Tea vendor-writer returns to roots to release latest book

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Nagpur, Jan 22 (UNI) After years of eking out a living as a tea vendor on a street of Delhi and pursuing a passion for literature, Laxman Rao stood before his own people, including a schoolmate, with his new book.

''Renu'' the latest offering from Mr Rao, who is famous as the ''chaiwala who writes books'', was released by noted Marathi poet Sudhakar Gaidhani at a small function here last week. The novel is the sixth book penned by Mr Rao, and his 20th overall.

Its is for first time that Mr Rao's a book was released in idarbha before members of his own community.

''I did so because I wanted to be with my people. I wanted to tell them about my struggles and about what I am doing. The book release provided a good opportunity to do so. After all, irrespective of the peaks of success that you scale and all the honours that you receive, appreciation by your own people is what gives you the maximum satisfaction,'' Mr Rao, who hails from Amravati district in the region, told UNI.

Mr Rao said he himself sells his books. ''Every morning, I take a pile of books and go around Delhi on my bicycle, visiting educational institutions and libraries. I ask the authorities to take a look at the books and approve them for purchase. I don't tell them that I am the author, but they realise it sooner than later.

Then they treat me with respect and buy my books,'' he said.

Later, he sets up his tea stall on Vishnu Digamber Marg in New Delhi's ITO area and sells tea till evening before returning home.

Disappointed by the refusal of publishers to bring out his books and their demand for money, Mr Rao has floated his own publication outfit. ''They ask for money, they all do. They ask for Rs 40,000, then spend Rs 10,000 on the printing and pocket the remaining Rs 30,000. Even if a publisher gets 10 aspiring authors, he pockets a cool Rs 3 lakh. Why would he be interested in promoting serious, quality literature?'' he said.


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