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A huge thank you to our guest blogger Josh for sharing his experiences of My Route’s Taxi Tour …along with his family’s #StratfordRdSelfie!
How well do we really know Birmingham? Sampad’s recent new project My Route with its ‘Stratford Road Taxi Tours’, offers a whole new adventure, diving into Birmingham’s rich history which dwells in the places of Stratford Road, Ladypool Road, Robin Hood junction and many more exciting venues.
On Saturday 2 August, my family and I dived into a taxi in one parking lot near the end of Stratford Road – not only because we were promised an unforgettable experience, but also because it was raining bricks! Inside the taxi we found beautiful flower garlands lining the top edge of the vehicle and soothing music drifted into our ears. Our amiable tour guide, Tahir, greeted us and before we knew it we were off.
Before this ‘Taxi Tour’, I associated Stratford Road and its surroundings to be teeming with shops and stores run by mostly Indian and Pakistani immigrants making a living for themselves and not much else. But I was heavily mistaken. As I found out as the tour went on, communities from all around the world such as the Caribbean, Europe, the United Kingdom and many more made up this extraordinary area.
And so the ride began, the tour guide telling fact after fact, story after story exactly in synchronisation with the taxi driver who was timing the drive brilliantly, stopping and passing each building or warehouse or restaurant as Tahir was narrating. He was so engaging in his speech, he knew exactly what he was talking about and it gave us a real insight into how this area has changed over the decades and what it is like now.
I learnt so many new things. I discovered very famous people were born this area in Birmingham such as J.R.R Tolkien, famous author, Tony Hancock, comedian and many more. Another one in this category who I am most proud of was William Bloye, an architect and sculptor in the 1950s. Among the many things he produced, he made the iconic emblem ‘The Bear and Staff.’ This iconic image is now the logo of the county cricket team in this city, the Warwickshire Bears in which I, myself, am proud to be a part of in my own age group.
Also during the drive, we heard recordings of diverse people from different backgrounds and cultures telling us about how as a community they have been moulded into this area. This again was extremely interesting, looking from different perspectives and views and this again gave us a better overall picture into how this area has been formed over the years.
We were also given checklist sheets so we could tick off what we had seen and what we had passed and on the sheet there were little information boxes showing the significance of these various things.
And to top a riveting half an hour’s drive we were kindly given food tasters from one of Birmingham’s most popular restaurants, ‘Al Faisals’, situated on Stoney Lane, very close to Stratford Road, showing us how cuisine and food have developed over the years in this area.
And so if you think you’re a little lacking on what Birmingham is all about and you want to taste some of the best Asian cuisine in the city, book your ‘Taxi Tour’ now. Thank you ‘Sampad’ for an amazing experience!
By Josh Ray