For this survey, we visited the neighborhood of Stratford, in East London. The neighborhood has a rich network of roads, railroads, and numerous paths. Few water bodies exist. The notable water bodies were water dams serving the residents, commercial swimming pools, and residential swimming pools. Some homesteads and rental apartments had artificial water springs and fountains for aesthetic value. The roads were well maintained and the network included bypasses; underpasses and overpasses. At one point we saw a sub-train station. There were two or three rivers. There were bridges where the rivers met major roads and railroads.
The buildings in the neighborhoods are separated from one another by fences. Various house designs are present in the area. However, most of them were made of concentrate, steel and glass. In some neighborhoods the houses were built of hard wood such as mahogany. The houses were mostly pained red, blue and green, and were specious. The residential buildings were evenly spaced, arranged in uniform patterns. Each residential building had a car park, laundry area, swimming pool, green grass lawn, playing area, and a dog kennel. Each had a high gate and security alarms. The houses looked about the same size. There were different estates; some seemed to be for the rich; some for the middle class; and yet others for the low class.
Moving to the suburb areas of Stratford, the houses became smaller, without controlled planning. The neighborhoods were smaller, and looked old. The paintings were faded. Some buildings had broken windowpanes. Some however, seemed to have been recently renovated, with fresh paint. The houses had chimneys. Some had air conditioners and sliding windows. We managed to see some houses with fireplaces. Drainage in the area is well established. Most of the plumbing is good. Perhaps this was due to the effective design and planning of the residential as well as rental buildings. Offices and public buildings are huge and high. They are well renovated with lifts and escalators. Also fire alarms and other security measures are present.
Stratford is a cosmopolitan region, boasting of cultural diversity. The residents seemed to be of middle-level income brackets. Stratford has many social joints where the locals gather in the evenings. Older people prefer less noisy bars and casinos. They love games such as scrabble and chess. The social joints were well lighted and had adequate security measures such as guards and sniffer dogs. Women prefer to stay at home, watching movies, cooking, or just jogging early in the morning or late in the evening. Young boys liked roaming the streets and meeting boys from other neighborhoods. They played football in the public playing grounds in designated points. Others played basketball and handball. Yet, some preferred rugby. Few boys and girls visited the social joints. Mostly the elderly visit the social joints for a beer or two. Some families went out together to watch a movie or a concert in town.
Most people in the area prefer the electric train, perhaps due to its speed and convenience. This was true even to those who had personal cars. They left them at home and either used the electric train or used motorbikes or bicycles to work. Other forms of transportation included taxis, though few people used this form of transportation. The neighborhood did not have any airstrip so we never witnessed this form of transportation being used. The residents of Stratford value their time. They walk briskly on the streets. They are punctual in leaving for work as well as coming back from work. As result, traffic was smooth and some roads were deserted.
Stratford, East London can be a beehive of activity. It is a marketing and business hub, going by the many wholesale and retail shops. The streets were busy. The recreational facilities include public swimming pools, coffee shops, playing grounds, parks, casinos, community conferences, as well as social welfare offices. There were designated areas where families relaxed together eating ice cream, pizzas and playing together. Recreational facilities for children included play stations, animation and graphic shops and merry-go-rounds. There are many schools: elementary, intermediate, high schools, and colleges. The pharmacies are expansive, and stock a broad-spectrum of drugs. Some pharmacies had clinics built inside them, equipped with consultation rooms and laboratories. Many doctors had offices at some strategic points such as shopping malls, next to railway stations, and at major road junctions.
Stratford is a business hub. There were many stores, stocking all sorts of products, ranging from food items to house cleaning products. Some stores stocked vehicle spare parts, gas cylinders, house appliances, and electronics, other stores even sold automobiles. However, these were mainly at the central trading areas. In the suburbs, the shops were not as huge. They mainly stored food items such as milk, bread, jam, butter, chocolate and detergents. The groceries had fresh farm produce. They were huge and had refrigeration facilities to keep the groceries fresh. The groceries they stocked included kales, cabbages, tomatoes, eggplant, broccoli, coriander, and spinach. The grocery owners had ready market. Stratford has efficient irrigation facilities that ensure fresh farm produce. As such, it cannot be described as a food desert. Apart from the groceries, there were butcheries, as well as other foot outlets.
The people on the streets mostly dressed casually; few donned official attire. They love dogs. They strolled with their dogs, holding them with their sheaths on the roads. There were even motorists with their dogs on board. Some households kept poultry, dairy cows and pigs. However, they were not allowed to feed on free range. Instead, they were restrained in their pens.
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Stratford in East London is home for people from diverse cultures and ethnicity. There were Caucasians, Blacks, coloreds and Whites. They interacted freely on the streets, sometimes patting one another gently on the back. There were numerous churches, of different inter-denominations such as Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, among other Christian religious groups. There was at least one mosque for the Muslim community living in Stratford. The places of worship had high walls and were particularly spacious, sometimes well designed and decorated. Stratford has many food stores and restaurants. They sell mostly fast foods. There are different sets of menus for adults and children. The restaurants are mainly named in English. However, there was one that had a French name, perhaps meant to attract the French internationals living in Stratford. There were numerous road signs, major indicators for location of hospitals, schools, and other facilities. Christian churches such as the Baptist church we saw in one of the neighborhoods had a cross sign on its roof. The mosque had its sign as well. Churches such as the ACK had their indications as well.
There were at least 3 public hospitals and a couple of private hospitals. They had their contacts written on major roads and junctions. Some of the hospitals had offices in town and major trading centers in East London. Most of the clinics were attached to major pharmacies. Only specialized hospitals dealt with mental illnesses and mental disorders. The one we visited had only about two or three cases of mental illnesses. Instances of substance abuse are quite minimal. Most people in the area prefer coffee. Perhaps, incidents of drug or substance abuse could only be witnessed in the slum areas of Stratford. Here, few youths take drugs such as cocaine, bhang and miraa. We hardly saw any alcoholics on the roads, or at the social joints.
Again, Stratford is a politically diverse neighborhood. At the heart of Stratford there are offices for major political parties. There were the symbols for the Conservative Party, the London Political Party and the not-so-popular United Kingdom Independence Party. It was during political complains, so we interacted with supporters of various political parties holding posters of their favorite candidates. Apart from a few mild campaign instances, the rest were calm and well organized. The political parties had headquarters in major centers. The residents of Stratford we interacted with preferred comical books; children especially preferred cartoon books and paintings. The teenagers preferred fashion magazines and current event journals. The adults liked motivational books. They read newspapers and business magazines. The adults, especially the men, loved to watch prime time news; the women loved soap operas and relationship articles. Both teenage boys and girls preferred reggae, R & B, and rock music. The elderly preferred jazz music and concerts.
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Stratford is a major business center with a range of companies in major sectors such as transport, manufacturing, light and heavy industries. The elaborate transport networks that link the area to major market destinations facilitate this. It is home to both macro and micro businesses, perhaps aided by its good economy. The people are hospitable. There was at least one military installation undergoing maintenance. With the good economy, there are low cases of unemployment, perhaps explaining the low prevalence of drug use and abuse. Overall, Stratford is a cosmopolitan neighborhood, is racially and ethnically diverse, and has a rich economy and middle-class standard of living.
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