Madan Goyal and Nalani Saito

Recorded October 21, 2019 Archived October 21, 2019 39:52 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby019302


Madan G. Goyal (80) tells new friend and StoryCorps Facilitator, Nalani Saito (24) about his experience of coming to the US from India in 1962 and what stands out to him from his time going to university, working and raising a family in the US.

Subject Log / Time Code

MG tells the story of how he came to the US from Punjab, India on New Years Day. He reflects on why he decided to go to college in the US, Utah specifically.
MG recalls what Delhi and Punjab were like at that time.
MG describes his experience as a student in Utah and the biggest differences between the US and India.
MG recalls his student activities at university. He recalls some of his favorite memories from university.
MG reflects on the challenges of understanding English-speaking people in the US. He recalls the JFK assassination and the dealt of the Indian Prime Minister months later.
MG describes how he used to stay in touch with folks back in India. He recalls some every day things that were different in the US.
MG recalls going to the east coast for work after graduating from college, and moving to Dallas later, where his children grew up.
MG talks about raising a family in Rochester versus Dallas and reflects on how life has changed since 9/11
MG talks about the traveling he's done in the US and other things that stand out to him from his memories.


  • Madan Goyal
  • Nalani Saito

Recording Locations

Dallas Public Library: North Oak Cliff Branch


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00:07 This is Madan. Goyal. I'm about 80 years old and today's Monday, October 21st, 2019 and we are in Dallas, Texas and

00:24 I'm being interviewed for the story called by nalani Saito. She's a storycorps facility true. But I'm the one who say do I am 24 years old. Today is Monday October 21st, 2019. We are in Dallas Texas. I'm speaking to mother and Goyle who is my new friend and who is coming to it to be interviewed for storycorps. So let's let's start at the beginning. You said that you came into the United States on January 1st. Is that right?

01:09 Another story in India, January 1st is not a big holiday. I came from India as a just died must just finished. My teenage years is when I came.

01:23 And there The Story Goes we go to sleep on December 31st, and then January 1st, the friends say to each other. Oh my gosh. I slept the whole last night. I'm renting to sleep in this year, and I woke up in this year, so I slept the whole lie, but when I came here on January 1st, it was almost like I celebrated the festival three times in one night, and this is how it happened. I flew in by a Pacific first we had midnight just after we left Hong Kong to Honolulu.

02:09 And then the second will pass the date line and a Honolulu. We had another celebration and Honolulu to San Francisco. When I reach to San Francisco, it was still going on on the streets. So I really got interconnected to the January 1st basketball very quick. So you you really celebrated that you're dirtier than ever since I have learned that hey, this is a great celebration time. Where were you coming from in India? Where did I came? I lived in Northwest Indiana came from Delhi to Salt Lake City. Utah was going to college in Utah. Why did you choose to go to college in, Utah?

03:04 Well, when I applied to 245, I check the US information agency. They have resources and apply to four or five different universities and colleges which didn't require any fee. And Utah state was one of them David the most efficient. I got the admission there. So I just decided follow through and went to Utah State. Why did you decide to go to school in the US had finished part of my education in college in India? And the way the Indian education system is that there is not like our credit system you go to a holy orders a set alarm for each student and each program.

04:04 You cannot jump from one program to another so I had done it program which was for 3 years than either I go into the job market or if I need you to go further study. I need you to go to u.s. So what was the program that you were doing in India than what was your track starting engineering all the time there they call it a diploma. It's like here you going to a junior college and then you have an opportunity after junior college to go to a 4-year colleges that program with the diploma. You cannot unless you want to start from year one again at the University. And why did you choose to study engineering Engineering in high school? I was

05:04 Feeling around and everybody did you know they don't have like career counselors student counselors, but I studied engineering because it sounded interesting and the family and courage they said yeah, that sounds good. So I ended up in engineering. What would you like at that time?

05:29 You described it to me daily was probably not as crowded as it is now, but it was still very difficult to maneuver around there was no they have Metro which is like cover Subways are the transit systems in other major cities marked at that time. The only way was to go on scooters out cars around and it was pretty difficult. Did you know I never actually lived in Daily. I lived Northwest of they lie in state of Punjab and I went to school and also Punjab which she was like 50 200 miles from Delhi.

06:29 Town called mod and which is in District for $10, which is like a county seat and then I went to school in patiala, which is a major city in state of Punjab.

06:47 I know. Can you describe it to me? What how would you describe two places I had was it high school. So after high school, do you have to go outside down someplace for the Allies in the old it used to be at one time at a regional capital and they have several universities and colleges there and I want to make a phone call to Harper College which is straight layered, of course it and that's major it produces lot of Engineers and this SOB Engineers same day. Even doctors level engineering students. How did you get from your hometown to school to do commute everyday? No, no.

07:47 Too far to commute. I stayed in the house hostel in patiala, which was right on campus Underwood travel by bus from home town during the holidays or whenever to patella have a lot of students hostel had lot of students. Yes, because they were not too many local students. Most of the students are from out of town. And what was that like staying in that hostile you have any favorite memories from that time? We don't really have much else except to study and play some volleyball and badminton on hostile loans. Other than that.

08:47 Girl, it was almost kind of at the Oscars it was with in town, but the outskirts so many times will go nicely on Sunday because school there is six days Sunday was the only day free many times will goes to see a movie or Will Go On by to Town Center. Where the movie also.

09:19 So thinking about that, how did your experience living in that hostile compared to living on campus in Utah where they similar with a different well and Utah. I really didn't stay in a hostel or turn on campers here. It was very different. I had some roommates and I most of them are from India who were also students and we stayed together we rented the house and they were a lot of houses are part of houses which were rented and it was within walking distance of the campus in Utah. How did you find your roommates?

10:11 But when I arrived here in Utah the first things

10:19 After I got to the town I had to the Student Union at the university has assigned a host family. They picked me up from the bus station and took me to their house and they had already talked to some of the other Indian students. They introduced make a dime and then they have to find a roommate who was also looking for somebody to live together so that we can share the expenses of

10:57 One-bedroom Place, how did it feel arriving in Utah for the first time there was very different call, you know, the little Glimpse I had of America was through some English movies with watch. Other than that and there wasn't too much time to read any books or anything from the US information Agency information. So I had really no feel of what time I will be like our what to expect but it was very different than India and then I had been used to what was the biggest difference. What do you remember as being really surprising?

11:50 The biggest difference I guess was that everything was seemed like sword in eyes the roads are wide and open and it wasn't as crowded as I was used to.

12:07 And everything seems to be very, you know, anyway.

12:17 And how are your roommates. Roommates over the time when I stayed and on campus or near campus you no good because again, our inclination was just to be starting we were not used to the American culture dating or going out or spending the weekends. So our goal and most of the time was spent in studying and some you know campus activities, even though I was in a pretty campus activities. What did you do on campus?

13:10 What a campus we organized the international days to kind of explain to the students on campus. Hey, what are the other countries like cancel lb 1 week every year and when I had it, we also had full boots from different countries and their mood produced a small about 20 Page booklet go with all the recipes from the various countries that students were on campus. So those kind of activities do that.

13:59 What age was a motor in the 60s? Do you know the calories and there was no TV at home. It was only in the Student Union on campus that you could sit and watch but there is anything that you were doing that was kind of fast Savoy entertainment. So to get involved and get others involved so that we can all learn from each other. So that's why it was the motivation to get involved in various activities. How did American students seem to you?

14:40 What was your impression of them? They were very friendly and Utah as you may know is what we might call it some Mormon country. Most of the students are Mormon faith not all labels in other face, but I found them to be very friendly and you know.

15:08 There are going and talking and being careful even I had roommates when I moved in on campus and into the dorm that was you know, really no issues more conversation and they were curious many of them were going on. I'll head being on the church mission and that they were very cute is also to learn so it was a good horseshoe. What are some of your favorite memories from that time?

15:49 From Utah I would say getting

15:56 Used to the American classroom it was

16:02 Initially very slow.

16:06 And sometimes you wonder what changes it was in a math class that the teacher after we finish some classes on Montano on the Blackboard. He wrote in QED at the bottom that that's what we want to prove any ask if anybody knew what QED stand for and nobody up to that point. It's been couple of months are in the classroom all of sudden. I knew it tonight is my handy asked me what it meant and what it stood for and it said quod erat demonstratum and that really I think gave me the confidence that hay from then point on is when I started getting involved in the various activities, and I did

17:06 He's sitting back and just listening to the teacher in the classroom. So that in the way small little thing gave the confidence to be a part of everything. Were you nervous when you first started going to classes or someone first? I wasn't sure if I understand there and I didn't want to sit in the front of the class so that day so I was sitting in the back typically at the beginning and there was Indian Professor. I could understand him better than some of the other professors the classes I was taking but you know, I think by the first semester's and that was pretty much over.

18:06 Earlier was that it was a little different adjusting to the language like the way that people's accents set sounded or the way that they pronounce certain words. Was that challenging challenging and it wasn't that I even knew there was a different accent. The only thing I knew was either the Indian or the American it isn't that the idea light and later on that wall British accent is different and then the Texas accent or the Boston accent. If so to me it was all English speaker. Non-english speaker. So, you know, once years got that tune to it in Fort find another thing that you'd mentioned was that a pretty big event happened while you were in Utah, which was the assassination of John F Kennedy. You want to describe what that moment was like for you

19:06 We were all alone in this math class and somebody just walked in the door and said, you know President Kennedy has been assassinated in Dallas and everybody started mumbling and got nervous and upset and the professor noticed and he just dismissed the class. So we all went outside and there are a lot of students in the quad is where at Utah State and you kind of in the middle of the camp and locked me in the students fellow students or even crying and were very upset.

20:03 Because did Gordon and of course the news on the television was there but it wasn't easily accessible. There was one in the Student Union. So lot of students were around that television trying to figure out what has happened. Listening to the radio because those were the main Communications at that time. What did you think of it all to me? I will of course heard about President Kennedy and that's when I came in to do the US and just seemed unusual that in place like USA Discord happened and that somebody could be short to who's the president of the country.

20:59 But you know slowly it's shocking that are you know how it is no matter what culture or Society you are in that it can happen anywhere here. Yeah. You said that that the Indian Prime Minister was shortly after she wasn't home, but in may he died and his news came over the radio and the day or two students fragile little bit, you know, which has to be a thunderstorm to entire time. He was well-loved prime minister has gone through the independence struggle and all that. So it was mostly on the Indian students.

21:56 And I noticed that you feel like there was kind of.

22:02 Do you feel like there was an Indian student community that was separate from other students. Like did you feel like the Indian Community on school campus was like kind of

22:17 Was it separated from the rest of Campus North so much because it was so small group. So it wasn't that are dull together for anything and everything. They had to interact with the whole student body. And so it wasn't birthday is still just like in the international days weather for the Korean students of the Chinese are the Indian students and even South American students many of them, you know, it's always good to learn about other cultures and other ways of life. Did you ever get homesick during that time what a new surely somewhere because it was so different in Spanish I did but I

23:17 Kind of knew before coming that that's it could happen. But I was feeling that I don't know know it won't happen. But me and then got busy with her studies and the other things and then got used to the system. And how did you communicate with people back home?

23:46 Well in those days letter writing was the only way really there was a telegram was there but you know, unless you had something an emergency or something has happened and there was no need to send a telegram for normal communication. It was typically letter writing and post office used to have what they call the arrow grams that you just write letter on it fold it and mail it was less than an envelope what it was little, you know more than a postcard but postcard you couldn't write much sodaro grams were very very popular and I think the post office may still have it but I haven't seen one lately.

24:43 And those water grams, right? What was was like and what I was doing and how it was going and all that and very first one I wrote back how the grocery store grocery shopping with so different hair that you go to the grocery store you pick up yourself and then on the way out of the store you pee and there's nothing like that at that time in India, Arie. He went to the store and you tell

25:22 Her shopkeeper what you wanted did it and get it for you and give it to you so you don't actually go into the store and search. So that was the one thing the other was my first hair cutting hair, you know, you know, I got long hairs and gold solid. I don't think I'm going to go bald anytime but it was the electric Clippers. I don't want it never seen it then they didn't even look that you could

26:03 Convert those Clippers to Electric price to when I wrote that that's interesting because of all the Barbers have hand Clippers and they don't have electric. So, you know those kind of thing lot of many things because they're very different people know now things are not as are known as it was in the sixties. Did you like your haircut with the electric Clippers? I really didn't care at that point. It was just that I need you to help her. Absolutely. Yes, you graduated from University, Utah State University.

27:03 Yes, what happened after that after I finished it and then I came to the east coast for a job. I got my first job in Pennsylvania and working for an engineering company and pretty much does a hard time staying in Pennsylvania and Upstate New York co-working for various companies and going to the east coast compared to, Utah.

27:42 How many ways it was the same some ways it was different that most of the East Coast I found it was little more Cosmopolitan weather in wherever I was even in Rochester or even smaller towns and the other ways that lifestyle are everything else was pretty much the same. Anyway, we are very homogeneous country. It's not like India in Hindi. I feel go to the South you have different language different culture different, you know, dressing and different food go to the east coast states gained different language different.

28:36 Dress but you know all the cross I found it is pretty similar even though there are you no difference is but nothing major differences.

28:53 What did you so what did you do?

28:56 Why did you move from Pennsylvania to Rochester or it was just a job I moved from Pennsylvania to job. I was the last thing in Rochester. I was working father Xerox corporation. Of course is the home of Xerox that's where she was invented and started from and then Xerox remove the whole division to Dallas and I move to Dallas. Okay interesting. And you said that did you say that some of your children were born in Rochester was born in Dallas?

29:47 But they've been almost like they grew up in Texas and Dallas and went through high schools are in Plano. How old are your children now? They're all in the mid-forties late forties and the living.

30:11 Austin son lives in Austin with two grandkids and daughter lives in Atlanta with two grandkids, and I have a son who lives in New York City.

30:28 Did you know that you wanted to be a father or oh, yeah, I mean it wasn't it just seemed like the natural progression of life for the dino you got married and then you like children and hopefully grandchildren. Do you have any favorite memories of your children?

30:56 Well

30:59 In Rochester, I don't know where it was cold. It was always, you know, we didn't particularly like the snow in the cold. So it was always that.

31:19 Oldest one who was about two years was getting in snow and then trouble, you know, but here in Texas we spend most of the time most of their lives here. We have a lot of other friends and they're

31:40 Plagues said that we in a burrito bowl with Dallas Dallas. That's why when we've been here over forty years. So I think the biggest days, you know, I didn't particularly like the snow in the Northwest so we didn't want to move anywhere in North Park Texas. We can take the heat. Specially here almost everything has air conditioning in the car the apartments the house the office buildings and it's ready in a short time that you are all really in the heat. Where is Eve on the shark time in the snow can be Troublesome, you know driving and all that. So we're liked it here and in a way it is very simple.

32:40 Go to the weather in Punjab north of New Delhi.

32:56 Do you want to

33:00 Talk a little bit about how your life has changed since 9/11. I see that much but is that how it is affected, you know or World community that or how the life in USA is James. I mean, I'd remember.

33:28 When my wife went to India the first time I stayed back I could not only go to the airport to the gate. I even went inside the plane to help her find the seat that she was.

33:48 I'm going to be sitting on the plane right now as we know, you know, if you don't have a tickets, you can't even go inside the terminals and let alone to the gate hard to the plane. So that's a big change. It was the same way. We have a group of 5 friends couples and then turn off force will go every 3-4 months on a small in the weekend while you watching my call Aden. We can visit G2 within 100 to 200 mile radius of Dallas rent a cottage in whatever there a lot of BNB type of place and so right after 9/11 we were planning on going.

34:48 Weekend and we all of us are a little uncomfortable that pay in brown skins people may not feel as comfortable. So we better not go so we cancelled the trip next weekend. So in that sense, you know the life not for me or us just about everybody in the countries changed since 9/11.

35:22 Well, think about the fact that we have 5 minutes left. What else do you want to say?

35:29 Well, I don't know if I pretty much had anything else, you know over the years I've traveled in this country have gone to think about 44 States and my grandkids to keep saying well when it takes you to the other six word US during the Summers because they are in school. They can't do any other time. I said we'll work on it. So maybe that will happen.

36:07 And

36:10 How many times are Mass to Walpole thing you've been discriminated against are you afraid? I wouldn't say that. I've been discriminated against able to watch a lot of discrimination. This country in various groups are marginalized work for me. If it is anything. It's been such a resentment feeling that you know, how the first time American somebody who's coming and he's

36:50 So and so I don't feel immuno that very high level income wise or otherwise, but that's what I may have seen occasionally.

37:07 And

37:10 I think you know.

37:14 Another item that I remember writing letters was how we write the date. We write month first and then the day and then the year where is most of the world are special in India and rice date month and year so first few letters and Confused people when I sent in letters and they said well is it mace Six studies in June 5th. What does c mean?

37:57 And that's all you know, things like that, even though in India who study English and that's the British English and Hera learned lot of the words are spelled differently not only pronounced in differently. So, you know those kind of things have been interesting overall. It's been pretty

38:27 Clear that there is no other place like America and people who get a chance to experience. This is some place. That's why most of the world if they have a chance, they'll come here and that's why I locked up for first-generation. It's just like anything else they work harder because that's the only thing they know before they got involved with the culture. I'm getting involved in the society which you know, I feel they should you know, I feel I've been in my share ever to be sure that

39:20 We get back to the community and to the site. He's not a one-way Street and we need to spare some of our time if we cannot do Financial or financial if we can budget and afford it I would need to do what we can.

39:42 Sounds like great words to end it on. Thank you so much for this conversation. Thank you.