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Imaginary Lands: Where Booklovers Escape To

From Hogwarts to Wonderland- the fantastical realms that booklovers dream of escaping to when they’re hiding behind a book

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”- Mark Twain

Close your eyes and escape to that special place, that started on page and lives in your mind

For us booklovers it is not enough to live in the mundane apartments of Mumbai, or the narrow gullys of Old Delhi. Even the mountains and seas don’t speak to us the way the imaginary landscapes in our head do.  Our college walls lose their lustre to the magic of Hogwarts, and how can our cities compare with the wonderment of Narnia? These, then, are the cities we dream of escaping to when you find us hiding behind a book.

Wonderland

Alice finds an alternate reality here, and while she wonders at the magnificence and quirkiness of this world, she also realises that she had already seen many of these characters in her dreams.  No dream is too distant from reality, you see. All you need to do is to trust the little rabbit that beckons you to step into the rabbit-hole.

“There is a place like no place on earth. A land full of wonder, mystery and, danger! Some say, to survive it, you need to be as mad as a hatter which luckily I am!”- Alice in Wonderland

Shire

You would be crazy not to dream of the bucolic beauty of the Shire, when you are stuck in one of these lifeless polluted megapolises.  The scenic beauty and sweeping landscapes, the creativity, and the presence of magic makes every one of us wish that we could someday open our eyes and wake up in such a merry dwelling! After all, no real place can compete with the friendship and loyalty of this land.

“I should like to save the Shire, if I could – though there have been times when I thought the inhabitants too stupid and dull for words, and have felt that an earthquake or an invasion of dragons might be good for them. But I don’t feel like that now. I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable: I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again.” – Tolkein

 

The Underworld

The Underworld is not exactly a party, and setting foot in it might seem a bit like challenging death. However, who wouldn’t want a round trip to the Underworld with a promise to reach back home safe! Just the fantastical creatures you encounter and the horrors you see will be worth the price of admission! The Underworld has a wide appeal in different texts and has always been a part of literary treatises. Be it Dante’s Inferno or Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Milton’s Paradise Lost or Eliot’s The Hollow Men, it’s subtle charms continue to hold writers and readers alike in their grip!

“This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.”- TS Eliot, The Hollow Men

Hogwarts

Yes, a collective childhood memory! I have always wanted to believe that this fantastical school exists in some magical realm somewhere. You may have to contend with a murderous teacher or two, but the friendships will make up for it. And given a choice between studying geometry or a spell to make your worst enemies disappear, which would you choose?

“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”- J.K Rowling

Laputa 

Laputa which means ‘floating island’ has ways which are like a twisted mirror version of ours. Swift’s satire leaves you at once aghast and fascinated at the thought of the Laputan ways of the world as well as their fondness for music, mathematics and astronomy.

The Laputans are so intent on their scientific studies that they know not how to deal with practical problems. It would be quite interesting to delve into this flying island and meet those weird and fascinating people who live by calculations and music but without imagination or invention!

 “In the school of political projectors, I was but ill entertained; the professors appearing, in my judgment, wholly out of their senses, which is a scene that never fails to make me melancholy. These unhappy people were proposing schemes for persuading monarchs to choose favourites upon the score of their wisdom, capacity, and virtue […] with many other wild, impossible chimeras, that never entered before into the heart of man to conceive; and confirmed in me the old observation, “that there is nothing so extravagant and irrational, which some philosophers have not maintained for truth.” “(3.6.1)- Gulliver’s Travels

Given a chance, where would you want to escape to?

 

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