A Pakistani man’s life was turned upside down after a photograph of him went viral on social media. The man, a chaiwala, was pouring tea at the Sunday Bazaar in the capital city of Islamabad when an aspiring professional photographer snapped a picture of him. Neither of them realized that this humble tea seller, Arshad Khan, was about to become famous.
Nestled among the various fresh fruit and vegetable stands in the historic city of Islamabad, a city of nearly two-million people, one man dutifully prepared and served tea to customers of the tea stall where he had been employed for some three months. A photographer, noticing the chaiwala’s focus on detail, and the simplicity of the moment, snapped a quick picture. The photographer, Jiah Ali, did not anticipate the sensation she was about to unleash when she posted the picture of Khan to Instagram, with the caption “Hot-tea”.
Source: Jiah Ali / Instagram
Soon, love-struck girls were sharing the image with comments such as “such striking eyes”, “Found the hottest man alive”, and “I’m going to Pakistan now. Bye”. The response was so large, Ali returned and snapped a picture with Khan, with the caption “Ladies I found him!” In an interview with BBC News, Ms. JiahAli admitted she was “very surprised” that the photo had so quickly made Khan famous. JiahAli, a recent graduate, went on to say that at the time of posting the picture, she considered the picture just a “normal, casual post”. Nonetheless, she said that she’s very happy for him, describing Khan as “a really nice kid”.
Source: BBC.com/Photographer Javeria
In the immediate days after the simple photograph became viral, the 18-year-old Khan continued to report to work as normal. Though happy with his new-found fame, the man with the piercing blue eyes that set so many hearts on fire, still had tea to make. Making and pouring tea, a job he had done for a few months, had suddenly become much more difficult. He admitted to Dunya News in an interview that while happy with his “overnight popularity”, it was irritating having people gather around him for pictures while he was working. He also admitted that prior to his picture being shared thousands of times, he had not even heard of Social Media sites such as Instagram and Twitter – the very sites that had made him famous.
Within days, and as his fame continued to grow, he received even more news – news that would change his life. An online shopping site based in Islamabad, Fitin.pk, contacted Khan about modeling menswear for its website. Fitin.pk was able to sign Khan to a modeling contract, and quickly produced a campaign with Khan at its center. A message on Fitin.pk’s website, and its Facebook page proudly announced to customers “Chai wala is no more chai wala, he is fashion wala!”
Khan’s rough, dreamy-eyed persona that sparked thousands of love-struck girls to make him a viral sensation was being transformed into one of a stylish, well-dressed young man. Khan, one of 18 children, even received some individualized attention when he appeared on Good Day Pakistan, and received a makeover that was photographed by the IdeaTic Wedding Studio.
In addition to his new-found fame, Khan is now reportedly interested in acting offers. It just might not be long before Arshad Khan comes to a television or movie screen near you – all because of a chance photograph taken of a man, just doing a job.