In a league of your own


I grew up in Surat, India, but nearly two decades ago, my family headed to Mississippi, leaving everything behind in search of the American Dream. Six months later, we moved to Texas.

My cousins played baseball because we all played cricket growing up, and I soon signed up, too, without even knowing the game. It also was a way to make friends as I was learning English and acclimating to a new culture.

We were immersing ourselves in the “American Experience.”

On the first day of practice, we were all standing in line, and the coach went around asking everyone what positions we wanted to play. Everyone told the coach what position they played – first base, and so on. Then they asked me, and I had no idea. So, I pointed somewhere in the middle of the field and said, “over there.”

I didn’t realize at the time that I pointed at the shortstop position, which is one of the hardest positions in baseball. At least, for me, it was.

I still remember breaking windows at the independent motel – a 21-room motel in Giddings, Texas – while practicing on the asphalt. My parents were less than pleased.

We didn’t have a lot of resources, and my brother and I, despite being so young, helped our parents with various tasks around the motel, as we didn’t have the budget yet to hire more staff. We lived on-site, wore many hats, and sometimes worked all day without eating lunch or dinner.

I used to watch my parents closely when they dealt with guests or any issues that came up at the hotel. They taught us that hard work and education are keys to success.

Fast forward 20 years, and I’m now running the family business. Like many other businesses, the labor shortage was tough on us. We increased wages but still didn’t have enough people to cover the overnight shift. From housekeeping to front desk agents, we struggled to fill positions.

As I always say, innovation and implementation are the new keys to success. We need to find a way to overcome this obstacle, and I’m a strong believer that technology will help us do it. I’m hopeful for the future.

Economy and extended-stay hotels’ revenue numbers are actually outnumbering 2019 numbers. But upscale or midscale hotels are struggling to bounce back. I think it will take a few years for them to break even.

So, if you’re like me as a young boy, and asked what position you want to play, have the confidence to just point and figure it out. And I’m not just talking about baseball. That’s all we’re doing here, right? Everyone is just figuring out how to move forward given all the uncertainties as we finally see the light after years of darkness because of the pandemic.

As we all chip in until our economy and staffing get back to normal, it might be a little uncomfortable.

You might break a window here and there, but practice makes perfect and it always can be fixed.


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