for you to cry I will be here for you.”

“Thanks,” Harry said quietly. “But I don't feel…”

“When you do, Harry; when you do.”

“Please, Harry Potter, Sir,” one of the house elves in the back of the group spoke up – it was Winky, recognizable by the pink skirt she wore in her disgrace of having been set free. “Dobby has not come home for weeks and weeks. Are you knowing where he is?”

Ron and Hermione gasped – no one had told the house elves!

Harry tried to move his covers, which he was able to do as soon as Mrs. Weasley stood up and handed him his trousers and all the women in the room looked away so he could slip them on. He knelt as Winky approached, Hermione taking the tray from Winky and setting it on the bed.

“Please Harry Potter, does you know where our Dobby has gone?”

“Winky, I am so sorry,” Harry began, but his voice choked.

Winky's ears dropped sadly. “Is our Dobby not coming home, then?”

“No, Winky. He died saving seven of us from Voldemort. I'm so sorry.”

Winky tried very hard to be brave, and Harry saw in her face the pretended courage he himself was trying to show. He knelt all the way to the floor and took her in his arms as she began to wail, and he held her tight as she cried loudly.

“Told you my Master is a great Wizard,” Kreacher whispered to the other house elves. “He even cares for one who is shamed.”

THAT AFTERNOON, FAMILY MEMBERS OF THOSE who gave their lives in defense of the school assembled in the Great Hall. The house elves were there to mourn for Dobby, many of them having earlier Apparated in turns to visit the quiet grave that a wizard had dug by hand to honor the brave house elf, ooh'ing and awe'ing that he even made the headstone exactly as Dobby would like to have been remembered. Some of the parents present were the first Muggles to have entered Hogwarts, and Acting Headmistress McGonagall went out of her way to make them feel welcome and secure.

“Mister Potter,” McGonagall called out as the doors to the hall closed and locked themselves so the meeting could be held in private, “Please come forward.” Harry stood and started towards her, and Ron and Hermione stood and walked with him.

“I'm sorry, I only called for Mister Potter.”

All three stopped, the looks on their faces and the way they took each other's elbows speaking far louder than words.

“You're right, of course. After seven years why even attempt to break you up now?” One of the staff members moved to get two more chairs, and the three sat themselves next to McGonagall in front of the owl-shaped podium.

Just as the three of them took their seats and McGonagall opened her mouth to begin, the huge double doors to the Great Hall that supposedly locked themselves opened of their own accord, and the professor knew they wouldn't do that unless they had a very good reason.

Standing in the doorway was two wizards who looked as if they'd just stepped out of the Australian outback, a Muggle man and woman standing between them and looking very bewildered. Before either wizard could say "G'Day" however, Hermione screamed and shot down the aisle at full speed and threw herself into her father's and mother's arms. I needn't tell you that there were tears.

"About eighteen hours ago they acted as if they'd just woke up," one of the Australian wizards explained as Professor McGonagall reached the emotional reunion. "Right in the middle of something called a 'root canal'." He shook his head. "Poor bloke they were working on!" He paused a moment. "Anyway, we got wind of their story when the police came on the scene - their receptionist is a cute little witch, y'see; tipped us off as soon as she heard the word 'Hogwarts'. We figured you might know what to do about them."

"Yes; I think we do, as you can see. Thank you so very much," McGonagall whispered while Hermione exclaimed that there was so much for her parents to catch up on.

"You've a hole in your castle; you know that, don't you?"

"It's been a long few days," McGonagall explained quietly.

"Me and m' mate here are good with reconstruction; wouldn't mind helpin' a bit while we're here." Both of the Aussies whipped out their wands as if ready to go to work right then and there.

"Thank you. Please, come in and have a seat."

McGonagall led the two visitors in to the Great Hall and quietly explained to the audience what Hermione had done the summer previous to protect her parents from Voldemort's wrath - she had erased all memory of herself from her own parents' minds, changed their identities, and given them the sudden need to move to Australia. When the girl finally brought her parents forward the entire audience stood in silent respect - touching the hearts of all three Grangers.

Professor McGonagall sat the Grangers next to Arthur Weasley - they knew each other from conversations about muggle artifacts while school shopping - and then she led Hermione back to the head of the room where the Professor recited to the assembly the history of Tom Riddle up to the time that Harry, Ron, and Hermione started their first term at Hogwarts.

Then she invited the three to tell the story of their years of schooling and fighting Voldemort, adding in things and asking leading questions to get the three to further tell a particular story. "Yes, you didn't know I knew that," the professor said more than once as the three looked shocked at what she did know about their escapades. "I wouldn't be a very good Head of House if I didn't keep an eye and ear to my students, would I?" Although it was in fact a somber meeting, there was murmurs of laughter in appropriate places. “He did what?” Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were heard to murmur more than once, and the Creeveys were easily recognizable by their blush when stories of their son's photo-taking was mentioned.

It wasn't until Harry retold the story of watching Voldemort being brought back to life the night of the final Tri-Wizard competition that Harry noticed that in the third row and surrounded by a wizard and witch guard sat Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley Dursley, all three with wide-eyed looks of astonishment and very pale faces.

When it was finally over, Professor McGonagall stood. “I know there are many of you who would like to come up and speak to Mister Potter, Mister Weasley, and Miss Granger. Please remember they been through much and need time for their own healing. Perhaps we can all show our appreciation to them now?”

The room came to their feet, thunderously applauding Harry, Ron, and Hermione, tears mixed with smiles. Not to be held back, Molly Weasley and Mrs. Granger made her way together to the front and took Ron, Harry, and Hermione in their arms. The doors opened, announcing the end of the meeting, and Professor McGonagall took Harry from Mrs. Weasley and led him to where his aunt and uncle still sat.

“Harry,” Dudley said slowly as he stood to face his cousin, “You really did all that? That was the truth? All of it?”

“Yeah, all of it.” Harry didn't know what else to say.

Uncle Vernon stood, Harry recognizing that the man was speechless. For the first time ever his uncle extended his hand and actually shook Harry's hand as if he were a fellow Man. There were no words exchanged, but the gesture was loud and clear to one versed in the murky mysteries of male communication. Aunt Petunia's mouth tried to work as she too stood, but nothing would come out. She finally leaned over just far enough and gave him the briefest of kisses and then managed to say “I'm so sorry, Harry.”

“Dursley?! Is that you?” They all turned to see Mr. Creevey stepping up to the little family reunion. “You're Harry's uncle?” Mr. Creevey smiled a big, proud grin. “How could you keep such an awesome secret? You have to be the proudest man on earth! That must be why you've disappeared this past year - under magical protection, no doubt?"

“Creevey?” Vernon managed to whisper slowly. Creevey, you see, was Vernon's assistant at the office.

“Excuse me,” Harry mumbled, and he fled the scene.

An hour after the family meeting ended the entire school quietly joined those already in the Great Hall. Also joining the students were their families and all those who had rushed to the defense of the school during the Great Attack - which meant that nearly all of Hogsmeade was there along with many, many others who had Apparated to the village and marched on the school with the villagers. There were many wounded among them, and they bore their injuries with quiet dignity.

Where the Headmaster and staff usually sat there was a silent row of more than fifty simple caskets, each draped with the colors of their house. The stool used for the Sorting Ceremony was among the caskets, bearing a grinning picture of Dobby.

Just before the funeral service was to start there was a noise heard in the entry, and a herd of centaur appeared in the doorway.

“May we enter?” Bane, the tough, blond leader asked quietly.

Professor McGonagall was on her feet and striding the length of the hall before the request was completed. “Welcome, all of you. You honor us with your presence.” And she nodded her head respectfully. Bane saluted Firenze, who still lay on blankets in a corner of the room, his wounds being carefully tended by Hagrid.

“Told you they were real,” Dennis Creevey whispered to his astonished parents as McGonagall led the equine warriors to the great hall, where they of their own accord began to line the walls.

It was obvious who the muggle parents were as they reacted to the herd's entrance into the room, but all was done with great dignity on the part of the humans and the centaurs.

A somber silence finally fell as Acting Headmistress McGonagall stood at the owl-shaped speaker's podium and welcomed the staff, students, families of the Deceased, and other defenders of Hogwart's.

“Two years ago,” the Headmistress began, “we ended our school year in memory of one very brave young man, one Cedric Digory - killed as Tom Riddle came back into his power.” She very deliberately used Voldemort's given name. “Last year it was to honor the greatest wizard to have ever headed this school. And today… ” She paused as her emotions caught in her throat. “Today there are so many. Every one of them had the chance to leave. They could have left when we smuggled the underage students out, some of which, as you know, stubbornly returned for the fight.” A distinct sniffle was heard from all three of the Creeveys, the family of one such underage hero. “Some of these before us were alumni; not even current students.” She looked momentarily to where Remus Lupin and his wife lay silently side by side. “But they came of their own accord because they believed in Freedom. Because of them and those of us who fought beside them, next year's term will end without a memorial service.

“As Professor Dumbledore told more than one student, it is our choices that make us who we are. These who lay before us now made a choice to fight. They made a choice that no one should live in tyranny, terror, or fear. They made a choice that Freedom had to start with them; not with someone else. They made choices that will resound through the history of this school. And so, we are only the first who will honor them."

Professor McGonagall waved her wand, and around the walls of the Great Hall portraits of those being honored appeared, hanging in beautifully-carved frames. Portraits of Cedric Diggory and Professor Dumbledore were included.

“Today's service is for the families, the school, and those who defended the school; I have not even admitted the Ministry as we who fought the fight need a ceremony all our own. The rest of the magical community, however, has been invited to the interment tomorrow morning.

“I have asked each of the heads of the Hogwarts houses to stand and tell something of each of these brave souls.” As Professor McGonagall was the head of Gryffindor, she remained at the head of the room as the two remaining heads of house joined her; one house being without a head. In fact, the only member of that house who had fought the fight was the Head of the House, but he was no longer to be found. Together they went down the line of coffins, each taking their turn at a coffin bearing their house colors, sharing stories both humorous and somber about each student and alumni. As they finished they removed the house colors from the coffin, so by the time the service was done each of the coffins bore only the Hogwarts seal - a silent sign of unity.

The final casket, and the only one to bear the colors of the house no one wanted to name, was that of Severus Snape, and as the heads of the houses approached it Harry stood.

“Please; May I?”

McGonagall nodded and motioned for him to come forward. As she suspected he would do, Harry recited the memories Snape had given the boy while he died, beginning with the man's earliest memories of Lily and Petunia Evans and concluding with the man's death. Aunt Petunia's look told Harry that she remembered the strange boy from the playground of her childhood.

“So you see, he was as much a hero as anyone here.” Harry paused. “I almost don't even hate him anymore. In time I hope to be able to forgive him. If nothing else, for my mother's sake."

Harry looked around the Great Hall. “Next time any of you shun or ridicule a fellow classmate or anyone else for whatever reason, remember Professor Snape. Remember how easily your teasing, your ridicule, your snubbing of a fellow human being can affect their choices. Yes, they still make their choice, but we have to do our best to effect them into making the better choice.”

With the heads of houses nodding, Harry returned to his seat.

McGonagall approached the speaker's podium once more. “Most of the families have given their consent for their loved one to be interred here at Hogwarts. Those who will be taking their child home… ”

“Professor?” It was Mr. Creevey who stood, his wife nodding agreement with something he'd just whispered to her. “We've changed our minds. We'd like Colin to be laid to rest here. With his friends." A single huge tear rolled down the man's cheek as he held the most manly of faces. "It's the right thing… ” A quiet sob stopped him from finishing the sentence.

Professor McGonagall smiled and nodded with a most tender look on her face that generations of students would not have thought possible. “It appears, then, that all the internments will take place tomorrow morning. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Creevey, and know that you and all the parents of our Heroes will be welcome here at any time, Magic or non-Magic. We will make the arrangements later.

"We will, then, reconvene tomorrow at Sunrise in the entrance hall. Family members who are visiting: please do not hesitate to call upon the students who have been assigned as your hosts for any of your needs – those of you who are new to the magical world I'm sure will have many questions before our memorial proceedings are completed. Supper, then, will be at Eight O'clock, and all who are here are welcome.”

The doors to the great room opened on their own power, and a powerfully-built man in a kilt and traveling cloak stood in the door. He was as red-haired as any Celt could be and looked like a male version of Professor McGonagall except for his youthfulness.

"Grandfather?" the acting head-mistress said, surprised, as she stepped from the podium and towards the door. It was actually her great-grandfather Angus; a member of the
Brotherhood of the Dragons you read about in the first story…

The embrace as she reached the door was tender, and she even shed a tear or two.

"Someone else here to see you, Lassie," Great-grandfather Angus finally whispered, and another man stepped into the light. He too was powerfully built, his raven-black hair pulled back in a braid that fell as far as his waist. Professor McGonagall fell into this man's arms and they embraced and then they kissed. And as they kissed her hair spilled out of his familiar bun and cascaded down her back and turned from grey to red and shimmered in the light. Her figure filled in curves that had not been filled for quite a few years, and wrinkles softened and disappeared, and she was young again. At least for as long as the kiss lasted, which was not a short interval.

"Who? What?" Arthur Weasley asked.

"Well, Jacob of Ely, o' course!" Molly whispered back.

"Oh, of course," Arthur mumbled, not having a clue.

"She really did have a summer romance with a dragon?" Charlie whispered.

"Just not the sort of dragon you thought," Molly grinned at her family's confusion.

"You knew about this?" Arthur asked. "You don't think Fred and George are the only things she and I discussed during all those parent-teacher meetings, do you? And if even one of my children - or you, Harry - whistle or cat-call, I'll silence the lot of you for good!"

A half-dozen Weasley men and a Potter closed their mouths.

"Does love really make you young again?" Davey Creevey asked his mother.

Missus Creevey put an arm around her husband. "If it's the right person it does."

AN HOUR BEFORE SUNRISE THE CASTLE'S RESIDENTS began to trickle down the stairs from the high towers while others trickled up from the lower levels. By the time the entry doors opened to let in the rays of the rising sun the students were ready to fulfil their task as pallbearers. The rest of the school was in fact empty as even the ghosts gathered in the entry and lined the stairs to watch solemnly as each of the caskets were reverently carried through the entry and out the door, led with great dignity by their Headmistress. As each casket left the hall a centaur stepped up to lead the way to the loch's shore, outfitted with full weapons and looking as regal as any warrior could for the funeral of fellow warriors.

It would have taken a blind or heartless person to not see that Professor McGonagall was struggling to hold on to some shred of dignity as she led the procession, but she was a proud woman who would not appear weak for this important role. Just as the woman thought she would collapse, however, the crowd to one side opened, and Bane, the proud, militant centaur, stepped through and stopped in front of the acting headmistress. After silently staring at each other for a moment the warrior who had almost killed another centaur for the sin of giving a human a ride knelt before the woman and motioned backwards towards his equine back.

"May one warrior honor another?" the centaur asked simply.

Aware of Bane's violent revulsion to such an action, McGonagall nearly choked on her tears while with the greatest of dignity she settled herself on his back in a side-saddle position, humbled beyond expression by the honor being shown her. Bane turned with equal dignity and began to lead the procession down to the loch, the headmistress laying a single, dignified hand on his shoulder to steady herself.

In a deliberate act of defiance, short, small Davey Creevy refused to walk behind his brother's casket with his parents but insisted on being a pallbearer, even though it meant he had to raise his arms above his head to help carry his brother's body. He never knew that every time his arms began to give out a witch or wizard respectfully lining the path quietly raised their wand and shot some extra strength his way.

While Fred Weasley was being borne by his brothers and sister, Arthur, Molly, and Fleur walked soberly behind Fred's casket, holding to each other for support. Harry was ahead of them, however, as the caskets were being carried in alphabetical order and he was in his place bearing Remus Lupin – friend, teacher, and the last of his parents' companions – on this last departure from the great castle. Hermione Granger was helping to carry Tonks to her final rest beside her husband of not even a year.

As Remus Lupin's casket reached the doors to the great entry, Harry felt a cold touch on his arm. He turned briefly and saw Myrtle, the ghost who inhabited the girl's bathroom and quite possibly the first of Tom Riddle's many victims, touching his arm. She smiled weakly at Harry as she leaned forward and tried to give him a short little kiss on his cheek. Harry smiled, understanding the great emotion in a ghost trying to make such strong contact with a mortal. She smiled back, their smiles saying everything that needed to be said. Myrtle held up one hand and Harry saw a small shell on a chain.

"From the merpeople," Myrtle whispered in her little-girl voice as she slipped the chain over Harry's neck. "I was flushed into the lake last night and they surrounded me and asked me to deliver this to you." Harry smiled again and was out the door, humbly wearing the gift as Myrtle attempted to take his free elbow and float along beside him towards the final tribute.

As it was a long walk to the loch's shore for those bearing the Fallen, other students walked alongside the path, ready to take over for those whose shoulders and arms gave out in carrying their companions to their final rest. By the time they had reached the shore most every student had helped carry one or more of the caskets.

Harry was trying very hard not to see the many faces of those who had Apparated to Hogsmeade in the early morning hours and made the walk to the school to witness this final rite. (McGonagall had unwaveringly informed the Magical community that Hogwarts would not be a hostel for those attending the services as everyone in the school was mourning and were not fit to be waiting on guests.)

Harry couldn't imagine that there was so many witches and wizards in England. He remembered the crowds at the Quittich World Cup and thought that the crowd today had to be larger. The entire path from the castle to the loch was lined with those who had come, all standing silent and sober as coffin after coffin was carried by.

Many reached out to touch a coffin as it passed, fresh tears coming to their eyes as they whispered the person's name.

The crowd parted as the procession approached, allowing them and their centaur guard access to the monument that had risen around the tomb of Albus Dumbledore - that tomb now stood at the center of a marble semicircle with enough smaller tombs fanning out to accommodate those being interred. The curved boundaries of the semi-circle was huge carved statues of a pair of phoenix birds; their wings acting as walls to make the monument a quiet, private place of meditation and thought.

Bane stood soberly at Professor McGonagall's side, a hand on her shoulder as a sign of support, as she read each name from a scroll - just as she had read them at the Sorting Ceremony for so many years, and one by one caskets were placed in tombs and stone lids put in place and sealed with a simple spell. It was a very solemn ceremony right up until the moment that George Weasley stepped forward to seal the final tomb; the one in which his twin brother Fred was being laid to rest. Those gathered should have been warned when George suddenly hit the ground and covered his head just as the tomb suddenly made loud, embarrassing body sounds and emitted fireworks reminiscent of those that had been let off during Dolores Umbridge's unfortunate reign as Inquisitor.

“George… ” Molly Weasley's voice began threateningly as she picked herself up off the marble paving, not even noticing the applause being generated by those who knew - or knew of – the Weasley twins and their unwavering lust for life.

“No, Molly; no,” began McGonagall as she also lifted herself from the monument floor; “We could hardly have honored one of these boys without one final demonstration, could we? I actually find it somehow quite appropriate.” Molly did not look like she thought it appropriate in any way, but she conceded to the head of the school.

AS THE PUBLIC, STUDENTS AND FACULTY, AND FAMILIES mingled at the end of the ceremony, Harry remained in place next to Remus' and Tonks' tomb (the only joint tomb within the monument), a thousand memories filling his head, both good and bad; happy and sad. His mind was a million miles away as he heard his name called.

It was McGonagall.

“Mister Potter.”

“Professor… ”

“Call me Minerva.”

“I couldn't.”

“You could with practice. You're an adult now; we're a little more equal.” Harry smiled. “I've asked your friends to give us a few moments. Walk with me?”

Minerva took Harry by the arm and led him toward the focus of the monument – the tomb of Albus Dumbledore.

“Professor,” Harry began and caught himself. “I mean, 'Minerva'. This one closest to Professor Dumbledore is just a platform; no tomb.”

“Read the name engraved on it.”

'Cedric Diggory' was engraved on the monument.

“He'd have liked this,” Harry whispered. “And so would his parents.”

Minerva motioned at a flower arrangement and Harry stopped to read – 'In Memory of our Son'.

“Were they here?”

“Yes; they arrived last night and were allowed to stay in the school. They said to give you their best and to please come visit them.”

Suddenly Harry brightened just a little. "We should mount the Tri-Wizard trophy here!"

Minerva's smile was everything a grandmother's smile could convey. "We were hoping you'd want that; his parents would be so proud." She paused. “Oh, and that which was taken from Dumbledore has been replaced. Along with the ring - yes, we sent someone out who found it, and it's safely hidden right along with the wand. I thought you'd like to know.”

“Thank you. I hope they're never seen again.” He paused.

"And Voldemort? Where's his body… ?"

"Ask me not and I'll lie not."

Harry looked at Minerva's face and knew he'd not ask that question ever again.

“Now, turn yourself around, young man,” and Minerva wheeled Harry around to take in the full impact of the memorial, and for the first time Harry saw that upon the phoenix's windswept wings were hundreds – perhaps thousands – of engraved names.

“Almost like a war memorial,” Harry whispered.

“There's no 'almost' about it; it most certainly is a war memorial. The wings on your left,” and she pointed,” lists the names of all known deaths in the magical world due to Voltemort and the Death Eaters. (And he noticed that Myrtle's name began the entire list just as he heard a little girlish gasp exclamation saying "That's my name!") On the right,” and she motioned there, “are the names of two rather important groups; the only two organized groups who stood up to Evil and fought it. Both generations of the Order of the Phoenix and,” and she turned to face the young man, “'Dumbledore's Army'.”

“What? We didn't do so much… ”

“You most certainly did! You taught a whole new generation to stand their ground and to stand for the Right!”

This was all too much for Harry. He let Minerva guide him to where he could see the names of the Order of the Phoenix engraved on either wing of the one sculptured phoenix-wall, and the names of Dumbledore's Army on the torso of the same bird. He saw that the names of the dead were gold-leafed. He saw the Dursleys standing silently as his aunt touched her sister Lily's name, tears flowing freely down her cheeks. And there was even the faintest sight of Myrtle, barely visible in the bright sunlight, floating near the monument and fingering her name.

“Look – Neville's parents! They've gold-leafed them. But…”

“They'd might as well be dead, Harry. They deserve the honor, don't you think?”

“I do. I really do.”

“Neville was pleased.”

“Where… ?”

“He's gone for a walk with his grandmother – they needed some quiet time together. Now, come this way,” and she steered Harry to where the wings of the two giant birds met and entwined, making a quiet little hollow into which many of the school's house elves were staring in awe and reverence. When Harry got close enough to see between the entwined wings he saw a simple square pedestal, and atop it was…

“Dobby!” exclaimed Harry; “Look! It looks so real!”

And indeed it did look real. The statue stood, its head half-cocked and one hand raised and ready to snap its fingers. In the other hand was a sock, just like the one Harry Potter had put in the diary that was handed to Dobby, awarding him his freedom.

What Harry didn't even comment on - didn't even seem to notice - was that there was a statue of himself next to Dobby, his hand on the house elf's shoulder. Many a house elves saw this as proof of the great wizard's humility.

"Told you my master is a great wizard," Kreacher was whispering; "He didn't even notice the statue of himself."

As Harry stepped up to the statue of his friend and caressed it with a soft hand, the tears came unstopped. He looked up at Minerva but couldn't speak, afraid of the flood that was going to come. She stepped up to the boy quickly and whispered, “May I do something I've wanted to do since the day you arrived here?”

“What's that?” he asked, knowing he wasn't going to be able to hold back the flood.

In answer, Minerva pulled his head to her shoulder and held him. "If I don't do it now, Molly may never give me the chance."

Harry Potter wept, and every house elf who could crowded around him to touch; to comfort.

Minerva finally wept, too.

As Harry and Minerva wiped their faces, someone called for them. “Mister Potter,” the voice called again. They turned and found themselves facing Andromeda Tonks, who was holding her grandchild, little Teddy Lupin. It was Harry's first chance to see the baby that was to be his godson.

“Remus and Nymphadora agreed you were to be Teddy's godfather, and I finally agree with their decision.”

“Thank you,” said Harry.

“I'm old and I don't know if I'm up to caring for a baby.” She smiled a grandmother smile. “It will be interesting.”

Harry turned to Professor McGonagall. “Winky.”

“Aye; I abso-lutely approve.” She cleared her throat and called the house elf's name.
Winky came running from the crowd of departing house elves. “Was I calling?” she asked breathlessly as she stopped in front of Harry and Minerva.

“Winky,” began Harry slowly, “Are you happy here?”

“I is a servant; I is happy.”

“I know of a house that needs a house elf.”

Winky's eyes narrowed. “But I is shamed. No one is wanting me.”

Mrs. Tonks understood what was going on. “Oh! But Minerva – we've never had a house elf. I wouldn't know… ”

“Winky,” and Harry knelt, “This is a house that has never had a house elf. You will need to teach them who house elves are and what they do and how they are to be treated.”

“I is not knowing about this.”

Harry motioned for the baby and Mrs. Tonks gently handed the little bundle to the boy. “Winky, here is a baby whose mother and father were buried here today.”

“Harry Potter is talking of Master Lupin and Mistress Tonks?”

“I am. Do you know how to take care of a baby?”

“Ooooh, Harry Potter is knowing that Winky knows such things!”

Harry smiled. “You can demand that you receive no payment and no days off. Here; see the baby.”

“Oh,” began Mrs. Tonks; “Of course she'd receive a wage. Her own room… ”

“NO!” exclaimed Winky; “I is not a liberated house elf; I is still having self-respect. No wage or room! A box with a clean blanket… !”

Mrs. Tonks was appalled, but her need for a nursemaid overrode her sensibilities. “Winky, I am sure you will be able to teach me what a proper house elf should have and do.”

By now Winky was holding the baby, who was making baby noises, and an angelic smile was working its way across her face.

“I is not sure yet.”

“I'm the baby's godfather, Winky,” Harry said slowly, “I will be able to come and visit you and make sure you are being treated correctly.”

Winky looked from Harry to Mrs. Tonks to Minerva, and then addressed Minerva. “You is not upset that I would leave?”

“Well, I have been considering giving Hogwarts house elves a wage," Minerva lied. "And, I've been wracking my brain what to do when you refuse one.”

“A wage?” Winky was horrified.

“A mandatory wage.”

Winky looked back at Mrs. Tonks. “I is coming with you, Mistress Tonks. You will see I is the best nurse for babies that you are ever knowing.” Winky smiled at the baby. “Please, may I show my new little Master to the others before we leave?” Mrs. Tonks nodded and Winky ran off to show off her new little charge and brag of her new position.

Somewhere where Harry couldn't see him, Dudley Dursley was talking to a centaur: "You mates are for real?! Centaur's are for real?! All my life… "

The Weasleys, Hermione, and the remnants of the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore's Army were all waiting near Dumblore's tomb as Minerva and Harry finally joined them - even Neville and his grandmother had returned to the monument. Molly put a hand on
Harry's face, her quick eyes seeing that there had been tears.

“That's a start, Dear,” she whispered as she patted his cheek.

Just as Arthur cleared his throat to speak, a melodious cry was heard, and from somewhere above them a red and blue bird fluttered in and landed on Fred's tomb. It cocked its head this way and that, crying, until Harry finally exclaimed: “Fawkes?”

"That's a phoenix, Mum, Dad!" Hermione whispered.

The phoenix that was formerly Dumbledore's companion chirped and turned to face Harry, who pushed his way through the crowd and put out a hand to touch the bird, which hopped up onto Harry's outstretched arm, walked its way to his shoulder, and sat comfortably down while making quiet, calming noises, as if settling into a new home. It rubbed its head against Harry's cheek and cried a happy cry.

“Well,” said Ron with a grin, “No more owls for Harry!”

Hermione, however, was crying. Again.

“What?” asked Ron.

“Don't you understand anything, Ron? A phoenix. A new beginning.” She looked up and smiled at Harry. “Welcome to a new beginning, Harry.”

A WEEK LATER HARRY POTTER WALKED DOWN DIAGON ALLEY and opened the door to the newly-reopened 'Ollivanders: Maker of Fine Wands' and stepped in, the door's bell announcing his entrance.

“Good afternoon,” called out a soft voice. “I thought I'd be seeing you soon.” Harry remembered the first time the old man spoke those words to him and smiled. Mr. Ollivander looked healthier and happier than the last time Harry had seen him, and his eyes and smile had their old twinkle back. “Haven't come for a new wand, have you? You've got quite a collection already. I hear the twin is even yours now… ”

“No, Sir; not a new wand. I… I'm looking for a job.”

“Weasley's joke shop not hiring?”

“They hired Ron; something about it being a family business."

Mr. Ollivander grinned. "I doubt there's a Weasley alive who doesn't consider you family, despite your unforgivable lack of red hair. Even old Muriel… "

"I'm hoping for something quiet, actually." Harry admitted. "Not a lot of excitement.”

Mr. Ollivander peered deep into Harry's eyes. “I'm not too good at divination, Mister Potter, but I'm reasonably sure you are not destined for a quiet, peaceful life." He paused, his smile getting even wider. "Destiny has something far more interesting in store for you.” Harry began to speak but the old man held up his hand. “But until said destiny finds you, I am in terrible need of an assistant. Every piece of stock is in the most horrible condition; everything needs dusting and polishing. Shelves need to be resorted and arranged… ”

“I can dust and polish,” offered Harry; "I can learn to arrange shelves."

“The position is yours, then.”

And so, for a time, Harry Potter led a quiet, peaceful life.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Doodhi Bhaji
I have had some cook or another in my kitchen on and off. Since I love cooking myself, I find it difficult to accept shoddily cooked food. Well, this recipe is one of the good things that happened when Kandu cooked in our kitchen for a period of four months, I think. Being from a village, he was not used to a mixer and used the small pounding stone that I keep in my kitchen. I feel that adds a lot to the flavour.

I find Doodhi quite bland and needs a lot of enhancement before I am ready to eat it. But again, it’s a very healthy vegetable and is a natural coolant. That’s why I grabbed this recipe when Kandu made it. It’s delicious and my kids just love it.


Doodhi (Bottle Gourd) - 1 (500-700 gm; peeled and cut into cubes)
Channa dal - 3 tbsp
Tomatoes - 3 (medium; chopped)
Curry Leaves - 8-10
Oil - 2 tsp
Rai (mustard seeds) - ½ tsp
Jeera (cumin seeds) - ½ tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1 large pinch
Chilli Powder - 1 small pinch
Jaggery - 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Kotmir (coriander leaves) - 2 tsp (chopped)
Water - 1 cup


Garlic - 4-6 cloves
Ginger - ½ inch piece
Green Chillies - 2
Dhaniya (coriander seeds) - 1 tsp
Jeera (cumin seeds) - ¾ tsp


1. Add the masala ingredients to the mixer and grind them dry.
2. Take a pressure pan and heat the oil in it.
3. Add the Rai to it and then the Jeera as the former crackles.
4. Then add the curry leaves and the ground masala.
5. Turn the masala around a couple of times before adding the cut tomatoes.
6. Add turmeric and chilli powders along with salt and jaggery.
7. Add the channa dal and water to the mixture.
8. Finally, add the cubed doodhi and pressure cook for three whistles.
9. Open the cooker and pour the doodhi bhaji into a serving bowl.
10. Garnish with kotmir before serving hot with rotis or pooris.

The sabzi is simply yummy, I promise!