Category Archives: Manchester 2005

Manchester 2005

Danish visit..

Last Saturday, I had the great privilege of welcoming my mother and little sister to England. They’re here on a 7-day tour of the country, bringing with them 70 Danish high schoolers aged 17-19. My mother is a high school teacher and a veteran of many class excursions to various European countries, and she has often used her status as troop leader to bring along some of her offspring. I’ve been to Berlin, Prague and London with her in my time, my younger brother Hans has been to London, and now Anne finally has gotten the chance to go to Manchester and London.

Not that they stayed in Manchester for very long, mind you. They arrived by coach from Stanstead Airport at 5 pm on saturday and left the following morning for a cottonmill museum and then London. So I couldn’t do much more than just show them a bit of central Manchester and take the expectant high school teachers to the Curry Mile for some award-winning lamb handi at the Spicy Hut.

It’s fun showing people around, as you suddenly realise that you actually do know something about this strange place where you’ve spent almost two months now. Not that there’s that much to see in Manchester at 6.30 saturday evening (I mean, museum or architecture-wise – that sort of “culturally enlightening stuff” that you’d expect high school teachers to like), so naturally, we had to go for a pint instead.

What was especially good about a visit from Denmark was the supplies: I got lots of Leverpostej, Danish licorice, and rye bread – all of which is stuff that you for some reason cannot find in England. Some of us international students are having a proper “International Food Night” on Friday, so with my new supplies I can create at least a little taste of home. I plan to cook this to go with the ryebread, leverpostej (w/ mushrooms and bacon) and pickled beets.
Yum.

Actually, I’ve been hyping Danish cabbages to all the southern europeans for some time now (all the colours: Green, White, Red.. and Brown) – it’ll be fun to see what they’ll think of it.

Cabbage Hype would actually be a good name for a band, I think. Along with Chorus Of Approval or even The Complex Concepts. I can just imagine the Cabbages playing partypunk-funk ala !!! and having a crazy hit with a song called “Too Loud, Too Dark, Too Drunk”.

Photo documentation..

Questionable photo documentation has surfaced from our night out to get football tickets. I have updated the relevant blog entry.

I can also inform you that today was the first day of spring in Manchester, with glorious sunshine and chirping birds. I decided to celebrate this by going for a jog. My first since leaving Denmark. Not having done any proper excercise for a month have really broken my form. Ugh.

We have visual…

At last, after various difficulties, the pictures are uploaded and will more or less speak for themselves…

Scenic Manchester
Scenic Manchester

University of Manchester
University of Manchester

The Curry Mile
Wilmslow Road
The Curry Mile
also known as the Curry Mile
The Curry Mile

Abdul's
The McDonald’s of Manchester kebab shops. You have to eat there at least once.

City of Manchester Stadium
City of Manchester Stadium – the home ground of Manchester City FC – for those with good connections, I shot a small film to better give a feel of the stadium, though there’s no guarantee that it’ll actually work.

I hope all this can lift the rather bookish feel that this site has had so far. I’ll be sure to post more light-minded sillyness along the way..

Buses and Curry

From the city centre and all the way to Fallowfield, you only need to go along one road. In the city centre, it’s called Oxford Street, near the University, it’s called Oxford Road, and beyond that, it’s called Wilmslow road, or more affectionately among the locals: The Curry Mile. Almost every day, I walk or take the bus down Wilmslow road, and it continues to be a fascinating journey.

All the students leave the ghetto of Fallowfield every morning and take the bus to the university. To cover the pendling needs of so many people, the many bus companies of Manchester have decided to pull double or triple shifts along this route, and there are more busses along this road, than I’ve seen anywhere else. You’d only have to wait for a minute or so for a bus. This is all well and good if you’re just buying a single ticket, as you can pick any bus that might come by, but if you, as I have, decide to save some money by buying a weekly pass, then you can only travel with the buses of the company whose weekly pass you’ve bought.

This leaves you in the absurd position of waiting for exactly the right type of bus, rather than just any bus. And since there are 6 (six!) different companies who have busses operating on Wilmslow Road, you can see a lot of buses pass by, before one of your exact company comes along. This of course means that you have to carefully consider which company you want to put your money on. Should go for the expense, but reliable Stagecoach pass? Or rather save some money with the flimsy Magic Bus pass? Or maybe the Finglands pass that also allow you take the night buses, or the UK North pass, or the Arriva pass or even the R. Bullock pass?

It’s absolutely ridiculous, but as the locals rationalise: “Well, it’ll probably keep the price down.”

Anyway, the reason why it’s a fascinating journey isn’t so much because there are a silly amount of buses (I guess you’d have to be a bus-spotter to appreciate that), but rather because of the neighbourhood of Rusholme.

Rusholme is home to the greatest concentration of Indian and Pakistani restaurants in northern England. They offer all sorts of variations of vindaloo, phall, kebab, naan, and equally strange dishes, and they are all packed with people after 2 am on friday and saturday night when the pubs have closed.

A German friend who goes by the name of Grobi (the name of one the characters on Sesamstrasse, in fact his real name is Torben) has been in Manchester since August and have spent a lot of time and effort testing the offerings of the various kebab shops in Rusholme, his verdict: King Kabana is the best. So now you know.

Manchester by nite

The highlights of my Thursday night in Manchester:

19:00 – Meet up with other international students in front of the Students Union building at the university campus.
19:25 – Over a pint of Guiness, Torben, a german computer science student, confides that there are 100 student-only tickets for the Manchester City vs. Manchester United match going on sale right here at the Student Union the very next morning at 9:00.
19:45 – After some consideration, we find that the best plan probably would be to stay up all night and wait in line for the tickets from 5:00. We tell some of the others who find reasonably amusing, but not really feasible.
21:20 – On to the next bar, somebody said there was a party at the Copacabana ..?
22:07 – The Copacabana turns out to be, in spite of its brazilian name, a Salsa bar. Half the exchange students never made as far here, the party seems to be breaking up and there is very little salsa mood.
22:31 – The wonder of mobile technology: A quick phone call and the rest of the gang, including Torben, has been located: While standing in line to enter the salsa club, they were invited to another club called Tribeca Bar in Manchester’s Gay Village.
22:49 – A small delegation led by yours truly find our way to Sackville Street and the “Best of the 80’s” night.
23:40 – The party mood is definitely increasing. The gathered group of internationals are having their fun.
00:00 – Focus returns to the original plan: A group of seven decide to go for the all out party plan: Christopher, Torben (both Germany), Catarina (Italy), Mary (USA), Felipe (Chile), Anders (Sweden) and me. First time check says 9 hours to go. Catarina sets her mobile phone with a electronic countdown.
01:00 – Most of the exchange students that are uninterested in the football have left the bar. Anders decides that he needs serious amounts of alcohol to go through the next 8 hours. He promptly starts flirting with the gay bartender. 6 shots later he positively the centre of attention.

Party!
Shots aplenty: Drinking shots with Mary and Anders

02:00 – The bar closes. Attempts to find another bar ensue.
02:17 – Several flirtatious interviews led by Anders and Mary turn up very little.
02:20 – Actually, nothing at all. “This is England, mate:” It is basically impossible to acquire liquor after 2 am.
02:45 – Further attempts at acquiring alcohol finally subside. A growing hunger is felt among the members of the expedition.
02:59 – A kebab shop is located and invaded.
03:07 – Anders hurls abuse at the shopkeep for the horribly dry grilled chicken that he has been served. Reaction among other customers range from amusement to silent terror.
03:10 – Exit the kebab shop. Since Torben lives in a hall of residence right next to the Student Union offices, we plan to go there and occupy the common room. Apparently, they have foosball.
03:47 – They do indeed! And ping pong and a pool table as well! All for free for Moberly Hall residents! Mood is on a rise after the missing liquor debacle.
04:21 – In the middle of our third game of foos, somebody knocks on the door. Naively, I open the door and activate the alarm. On the other side of the door are three battle-hardened campus security officers. The look back at me just as goofishly as I must have been looking at them. The alarm is generating enough decibels to wake people up several floors above.
04:27 – The security officers rather sheepishly have taken full blame for the incident, though they haven’t actually turned the alarm off. They just aren’t used to people being up and about at this hour, so they decided to lure us into activating the alarm. While they wait for the alarm to go off (apparently more or less by itself), we tell them of our quest to win tickets for the coming clash of Manchester’s footballing finest. The officers then ask us regarding our allegiances which include Fiorentina, Bochum and Duisburg – alongside both Manchester teams.

Say cheese!
Group photo w/ Moberly Hall Security team. Standing: Security officers, Torben, Sophia (who stayed up ’til 5 am but didn’t want football tickets), Felipe. Crouching: Christopher, Anders, Mary and me.

04:57 – We decide it is time to join the growing queue. We arrive to find 27 people already in line. Most look very tired and grimly determined.
05:04 – Our overtired in-jokes and weirded-out topics of discussion continue unabated.
05:27 – Only three and a half hours to go. Mood is still good.
06:20 – There are now 63 people in the queue, and it is growing steadily. There’s a strange discussion about italian pop music, and I forget the name of Eros Ramazotti. My point fails.
07:01 – Anders is furious about the fact that americans have something called a water butt.
07:18 – They open the doors at last. We are now allowed the relative comfort of sitting on a dirty wall-to-wall carpet while waiting. Most people fall asleep immediately, some play cards. Anders has spent his final reserves of vodka-induced energy after having run on the fumes for probably several hours.

Sleepy
Inside at last..

08:06 – Excitement mounts as several important looking briefcases are carried into the ticket office.
08:10 – Excitement soon dissipate into the usual monotonous waiting as anything much fails to happen.
08:52 – They finally start selling the tickets!
09:07 – Ticket in hand, we leave the Student Union (and just for the curious: No, we weren’t allowed to buy more than one ticket each – The ticket number is tied to our student id number).
09:13 – On the bus going home: I really am getting too old for this out all night stuff…

Accent heaven

I’ve been in Manchester for a week now, and I still haven’t had any lectures. They start this afternoon. Instead, I’ve met quite a few people. Most of them exchange students much in the same situation as me: Crummy accomodation, no network or obligations. But that can change quickly. Besides sharing a house with a german, a scot, an american, a welshman and two chinese, I’ve been hanging out with finns, germans, swedes, frenchmen, spaniards, italians, japanese, indians, austrians and the odd belgian. And on top of that there’s the mancunians who obviously are everywhere. Generally, there is such a wealth of strange english accents that it can make your head spin.

Trying to take part in a conversation between a german (they have trouble with the S’ses and generally try to avoid sounding like cartoon germans from an old WW2 flick), a chinese (they really do have trouble with L’s and R’s, my housemate Lei would say “Andleas”, so she has decided to call me Andy instead) and an italian (they tend to construct english sentences the italian way, and generally have a way of short-stopping their sentences to give their points more effect) can be quite a challenge.

And yet, it works. The internationals here are bursting with interest and a willingness to meet new people, it’s a joy to be part of. And funnily enough, it tends to be the mancunians themselves who are the least comprehensible. Maybe because they take their fluency for granted… yeah?

Manchester: Overcast w/ slight drizzle

Having arrived safely in Manchester, I found my lodgings with little trouble. It’s in the Fallowfield area south of the university and the city centre. It’s a dirty old neighbourhood, a so-called “student ghetto”. The house I am to live in is also a dirty old place, but the people here are nice. Thomas, the german student whose room I’ll be living in from the first of february, has been really helpful and friendly, and even though I’ve only just met some of my other flatmates – Doug, Seth and Diane – they all seem like really easy-going people.

I spent most of yesterday registering for my courses. It was a bit tricky at first, since the University of Manchester recently merged with UMIST – the engineering and technology university of Manchester – and thus a lot of departments have been moving about and around, some being expanded, others ceasing to exist. A lot of people have been really confused by this. Especially since you have to register the courses both at the home department (in my case, Anthropology) and at the department of the course (which in my case were three different departments: Social Anthropology, Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. My quest to locate these departments weren’t helped by the fact that the university has two web pages, one old, and one new – and that some departments still update the old one, instead of the new one.

*sigh* – but in the end I heroically prevailed. I’ll go into more detail about the actual courses some other time.