Well after a darn good laugh with Mike and Clarence in the southern part of the country, I took a train up to Manchester to visit my good pal Zishan, whom I also met during my days of teaching English in Japan.
Of course without my damn pictures I don't have much of a reference to remember what the hell I did in Manchester. Blah. I remember food seeming even more of a central topic here than it normally is when I travel. A big reason for that was that I had chosen to travel to see Zishan during the month of Ramadan.
I hadn't thought about it before, but Zishan may be the single Muslim person I know. So Ramadan was an unfolding mystery to me. The rule is that you can't eat(among other satisfying activities) from dawn to dusk. This seemed like it would present a serious problem in some neighborhoods, where the businesses and customers are all observing an entire month of fasting, it seems like owning a convenience store would be pretty slow going. That could be considered a drawback in my Manchester visit timing I suppose, with a lot less activity on the streets, but I think I learned more about a new culture as a result. Good trade I'd say. Now, there were a few situations where I tortured Zishan by eating in front of him, but I did it all in the name of science.
The whole staying inside during the day and only eating at night situation called for plenty of vampire jokes, which Zishan pretended weren't funny but I think we all know the truth. There was a particularly amusing scene in a buffet restaurant where I seemed to be the only non-muslim customer. Everyone just sat and talked, ignoring the food laid out for them. When the clock struck the exact minute that the sun was officially "down", there was a mad rush to the food line. It was fun.
I remember the architecture was much more industrial seeming here than it London. I assume London got the worst of the WWII bombings, so perhaps that's the reason for the difference. There were smaller public disturbances set off in Manchester around the same time as the London riots. I remember seeing a burned out store front or two in the main shopping areas. And there you have it. Manchester.