Visual Pollution in Lahore

I often spend my early mornings on the porch, recounting the wires outside my house (twenty-four in total, including the electric, phone, cable and a couple of unidentifiable ones) while I take in my morning nicotine hit. My neighborhood is a closed ‘colony’ with no shops or commercial activity allowed inside its premises, so I was surprised to find a billboard advertising the “naturally thick relationship of Haleeb with Pakistan”, along with a Pakistani flag right outside my house on one of my favorite poles last week (true, the pole isn’t exactly pretty, but the billboard was uglier).



So, in the evening, when my son asked me if ‘our neighbors would think we have started selling milk and come to buy some’, I started thinking of my options to get rid of the hideous billboard.

  • There was the pacifist approach – going to the colony committee (or whatever they call themselves) and asking them how and why they allowed these hideous billboards inside and how much money was involved.
  • There was the vandalistic(?) approach – taking a can of black paint and painting them all black (ala The Rolling Stones)
  • There was the extremist approach – taking a knife and slashing away the billboard.
  • There was the activist approach – pasting these “You don’t need it” stickers from the Anti-Advertising Agency on all the billboards and taking a picture, and perhaps contacting the agency handling Haleeb campaigns


As I did not have a printer readily available, so I was inclined towards the one that let me use a knife. Before I could hack and slash however, the billboards were gone on the 16th of August.

I used to think that we do not have underground electricity in most of Lahore due to the high installation costs, but my new conspiracy theory is that the advertising agencies probably pay LESCO and PTCL to make sure they have plenty of poles available.

We should take a long and hard look at Brazil. Before we can solve a problem, first we have to identify it and acknowledge its existence. Only then can we come together and draw the lines to make our city/country a better place and improve our quality of life just a tiny bit.

Haleeb, by the way, is not getting any more of my business in the future.

7 thoughts on “Visual Pollution in Lahore”

  1. Hello Sohaib Athar, this is the other Sohaib Athar.

    First, I believe this is our second interaction. And I must say I feel quite surreal. Having a person of the same name in the same city is quite cool, especially since ours is not a common, har-doosray-banday-wala-naam like maybe Ali Shahid or Mohammad Aslam or some unimaginative stuff like that.

    Second, I am quite glad to know that you are also referred to as Zohaib, Sohail or Shoaib Akhtar. I personally like the last one, as it makes me feel important and funky.

    Third, I have not had anyone confuse you for me and accidentally contact me. But if it happens in the future, I will direct them to you. And I apologize for my acquaintances harassing you. I guess nothing can be done about it 🙂

    Finally, something random. Most of my family spells their last name as AthEr, but for some inexplicable reason I decided to go with an A rather than an E. Why do you spell it the same way? Kindly enlighten me.

    The other Sohaib Athar

  2. Yep. 3-4 years ago, I thought I was the only one – I’m glad I got the .com while I could, hehe.
    Sohaib Athar has been the name on all my documents so I didn’t really have a choice in the matter, though in retrospect, I COULD have changed it. I think Arabs spell it as Suhaib or Suhayb – I am using the later in my son’s name so that he does not suffer from the Sohail/Zohaib effect 🙂
    Your acquaintances are not exactly harassing me, and I usually tell them to Google for the “other Sohaib” 😀
    Add me up on GTalk if you want.

  3. Sohaib,

    I have really enjoyed reading your blog. Refreshing change.

    Btw, are you still close to Zia? How is life after OrthoClear? Let’s say, I know a little about the history…:)


  4. Thanks for visiting Tariq, this blog is just a storage space for my insignificant thoughts 🙂
    Life after OrthoClear has been fun – Zia tried to get us interested in TRG after OC but it wasn’t a good fit. We have had a few chats with Zia over lunch/dinner since the OC shutdown though. I have been doing some indie consulting over the last couple of years and am looking for something fun to do these days. How do you know OC/Zia?

  5. Sohaib,

    Good to know that you are doing well after OC. I know Zia from Cali. In life we all get busy and difficult at times to keep in touch. I really do not want to discuss the ALGN/OC affair, though I certainly have my views of the outcome. Zia is a smart and I hope he will keep a check and balances on ethics.

    I have enjoyed reading your “insignificant thoughts” and you have great potential. Your blog is like a quiet room in a library and I enjoy the visits.

    I wish you well in your hiatus and future endeavours.

    God be with you!


  6. I am quite tired after a long day, that I cannot even type correctly. I hope you understood my words above.


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