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  #1  
Old 02-13-2001, 03:49 PM
C3 C3 is offline
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Several of the clients that my company has in this market have the last name Patel. Someone in my office remarked that they've noticed this is a very common name. Another person said that it's because "Patel" means "innkeeper" and it signifies the business of the family. She also said that it is a name that some Indian families adopt when they immigrate to the U.S. because it is common (and therefore, familiar to Americans), easy to pronounce, and represents their occupation. It so happens that the Patels we deal with (who are all related) own several hotels.

This doesn't sound like it's correct to me and the woman who said it has a history of repeating UL's and incorrect "facts". What's the dope?
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  #2  
Old 02-13-2001, 04:00 PM
idiotboy idiotboy is offline
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Well FWIW...my fiancee's friend's name is Patel. Her parents own a hotel in Tennessee. Coincidence? Probly not.

I'll ask her next time I see her if she knows what her name really means.
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  #3  
Old 02-13-2001, 04:04 PM
ElvisL1ves ElvisL1ves is offline
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I've known and worked with several Patels, all from the Indian state of Gujarat (northwestern part of the country, if you're looking at a map). They've all assured me that it's an extremely common name there, and it seems to them like half of all Gujaratis are named Patel.

I'll admit that there do seem to be a disproportionate number of Indians in the US lodging industry, but c'mon.
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  #4  
Old 02-13-2001, 04:49 PM
Shiva Shiva is offline
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Hobson Jobson: The Anglo-Indian Dictionary lists 'Patel' as a "The headman of a village".

http://original.bibliomania.com/Refe.../data/685.html
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  #5  
Old 02-13-2001, 05:22 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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If the last name "Patel" had anything to do with the person's occupation, that association is long gone. I've also been told by a person from India that Patel happens to be a very common name. e.g.
At one of my previous companies in the insurance business, we had a database of physician names. When you looked for physicians with last name Patel in the state of New York, the number of records found was very high.

This does remind me of the science fiction short story (I think by Isaac Asimov) where we encounter an alien whose name is translated as "strikes iron with a hammer." It turns out that another translation for the alien's name would have been "Smith".
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  #6  
Old 02-13-2001, 05:57 PM
jmullaney jmullaney is offline
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I had a friend in college named Jay Patel. He assured me the last name was also one of the Indian races/sects in their old Hindu social hierarchy. So he was doubly a Patel.
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Old 02-13-2001, 06:52 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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According to the Oxford Hindi Dictionary, the word paTel has two definitions:
1. headman of a village; village elder.
2. name of a Gujarati trading community.
Nothing about hotels. Could it just be a case of end rhyme?

The OHD etymology for paTel traces it back to Sanskrit paTTakila-. This is derived from the word paTTa, meaning 'a slab, tablet' (for painting or writing upon); (esp.) a copper plate for inscribing royal grants or orders'. From this last sense (plus ?khila, 'piece of land') comes the word paTTakila meaning 'the tenant (by royal edict) of a piece of land'.

The same last-name semantic pattern obtains in other parts of India: Rao and Reddy in Andhra Pradesh, and Chaudhury in Bengal, all meaning village headman hereditary caste.
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Old 02-13-2001, 06:56 PM
Lamia Lamia is offline
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The New York Times color supplement did a story a couple of years ago on this general subject. The name "Patel" is very common among a certain caste in India. It doesn't mean anything having to do with innkeepers, but many Indian immigrants from are members of that caste and happen to work in the lodging industry. Apparently a lot of American motel owners were selling off their businesses at about the same time as there was a large wave of immigrants coming over from India.

One person interviewed for the story joked that Americans probably think "Patel" is an Indian word for "motel".
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  #9  
Old 02-13-2001, 07:53 PM
nineiron nineiron is offline
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OK, strangely, the only person I've ever known with the last name Patel also had hotel management/ownership as the family business. This person told me that Patel was simply a common name, and that there were millions of them. They can't all run hotels!
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Old 02-13-2001, 09:24 PM
samclem samclem is online now
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Quote:
They can't all run hotels!
Why not?

Do you mean that in the 1200's-1500's in England, that someone named "Smith" might have been descended from butchers?
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Old 02-13-2001, 10:38 PM
LisaRx LisaRx is offline
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I live in a small town (10,000) in the middle of Wyoming. There is only one family that I know who lives here of Indian (eastern) descent. Their name IS Patel, and they own several motels....
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  #12  
Old 02-13-2001, 11:14 PM
Xgemina Xgemina is offline
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While I realize that not all Patels are in the hotel business, it seems like it at times. I work as a CSR for the parent franchising corp of Days Inn, Super 8, and several other hotels. I see the Patel name daily while looking up hotel information for guests.

I've heard (around the office and have no cites to back it up) that something like 25% of all new franchises are bought by people with the last name of Patel.
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Old 02-14-2001, 01:05 AM
techchick68 techchick68 is offline
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From what I know, Patel is as common in India as Johnson or Smith is amongst Americans.

I must say, I am glad that my last name is unique and very hard to find, very uniquely German but even unusual amongst them....nothing against Patels, Johnsons or Smiths.



BTW we have a large Indian population (not the Native American kind but we have many Native Americans here too, here in my city and up in Denver.) I went to school with several Patel "kids" in different families in my schools.
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  #14  
Old 02-14-2001, 06:20 AM
Green Bean Green Bean is offline
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At the pharmacy that I used to go to, at the Pathmark supermarket in South Plainfield, NJ, there were bins where completed prescriptions were kept while awaiting pickup. They were labeled A, B, C, etc--just like every other pharmacy, right? Except there was a WHOLE BIN labeled "Patel."
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  #15  
Old 02-14-2001, 06:37 AM
Celyn Celyn is offline
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As others have said, Patel just happens to be a very common name. I notice that some posters who connect the name with the hotel/hospitality business are themselves connected to that business area, and would perhaps be more likely to encounter the name in that context. In Britain, for instance, rather a lot of proprietors of newsagents and small general stores are neamed Patel, and I've had a Mr. Patel (to whom I needed to write a cheque) joke that his name was "Patel, as in Smith", just because of the ubiquity of the name.
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  #16  
Old 02-14-2001, 08:02 AM
C3 C3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lamia
The New York Times color supplement did a story a couple of years ago on this general subject. The name "Patel" is very common among a certain caste in India. It doesn't mean anything having to do with innkeepers, but many Indian immigrants from are members of that caste and happen to work in the lodging industry. Apparently a lot of American motel owners were selling off their businesses at about the same time as there was a large wave of immigrants coming over from India.

One person interviewed for the story joked that Americans probably think "Patel" is an Indian word for "motel".
I wonder if my coworker read this or knew someone who read this and took the story from there. It's very likely, because she's from the NYC area and certainly would have easy access to the NY Times.

I'll let her know the information you all have supplied.
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Old 02-14-2001, 09:52 AM
Zot Zot is offline
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IIRC, In David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, one of the salesmen complains about people named Patel as part of a screed against Indian prospects.
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  #18  
Old 02-14-2001, 10:30 AM
Jackknifed Juggernaut Jackknifed Juggernaut is offline
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To set the record straight, the name "Patel" is not common throughout India. It is only common within the state of Gujarat (where the recent earthquake occurred). Gujarat is the wealthiest state in India, therefore a large proportion of Indians in this country are Gujaratis. The idea is that you need a decent amount of cash to afford to emigrate out of India or to get an education that will allow you to emigrate.

"Patel" is also a caste in the traditional Hindu hierarchy (which is not really based on Hinduism, but that's another subject). So not all Patels have the last name Patel. The Patel caste is a caste of merchants and businesspeople (I use businesspeople instead of businessmen because historically, Patel women have also been very successful in managing businesses), and therefore can afford to travel more than most other Indians. Their keen business sense and ability to save money have allowed them to be successful throughout the world. Also, they are known to be extremely unselfish to their family and friends. So if a Patel runs a successful business in an area, they will invite their friends and family to set up shop nearby, and even provide them with interest-free loans for long periods of time to get started.

The reason why motels are a popular business to run for Patels is that it takes a lot of hard work and alot of waiting before a motel breaks a profit net of the investment. Patels can live on very little for years and work hours and hours without much pay in order to reap the rewards years down the line. Not too many people can do this. So the Patels saw a market in the USA they can win it, and they seized it. The traits about Patels that I describe are culturally driven.

I hope this answers all of your questions.
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