The manager of the Motel we stayed at in Williams, told us that she had lived in the USA for 20 years; in Baltimore, Oklahoma, Flagstaff & now here, in Williams, Arizona. Handing in our keys on leaving, our conversation continued. Her name was Shanon, a very American name, which sat oddly with an Asian woman in her mid 50s. Her birthname was Darshan, meaning ‘veneration of the Lord’ in Hindi, but she had become ‘Shanon’ when she & her husband had moved to the States. We were told a tale of hard work & disappointment as Darshan recalled working as a cleaner in motels. Gradually she had begun managing, but would never earn much because she had no American qualifications, had been too busy working & looking after her family to convert her Indian qualifications by attending college here.
When we mentioned the number of Gujaratis we’d met at motels on our journey, Darshan explained that she wasn’t Gujarati although from Bombay, but that motel work was easy to come by; you don’t need to speak the language to clean floors. ‘New Migrants’ from the Indian subcontinent now owned several of the big Motel chains in the USA because they were the easiest route into work, & there was an abundance of motels across the country that needed cleaners, managers & new owners.