VENUS BYTES: A collection of little stories that touch the heart

Some give up their homes, families and pleasures to achieve something in life. Earlier they were called sadhus. Today, we call them Hoteliers!

With his debut book, Venus Bytes, Hotelier Venu Rao has managed to bring out the human side of an industry that he knows so intimately about. A tribute to fellow hoteliers, Venus Bytes is a collection of stories that provide glimpses of the exciting hotel life and three reflections wherein a girl named Venus takes a delightful tour of a Heavenly Hotel.

Here, he presents an excerpt from ‘Sunset Bar’, a deeply poignant tale of endurance and relationships:


Her rosy face lit up when I entered the dull hospital ward. Manju gave a broad and welcoming smile. My Mom was on the next bed, her body almost shriveled up, and her head tonsured. She gave an equally big smile, but it was weak. Chemotherapy was taking its toll. The two women were ravaged by cancer, one still in her early twenties and other in the sunset of her life. Sometimes, our choices make all the difference. Had we opted for the hysterectomy earlier, Mom wouldn’t have been in this terrible state. Manju was luckier as she had been diagnosed at a very early stage. The treatment had started and now she was on the road to recovery.

The two bonded well and became bosom friends in a short span of two months. They spent all their time together. Mom was her moral support and mentor, constantly pushing her to be courageous and positive. The young lady soon believed that it was just a matter of time before she could go back to her husband…

…The water front bar at the Hotel Viceroy, Hyderabad attracted all our guests. There was something very captivating about it. Maybe the orange sunset over the calm Hussain Sagar Lake added to the magic. Mr. Satyadev was our daily early bird guest. He checked in to the bar at six in the evening, straight from office, to have a couple of quick shots and then head home like a good boy. I worked there as the Food and Beverage Manager. Over the months, we became good friends. At times, he used to seek special requests. Earnestly, I would suggest exotic cocktails or finger licking yummy snacks. He loved my ideas and was always keen to try them out.

One evening, it was raining and the waters of the Hussain Sagar were turbulent. We were watching these waters as Mr. Satyadev nursed his quick drink.  “See all our lives are like the foam, struggling endlessly and getting extinguished in a flash. My Mom is fighting her battle with cancer at the Niloufer Hospital,” I said with a tinge of sadness in my voice. “Here I am in a proper business suit, dressed impeccably, while she is lying on the bed moaning as they suck out the pale water from her sides with sharp needles!” Leaving his drink, he said, “Let us go now.” His response was moving. “I appreciate your kind gesture, but it is alright sir. Please finish your drink and enjoy the sunset,” I said. But, he insisted.

The two beds were empty; we heard her agonized pain and moans from the room in the far end corner of the corridor. Manju was a source of strength, pacifying, caring and cajoling, while holding her head gently. Satya and I were moved to tears instantly. We stood there silently till her ordeal was over. Her life was diminishing by the days. Satya held her head and spoke gentle words of comfort, wiping her sweaty forehead. In between all this, he chatted up with Manju asking her questions about herself. She seemed well at ease with him. He told her a few jokes too and she bloomed like a fresh flower, eyes sparkling and deep dimples forming. As we left the ward and bid goodbye, he turned to me and said, “From tomorrow onwards, I will be here at six in the evening and not at the sunset bar.” I was dumbstruck.

He soon became the darling of the two women. They could not take his absence even for a day when he reluctantly had to call to say, “No show today.” Some of my most memorable moments with Mom were spent in his company. She died three months later, but with a big smile…strong one at that.

Manju was inconsolable, refusing to eat or sleep; it was quite a task for the nurses. Satya held her hand, nursing confidence into her. He would say, “See, Aunty’s last wish was that you recuperate fast and return to your husband. Do you want her soul to wander due to your stubbornness? Come on, we have to move on, do something that would make her proud in Heaven and say – ‘atta gal’.”

The arrow found its target and Manju became a new being thereafter. The transformation was unbelievable. Her eating habits changed overnight and she took medication properly. She was all over the ward, sitting with the other patients and caring for their comfort. All her conversation included Mom and she was often seen shedding a few tears in a corner, before putting up a big dimpled smile for the patients. It was a sort of medical miracle, soon the doctors declared her totally fit and ready to move out very soon.

Manju took her rebirth seriously, and she decided to enroll in a course that would help her serve people. After much consideration, she opted for a course in nursing. She wanted to give back to the society with gratitude. Satya went with her to every nursing college where he knew people, and helped her enroll in the nursing course. He sponsored a major part of her studies. She finished her nursing course and declared, “I shall work in a cancer hospital and help treat dear patients. I would like to give back what my aunty wanted.” I was proud of her and so was dear Satya.

Our friendship bloomed further at the tank bund where we used to sit in the gentle breeze, listening to the evening birds singing and flapping happily over the water surface. One evening, he looked across to the sunset bar and said, “Look, I can see the sun’s reflection on your bar’s large glass and can choose to ignore the great cocktails, since they no longer interest me. I am looking for the Manjus of the world now, so that I can continue to make small contributions.”

I salute you Sir, as your deed is no ordinary one…

Sunset Bar is from a beautiful collection of short stories and reflections from Venus Bytes, written by Hotelier Venu Rao. Well received by the industry and all its readers, Venus Bytes has been featured in leading magazines and newspapers such as Deccan Herald, Express Hospitality, SKAL Spain International, FHRAI Magazine, Voyager’s World, amongst others.

 Venus Bytes is available online at on a two days delivery basis at just Rs 100. The book is also available in leading stores such as Shankars (Mumbai, Pune, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram), Strand and Sapna Malls.


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