A few minutes' drive from Washington DC lies Norton Manor, the much-gawked-at mansion of a prominent Indian American, Frank Islam, and his American wife Debbie Driesman.
Among the wealthiest cities in the country, Potomac in Maryland allows its many national and international star residents the luxury of privacy. Dubbed as the ‘pride of Potomac’, this sprawling white home has seen many US Presidents and corporate leaders, with the couple raising funds for Democratic candidates over the years.
This week, the duo is all set to host senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for an evening.
Islam, who keeps a keen eye on American and Indian politics and society, says he decided to host Gandhi, having followed his recent 4,000-km-long cross-country march Bharat Jodo Yatra, from afar.
“Rahul Gandhi is an important and critical voice in Indian politics. His recent, four-month-long Bharat Jodo Yatra has energised his party tremendously. When I learned that he was going to visit the United States, I thought it would be important for we Indian Americans and friends of India in the Washington, DC, area, to hear about his experience, ideas, and plans for the future of India,” says Islam who has never met the Congress party politician before.
IT Entrepreneur & an Investor: Who Is Frank Islam?
Frank Islam is an information technology entrepreneur and investor who heads the FI Investment Group. He was the founder and CEO of the QSS Group.
Along with holding multiple leadership roles in national and international institutes for higher education, civic and cultural engagement, and the arts, he is also a member of the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars since 2022.
“My wife Debbie, and I have had the privilege of hosting a number of important figures at our home, including former President Bill Clinton (multiple times) and President Joe Biden (when he was Vice President during the Obama presidency), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, prominent members of the US Senate and House of Representatives, top diplomats, business leaders, and leaders from think tanks and various nonprofits.”Frank Islam
The entrepreneurial success and the splendour of their residence has highlighted Islam and his wife among the American capital’s A-listers circuit.
The front façade of the Indian American’s 47,000-square feet home spread over 10 acres, at the end of a long driveway, reveals gleaming Corinthian pillars reflected in a vast water body – inspired by India’s Rashtrapati Bhavan. The layout also draws parallels to one of the most famous buildings in the world – The White House – situated just a few miles away.
“Structurally, there are parallels to the White House, such as East and West Wings. I am a huge fan of American history, especially presidential history”.Frank Islam
The east wing has the couple’s living areas, and their offices are in the west wing. The home also includes ‘quite a few statues and replicas of various White House furniture, including a resolute desk’. The desk is the centerpiece of Islam’s office.
Moroccan tiles, Indian and Nepalese carpets, over a hundred chandeliers, Japanese koi pond, a foyer with its spiraling staircases, based on the original in Washington DC’s National Gallery of Arts.
The home with inspirations from the couple’s world travels and a huge price tag is a symbol of immigrant success for the man who was born halfway across the world in the Indian city of Azamgarh – and moved to the US to pursue his Masters in computer science from the University of Colorado, supported by an American academic.
'There Will Be Lots of Questions For Rahul Gandhi'
Starting 30 May, Rahul Gandhi will be in the US for a few days, visiting California’s San Francisco Bay Area, Washington DC, and New York. The Indian Overseas Congress in collaboration with other groups and individuals have organised events for the politician to meet followers, entrepreneurs, academicians, etc.
During his visit to Washington DC, Gandhi will mingle with almost "a hundred" guests at Islam’s home, who says, “It will include some US politicians and several Indian American business people”.
He adds that over the years, he has hosted a “number of distinguished leaders from India, including political leaders and leaders from academia, NGO and business.”
About Rahul Gandhi's visit, he says, "I am sure they [the guests] are going to ask a lot of questions. I hope to hear about his vision for India and his plans for executing that vision, how he is going to unite the country, and where the country’s economy is heading."