Photo by @ismailferdous | Before moving to America, I always fantasized about doing a cross country trip from New York to California on Route 66. Though the dream of driving cross country has yet to come true, I drove on Route 66 in California and spent a couple of nights in the teepee themed Wigwam Motel in San Bernadino, CA. In an evening of February, those teepees looked like a movie set from Hollywood. At the motel, I was welcomed by the owners, an Indian couple from Gujarat, with a cup of masala milk tea and some Indian snacks. The next morning, I met six English men who were driving their motorbikes cross country and also staying in the motel. It was wacky experience for me to be at a Native American teepee themed motel, owned by Indians with visitors from England on my first visit to Route 66.
About half the country’s motels are now owned by Indian Americans. A majority of these owners are from Gujarat state’s industrious Patel community, leading them to be jokingly referred to as the Patel Motel Cartel. Read more in @natgeo’s story on second- and third-generation Gujaratis in the United States who are running the family businesses they inherited. Here, brothers Samir and Manny Patel pose in front of their family’s Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino, California. Their father bought the motel in 2003 but has been in the hotel business since the early 1970s.