Event: Butterbeer Tasting Ceremony at Kolkata’s very own “Three Broomsticks”
Date: 24th June 2016, 4 pm onwards
Venue: Jadavpur University
Organizers: Kolkata Comic Carnival
Well, this was one that punched Kolkata right in the feels. The Butterbeer Tasting Ceremony organized by the KCC peeps promised to be a nostalgia trip for all those who spent their childhood in Potterverse. It was that and much more, as C’est la vie found out after paying the tiny stall set up near JU’s iconic Gate Number 2 a visit.
Look, I know it was a fan event, but I did not expect the large number of people who turned up in complete Harry Potter costumes on that sweltering day. I spotted a wonderful lady in suspenders and a Gryffindor tie, a couple of people with Time-Turner necklaces and one person with a very prominent S-shaped locket. (I did not try to find out if there was a soul or two locked in there.) And then there was Chandrima Mitra.
How awesome was this get-up?
We spoke to the sorceress herself and she said, “For fans like me, Harry Potter sure isn’t over. We still live in that world. It’s not very often that you get to walk up to people and introduce yourself as a Gryffindor and not have them look at you like you’re bonkers!”
It was not just about the Potter-fans and curious hangers-on at the Engineering cafeteria wondering what the hell was going on. The organizers managed to inject a sense of warmth into the crowd that I haven’t found anywhere else since: a sense of the familiar, a sense of being at home.
Srijon Mukherjee, waiting in line for his glass (spot him directly behind the girl with the soft sound and hair all over the place wearing the 1975 tee), enjoyed the energy near the revellers. “The crowd was nice, everybody was doing their own thing,” he said, “Also, loved that people dressed up in robes and HP tees and all. I always appreciate that!”
Siddharth Sinha agreed. “It was a nice meet and greet,” he said, as he waited for his pint, “People were getting along and talking about comics and books and TV shows and other stuff.”
When it came to the drinks themselves, on-site reviews were a little bit more mixed. Available with 4 different kinds of toppings and in two sizes, the icy concoctions were hits for some and misses for others.
Shrutakirti Dutta, who was to be found at the event in a white sari and a glorious Gryffindor-red blouse (pure co-incidence, she insists), said, “Half a tablespoon of butterscotch ice cream mixed in with half cup milk does not a butterbeer make.” Companion Arkaprabha Chakraborty was similarly disillusioned. Chandrima, though, disagreed. She thought they were “delicious.”
Personally, your blogger tried the Hufflepuff combination, handed to her by the endlessly energetic Shreya Sharma of KCC’s team.
I must say that I really liked it! While the debris of dried fruits at the bottom of the cup were sanctimoniously avoided (I hate any fruit that I cannot identify, and most that I can), the smooth blend of ice-cream and syrup, with the crunchy cornflakes on top, was a truly perfect accompaniment for a humid evening with Potter fans.
It’s a shame that the wait during the well-deserved intermission the brewers took may have robbed some of the opportunity to try out the drink. Srijon, for example, never received his pint. A few others had a similar complaint.
Saptashwa Bandopadhyay, a member of the KCC team, was sweating profusely preparing butterbeers for everyone else (oh, the irony). “It was pretty hectic,” he said. “But it was fun, too.” Working like a house-elf jokes, anyone?
The event was his brain-child and he came up with the idea because of his personal fondness of the Potter books.
“I am a huge Potterhead,” he said. “I usually spend over ten hours a day reading and writing fan-fiction. I know every cliche in the HP fan-fiction universe.Since we are a convention catering to all kinds of genres like comics, manga, Anime, books (like HP, LOTR, SOFI), movies and other stuff, I figured a Potter-themed event would be good to get the ball rolling!”
The Butterbeer tasting ceremony was more than just a gathering of those looking to ruminate over the charm of a childhood book series. It was a safe space for people to express themselves: a pride parade of a different kind.
People wore the badges of their fandoms unashamedly and found, in others, supporters and friends. As Srijon said, “That’s what I was doing, honestly; (I was to be) found ranting loudly about fandoms for the entire event, while Meghomala (Bhowmik, his companion that evening) ran around spotting tees and getting spotted for her the 1975 fan t-shirt!”
What more could a fan ask for?
Thanks to Arjyak Bhattacharya and Meghomala Bhowmik for the pictures, to everyone I annoyed at midnight on Saturday for details of their experience, to the fans who dared to bare their inner nerds and to Kolkata Comic Carnival and specifically Saptashwa for this opportunity.
Most of all, an enormous thanks to J K Rowling for creating the world that, even after all these years, always welcomes us home.
Watch KCC’s page for upcoming events, and this blog for sneak-peeks into them!