I landed in Birmingham as a student. That was in September 2016. In the months that followed, I got into a weird relationship with this city. I started out being overwhelmed by its weather, its alleys, its crowds of people. Then came the slow change of heart and Birmingham, Britain's second city, began to make sense.
While my journalism course was uninspiring and the academic standards here the same as in India, and so, nothing to write home about, Birmingham or Brum (its people and their quirks are termed 'Brummie') itself became interesting with each passing day.
I learnt about its industrial past, when it was called The Workshop of the World and is considered by many to have been the backbone of British imperialism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Since there was no real 'aristocracy' in and around the urban sprawl now called Birmingham, most people living here were working class. That is true even today, with a majority of its population still drawn to the city in search of better economic prospects. From international students to underprivileged locals. If London is for the 'posh' people, then Birmingham is for the 'others'. In this sense, Birmingham is as 'real' as it gets, in Britain. You can sense the drive, the hunger and sometimes, the desperation, of those who make this city their home.