The bodies of tea-maker T. Venkateswarlu and biryani expert Kiran Kumar were retrieved from the debris on Tuesday

The very mention of City Light Hotel and Bakery conjures up images of lip-smacking ‘Irani chai’ and Osmania biscuits. Everyday, scores of tea lovers used to relish the piping hot ‘chai’ and biscuits at the outlet. But the man behind the addictive concoction lost his life in the building collapse. His body was retrieved from the debris on Tuesday.

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Hailing from Mahbubnagar, T. Venkateswarlu (35) had been working as the hotel’s master tea maker for the past eight years. He won the hearts of many for his special Irani chai.

Sticking to his usual routine, the tea maker woke up in the wee hours of Monday and started preparing tea. While the waiters were serving tea and snacks to customers, he kept himself occupied in the kitchen.

As mud started falling from the roof, waiters and some customers ran out of the building, but Venkateswarlu could not come out as he got trapped inside the kitchen, which bore the maximum impact of the collapse. Venkateswarlu’s family members hoped that their breadwinner might be alive somewhere under the debris. They met everyone attending to rescue and relief operations and tried hard to trace him.

But their hopes were shattered after rescuers retrieved his body on Tuesday morning. The tea maker used to be paid Rs. 200 a day, while the hotel management provided provided him free food and accommodation.

During weekends, he would visit his wife Sayamma, son Sai Kumar and daughter Sai Laxmi, who live in a rented house in Kothapet.

“My father used to meet us on Sundays and was always advising us to concentrate on our studies. He wanted me to become a police officer and promised me new clothes next week when he left home on Sunday night. Within hours, we heard that the hotel building had collapsed,” said Sai Kumar with tears welling up in his eyes. Similar is the tale of biryani maker K. Kiran Kumar (25) of Medak district. A few months after getting a job in CRPF, he had quit the unit and taken up employment as a helper at the hotel.

He later underwent training in making biryani and became an expert in it. With his meagre earning, he conducted the wedding of his younger sister. But his death on Monday inflicted an irreparable loss to his family.

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