Colourful Streets in a Colourful Society

June 14, 2010

Colourful Streets in a Colourful Society

Being a Glaswegian, who lives presently in Greater Manchester with experience of life in London, I have had plenty of opportunities to have a ‘feel’ for life in a variety of streets in the UK. Life in the streets of the UK is as diverse as society in today’s United Kingdom.

Two streets that first come to mind when considering the question of differences and inequalities being made would be Old Compton Street in London, and Canal Street in Manchester. These streets are central to the gay scenes in both these cities. I myself am a gay man, and have first hand experience with gay life in both cities. The problem of differences and inequalities being aggravated within the gay scene, or in both these streets is that exclusivity arises from creating gay scenes in the first place. People could possibly feel intimidation and possible hatred just by walking down these streets, while yearly Pride events go on as a protest for gay men and women to fight for equality. We, as gay people, create differences and inequalities by going to these venues. But at the same time, I understand why it is nice to have a gay venue to go to when I want to socialise.

Another contradiction from this, it that a lot of the time, gay men and gay women tend to socialise in different venues. So, even within an exclusive scene, differences and inequalities arise within them. This is not the case across the board, but it does happen a lot.

Another case where differences and inequalities arise would be on the Curry Mile in Rusholme, Manchester, where there are several restaurants that provide Indian and Eastern dishes, as well as other places to socialise in. There are a number of restaurants in which a national identity has become a commercial identity or brand for a particular kind of food and evening’s entertainment. We are all equal when we feel like going out for a curry, and get to experience something that we tend not to make at home. It is part of having a night out. When we do this, we would feel more equal with other cultures by joining in and celebrating with an Indian curry. But would we still feel as equal or indifferent when we walked down the Curry Mile during the day?

In the daytime, we are getting on about our lives, and we see the Curry Mile in a different light. There are coffee bars where people of certain cultures go, and there are the English pubs where another goes, and so forth. We are all divided up, depending on how we want to spend our time. This shows an example of inequality within the street that, as mentioned before, can bring us together in a different light.

A typical street today in the UK will have some sort of mixture of cultures. This could be a Polish shop, or a Chinese supermarket for example. These shops and other establishments with come from unfamiliar backgrounds are what help make our society more colourful and interesting. As we travel more, we get to experience more cultures. One of the aspects of traveling means that when we get back home, we sometimes have a go at making a dish from the country we have traveled to. The joy of having that shop to go to to get the authentic ingredients means we are bring a sort of equality to our lives with the culture and people from that.

Another reason for this could also be thanks to the diversity and amount of programmes we see on television. Cookery programmes and dramas set in different cultures means we can relate to the cultures we see everyday in a typical street. Across the UK, major cities have China Towns full of Chinese supermarkets and restaurants. These are strong contenders for bringing equality to society, because these restaurants are always full of Chinese customers along with other customers. This is something you don’t always see in other restaurants in the United Kingdom.

I have mentioned the gay scene and the Curry Mile, as they are part of my life, and something that I enjoy, and will enjoy again. Experiencing it first hand helps you to see the equalities and inequalities, and the similarities along with the differences.

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