On 21st September 2016, I started my maiden journey outside Asia. In 2010, my younger son Akhilesh went to US for his PhD after completing his B. Tech. and M. Tech. from IIT Kharagpur. He has been in US for 6 years now. During his research days he met Gunja who was also pursuing her PhD. They got married in 2015. My elder son Piyush was working with McAfee in Bangalore which was later taken over by Intel. Based on his performance, the company sent him to US in 2015. Both my sons and daughter-in-laws are now settled in US.
It was the first time in my life that I took a long vacation of two and a half months and the first time that I took a long flight of 19 hours from Abu Dhabi to San Francisco. As Piyush used to stay in Bangalore and Akhilesh in US it was first time I stayed with them for a long time after they got married. It was a series of firsts and the best time in my life.
Akhilesh was there at the San Francisco airport to receive me and my wife Sapna, as we came out of the airport we could see everything in large format, the wide roads, big sized trucks, fast moving traffic and so on. It took us about one hour to reach Akhilesh’s and Gunja’s place in Alameda, which is an island town. Alameda is a very old town with Victorian houses.
The clean air, free of dirt and smoke was the first impression. The roads are wide in spite of fewer cars, traffic is disciplined, drivers obey the traffic rules and the speed limit in town is 25 miles per hour. There are LED displays controlled by radars which keep reminding you of your speed. At every intersection there are traffic signals and push buttons for your help, in case you want to cross the road.
At small intersections cars stop and driver waits patiently and let the people cross roads first. There are one ways also and to see that people adhere to that one way regulations spikes are fitted on roads. (this at very few places)
Not a single car tries to overtake another every one keeps moving in a row even if there is a pile up of cars, no honking, no shouting. The cars keep sufficient distances, about 10 feet from the car moving in front, while moving and even while waiting at intersections. There are free parkings where cars are parked in a disciplined way, keeping sufficient space between the cars, not blocking any driveway. There are parking lots also where one can park the car paying the required fee. There are small posts fitted with fee collecting meters, just drop in the required fee in coins and you may park your car for a limited period. Then there are parkomats for 400-500 cars (multi storied buildings having parking spaces).
Roads are cleaned and maintained by the municipality on a regular interval of 2 to 3 days. Big trucks fitted with brushes and vacuum cleaners keep moving along the sideways on designated days. There are boards displaying the days of the week on which cars should not be parked on those streets. Near every house one can see 3 big trash boxes colored blue, green and grey. The house garbage is segregated by the residents and dumped in the proper trash. If it can be recycled it is put in blue box, if it can be turned into compost it is kept in green box and then the one which is of no use is kept in grey. On designated days municipal trucks fitted with big tongs come and collect this garbage separately mechanically. No where on roads one can find litter. You may find people carrying coffee paper-glasses while leaving for office in the morning but everyone takes care to throw it in the trash bins which are kept at intersections. No one spits here and there, and no there are no spittoons even. You will never find any one peeing on roads. There are public toilets near the parks and bay area. These toilets are clean fitted with all required amenities including hand dryer.
The roads and pathways are strictly handicapped friendly. Any person on wheelchair, any bicycle, any pram or skate board has not to stop any where or step down. Roads and pathways have slopes everywhere. People on battery operated self maintained wheelchairs can go from one place to another without any external help. Even the public buses are equipped to fold out ramps on which wheelchairs can easily be taken in. The bus driver takes care of everything from driving the bus, collecting fares, announcing halts and even strapping the wheelchairs at their designated place. The buses also have stands in front where bicycles can be parked. You come from your house put the cycle on the bus front ride your journey and take your cycle to your destination.
People love pets here. There is a huge store for pets. You may buy pets and all pet’s requirements like food, medicine, clothes, cages, toys, aquariums etc. from this mall. All types of pets are available like dogs, cats, mouse, fishes, parrots, squirrels, frogs, turtles, lizards and even snakes.
Almost every household has a dog. There are no stray dogs on the street. Municipality takes care of any dog found on the street and asks to citizen to adopt one dog. Before adoption it is ensured that they are sterilized so that the dogs population can be controlled. The owner of the dog takes full care of the dog. Daily walks, periodic bathing, visiting time to time to the veterinary, feeding as per guidance and training them in their past time. All the dogs are registered and wear their number, master’s phone number and name on their collar. Even when dogs are taken for walks the owner ensures he carries enough polythene bags so that if the dog litters it is taken in the bag and thrown properly in the trash which are put at the intersections. There are parks for the dogs where dogs assemble in the morning and evening and have fun with other dogs. A separate park is maintained for small puppies to save them from big dogs.