Monday, October 15, 2007

Eidy does it

Upon setting off for Manchester city centre late on Saturday night with Mark and Deano, visiting from Nottingham, our bus travel plans were somewhat scuppered by the discovery of immense sets of traffic jams in every conceivable direction. It turned out we were coinciding with Eid, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan, when seemingly the entire Muslim community takes to the streets in automobiles. It meant we had to walk all the way into town but, putting such personal inconvenience aside, also provided quite a fascinating observation of public celebration on a mass scale.

When we walked up to Rusholme and the Curry Mile the road was a sea of cars with people hanging out the windows and horns being liberally honked. The queues went back at least a mile in either direction. I find it slightly peculiar that the elected method of celebration is to go and sit in traffic jams for hours on end, perhaps advancing the onrush of global warming in the meantime, but I suppose it made for quite a scene. Some people had the right idea, though, and had hired limousines for the occasion. Where such a sight is now normally a telling sign of a horde of desperate, attention seeking teenagers on the rampage, in this case it was all about rational decision-making. Once you've accepted the fact you're going to sit in a traffic jam for hours on end, you'd might as well make an event of it. It's better than trying to read a paper at the wheel, like I've tried. Surprisingly few had opted to mount a bicycle and sneak up the sides of the jam - so there's a tip for the next Eid, take your bike. Or maybe not.

The Curry Mile's restaurants and take-aways were bustling with people getting their fill, and the pavements packed with revellers, some of them bouncing up and down chanting in unison. Bizarrely, vanilla Cornettos appeared to be the main luxury foodstuff of choice; we saw whole groups (as opposed to, erm, unwhole groups) walking along with a Cornetto each, which was quite funny considering where we were (Manchester), which month of year it was (October), what time of night it was (11.46pm), and how expensive Cornettos can be these days (up to £2 at tourist 'honeypot sites' (copyright GCSE Geography syllabus)). One thing's for sure, if I went back to Rusholme right now this here Monday afternoon, Cornettos would be in short supply. "Just one Cornetto, give it to me..." Clearly that advertising campaign worked wonders.

Of course the most striking thing about all of this was the extent of common identity and shared public celebration on display. It reminds you of just how disconnected most of society is normally. I can't think of many instances whereby a secular population would take to the streets in a similar vein in this country. It would probably only happen if England won the World Cup or something, heaven forbid. The football World Cup of course, not this rugby one people seem to be bored enough to be talking about.


Blogger Dan said...

Funnily enough I bought a Cornetto on Saturday.

Perhaps this was subconcious solidarity.

October 16, 2007 12:49 pm  
Blogger Paddy said...

Perhaps. Or maybe just an example of wanton Cornetto fetishism. You're part of the system now.

October 17, 2007 12:41 pm  
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