London Diary

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Unlike in Bhubaneswar, where crossing a busy road on foot can be a challenge, pedestrians have it pretty easy in England’s capital city. Press the pedestrian button and cross the road at the zebra line when the light for walkers turns green. Everyone obeys rules.

The difference is there for anyone to see. It was visible to us soon after landing at the Gatwick airport. Cleanliness and discipline were remarkable. Everything was orderly with the staff ready to help newcomers at every point. The long queues at the immigration may bother you a little but certainly not the attitude of the officials. They are quite friendly.

The shuttle that takes you from the airport to the nearest railway station was in time and luckily it was not crowded. The ride was enjoyable. We had to change trains twice to reach our destination but each ride was a joy. The trains are almost squeaky clean.

We walked to our daughter’s apartment from the Lewisham station with few vehicles on the road at that hour of the night. We enjoyed footing it with our trolley suitcases finding the footpaths quite friendly. They moved easily on their castor wheels. September is a pleasant month in London and walking is a real pleasure.

There was not much traffic on the roads at that hour but respect for traffic rules was obvious. Unlike in Bhubaneswar, where crossing a busy road on foot can be a challenge, pedestrians have it pretty easy in England’s capital city. Press the pedestrian button and cross the road at the zebra line when the light for walkers turns green. Everyone obeys rules.

Compared to Indian cities London is definitely miles ahead in terms of cleanliness. Litter is hardly visible on roads and streets. People obviously have a civic sense and desist from making the city unclean. Irrespective of the countries of their origin they take pride in being the residents of London.

Noise pollution, which is so common in Indian cities, is conspicuous by its absence in London. Neither vehicles nor people make much noise. You would hardly get to hear fancy horns as people have a high traffic sense and penalty for violations is quite heavy.

Bhubaneswar, which is currently witnessing a stepped up drive to implement the new Moto Vehicles (MV) Act , has a lot to learn from London where people are law abiding and  take enormous pride in obeying rules. This, I think, is the hallmark of a great city and great people.

Civil amenities like power and water supply are world class. There are no power cuts and you don’t need aqua-guards or filters to purify water. You can drink water straight from the tap without risking your health in any manner.

I also like the architecture of the city with houses in most neighbourhoods having an old world charm about them. The design and brickwork of these houses, fitted with all modern amenities, is quite charming.

London has a lot of history strewn around. One needs time to explore the city. But it is worth your money.

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