Meet The Yale Graduate Who Has Taken The 'Chai Pi Lo' Meme International

Here's how a graduate of Columbia University and Yale Law School ended up becoming Internet-famous in India

Meet The Yale Graduate Who Has Taken The 'Chai Pi Lo' Meme International

The "Chai pi lo" meme has made both Somvati Mahawar and Ben Stern social media stars

New Delhi:  "Hello friends, chai pi lo!" From Facebook and Twitter to WhatsApp, chances are, you've been inundated with "Chai pi lo" (Drink tea) memes over the past week. The Internet's newest sensation, Somvati Mahawar, has been urging people to drink cups of chai in the viral video. She even exclaims, "Garam hai!" From Mumbai Police to Mother Dairy, everyone seems to be piggybacking on Ms Mahawar's viral fame. Including, surprisingly, an American graduate of the prestigious Yale University.

Over the last few days, you may have seen a short clip of Ben Stern taking a sip out of a black travel mug while mouthing the words, "Hello friends, chai pi lo." Yes, in Hindi. "Chai pi lo goes international" is what many on the Internet declared while sharing the video - multiple versions of which have been shared thousands of times and, combined, watched over a million times. 

The video is making many people laugh. "Is your tea not hot?" asks one person in the comments thread, a reference to the missing "Garam hai" or "It's hot" exclamation. "Americans drink iced tea," quips Mr Stern. 

"It's chai tea," jokes one person. "I think I have seen everything now," laughs another. 

33-year-old Mr Stern grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is a graduate of Columbia University and Yale Law School. He even practiced law in New York City for two years. 

So how did he end up running the Facebook page "Firangi Memes?" The answer may surprise you. 

Unsatisfied with a career in law, Mr Stern moved to Silicon Valley and founded "IvyAchievement," a college consultancy that helps students, especially from India, apply to top schools in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. 

"As a college admissions consultant, I need to understand the needs and desires of Indian teenagers and young adults... By making these memes, I can connect with Indian young people," he tells NDTV via email. "What I do is provide a bridge to the Western world, and what better way to start building that bridge than by making entertaining Internet memes?" 

The "Chai pi lo" video was brought to his attention by a colleague from IvyAchievment's Delhi office. "I've done other parody videos of Indian memes that have been very well-received," Mr Stern says. "Kids have found my videos entertaining, and there will be plenty more in the future."

Mr Stern says that though he has visited India numerous times since 2016, he has not picked up Hindi or any regional languages yet. "I don't actually know much Hindi, and sometimes find out what I'm saying after I make the videos. All of the students I work with and most of their parents are fluent in English. Many don't even know Hindi, for example some from Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Chennai."

Mr Stern says he would love to meet and do a collaboration with Ms Mahawar. "I will be travelling to India soon, and I would love to meet her and make a video together!" 

"Chai pi lo" 2.0 coming up? You heard it here first!
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