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Harshal Patel recalls working in USA in a shop owned by a Pakistani; eating plain sandwiches near Motera

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Harshal Patel | BCCI-IPLRCB and India bowler Harshal Patel might have netted INR 10.75 crores in the IPL 2022 mega auction, but he still remembers his days of struggles from when his family shifted to the USA to make ends meet and he worked for a Pakistani fellow selling perfumes.

The Gujarat-born cricketer was picked up by Delhi Capitals for his base price of Rs 20 lakhs in 2018 and was later traded to RCB in 2020. Patel made an impact when he picked up 32 wickets in 15 appearances for RCB and helped the team to seal the playoffs spot in IPL 2021.

Patel, in conversation with Gaurav Kapur on his show Breakfast with Champions, talked about his life as a teenager in the USA a country he moved to at the age of 17 along with his parents. He also recalled how his father used to work ‘six and a half days’ in a week and his own struggles in a foreign country.

He said: “I used to work at this Pakistani guy’s perfume store in Elizabeth, New Jersey. I couldn’t speak a word of English because I had studied in a Gujarati medium throughout. That was my first encounter with the language and also with the language with so much slang because that entire area was predominantly Latino and African American. Then I picked up their kind of English. Gangster English. They used to come and buy $100 perfume bottles on Fridays. On Monday they used to come back and used to say, ‘Hey man I just sprayed it a couple of times. I want to return it, man. I have no food on the table’.

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That was a regular occurrence. It was a great experience for me because I learned what those blue-collar jobs really are. My aunt and uncle used to go to their offices, and they would drop me on the way. So at 7 am I would be dropped off and the store would open at 9 am. For two hours I used to sit at the Elizabeth railway station. Do my work till 7.30, 8. So 12-13 hours a day and I used to get paid $35 a day.”

He then revealed that he used to play junior cricket and his parents saw he had talent in him and left him in Gujarat to pursue the game. He then spoke about he saved money while practicing at the Motera stadium by eating normal sandwiches instead of toasted ones.  

“I used to play junior cricket. I was a little too quick for my age. Unfortunately, that pace stopped at that level. And they (parents) put all that faith in me. And when my parents left they told me one thing ‘don’t do something which puts us in a bad situation’. I took it to heart. I used to go to Motera to practice from 7 am till about 10 am. There was a sandwich shop, I would eat sandwiches and return. Aloo-mutter (potato and peas) sandwich, vegetable sandwich. Not toasted. Because toasted (bread) was expensive. Aloo-mutter and vegetables used to be Rs 7, toasted was Rs 15,” Harshal recalled.  


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