CTExclusive: From Selling Tea On Roadside To Consulting At Shangri-La, Laxman Rao’s Inspirational Journey

Explore his unique blend of storytelling and chai craftsmanship!

by Mallika Khurana
CTExclusive: From Selling Tea On Roadside To Consulting At Shangri-La, Laxman Rao’s Inspirational Journey

In India, chai is more than just a beverage; it’s a cultural phenomenon, an elixir that binds people together. From city streets to rural landscapes, chai stalls are omnipresent, serving as social hubs where stories are shared, and connections are forged. Today, we delve into the world of chai through the lens of a revered connoisseur, Laxman Rao, who transformed his humble tea-selling beginnings into an illustrious career, becoming a consultant for the prestigious Shangri-La Eros New Delhi.

Laxman Rao, From Sidewalk Tea-Seller To Literary Luminary

Photo Credits: Press Release

Laxman Rao is an extraordinary figure whose journey from a roadside tea seller to an internationally recognised master of chai and award-winning author is nothing short of inspirational. Rao, a graduate of Delhi University, has authored over 24 novels, plays, and political essays. His works are praised for their honesty and humility, weaving tales that reflect the ground realities of life. We had the unique opportunity to speak with him about his life, his journey, his chai, and more.

Rao’s journey began at a humble tea stall on Vishnu Digambar Marg near ITO in Delhi, where he sold tea for over three decades. “Many people who visited my stall were intrigued that a chai walla could also write and sell books,” Rao recalls. This dual identity intrigued his customers and fueled his literary creativity. 

His books often draw from the diverse stories of his customers, capturing the essence of their personal struggles and triumphs. “I draw inspiration from the myriad stories present in the lives of my guests,” Rao explains. This rich tapestry of human experience has been a cornerstone of his work.

Crafting The Perfect Cup Of Chai

mister chai
Photo Credits: Press Release

Rao emphasises the meticulous process involved when asked about what differentiates his chai from others. “Chai preparation, while seemingly simple, requires careful attention to detail to achieve the perfect flavour,” he says. Rao describes the steps: bringing water to a boil, adding the right amount of tea leaves, and allowing the mixture to simmer to release the tea’s full aroma and flavour. The final step is boiling the chai after adding milk and sugar, ensuring the ingredients meld together harmoniously.

Rao’s work has gained recognition both in India and abroad. He expresses his gratitude for this international acclaim, saying, “Seeing my story in newspapers and knowing that Indians resonate with my ideologies is truly gratifying. Being talked about internationally is a fortunate and humbling experience for me.” This recognition underscores the universal appeal of his journey and the profound impact of his work on people from different cultural backgrounds.

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Chai As A Medium Of Human Connection

shangri la
Photo Credits: Press Release

Beyond its taste, chai holds a significant place in fostering connections and creating cherished memories. “Chai becomes more than just a beverage; it is a medium through which emotions are rediscovered and social bonds are strengthened,” Rao reflects. He recalls his childhood excitement when a Brooke Bond tea-selling van visited his village, highlighting the deep-rooted cultural significance of chai.

Reflecting on his life and career, Rao hopes his legacy will be defined by the lasting impact he has made on both tea culture and the literary world. “While I was relentlessly following my passion, a senior leader from Shangri-La Eros in New Delhi found me, captivated by the fragrance and comfort of my tea,” he shares. 

Rao’s seamless blend of his passion for chai with his career as a writer is evident in his unique approach. At Mister Chai, he shares his stories and the ideologies behind his books with guests while serving them exceptional tea. This platform allows Rao to merge his love for storytelling with his expertise in chai, creating a rich and fulfilling experience for both himself and his guests.

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Tea Tales With Laxman Rao At Shangri-La Eros New Delhi

In 2021, Rao transitioned from the streets to the opulent setting of Shangri-La Eros New Delhi, assuming the role of their esteemed tea consultant. “At Mister Chai, I not only serve my carefully crafted chai but also engage with guests through experiences like ‘Teatime Tales with Laxman Rao,'” he explains. During these sessions, guests enjoy a specially prepared high tea infused with Indian street food influences while Rao shares his personal anecdotes. This experience has allowed Rao to blend his passion for chai with the elegance of a prestigious hotel, creating a unique and enriching journey.

If you would like to have a chat with him over some chai, Tea Tales is waiting for you at Shangri-La Erso New Delhi.
Where: Mister Chai, 19, Ashoka Rd, Janpath, Connaught Place, New Delhi
When:  11 am to 3:30 pm
Cost: ₹2,800++

Click here to make a reservation. 

Cover Image Courtesy: Press Release

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