The striking eyes of a teenage tea seller from Pakistan have gone viral on the internet, giving a whole new meaning to the word ‘mug shot’.
18-year-old Arshad Khan was totally unaware of social media until recently, when flocks of kids started turning up to his tea stall at an Islamabad flea market to take selfies with him.
His piercing light green eyes have made him an overnight internet sensation but he initially became so nervous that he quit his job and went into hiding, fearing he might have done something wrong.
However, his worries quickly vanished after friends and relatives told him that it was his picture which made him popular and helped him become a model.
Sitting among his friends at his tea stall, Khan said he had never dreamed he would become famous.
Thanks to snaps from a female freelance photographer, Javeria Ali, who took his photo, captioned it ‘Hot Tea’ and shared it on Instagram, he became an instant sensation in Pakistan and beyond, with thousands of people sharing it with the hashtag #ChaiWala — or tea seller.
It prompted Islamabad-based clothing retail site Fitin.pk to contact him for his first modelling shoot and he now graces the site’s home page modelling funky T-shirts.
For Khan, one of 17 siblings from Pakistan’s conservative town of Mardan in the northwest, it has been a life-changer.
For months he has worked at the tea stall, getting paid five dollars a day to serve customers steaming cups of delicious tea. He now hopes to work in TV and films.
Arshad said: “I need money to help my family. I also want to do charity work across Pakistan.”
The teenager, who doesn’t know how to read or write, has a dream to educate others.
He said: “I am not an educated person and cannot claim that I will become a doctor or a judge.
“All I want to say is that I will help those children who are deprived of education. If I get enough money, I will set up schools for children,” he told international press.
“I know I am handsome, but I also knew a poor person like me cannot become famous,” he said.
Growing up, he had wanted to get an education, ‘but poverty did not allow [him]’.
For years, Arshad sold fruit, vegetables and clothes at the capital’s flea market.
“I started working at this tea stall months ago and my mother often used to tell me that one day you will become a famous man,” he said.
“I always thought it is a wish and nothing else. But now I feel it is due to my mother’s prayers that I have become a model from a tea seller.”