Finally, here is the final part about America. I am giong to try to compare what I saw in the US with what we have here in Europe, and also to analyze if I would consider the US as a place to live and work for myself.
Streets and neighbourhoods
The cities in America, being founded not very long time ago, are mostly built using the square-cluster technique. That is, there are only streets that are either parallel or perpendicular to each other. For example, in San Francisco looking for a way to a certain address means matching the vertial and horizonal position of the destination street with the current location. Theoretically this should make developing navigation system easier. That's not quite so. For some reason, at my present job many problems with calculating routes appear exactly with the data for States. Probably because there are rather weird road signs on some intersections.
Urban phenomena that confounded me in the US, was the neighbourhoods. In Europe, no matter - East or West, from a neighbourhood with decent people one has to go a long way to get to a bad district. Approaching a bad neighbourhood one can notice the environment change, growing disorder at how houses and people look like. However, in the States, a distance between good and bad neighbourhoods is usually not longer than the width of the street separating them. Imagine that you walk through a nice rich district, then you accidentally cross some street and immediately get to a ghetto, where they rob and kill you, and eat your liver afterwards. I exaggerate of course. In any case, one has to know where one can walk.
But that also can be the reason why American cities are so interesting. First of all, it's because of the people. New York City is the best example, for it holds the first place in the world by the level of globalization. It's actually a small projection of the whole world on a certain megapolis. Its spirit absorbed features of all the cultures, whose representatives live there. It's also the reason why it's so miry. Everyone bring his own dirt with him as an integral part of human nature. Ths way, the cultural wealth is always combined with swinishness brought from everywhere.
Oh Yeah, Puerto Rico
Among the things I wanted to do while visiting the States was to have a beer in a paper bag on the street, just like they do in movies. It's rather strict with the alcohol in America, thus beer on the street is also forbidden. To evade penalty, they use to put the bottle into a paper bag, and then sip from it. The trick is that in order to search the bag, a writ is needed. The bag is made of thick paper, so noone can see through it.
In New York, on the last evening of my stay there, my friend and I went out for a walk in Brooklyn. Just to remember of times, when being students, we drank beer every evening in Shevchenko garden in Kharkov. So we went to a store, bought a couple of bottles and asked the Arab shop-guy for paper bags. He knew the technique we were going to apply, so he gave us bags of the right size.
Oleg warned me that drinking beer from a bag is considered a very low-class. Only local drunkards do so, so we won't be taken well by the locals. But that didn't really matter. And just to combine the walk with something useful, we went to the loundry. I took there some clothes the same day, so they should had been washed by then.
At the laundry's entrance there stood some old guy. He started waving his hands as soon as he noticed us with the paper bags. "No-no-no" - he told us. The rest was very difficult to understand, for he spoke almost no English. Despite that, he tried to explain us we're not in Puerto Rico. This meant, we came from a distant and wild island in the Carribean, an American colony, whose population is known for the lack of culture. I really cannot understand how two white men with qute typical Russian and Jewish face features could look like islanders to anyone. I neither cannot tell where the guy came from, for in his twisted English I couldn't detect any familiar elements of the languages I might know about. The guy looked like over the last 50 years he wore the same clothes. I am pretty sure that my American friend in one month pays more taxes than this old guy makes in a year. But that's not the main point. The main point is that the mentality, absorbed very fast by most newcomers, means the direct association between a bag with a bottle and Puerto Rico or maybe, with any other place, certainly primitive and uneducated. Where people don't know drinking on the street is bad. They have this setting and they really don't care how you're dressed and how you communicate.
No Shit on the Grass
I was surprised with the plenty of prohibitive signs here and there. For instance, in the park of the small town called Verona in New Jersey, I counted a dozen. Just like the town, the park is small, has a lake and a walkway around the lake. On the signs they have everything: "Don't feed waterfowl", "No fishing", "No dogs on the deck", "Do not litter" and such. Everything including the normally assumed things, they were all on the signs.
After returning to Germany, at a corporate party we discussed the reasons why they don't shit on the grass in public places in Europe and in the US. Everyone agreed that's because in Europe they don't do that, for they know they shouldn't, while in the US they refrain because of prohibitions. This opinion is not supposed to be the absolute truth, neither should it be taken very seriously, but there is certainly something in it.
There are indeed many prohibitions. That counts the strict control after the alcohol consumption, and penalties for light drugs like marijuana (many smoke it there nevertheless). But all Americans (especially emigrants) repeat like a mantra the phrase "This is a free country", sometimes when it's worth mentioning and sometimes just to say something. Surprizingly, in the EU there are fewer prohibitions, but no mass fanaticism about the "free country" thing was observed.
I can hardly name a place with more loafers than Germany. They call it social state when the taxes from the people with decent income are used to pay bills for the people who are not able to earn their living. Like the disabled people, for example. However, if there is too much socialism, parasitic attitude transforms into a lifestyle. Young people who are able to work may be getting social aid for years, just because it suits them so. At the same time, they are sure the state owes them a debt. In best cases, for something they do, like painting or writing something what they believe to be art. In worst cases they simply idle. Or in addition, they beg for money on the street, like a plenty of punks in Berlin do daliy. It's not really so difficult to earn money by doing some simple work. It's enough to get a part-time job at a supermarket to roll carts. This pays about 400 euro per month. But still this is a job, while this kind of youth prefers idling.
In the extremely anti-communist States one can hardly imagine such a parasitic attitude. That's why, unlike Europe, there one can see lots of homeless people on the streets. However all people who respect theirselves have an aim. Just because noone can afford idling for years, and literally everyone has a dream. Every waiter dreams of opening his own restaurant one day, while a street-cleaner sees himself in the chair of the president of a street-cleaning service. "American dream" is not only a combination of words. It's a real thing.
Everyday Life and Labor
Just during our stay in California a guy contact me by e-mail with a proposition to consider getting a job at their company. The company is into network solutions for UNIX systems. That is, exactly my profile. Their office is located in Sunnyvale. I didn't see the place, but I suppose it's a town somewhere in the Silicone Valley, maybe even more boring than Redwood City. I didn't feel too excited about it, and I let the guy know. However, if it was not just another job in at a different location, but something outstanding, I would be interested to discuss it. They probably couldn't offer anything like that, so the discussion quickly came to naught.
Emigration to America, the widely promoted in the modern world culture country, is a dream for many young people. When I was 17-20, among my friends, mostly computer-oriented youth, such ideas were very popular. Some folks were really obsessed with them. Some of my friends left intentionally, some because of the circumstances. I went first out of curiosity to Romania, then to Germany. I already have some experiences to compare and decide what suits me better. Have to admit, I like Europe. Even though I was told sooner or later I'll live in the States, there is a couple of things that make me doubt.
The first thing is vacation. Normally an American company gives you two work weeks paid vacation. Just for comparison, the minimal vacation in the European Union is 20 workdays, and some countries have even more. Such a long vacation in the US, for instance, has the CEO of the company where my good friend works.
Let's now imagine how it's possible to combine travels home and fun trips to some islands. One week in Ukraine, then another week somewhere in the Caribbean and that's it. I have another good friend in California, who hasn't been in Ukraine for five years, since he moved to the States. His retired parents live in Kharkov.
In Western Europe the vacations (as well as distances to various interesting locations) are much better. Ukraine and Russia, where my family lives, is only about 2 hours by plain. The other places where one can spend a vacation are also nearby: South Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
I haven't become a great fan of the US after visiting it. Neither had I started to hate it. I just realized that the hype the whole world is currently having, doesn't yet matter at most. Like all the other corners of the world, that one is interesting in its own way. One has just to open his eyes, behold and analyze. I will visit the States once again for sure.