‘Ami is very genuine
in what he believes’
Dr Rimal Bera takes immense pride in the kid brother
who now inspires a community.
‘Representative Bera would not have
The Congressman’s elder brother lets
been possible had President Obama
not been there’
Ritu Jha into some family secrets.
Ami had the benefit of being the you- ngest. All three of us kids got a lot of reedom, but our parents were the least strict with him. He could
explore more areas of interest.
I was most into sports, and he got into it too.
So, when we traveled we’d go see the different
sports stadiums — where the Yankees play in
New York, where the Red Skins play in DC.
Traveling was something we did from a very
early age. I think we all really enjoyed it. We
had a station wagon and we traveled every
break we had. We’d go camping within
California and beyond. We’d drive 600, 700
miles a day. We drove cross country twice, I
In a seven-eight year period, my parents
probably sponsored 300 people to come to the
United States. My parents were kind of pioneers in the community in southern
California. People would come to them for
We had a pretty big backyard at our house;
we had a tree house. Lots of people came over
and hung out at our house. Kids stayed over
for dinner a lot. Our house was kind of the
hangout spot for all our friends.
Ami always assimilated well. He wasn’t really shy or anxious. He was always really comfortable with people.
Ami feels very confident about the decisions
he makes, and they don’t have to please others.
His decision to marry Janine shows his spirit.
Ami felt ‘I know my love for Janine is right,
and I know I’m making the right decision.’
My parents really relied on my wife and me
for emotional support in the whole process of
Ami marrying outside Indian culture.
It was unexpected for them, but they love
My wife played a really big role in talking
about how the most important person in one’s
life is who you are going to marry. She helped
my parents come to a place of supporting Ami.
Ami announced that he was going to run for
Congress at a family Christmas party in 2008
at my older brother Rajesh’s home. I think our
first reaction was surprise and not quite
understanding why he would want to run.
I knew from an early age that he always had
an interest in leadership. He always wanted to
take on new challenges and move on once he
But I am still amazed and intrigued how he
put this great team together, inspired people
and got elected.
He is very genuine in what he believes. I
don’t always see things in the same light as he
does, but he is very genuine, and grounded,
and real. That’s what I have noticed in the last
4 to 6 years. I am extremely proud of him.
Our parents’ goal for us was to focus on education and public service from an early age, no
matter what fields we went into.
Ami has got the best of both worlds, with his
Indian-American roots and the traditional cultural values that go along with that — hard
work, education, serving others, the values of
immigrants — along with this independent
spirit from being born and raised in the US.
I think it has energized my father and my
kids too. It makes me feel more creative and
passionate about the things I do. ;
Ami is eight-and-a-half years youn-
ger than Rajesh, who believes his
youngest brother is closer to Rimal,
his younger brother. By the time Ami
was in his formative years, Rajesh
had left home and was already in col-
“We did not have much money
growing up,” Rajesh recalls. “How-
ever, we never lacked for anything.
Every subsequent year showed prog-
ress over the previous year. We devel-
oped an expectation of forward
progress in our lives and financial
future. Our parents installed a strong
value for education. There was no
question of having anything less than
a graduate degree.”
Their mother was a school teacher,
their father an engineer who invested
in motels. Rajesh, who studied
finance and economics at UC
Berkeley and worked for an aerospace
company for 18 years, is now an
investor in real estate.
Ami Bera, center, with, from left, brother Rajesh,
friend Paresh Shah, father Babulal and brother Rimal
on his first visit to California after his election win.
Rajesh Bera, Congress- man Ami Bera’s eldest brother, came to the United States with his mother when he was three-and-a-half years
old in 1960. Over 50 years later, he
still remembers his father waiting at
Los Angeles airport waving, and his
mother telling him, ‘Look, your father
is waiting for us.’
The early years in the US were chal-
lenging for the Beras, but by the time
Amerish — or Ami as he was to be
known — was born, life was more or
less settled for the family.
Ami’s first achievement was in his
senior year when he was elected Mr
Irish — the mascot for the John F
Kennedy High School he attended
was the Fighting Irish. The most popular boy in the school was elected Mr
“This was a step forward in our
assimilation into America,” says
Rajesh. “Up to that point, most Indi-
ans stayed in the background and did
not make an effort to stand out in a
crowd. We did our jobs, saved money,
and tried to secure our family’s
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