Ever noticed how so many motels in the US are owned by Indian-Americans? Pawan Dhingra's new book, LIfe Behind the Lobby, reveals how Gujaratis came to the American hospitality industry by accident in the 1940s-50s, taking the places of European-Americans and Japanese-Americans who were looking to change career paths. Consider this:
- At least 1 out of 2 motels are owned by Indian-Americans.
- Out of those Indian-owned motels, 70 percent are owned by Gujaratis, people with roots in the western Indian state of Gujarat.
- Of those Gujaratis, three-fourths share the last name Patel. There's even a name for these overnight establishments: "Patel Motels."
I love stories about the American dream, especially when it comes to different ethnic groups and their divergent, hardworking paths. Not only is the historical context fascinating to apply to daily life today, it's also hard not to admire the how so many Americans earn their living in unlikely circumstances. For instance, Greek-Americans in the casual restaurant business, or Iranian-Americans in the gas station industry…there's so much more. All part of the Amercian--I mean American--dream.