Four months ago he had been to sardar patel’s house in karamsad. the trip moved him, and albert jasani decided to put up the biggest-ever statue of the iron man of india in the us. for a man who was born on the street, slept on pavements at times without food, and used to sell peanuts in a small corner of anand, the journey from near starvation to taking sardar patel to us is an inspiring tale. albert jasani’s is a true saga of rags to riches.
He began as a dish-washer in US , and now is a motel tycoon who recently built a the royal albert’s palace – a place which hosts vvips from india, including prime minister vajpayee when he was there. “i did all odd jobs. i was a dishwasher, taxi driver, factory worker, security guard, storekeeper and everything that comes under the parlance of labour work. i had no formal education but only a dream to go to america and do something big,” said jasani. from a penniless indian immigrant, today jasani’s networth is over $50 million. he owns a string of motels, restaurants and sizeable holdings in the real estate business. but riches came to him after hard struggle. “summer, winter or rain, i was always on the footpath. in the rainy season, a kind neighbour use to give me a plastic sheet to cover myself.
I slept under that plastic sheet for many rainy days,” jasani recalls his days of struggle. one morning in early 1970s, jasani decided to turn his passion for america into reality. “i somehow managed to get into america. don’t ask me how? that’s a big story, but once in uncle sam’s land, i began my task of doing something worthwhile,” he says. absolutely penniless, jasani started with odd jobs and finally after stints in many places managed to land a job in a motel. “i learnt all the tricks of the trade. observed how business was conducted, and finally invested my savings of about four years into a new motel that was coming up in atlantic city. the gamble paid off and since then i have never looked back,” jasani said. few know that jasani, who has helped build many temples in anand and abroad and has great respect for religious heads of the swaminarayan sect, was born into the ‘khoja’ community. his real name is hyder jasani. “i don’t know much about religion. but i feel happy spending my money for noble causes,” he said. besides temples he has also helped build a ‘jamatkhana’ and equipped his village with modern-day facilities.
Currently holding chair of sardar patel memorial foundation and vice-president’s post of the prestigious federation of indian associations in us, jasani has played a major role in influencing indo-us relations and help bring in nri funds for development-related projects in india. among his close friends in us are mayors, senators and policy-makers. he is also on the vvip nri invitee list of the prime minister. not forgetting his roots, jasani has kept two photographs in his office in the royal albert’s palace. he says the two pictures are very dear to him and important landmarks in his life.
In the first picture, little jasani and his father ismael are seen selling peanuts on a pavement in anand. in the second picture, jasani is shaking hands with bill clinton when he was us president. “i will never forget where i came from,” jasani says. his atitude in flie: ‘keep going, dreams do come true’.