Oh, and not to forget, it is also home to the second greatest English football club - Manchester United.
But for me, Manchester will be fondly remembered as the place where I received my tertiary education, which would set me on my way to being a professional town planner.
Last December, after having completed my official work in the south of England, I took a National Express coach from the Victoria Coach Station in London and hit the M6 motorway to head north to Manchester. It was a golden opportunity that I would not have missed for anything.
It was, however, one very long, tiring trip, lasting more than five hours. But once the coach exited the M6, and especially when I saw the Manchester International Airport sign, I began to get excited. And when we passed by the Trafford area, and began entering the city centre, the sight of familiar landmarks got my heart pounding as I got nostalgic and more excited.
I was greeted at the Manchester Coach Station by Zol, a fresh-faced and well-mannered undergraduate student who would be my host during my stay here.
Zol stays in Rusholme an area south of the city centre fondly referred to as the "Curry Mile" for the large concentration of halal Asian restaurants along its street.
Initially, I had wanted to book a cheap hotel for my stay in Manchester. But when Zol offered me to stay with him, I just could not refuse the offer as it would give me the perfect opportunity to relive my student days of staying in a "rumah bujang".
But I was also looking forward to interacting with these bright young students. I wanted to be able to listen to them expressing their views and experiences - and trials and tribulations. I had also wanted to give them my views and experiences, as well as, share whatever little wisdom that I might have.
And I was not disappointed.
Although Zol and his flat mates Alip, Sopian etc. were busy with school work, they still had the time to "layan" me and hold conversations over meals.
But what I will remember most is the way they went out of their way to prepare simple but decent meals for this hungry traveller.
With the weather being unforgivably cold, one tends to get hungry very easily. So, home-cooked chicken korma and nasi goreng (even if fried without onions) can be very mouth-watering indeed!
|Oxford Road. This is where the University of Manchester and the Manchseter Mteropolitan Univ. (formerly polytechnic) are located. The BBC Manchester is also to be found here|
|The University name signage over the Oxford Road at the Precinct Centre|
|The former Architectural and Planning Building. This is where I would go for my lectures and studio work. The studios are on the top floor|
|The former Architectural and Planning Building showing the studios on the top floor|
|Jenny, the friendly librarian at the Architecture and Planning Library. During my days here as a student the librarians were Val and one other petite lady|
|The oil painting at the far end of the library is still there. The only difference is that the table has PCs on it. We didn't have computers back then in the early 1980s|
|Overall view of the library. When exams are around the corner, one would be hard pressed to get a seat at the tables|
|The arch at the main university building. I received my scrolls here|
|Zol and Alip in front of their flat. Thank you guys|
|Yummy! Zol's chicken korma|
|Yummy too. Alip's offering of nasing goreng tanpa bawang! Thanks Alip. It kept me full and ready for the long trip to Heathrow|
|The China Town in Manchester. This is where I used to get my supply of kicap and maggi mee|
|Public toilets (urinals) at Picadilly Gardens. And it really is PUBLIC, for it is located out in the open in full view of passers-by. And its uni-sex too! Only in England...|