Although not a typical stop on the tourist’s map of Yorkshire, I recently discovered some of the delights to be offered by our nearby city of Bradford, the UK’s fourth largest urban area (I certainly didn’t find that out from Wikipedia). A trip to see the play If Only Sharukh Khan by Rasa Productions, vaguely for dissertation purposes, turned out to be a day of tourist attractions and a Saturday away from the campus bubble. A mere hour on the train set me back under a tenner and I found myself at the Bradford interchange, fuelled by Filmore and Union porridge. I left impressed, but still in need of an Evil Eye cocktail on my return.
12am – I arrived early with the intent of at least a full hour session in Primark, and though I don’t totally condone disposable fashion and ethically dubious production, I would challenge any student to turn down cheap Christmas jumpers and animal onesies, Aztec skirts, all things woolly and £1 socks and knickers. En route, I admired Bradford City Park’s mirror pool and impressive fountain feature, part of a new development with views of the stunning City Hall and an art gallery. Nearby, I spotted the National Media Museum which on closer inspection turned out to be an exciting indoor attraction and part of the national Science museum group. It boasts exhibitions which concentrate on photography, television, gaming, animation, the internet and an exploration of light and colour, and hosts major film festivals.
2.30pm – I made my way to Theatre in the Mill, a small theatre at the University of Bradford putting on interesting plays. If Only Sharukh Khan was by turns funny, and sad, and very much a product of our multicultural society, representing issues of heritage for three spinster friends who share a passion for Bollywood. They also managed to pull off a degree of audience participation. As it is going on to tour in Manchester and London, some students were asked to provide Voxpop interviews to promote the production and the opportunity to speak with the cast members after the performance. Notably, a selection of beers and ales from as far as Ilkley and Belgium were available at the theatre’s little bar, besides fresh coffee. If you are interested in independent and interesting productions, this is an exciting venue; next up is Nick Ahad’s Muslamic Love Story in November, an exploration of the ‘untold story of racial and gay politics in modern Britain’ according to www.broadwayworld.com.
4pm – Bombay Stores. Situated directly opposite the theatre is Bombay Stores, one of the UK’s largest Asian shops and a wonderful treasure chest of beautiful fabrics, jewellery, clothing, homeware and party bits. I was tempted by an array of bangles, shawls, salwar al kameez and designer saris, crafty lace and silk, ornate clutch bags and sparkly slippers. Although I settled for a few gifts for my nieces, this shop deserves a visit for the sheer variety and volume of wares – even if just to stock up on fancy dress and gorgeous material.
6pm – Curry! It is no secret that Bradford is home to a huge number of restaurants serving delicious Asian and Indian cuisine. Although the plan was originally to head to Mumtaz, an infamous restaurant which (I am afraid, according to Wikipedia) has hosted guests so diverse as David Cameron, Dawn French, Shilpa Shetty and Queen Elizabeth I, we opted for Omar Khan’s based on recommendation from the cast of If Only Sharukh Khan, a restaurant ideally located for the Alhambra theatre. A starter and a main were available for £8.95 alongside a lovely atmosphere – I would recommend the dansak, my own favourite dish with lentils and pineapple.
My conclusion: well worth a visit, if only for shops and food that you just couldn’t find in our lovely York.