The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #149

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A reader writes:

The city in the picture has a very East-African vibe to it. My first thought was Khartoum but the greenery is generally lacking in Khartoum’s city center. I also noticed the traffic was left-sided. My gut tells me this is Kampala, Uganda.


The buildings and the advertising look very familiar (we like to backpack often, usually in Asia) and so I have decided to go with my gut and say Malaysia.  A look online for stadiums suggests a likely candidate is Stadium Merdeka, right in Kuala Lumpur.  While I cannot suggest what window this shot is taken from, my guess is somewhere like the Swiss Inn, on Jalan Sultan.


Not too much to go on this week. It’s warm, wherever we are, and there’s a language that uses the Roman alphabet, from what I can tell by squinting, and cars are on the “British” side of the road. I’m guessing Indonesia, not Malaysia, because the abundance of flat land reminds me of the east coast of Sumatra, and the haziness in the air reminds me of the smoke that used to blow across the Melaka Straits to Singapore when I lived there. Both Indonesia and Malaysia have a ton of those ads for skin-lightening creams, which is what the sign looks like (a terrible industry that too many Western cosmetic companies get away with participating in). So here’s a vote for Medan, Indonesia. I’m going to throw a dart and say the Tiara Medan Hotel. Someone with more time and better Google-mapping skills will probably beat me, but here’s hoping I’m on the right side of the world.


My guess this week, with no fancy computer analysis: Cairo, Egypt.


My initial reaction was that this was somewhere is Asia, but upon further inspection, I think it is southern Europe somewhere. People will undoubtedly try to decipher the ad on the building, but the best clues are beyond the buildings. One of my colleagues noticed that one of the buildings in the background looks like a castle, and off to the left it seems that there are stadium lights and stadium seating. There is also one palm tree that is visible. The air quality looks somewhat like it does here in southern California, and I think it is a fairly large city. But since we discovered these background buildings only a few minutes ago and time is running out, I am going to have to take a wild guess rather than an educated one: Seville, Spain.


I suspect there is zero chance I’ll get this right, but it looks very much like a town in Russia I visited once on the Black Sea called “Anapa”:


However, most Eastern Bloc architecture looks like this.


Finally!!!  A place I recognize. This has to be India – that is an advert for Dettol soap. The image of a woman, with much lighter skin than the rest of the populace – where else but India!


Oh now you are just torturing me. Just like that bank branch near the Albania window gave me hope, I was psyched to figure out after a few false starts that the big ad on the side of the building is for Dettol Re-energize soap (“skin so healthy it glows!”). Turns out Dettol soap is sold all over the world, but the particular brand seems to be an Indian thing. So there we have it: India. How hard can that be? Not much help beyond that. There seems to be a stadium in the distance between the buildings with large light stanchions. I can’t spend too much of my like searching for Indian stadiums, and hotels nearby (that building in the foreground sure looks like a hotel). After a desultory look at New Delhi, Mumbai, and just for fun Karachi, I say forget it. I’m sure a Dishhead from India knows it on sight, but let’s just say New Delhi, near Delhi Gate. I look forward to finding out how far off I am.

Another gets the right country:

You must be flooded with Pakistan guesses.  Mine is the equivalent of a dart thrown from across the room. The Ashoka trees (those pointed leafy trees that grow so easily in the tropics) and the architecture all suggested South Asia. And the ad for Dettol soap on the building on the left looks like this one. Lahore is a wild guess. Road, building, etc: no freaking clue, really.

Another gets the right city:

Hmm, looks tropical, Middle-Eastern architecture, perhaps. Yellow plates with black lettering is a good clue … I’d guess this is Karachi, Pakistan.

Another goes into great detail:

At first glance, this week’s view looked promising – a large city, distinguishable buildings, tree lined VFYW1(2)boulevard, and a stadium in the background. The landscape alone was not enough to determine the region. It looks like places I’ve been in Africa, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent. The one signage that was clear (but may not be familiar to your American viewers) is the Dettol soap advertisement on the side of the office building. Searching Google for Dettol soap ads, I was able to determine the exact country where this advertisement runs.

Using the stadium as a landmark, the view was found to be from the Avari Towers Hotel in Karachi, Pakistan. The building on the right side of the view is the Hotel Mehran and the taller commercial building on its left is the Kashif Center. The landmark stadium in the background belongs to the Hockey Complex of Pakistan. My guess is that the view is from the 7th floor, as seen in the photo. Hope I’m right! (or closest).

Another adds:

A Google search of “Skin So Healthy It Glows” leads me to this Tweet by a Pakistani advertising agency identifying the lady in the billboard as actress Sonya Jehan.  A Google image search of “Sonya Jehan billboard” fortuitously – because Google mislabeled the image – leads me to this photo of the Kashif Center in Karachi, the building on which the billboard appears.  Google Satellite view tells me that the VFYW photo was likely taken from the Avari Towers building, 242 Fatima Jinnah Rd, Karachi, Pakistan.  I’ll take a wild guess and say the photo was taken from the 14th floor.

A previous winner writes:

Some contests, like last week’s, are difficult because they provide you with few distinct clues. Contests VFYW Karachi Actual Window Marked2 - Copylike this one, however, are challenging because the abundance of small clues means that a few will be red herrings. Whether you won or lost this week therefore turned on whether you chose the right clues to focus on. Some readers, for example, will have found the region’s architecture via Google and located the city almost immediately. But for those lured in by, say the row of cypress trees, it might have been a long weekend wandering through that tree’s native habitat in the eastern Mediterranean.

In any case, this week’s view comes from the heart of Karachi, Pakistan. The picture was taken just after dawn by a reader staying on roughly the 9th floor of the Avari Towers located at 242 Fatima Jinnah Road. The photo looks east, southeast towards the balconies of the Hotel Mehran at center frame. Just behind that building and to its left are the light towers of the Karachi Hockey Club’s stadium, whose grandstands are also partially visible. As for that giant billboard with the woman holding her hands to her neck, it’s an ad for an Indian hand soap called Dettol.


Woohoo! After years of being amazed at the folks who research the Internet to determine the location of your windows, I finally got one using that most wonderful sense – gut instinct!

Saw the picture and immediately got the vibe of Karachi, where I lived in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The Suzuki Carry in the image cinched it for me. Showed the picture to my dad who confirmed the building on the right was the Mehran hotel. Google told me the rest! The picture has been taken from the Avari Towers hotel, I’m guessing 10th floor, eastern-most room. I’m attaching a Google map picture:

avari towers

Karachi is a vibrant city that sadly is being torn apart by violence against religious minorities.

I’ve not submitted an entry in the past, so I probably won’t win, but I’ve been meaning to write in for so long this just seemed like a sign too blatant to avoid! My excuse for not writing earlier is that if I wait a day someone almost always says what I want to say before I say it. Anyway, good luck with the subscription model; you had my money on Day 1.

From the submitter:

Delighted again to be part of the contest. Sorry to be late; just back late last night from another trip, this time to exotic Columbus, Ohio.

The room number was 816, obviously facing southeast. Looking at the Bing maps view, if you think of the swimming pool as being south of the tower, the 816 window is the easternmost of five vertical bands of windows, approximately aligned with the east edge of the pool.

Normally I’d make a joke about my two recent submissions – Iran and Pakistan – something about Petraeus having been unavailable … but events today and yesterday lead to other associations: The major earthquake this morning in an area that Pakistan maps as a low seismic risk, felt about 800 miles away in Karachi. And the Boston bombing yesterday – just the sort of nonsense Karachiites have been living with for years.

Btw, I’m just finishing Steve Inskeep’s very good book, Instant City, about the impact of Islamism and ethnic factionalism in general on the development of Karachi as a megacity.

The following entry was the closest to room 816:

Wow, that was almost too easy. I’m a bit giddy at how things just fell into place. The name on the hotel is visible, but not sharp enough to properly read (HOTEL _ _ _RA…?). After a few wild guesses, image-karachiI decided to just do an image search for “Pakistan hotel” and just scan the results. I knew it was a silly stab in the dark, but unbelievably, it took no more than two minutes to come across this image of the hotel in question, Hotel Mehran. Then identifying the submitter’s location as Avari Towers was a simple matter of checking the area on Google Maps and a quick image search to confirm the building on the left is indeed Kashif Center.  No doubt this will will come down to the floor and perhaps even room number, so let’s say 8th floor and … room 807?

This is my first VFYW contest submission, as I usually don’t have much patience, but I might just be hooked now. I’m a Dish subscriber who splits his time between Hong Kong and Taipei. Keep up the great work!

Congrats to our reader on the tough win.  See everyone else on Saturday for the next contest.