ISLAMABAD: When 18-year-old Mohammed Ahsan arrived in the Pakistani capital to find a job, little did he know that a series of coincidences would soon turn him into the city’s new and unique performance artist, the “Golden Man of Islamabad.”
Painted from head to toe in gold, Ahsan stands on street corners attracting considerable and positive attention, not just from passersby, but also from authorities. While his sort of performance is not a new thing — “living statues,” as they are known, are common in Europe and many other Asian countries — Ahsan is the first one to be spotted in Islamabad.
He has gained popularity ever since Islamabad’s deputy commissioner, Hamza Shafqat, posted his photo on social media last week, granting him special permission to perform around the city.
Originally from Karachi, Ahsan traveled to Islamabad several months ago to look for work. But despite countless efforts, he could not find employment, and on a day when he was about to give up, he began to browse videos on TikTok to cheer himself up. It was there that he saw clips of Girjesh Gaud, who performs as a living statue in Mumbai, India.
“He spray paints his clothes and puts golden powder on his face and I thought to do the same,” Ahsan told Arab News on a busy intersection of Islamabad’s Jinnah Market. “Soon after, I started performing as a living statue and the public response was very positive.”
His gleaming outfit is complete with a golden smartphone and earbuds. He also carries a golden backpack.
School children are his biggest fans and like to take photos with him, though he also attracts fruit vendors, pedestrians and car drivers, who often pull over to shake his hand.
“I cannot tell how many people stop and take photos with me,” he laughed. “Many of them make videos and some even ask me to visit their home since they want me to be in pictures with their family. Overall, it has been a positive experience for me.”
The youngest of seven siblings, Ahsan said that he wants to boost his popularity through social media to be able to support his family.
“This is what I do now and I hope to continue with this,” he said. “I like to make people smile.”
As people pose with Ahsan, they drop money into a box that he keeps by his feet.
Sheikh Mohammad Zahid, one of several people who pulled over to meet the golden man during his interview, told Arab News that he had seen Islamabad’s first living statue on social media.
“I have never seen something like this before,” he said. “I stopped just to watch him more closely.”
Ikram Yunis, a delivery driver, said that Ahsan was “bringing happiness to the city.”
He added: “It is very nice to see him. We love our home Islamabad and he is adding to its beauty.”