Known for globetrotting, the world, it seems, is not enough for the Gujarati community. Jay Patel will soon boldly go where no Amdavadi has gone before: space, the final frontier.
Jay Patel, 29, is set to be the first Gujarati to tour space. Patel, 29, who was born in the city and is set to be the first Gujarati to tour space, belongs to a diamond merchants' family based in New York. He has interests in the hospitality business and is fascinated by aviation.
His 18-hour space flight may take place in November or by January 2010. Hollywood star John Travolta, Patel's neighbour, is likely to be his co-passenger. Joining Patel and Travolta on the Space Van, a craft belonging to the United States-based PanAero Inc, will be Russian realty magnate Sergei Polonsky.
Space Van 2010 has secured an in-principle approval from NASA, and preparations are on for the November launch.
"I was informed by PanAero last week that the got approval from NASA," Patel said. "This is a great feeling. Preparations for the flight are in the final stages." His enthusiasm for the flight has been intensifying since 2005, when he paid the passenger fare of $2, 00,000 (about Rs10, 411,244).
"As soon as I heard about the flight, I knew I had to be there," Patel said. "I am doing this for India, so that we continue to be part of the world's most ambitious projects."
The passengers will have to undergo rigorous training for 35 days before take-off. "Travolta is known for his passion for flying; I have a private pilot licence and Mr Polonksy is a keen aviator," Patel added.