Ek Masala Chai with Laxman Rao: Meet the Chaiwala Turned Author Who Brews Teas and Stories

On International Tea Day, let us delve into the heartwarming story of a tea seller who is now an award-winning writer at 71. He also revealed his secret to a kadak masala chai!

The leaves rustle as the breeze whiffs through on a bright summer sun shining brightly overhead. The aroma of tea leaves boiling enraptures the people gathered around a big utensil brewing masala chai. Meanwhile, Laxman Rao is engaging with his customers, narrating his stories and listening to theirs. It is a give-and-take relationship.

What is a chai chuski without a good anecdote? Laxman Rao understands that well. And one fine day these anecdotes were weaved into beautiful word and published in nearly 25 books. Once a chaiwala is now an internationally acclaimed author.

Mai Talegaon Dashasar village Amravati se hun.  8th class mai mujhe Gulshan Nanda ki upanasya padhen ka mauka mila. Unse prabhavit hoke mujhe laga ki mai kyu nahi Gulshan Nanda ban sakta,” Rao shares while recollecting his inspiration. He later travelled to Bhopal as a labourer and then destiny brought him to Delhi where he started working as a tea seller or chaiwala on the streets of ITO.

The 71-year-old Rao is someone who comprehends the value of education and has a knack for reading and writing. He had left schooling after 10th. “Ek urja bana ke rakhi thi ki thaavat nhi honi chaoye. Asambhavana vyakt nhi ki maine, Sambhavna ke sath kaam karta gya or saflta prapt hoti gyi. Humara margdarshan karne wala koi nhi tha. Humare mata-pita kheti-badhi karte the bu margdarshan jo hua pustako se hua,” he says.

He decided to complete his class 12 when he was 40-years-old. Eventually, he completed his graduation and master’s as well.

Chai pe Charcha at Rao’s Tea Stall

His tea shop became an intellectual hub for him where he brew meaningful conversations.

Speaking about his works, he spoke about his real-life characters, his regular customers were often the muse of his writings. It is all about keeping it real with Rao. His first book was about ‘Ramdas’, a boy from his village who drowned. Another titled as ‘Renu’ is based on a CA aspirant who was a talk among students who came to his shop, and so on and so forth.

Rao always ensured that his tea shop was stocked with books and was hygienic. Adding to this, his conversation skills became the USP and was always surrounded by stories, debates more insightful discussion of everyday life for almost 35 years.

Meet Laxman Rao – the Tea Consultant

“Kaha mai footpath pe baitha tha, mujhe laga ki mai ek five-star hotel mai toh nhi chal paunga. But aaj pechle teen saal se ek tea-consultant ki tarah kaam kar rha hun,” he says while discussing about his tryst with a five-star hotel chain in Delhi.

Today, Rao comes in every morning at Shangri-La as a “Tea Consultant” and makes his special masala chai for the guests. Laxman Rao, once a humble street vendor and an award-winning author. Mr Rao now works as a tea consultant at hotel’s tea lounge – Mister Chai located in the lobby of Shangri-La Eros New Delhi. Rao brings his unique alchemy to Mister Chai, crafting a delicious masala chai that blends flavours and emotions into a symphony of taste.

At “Tea Time Tales with Laxman Rao” all guests are welcome to embark on a journey of connection and participate in a warm conversation with him in a 45-minute session where shares his personal stories while they savour a specially crafted Indian street food inspired High Tea featuring local favourites such as Vada Pao, Chicken Tikka Tacos, Kale Patta Chaat and more.

Laxman Rao’s secret to making special masala chai is – Always take full cream milk. First, boil the water properly, and add a little more milk. Then add elaichi and tea leaves. After cooking it to the full, add ginger add the end.

Rao came to Delhi with a dream of becoming a Hindi writer and stands as a testament that nothing is impossible. Young at heart, writing and reading is meditative for him.

And we can guarantee, one can never get bored in the company of Laxman Rao. He always has some great stories to tell!


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