Sunday, May 22, 2011

Revisiting Europe - Certain Observations

This summer we got a chance to revisit our long time home Germany. All credit goes to 'J's papa and his work. 'J' is having summer vacation so I and 'J' got tagged along. These are the times when I feel lucky of not having a full time job as a break of many weeks would be out of question then.

So we started preparing for our revisit to Europe. 'J' again got into her confusion mode, she doesn't like to change places (understandable as she had to change several places in her short life span and now she has started showing her dislikes towards it), added to that, she doesn't know German any more so she became unsure  about her days in Germany. We bought tickets from Air India being the cheapest one. And we stuck into the uncertain situation where certain pilots of Air India were striking- they want salary hike-actually they are in one of the highest paid positions. So anyway, we went to the airport and were relieved to know that international flights are not hampered.

Thus, started our journey.

On reaching Germany, it was a feeling of reassurance; nothing has changed. The roads, the traffic, the places like airports are exactly the same as it was when we left it many years ago. Proper rules are there, people are following them and thousands of cars, buses, trucks are passing through state road, motorways/highways but there are no accidents (so visible in any high way of India just because of simple negligence of both sides and because of no fears of getting caught by police), no honks, no bump to bump driving and no showing of anger and splitting of bad words from one vehicle to another.  As I mentioned, about the roads before  and how that has become my own handicap to driving/walking on the roads, upon reaching here I realised that I am back to my walking mood. I got my mood back to go for shopping on my own. I got my energy to travel to other cities on bus and trains for my own work or leisure. 'J' commented, "Mummy, you are crossing the roads perfectly not so hurriedly as you do in India."

'J' on the other hand is loving the 'cobblestone' walking zones in the middle of the market places and defined, clean and usable footpath zones all over. She does not remember any more that she doesn't know German as there are signs all over and people are friendly to her.

Urban planning is an important subject of engineering in European countries and they are so well used if you see the cities over here blended with old architecture and new developments. And above all each and every step taken first is researched on local level, and then employed.

Not that you make roads, without proper or maintained drainage, there are occasions of accidents because of opposite traffics, so make dividers, where several cement blocks will remain lying for ages causing more blockage to the traffic and then monsoon will come and roads will be drowned as the dividers just made are not good for passing the water out, and proper drainage were not there on the first place. Don't we do that in India all the time?

Yes, I can go on and on about this and I can keep comparing. But lets stop it here. I know India might change one day but that will not be now for sure. With the monsoon around the corner all the citizens of big cities of India are just wondering how much water will be clogged in their cities this monsoon? Here are the questions raised by one of the cityblogs. The hope is that at least equation are raised.

Next observation is the relaxed attitude of common people. Cars always wait for the pedestrians to cross the door, the people entering in a supermarket always hold the door for the next one to enter the shop, in a crowded bus no one dives to sit on the only empty seat available near the window. It is not only the government but common people make life easier for others too. People think little more than themselves only.

I also observed that in the tourist places manual rickshaws are becoming very popular for being pollution free and fun. Also they can run on cobblestoned streets. The rickshaws are far more developed than the ones we use in India.

Europe has a long trend of having a market square, comes from the middle age period, it is amazing to see that how carefully they have maintained that trend in spite of welcoming the new living styles. Their urban/rural planning is so much meant for them, the glass box buildings are t to harness the scarcely available sun rays here. No fashion is involved in it, it is a pure need. This understanding of creating things for our own need fascinates me.
In India, because of long colonial life we have forgotten to create technology, style or standards for our own. We keep copying them or buying them, without thinking how useful they will be for us.
Market squares in Europe - free open, clean space

In the shopping areas the preferences are given to florists to put their shop in equal intervals so that they bring some green in the middle of the materials.

The city centres are free of traffic and are famous place for biking, so providing a free exercise zone to the people plus is a green solution.
There are several play parks, gardens, fountains in the middle of the cities to provide areas of relaxation to the common people and they are safe.

Most benefit of all these goes to children, the future of any country, they get so much free space to run, bike, skate and chances to enjoy.

Some scenes from city Mainz (Germany)

The separation of trash is done at each home, at each park, at each corner where dustbins are kept, there are always three bins, one for paper, one for glass and one for rest. Old cloths are also collected separately. Yes, human hands are less here so ragpickers are not available but this system I find is more humane than it used in India. Yes, I agree it will be a daunting task to arrange trash bins every few meters and to clean them regularly. But then we have many hands right?

Separation and recycling of trash in proper practice

All in all the main observation is that development is not only about rising skyscrapers and shopping malls and parking plots. It is also about creating awareness, providing a social security, giving freedom to the people to walk freely, safely in fresh green surrounding.

A concept India is not understanding or is not trying to understand.

1 comment: