Manchester: The Beehive

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It is hard to begin writing this blog post because my time in Manchester marked a significant part of my journey. It is where I experienced a historic event that we will all tell our kids about – when the pandemic changed the world. When I made the decision to leave, I booked my flight home from Manchester Airport the next day. Manchester came and left like a gust of wind, but I will never forget the influence it had on me. Being an intellectual in a cultural hub, it is the thought provoking conversations I had with people that will always stay with me.

Manchester is a beehive full of wise locals and collegiate internationals. The University of Manchester seems to attract people from all over Europe. Fun fact: Benedict Cumberbatch, a.k.a. Doctor Strange, is a Manchester University Alumni!

I am a creature of habit. Once I find a good place to eat, I get fixated and explore the menu. My breakfast spot quickly became the Eighth Day Cafe. A nice cappuccino and full breakfast (soy sausages, tofu eggs, baked beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, and toast) is all you need in the morning. I would always take a silent moment to reflect and journal out some intentions for the day ahead.

I found myself at Vertigo, this plant-based eatery, one too many times because the food makes you dizzy with satisfaction. Maybe that’s how it got its name? My favorites, from left to right, are the mushroom pie with mashed potatoes and gravy, the jackfruit and black bean chili, and the parsley macaroni and cheese. I can’t wait to go back and try more!

After living in San Francisco, I have always had an affinity for artistic hearts placed around the city. The San Francisco General Hospital does it for charity purposes. Little did I know, I would stumble upon a heart while wandering around the shops. It represented a trying time in Manchester’s recent history. Liam Hopkins, a.k.a. Lazerian, made this heart to pay tribute to the victims of the tragic terrorist attack in 2017, which was then placed at the City Centre for three weeks. It is made out of paper and glue, which according to the artist symbolizes, “The fragility of people’s emotions and the Mancunian spirit that bonds us all together.”

Owned by Manchester University, the Manchester Museum resides within the campus and mainly presents displays related to natural history, such as anthropology and archeology. However, the display that stood out to me was a collection of flying paper cranes, which is an international symbol for peace. A story in the description of the artwork was about a girl named Sadako. She was an only child when the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Sadako quickly became sick from the radiation, so she decided to fold one thousand paper cranes with the hope that she would be healthy again. As she crafted them, she would say, “I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.” Sadako’s story is a lesson we can continue to learn from. Even after going through an atrocity like that, she had hope for a peaceful future. As she did, I too hope for a peaceful future where paper cranes are scattered all around the globe.

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