A Couple of Continents Combined in One Place
"Life In A Northern Town"
You're looking for a lively place well off the beaten tourist path? Then you might consider visiting Bradford in West Yorkshire, a city of some 300,000 people, situated between Manchester and Leeds.
As soon as you enter this city, two things will pretty soon catch your attention: The first thing is the striking uniformity of houses -- they all seem to be made from the same material -- a yellowish sandstone which glows wonderfully when the late evening sun shines on it.
The second thing you will notice is the way most people are dressed: The fashion here is not exactly what you would expect from a city far up in the north-west of Western Europe! Rather, it seems as though the collective population of Karachi or Hyderabad somehow was accidentally beamed here, along with their vibrant and colourful Asian clothes, to this cold and wet industrial northern European place, where most of the year the fashion should be dominated by raincoats and wellies.
"Immigration is the Rule"
Scotty did, however, not screw up: These fine people all belong here, Bradford is their home. Ever since the textile mills transformed the sleepy town into an industrial powerhouse, people have come to Bradford: Irish people escaping the potato famine, German merchants, Polish WW II exilants, and, more recently, Pakistani and Punjabi migrants -- all looking for work in the city's textile mills and heavy machinery factories.
Bradford is nicknamed the "curry capital" of Britain, due to its high percentage of citizens of South Asian descent. It is a truly multicultural place. Cross-community relationships seem to be quite good generally speaking, however there have been isolated clashes between teenagers, and Bradford certainly has its share of religious extremists. But the vast majority of its inhabitants, like people everywhere else, are friendly and welcoming and when they are not helping you find your way through town, they are quite likely to be occupied with making a decent living.
In the years of Thatcher-style Rambo closures of heavy industries, Bradford must have been a depressing place, but with the restructuring process almost completed, the city is on its way up again. Who knows, maybe the next immigrant wave will be made up of Germans, if we contine to get governments that don't deliver on the necessary economic reforms? Well, at least the weather will not be that different from what we're used to... ;-)
"Places To Visit"