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Last month we drove to a place called Kollam to look up my aunt, cousin and her family. Kollam is about sixty odd kilometers from here. The L&M was driving and all I had to do was sit back, relax and enjoy the scenic route, listening to some music, but of course.

I have done this route a number of times. But this time it being soon after the rains, the countryside was exceptionally green and a delight to watch as it whizzed past. So I sat back in anticipation of a pleasant hour. Before long something seemed to jar on my nerves, something I admit I have been seeing on all my previous trips too, but which seemed to strike me all the harder this time.

Perhaps it was the contrast, the incredible beauty of my surroundings on the one hand and on the other, the huge billboards on either side standing out like eyesores. How they marred the beauty of the route! Whose idea was it to grant permission to put them up all along the highway (and in the cities too), I wondered. Yeah, one knows the answer to that. It is for the moolah. But should it be at the cost of disfiguring the beautiful countryside?

Then there are the people who think these ads sell their products. Well, if you say so. Frankly, I have my doubts. But then who am I to question the wisdom of suited-booted executives – or even disheveled ones for that matter – who come up with these ideas? Publicity. Any kind. Catch the eye of the consumer. However. In whatever way. Blah, blah, blah. Do people really rush off to buy stuff from those who have put up the biggest and most colorful (garish!) billboards?

Personally that’s not how I buy things, see an ad by the wayside while driving home and go, ‘Omg! Let’s go to a.b.c shop and buy x, y or z because it has such beautiful billboards defacing adorning my city/state!‘ No, siree, no. But I bet there ARE people who do that sort of thing or at least the companies think so. Add to them those kind willing to rent out space for the monstrosities for the fat checks they bring and it is no wonder we have hoardings mushrooming everywhere. What a sad state of affairs!

What depresses me is how ordinary people in general don’t give any thought to such things. The blank stares I get when I mention it (Okay! not merely ‘mention’ but go into passionate rants!) is proof enough. We have such a beautiful state, greenery everywhere, scenic beauty to die for. Yet no one thinks anything at all about the monstrosities dotting the beautiful landscape. Yada, yada, yada. Sigh. One response I got was that the culprits putting up hoardings were political parties (Hint: Obviously not the one who responded supported). Like, really? I should just curl up and die.

Come on, people! Where is your pride and joy in keeping our ‘beautiful’ state beautiful? We sell Beautiful Kerala to the visitors, not Billboard Kerala, right? Besides aren’t these things health hazards to all of us? A strong wind and it topples on some hapless person. Is ours God’s Own Country or Billboards Own Country? I am starting to have serious serious doubts now.

Here’s are samples:

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This is called ‘Killing the landscape with billboards’

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I find this the most irritating. Who the heck gave permission to sully the countryside thus?

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Getting ready to snare more people, a brand new hoarding looking for customers.

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Kajaria, eyesore on an otherwise beautiful road.

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Do people really look at the beautiful lehnga of the girl in the ad while driving through this road?

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How many caught this movie by falling for this hoarding?

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An otherwise beautiful road marred by garish hoardings

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There are ads even on traffic lights!

©Shail Mohan 2018

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