The Pakistani chaiwala (tea vendor), Arshad Khan, is a popular fashion model in his country now. If you look at him today, you’ll find it hard to believe that just a few months back, this handsome, blue-eyed model was once served chai on a little street in Islamabad.

His sudden rise to fame is a story of internet stardom that could have only happened in today’s hyper-connected world.

Khan’s story started with an Instagram photo by photographer, Jiah Ali.

A budding photographer, Ali said that she looks for “simplicity and raw emotion” in any image that she captures. That’s what she saw in Khan and that’s what she captured in her photograph.

Her image, titled “Hot tea”, garnered over 32,000 likes in just a few days, transforming Khan from a mere chaiwala to overnight viral sensation.

His latest success comes in the form of a music video that’s simply titled, Chai Wala.

The music video, courtesy of a band called Lil Mafia Mundeer, is rather… strange. And it does manage to show off Arshad Khan at his modelling best. The video shows Khan all spruced up, serving tea in a suit, surrounded by fawning women and charming everyone with his smile. Last we checked, the video had over 7,70,000 views.

This blue-eyed boy from Pakistan is certainly going places!

His modelling career is doing rather well. He also captured the attention of a global audience, when media houses like the BBC and The Telegraph highlighted his story.

Interestingly, there are striking parallels between Khan’s story and that of UK’s ‘One-pound-fish man’. Of Pakistani origin, Muhammad Shahid Nazir went to the UK on a student visa and ended up dropping his studies in favour of a career selling fish at Queen’s Market, London.

His rather unique trader’s call, “come on ladies, come on ladies, one pound fish” became so popular on social media that the Warner Music Group signed him up for a single.

Sadly for Nazir, he was forced to leave the UK and return to Pakistan since he only had a student visa. That said, Nazir was already very popular in his home country and returned to a large fan base.

He plans to return to the UK soon. Hopefully, the chaiwala’s story will have a happier ending.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 16:02 IST


The life and times of Pakistani chaiwala: From his tea stall to YouTube and the ramp