Meet Laxman Rao, chaiwala-cum-passionate Hindi writer
In the absence of proper response from publishers and readers, writers in the national language are facing endless struggles.
Writers, especially Hindi writers do not come in limelight in India as much as their English counterparts do. Hindi writers hit the headlines occasionally for all reasons except their writing. For example, Upendra Nath Ashk, a noted Hindi writer came in news during mid 80s when he opened a small grocery shop at his residence in Allahabad, where he sold toffies (called lemon
choos in Hindi).
A reporter of an English weekly mistakenly described him selling
nimbu-paani (lemon juice). The news made uproar for sometime, when Ashk was quoted as saying he would not have settled for this tuchcha dhandha
(petty job) had his writings fetched him enough money to maintain a respectable living standard.
But Laxman Rao is writer with a difference. He is a Hindi writer and sells tea at his small roadside stall also. A loyal clientele throngs his stall in Rouse Avenue near the bustling ITO area. They come not only for the brew, but also a taste of his words.
Yes, 63- year-old Rao is an awardwinning author of 25 published books, which are based on real-life stories and experiences of his customers and other people around. But his journey from Maharashtra's Amravati district to a flourishing writing career in Delhi was full of bends.
In 1975, Rao had come to Delhi with just Rs. 40 in his pocket -- borrowed from his father to make it big in the national capital. He was a young man of only 22 then. Five years later, he started selling tea at Vishnu Digambar Marg and in no time became popular among office-goers and other passers-by, who would stop for his tea.
But when he wrote his first novel and took it to a publisher, he was told to "get out, a chaiwala cannot write". It only made Rao determined to educate himself and publish out his own books. From then on, he saved every paisa he could, till he had the Rs. 7,000 he needed to publish his first book. Later, he cycled around schools to sell his books to those who fancied Hindi literature.
Laxman Rao is a tea seller by day and a student and author by night. Every day, Rao cycles to ITO with his tea things — he says he doesn't use an auto because the