The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Madhav Verma and Sid Vyas

By Alex Park

I’ve known both since my first semester at Macalester, but Sid Vyas and Madhav Verma have been friends since they met each other by chance in their home city of Delhi, India- a metropolis of fourteen million people- one week before they came to Macalester. At that stage, Sid, whose father is an Indian diplomat, had been living abroad for most of his life until then and understood what it would be like to live in another country for four years. But for Madhav, the real shock of separation was experienced on Thanksgiving of this year, following a terrorist attack in Bombay that affected his family directly. We talked, as friends, about their experience living far from home, their reputation for partying, and their outlook on the future post-Macalester. There’s an interesting story associated with how you guys met each other.

Madhav: Yeah, it was actually the weekend before we were leaving for here, and we just met randomly in a club through a common friend. She introduced me and said, “This is Sid, and he’s going to Minnesota, too.”

Sid: It’s pretty rare that anyone from Delhi goes to Minnesota, so when he said he was going to Macalester, I was shocked. And then I remembered this was the same guy who was taking his SAT II in the seat in front of mine five, six months ago. That was a one in ten million chance.

So Sid, why did you come here?

SV: Honestly, it was a small school. No one I knew had heard of it, but my dad’s friend’s daughter had come here and she had a great experience, and there was also an attractive scholarship package, which also made a difference. But other than that, it just seemed like a great, small private school that valued individual students. I hadn’t applied to any big universities. I was thinking of going to a small place, so this worked out.

MV: For me, too. I applied to all small colleges, because I felt like you could have your own identity there, and a sense of belonging as well. I was in a small high school, as well.

Everyone likes to say they have a reputation for living the party lifestyle, but you two seem to take that notion to an especially high level.

SV: It’s a pretty old saying that in college you work hard, you party hard, but we really put that saying to the test. Because college is supposed to be the best four years of your life, and there’s no way you want to fuck that up, because it’s the degree that will give you entrance into the job-world. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s just about studying, because these are the times that you can really do what you want to do, and you can have that kind of flexibility when you can decide when you want to work and you can allocate time based on your ability. If you think you can handle five days of partying a week like us, then do it, because you won’t be able to do that when you’re working, because you can’t not go to work tomorrow and make it up a week later.

MV: Yeah, I feel like if you are able to manage that, you will come out being a more well-rounded person- being socially skilled, in a way. You meet people, you make friends, and after you leave home, it’s these people who you live around who will always make the time for you. I mean, it sounds kind of corny, but your friends over here become sort of your family, so it’s good to make relationships, and do well in school, and have the best of both worlds.

You said once, that one of the biggest shocks coming here was how independently you had to live.

MV: That was around Thanksgiving this year, when the terrorist attacks in Bombay happened. My uncle was in one of the hotels that was attacked and was taken hostage, but he didn’t make it. He was killed. That was a shock to everyone in the family. He was a great man, and growing up, I really looked up to him. Having experienced that, all the way over here and alone, I realized that that these were things that I had to cope with on my own. I couldn’t be there. I wanted to be there with them and really feel the family connection, but I couldn’t. I had some good friends, like you, who I hung out with, who were there for me. That was great, in every way. But at the end of the day, it was me, all the way here, alone. Maybe I have some family in the U.S., but it’s not the same at all. When it’s the first time it’s happened, and you’re all the way here, and it’s totally unexpected, and it’s completely out of the blue, you definitely feel the distance more. But I guess that was also a learning experience, to learn how to deal with such a huge loss, and understand that things still move on and you still have to do what you gotta do. But it was great to have such great friends who were there for me always throughout that period, and who spent all their time with me. That really helped me to recover and get out of that time in a less damaging way.

Sid, you’ve been living outside India for most of your life. Have you felt that sense of isolation from earlier on?

SV: I was always with my parents everywhere, but just because I’ve had to move every few years all of my life- I’ve probably had to switch seven schools in my life. I was in Shanghai, and then Paris, the Middle East, and India. Just moving every few years, it made moving all the way to the U.S. not that bad of an issue, because it’s not like I was in India my whole life and then leaving the country for four years, because I’ve been doing that since I was born. But even then, just having to break with my parents was hard. But I loved all my experiences, all the different countries. I can speak French because I lived in France for a few years. That’s great.

MV: Yeah, now that I’m graduating, I’m not sure when I’ll have the next opportunity to actually travel. Even my first summer during college, I went on a Euro trip. I had some friends from there and I went all around Europe, just backpacking. It was like the most amazing experience of my life. But now that college is done, I don’t know when I’ll be able to do that. The problem right now is that I don’t have a job, and I need to know what I’m doing first before I just start going places.

I know where you’re coming from. I’ve been thinking about graduation since I got here, and now, two weeks from it and without any plans, I still can’t really picture what it’ll be like afterwards.

SV: Every April before this April, what we would talk about is what we were doing that summer and then coming back here, but there’s no coming back here. That sucks. That really sucks. This college itself is a form of security. You have a few things to worry about in terms of internships, and academics, but it’s all part of college and you can figure those things out, but now you’re on your own and you just have to know what you’re doing.

It’s sink or swim.

SV: Yeah, and in college it’s more like “float or swim.” You know what I mean?

But Sid, you’ll be going to school next year, presumably, and Madhav, you’ll be going back to India to find a job, where you have family and you’ll have a place to stay. What’s the difference between that and this?

MV: Everything’s going to change. My lifestyle is going to change. I won’t be around the same people any more. I’ll have to be working through the week. I’ll go back to school eventually, but I just don’t know where things will end up or how they’ll work out. Just that, just not knowing anything or having that security for the next, any number of years- it’s fine, it’s normal, that’s what everyone goes through, but it’s just different than these last four years at Mac.

It’s strange how until now, it’s as if everything has been in stages. It’s three years of middle school, four years of high school, then four years of college. Now I could go back home or stay here or whatever I do, I’m not sure when it will end or what the next stage will be.

MV: That’s exactly what I mean. Things will always be good, if everything goes well, but I think in different ways. It’s just going to be another life, and different things will give you s
atisfaction then, I guess.

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    Jake FergusonSep 6, 2019 at 10:44 am

    Usually I don’t read article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do so! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thanks, quite nice post.