Name: Nanda Patel
Where were you born and raised?
I am Indian by blood. I was born in British Kenya as my grandfather migrated from India in 1906. After Africanization, I was taken to England, where I did my high school and training in radiation therapy. I also met my husband Dr. G. Patel, who had a similar background. We married in 1979 and came to the USA in 1981.
What is your occupation?
Hospitality with business management DBO Holiday Inn Express and Suites, Gadsden and Fort Payne.
What made you decide to work in your field?
Hospitality was about looking after people, and so was radiation therapy. It suited my needs to be able to be helpful to humanity, helping people. After living in four continents and travelling to many places, it was not a difficult choice.
Tell us about your family and pets.
I have been married to Dr. G. Patel for the last 38 years. We have lived in Gadsden for 30 of those years. We have two children, Dr. Ajanta Patel Kothari, a pediatric pulmonary specialist who is married and lives in Chicago, and a son Dr. Anuj Patel, an orthopedic surgeon going for spine specialist at Harvard University. He and his wife have two dogs, Dude and Wilson – a lab and golden retriever. I am proud and humbled by what my kids have achieved and are. I also take care of my mother-in-law who has been living with us for last eight years and has Alzheimer’s. I also looked after my parents for seven years. They passed away last year. So elder care at home keeps me sane and my soul peaceful and hospitality drives and challenges me to do more for the community
Describe an average day in your life.
I wake up at around 5:30 a.m. My husband and I have homemade hot tea (chai) and discuss the days events and the pertinent recent news. I also look at all the reports of the hotels at the time and consult with my general managers at around 7 a.m. Any agendas, changes or thought processes are worked then. I work out three times a week. After I make breakfast for my mother-in-law, get ready and work out, I head out to one of my two hotels. The hotel world for me does not start with any agendas. There are always surprises that are awaiting. Solve, deal, help, install, dissolve, give, place, buy, pay, fix and organize are all verbs that affect me daily! The other hotel is in Fort Payne. The drive helps me think, figure out and zone in to things that matter. Once issues have been solved, there are bills to be paid, emails to be answered and always phone calls to be made. Buying and filling supplies is also part of the day. Service is about learning and teaching, so educating, rethinking and then implementing is an agenda item. Other than that I am involved in many boards, including Industrial Development, Chamber, Center for Cultural Arts, Gadsden State’s Cardinal Foundation and United Way. I am also on the Alabama Restaurant and Hotel Association’s Board, Alabama Mountain Lakes Association’s Board and on the Global Committee for IHG’s Holiday Inn Express. Many days this means driving out of city to Montgomery, Atlanta or Huntsville area.
What school or schools have you attended?
I attended high school in three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe. I went to college in London and in the USA, at Indiana University and then completed at UAB with a Bachelors in Health Administration and a Masters in Heath Education. Education is always ongoing as in GM institute at Indiana University, Management and leadership institutes at Cornell University and Emory University and many others through IHG learnings.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I am creative by nature. I like to cook fusion cuisine with a whole lot of fresh vegetables, spices and flavors. I also love art in all its 2D forms, so I like to paint and create. I also like come up with something to write about and read about spirituality, soul-searching texts.
What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
My education, excelling in my career and raising two beautiful children and being a good mother. Also the recognition that the City of Gadsden has given me in all areas is possibly the most humbling and fulfilling. The fact that I am known for what I wanted to be known for is a proud accomplishment. Most of all, I am proud to be a citizen of the USA!
Name the one person that has been the most influential in your life. Why?
My husband. He saw what I was, my potential and what I could be and made sure he allowed me to have what I needed for me to be where I am. I am forever grateful. My parents for their help and God for giving me the abilities.
To what do you credit your success?
Hard work, confidence education and never under estimating my abilities. Of course, good genes and the great environment this country has provided me. Ever grateful!
Are you involved in any service organizations?
United Way, through which I open up many avenues of service.
What is your favorite thing about this community?
This community embraced who we were as a family from day one. I was celebrated by my children’s school when I naturalized. The community reads my mind and I, its mind. The fact that I can be me and just enjoy helping and serving makes it so easy and comfortable. I have lived in many major cities, but I here get music, the arts, theatre, the river, a community and its people I can be with and many other things. Our lifestyle does not permit us to travel out every weekend. And so having it all here is just lovely. My home is a haven of peace, and it’s location on the Gadsden Lake makes it so easy to be peaceful and happy. So this community come with a full package of goodness.
What would you like to see change in the community?
I would not say change but maybe add, more restaurants, a sports complex, bike and walking paths in the city to the college and the restuarant district of Hwy. 411, more river activities such as kayak and boat rentals. I think we do phenomenally well. But who does not want more! Ideally, would love a fresh farmers market to go to every week! Yum!
What are three words that describe you?
My husband says I am kind, generous and care about every person I meet! I would say I don’t tire easily, no job is too big and a good cook!
What is something surprising that many do not know about you?
I love to sing and dance. I wish I had studied music and learn to sing professionally. Oh, and I cannot read a book, only articles and information. Fiction and me do not go well together!
What is your favorite quote?
“Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”- Teddy Roosevelt.
What is on your bucket list?
To write a book on hospitality by a woman owner, a cook book on fusion indo America vegetarian food, and an autobiography about a young girl that had no choice but to go though the changes of what colonialism brought to her!
What is your hidden talent?
I am too much of an open book. I can’t keep any talent, hidden- sorry!
If a movie were made about your life, who would you want to play you?
Maybe my daughter could! Or maybe Kate Winslet, love her. But have not ever thought of this!
What advice would you give yourself as a child?
Keep learning and never give up as life is long and very forgiving. The world is in your hands to do what you want. Also your soul is powerful and lovely. Love you so you can love others and always know you are God’s child!
If you would like to nominate someone for the People of Etowah column, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 256-547-1049.