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    Shepherd becomes instant celebrity for Iran city folk

    SAY CHEESE — A band of farmers near the Caspian takes a selfie using a real selfie stick! At right is Mohammad-Qasem Torabi, Iran’s newest celebrity.

    SAY CHEESE — A band of farmers near the Caspian takes a selfie using a real selfie stick! At right is Mohammad-Qasem Torabi, Iran’s newest celebrity.

    Mohammad-Qasem Torabi is just a 28-year-old shepherd who spends most of his time with his sheep on a farm in Golestan province near the Caspian Sea.  Or at least he was just a shepherd.  Now he’s a celebrity.

    He now has an astounding 32,000 followers for his Instagram page, Salar Poulad.  Most of his followers appear to be urban Iranians who are in awe of a lifestyle they know nothing about—but which Torabi draws them into with his photos and comments.

    He has a limited education and what can only be called a rustic lifestyle.  He is married, and he and his wife have a daughter, Nilufar.  He is up well before dawn and into bed soon after sunset.  And he tends his sheep and fields through all the hours in between.

    Torabi takes his photos with an Android phone bought by his older brother, who is an MBA candidate in Tehran, getting an education that is partly paid for by all those sheep baaing in the village of Gaz-e Sharqi near the Caspian port of Bandar-e Gaz.

    Torabi’s brother set up the Instagram page and showed Torabi how to use it.  Now it is driven by Torabi’s imagination and ability to bring people who live in another world into his little world.

    A reporter for Fararu tracked down Torabi, who can’t believe his simple lifestyle really interests city dwellers.

    He told Fararu, “Our work is hard here.  And, as we age, we face issues like back pain and arthritis.  But we live in harmony with nature, something that seems attractive to city folks who seem stressed but post their photos from expensive vacations abroad to show they are relaxed at that moment.”

    Torabi said, “I am honestly happy and relaxed here in my village because I feel productive in my life. Unlike famous people, I am not using Instagram to do business with my fame, but to share how productive I am in my life.”

    He says he has access for about half-an-hour each day to work on his Instagram account.  Short of funds, he put his farm dog up for sale on the account recently.  He said one of his fans bought the dog, paid him the money and then told him to keep the dog.

    Torabi’s Instagram page is named after his two deceased farm dogs that he misses very much—Salar (Master) and Poulad (Steel).

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