ISLAMABAD: Zaheer Jan had been selling homemade macaroni out of his maroon Suzuki Mehran in Islamabad’s G-9 market only for about a month before he was catapulted to Twitter fame.
The 21-year-old’s fortunes changed after a social media user, Maria Malik, shared a picture of Jan standing next to his four-wheeled food stall decorated with twinkling fairy lights and a sign that read “Homemade Macaroni.”
“If you’re in G-9 or cross G-9 markaz, do drop by Zaheer to have a plate of delicious chicken macaroni. He’s a super sweet young boy trying to make ends meet one plate at a time,” Malik wrote on Twitter on Nov. 24. “His car is parked opposite to the Bata store.”
The post instantly got thousands of retweets and on the next day Jan’s macaroni, which he sells for Rs100, or a little over 50 US cents a box, was sold out within two hours.
“About a month ago we would sell like 18 to 20 boxes daily,” Jan told Arab News in an interview, standing next to his car. “But now, with all the posts and the tweets and everything, all the publicity that is going on, it’s been a blessing. We are making a living here.
“I want to thank all the people who have put up tweets and posts and shared them on Twitter and WhatsApp and Facebook. I’m very grateful to them.”
The idea behind the macaroni car stall, which Jan and his sister came up with, was to contribute to the family budget, Jan said. His parents were initially not very enthusiastic but helped out anyway, with his mother preparing the macaroni at home.
“When we decided we wanted to start this, my parents were a bit apprehensive. They weren’t sure that it was going to be successful,” Jan said. “But they were and continue to be incredibly supportive. The whole family — I could not do it without them.”
Malik, who is behind the viral tweet, said she is glad she was able to support the young man earn an “honest living.”
“Sometimes these random acts of kindness can actually change someone’s life,” she told Arab News. “I really, really hope that this does not die down and that Jan and his family are able to make something out of it,” Khan told Arab News.
And it also goes to show that it doesn’t cost anything to be kind, to show someone a little bit of support.”
Going forward, Jan hopes he can one day open a little restaurant of his own: “Something small where people can come and sit and relax.”
He also hopes his story will inspire other young people.
“I am trying to encourage the youth to believe they can do anything. They can work hard and make life better for themselves and for the country,” Jan said, as he packed up for the day. “We Pakistanis are capable of everything.”