The world moves in mysterious ways sometimes; a chance event can change a life for the better or worse. While often it is our own actions that have these kinds of repercussions – sometimes it’s the actions of others that transform the way we live.
A young man from Islamabad, Pakistan recently found that even the simplest action from a stranger can suddenly change the world forever. Arshad Khan sells tea from a stall in Islamabad. His modest lifestyle offers no access to the internet or social media but a single photograph that went viral changed his life forever and made him world-famous.
Arshad Khan worked as a “chai walla” (tea salesperson) and he had a small stand in an Islamabad market. He’d taken to selling tea only recently having sold food and clothes in the past. His timing was perfect. In October 2016 he’d set up his stall and was serving tea when Jiah Ali came into his life.
Jiah Ali, a young Pakistani woman, was on a mission to capture the sights and sounds of Islamabad and preserve them on her Instagram account. She caught sight of Arshad and snapped away capturing his good looks and sparkling eyes for her social media audience. She also gave the pictures a caption.
In a play on words, which works as well in Pakistan as it does in America, she labeled the image “hot tea,” a nice double entendre meant to flatter Khan by pointing out his good looks. However, both she and Arshad were completely unprepared for what was to happen next…
There’s Viral And Then There’s VIRAL
Jiah’s Instagram account attracts a small but dedicated audience normally and at first Arshad’s picture captured nothing but a few comments. Then suddenly – things went viral. Overnight, the whole of Pakistan had seen Arshad’s image and then the image appeared on Indian and English social media too.
He Didn’t Know
Arshad, if you remember, had no access to social media and no smartphone. He didn’t know that he had become an overnight sensation. That is until his tea stand was suddenly flooded with Pakistani ladies coming to admire his good looks and charm in real life. He says he found that experience terrifying – so what came next must have been a huge shock.