Saturday, July 9, 2016

Visit to the USA - some random thoughts.

We all laughed it off in PK when Amir Khan relieved himself in full view of the police so that he was arrested and kept the night in Lock up. Amir Khan knew he would be arrested and it is no laughing matter.
This government cannot provides its citizens places to relieve themselves but keeps talking of "Swachh Bharat".
In the USA, where I have been for some time now, every 40 to 50 miles on highways, a building is provided for refreshment and rest rooms (Toilets in our parlance) for Men, Women and Families are provided which can be used, FREE OF COST. Water flows both in the Urinals or Toilets automatically as soon as one has relieves himself. Of course, no water is provided for cleaning - only toilet paper.
Each of these places have about 20 urinals and and at least 10 commodes for both sexes for their use.
No sweeper (they call him Janitor here) is visible but the toilets are always clean.
As can be seen from the photos below, the place is spotlessly clean.
Eatables, snacks, coffee etc are available and Starbucks, KFC, McDonald's etc keep shops there.
A Gas Station (we call them petrol pumps) are also there by the side.
Most gas stations also keep rest rooms where men and women can relieve themselves, Free of Cost.
They also keep different snacks which people can buy.
In one week, we travelled by road through five states, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, about 2000 miles. Each state had its own design for these refreshment areas and toilets. Some were better than others but each state had them.
Another thing worth noticing was the driving sense of the people. We covered the whole route at an average speed of 70 MPH, sometimes hitting 80-85 MPH. In the whole journey, we did not have to blow the horn even once. Every person, followed his lane according to his speed. No rushing or overtaking. If there was a jam, the cars waited one behind the other for the jam to clear, again no overtaking.
All vehicles are LH Driven and ply on the right side of the road.
If there is one lane, cars follow one another, without overtaking.
If there are two lanes, you can overtake from the left land and go back to the right lane again or continue to drive on the left land at a higher speed.
If there are three lanes, the cars on the third lane drive at the highest speed.
At any cross roads, one has to STOP and watch all sides and then proceed. Even if one sees no vehicles at the crossing while approaching the crossing, he has to STOP, watch and then move forward.
At any crossing, even a single lane road diverges to three lanes.
Anyone going left has to move to the left lane and anyone going right moves to the right lane and naturally one going straight stays in the centre lane.
For going left or straight, one has to wait for the light to turn green and then after observing the oncoming traffic, move forward.
For going right, you can move after observing the traffic coming from the left.
In school buses, the buses move forward only after all the children are seated properly with their seat belts tied and the door closed.
When a school bus stops a wooden arm comes out across the left side of the bus and  all traffic from front and back stop and cannot move until the bus moves forward.
The Lucknowvi etiquette "Pehele Aap" is actually practised here. People go out of the way to give right of way to opposite party.
All traffic signals are automatically operated with no policeman standing and yet people follow the traffic rules.
They never know where cameras are installed and if traffic  violations occur, notices are sent to the registered owner and fines are to be paid within due dates or they are compounded.
Parking violations are treated very strictly and cars are towed away, without any notice. You pay the fine and take back your car or they are taken to a car pound and dumped there.
I have seen thousands cars dumped in a pound near Chicago. From far, the cars seemed to be in very good condition.
Driving  licence is issued after strict testing of driving ability. However, first you have to appear in a on-line theoretical test which tests whether you know the rules of the road. You can practice these online tests at your home before appearing in the test at the driving test centre. It is a 40 question TRUE/FALSE paper where you are allowed only 5 wrong answers.
It is only when you pass this exam are you allowed to do the actual driving test.
On the Highways, there are many place where you have to pay toll.
You can either pay cash or have a automated toll pass.
It is like a debit card where you keep cash in your toll account.
As long as you have credit in the account, you can pass through without stopping.
Once it is exhausted, you have to replenish or pay cash.
If you pass through without paying, your car number, time and date are recorded and a notice is sent to you for payment with fine which is again compounded if not paid it time.
I ahve attached the link to two sites of the rules and tests conducted before granting driving licence in the state of Illinois. Each state has its own rules and they are very similar.
Rules of Driving in Illinois,
The people here fear the police and do what they ask without questions.
Whenever, they see a police car, flashing its light on the way, it brings fear in their heart.
Because politicians do not interfere in the functioning of the police as we are seeing in Bengal and other states in India and also at the centre.

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