The story of Laxman Rao, a born litterateur with over 25 published works to his credit, who did menial jobs including the role of a road-side tea vendor in central Delhi for nearly five decades, to support his literary zeal, is documented by many channels and publications in the past. A few years ago, the top management of the Shangri-La Eros Hotel in the city visited his road-side stall where he sold tea and his books and invited him to join the hotel. Although Rao had his initial doubts about how he would be able to accustom with the environs of a 5-star hotel, he accepted the offer. That changed the life of Rao who today dons the hat of a tea consultant and is a sought after property of the hotel.
“Our instagram video on Teatime tales by Laxman Rao had over 15,000 views in 24 hours. There have been back to back messages and people are ready to pay extra to meet him over a cup of tea,” says Parinita Samanta, director of marcomm at the hotel. “We are planning to host a ‘chai pe charcha’ with Laxman Rao from next month,” she added
Rao also seems to be enjoying his stint with the 5-star property. “I continue to make the tea the way I used to make and everybody is supporting it and people are really enjoying it. A lot of people come and meet me as well,” he said.
Rao’s special tea is in great demand during breakfast at Tamra, the multi-cuisine restaurant at the hotel, and at Mister Chai, the classical tea shop at the lobby level, at the hotel during the day time.
Along with his tea, people also pick up his books and get a signed copy of the author while they go back.
A versatile writer, Rao has written a number of books and some are best sellers on online platforms. These include plays, novels, fictions and books on society and politics. Some of his works have been translated into various languages including English. ‘Burdened Bruises’, ‘Love Beyond Social Confines’ are the English translations of his novels.
After coming to Delhi in 1975 in search of a publisher for his two books – ‘Ramdas’ and ‘Naye duniya ki Nayi Kahani’ – from his native village in Maharashtra’s Amravati, Rao was shown the door by popular publishers. A fighter to the core, Rao started his own publication house, Bharatiya Sahitya Kala Prakashan, to publish his books. He sold his books by pedalling around the city initially, before setting up a pan-shop and later on a tea stall in a busy thoroughfare in the heart of the city, from where he both sold tea as well as his books.
Amidst arduous circumstances in life, Rao continued his studies. He completed his 12th Standard at the age of 40, acquired a degree from Delhi University at the age of 50, and a post graduation in Hindi literature from IGNOU at the age of 63.
A motivational speaker, Rao recently conducted workshops for budding authors under the banner of his publication house at the Shangri-La Eros.
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