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Shahnicki Palace is our attempt to share the stories of what we experience, what we understand, and what we learn about living and working in India. 

From February 19 and March 11

What's New

From February 19 and March 11

Heidi Hojnicki

The following was written some time around 2/19/15, but I was having some technical difficulties posting it…


For those who are wondering, we are here because Sujal works for ESPN, and he is the Senior Director for International Engineering, so he was sent here to oversee their overseas online and mobile applications.  In this case, he is mainly working on technology related to cricket.   (Though Sujal can explain what he does much better.  I probably have details slightly incorrect.) I am actually sitting in his office right now as cricket is on the TV.  I understand very little of the game, though perhaps more of cricket than American football.

We arrived in India on the 4th of February (I think…), and we had been in a hotel since yesterday.  We have finally moved into our rental house, and we spent the night there.  It was an adventure realizing we didn’t have the proper cooking tools or even bed sheets.  For now, I won’t be working, as I cannot do so legally on a spouse visa.  Soon I’ll be applying for Overseas Citizen on India status, for which I am eligible, because my husband’s parents were born in India.  That will allow me to work, and hopefully I can work at my son’s international school.  He is in preschool, but it is a pre-K-12 International Baccalaureate School.  We’ll see how it goes.  Perhaps I’ll take up hobbies, instead.  ;-)

And now, more detail:

This past week has been extremely busy!  On Saturday, we finally got the keys to our house.  We were still waiting for the gas (for cooking) to be delivered and for our beds to be delivered.  We were there all day, unpacking, setting things up, going shopping to HyperCity, a Target-like store with groceries.  While it is like a western store in many ways, it is still challenging to navigate shopping.

Che LOVES the house.  It has rather high ceilings, and I believe what he likes best is the fact that the house is very echo-y.  Without much furniture, etc, his voice and squeals carry, much to our chagrin and his delight.  He loves his room (and his own bathroom).

Che’s school

Last Thursday – a week ago! – I took Che to school to see the campus and meet his teachers.  When I first arranged for the visit, the admissions officer emailed me back saying that he would be spending the full day there and taking the bus home.  I was concerned that just dropping Che off at the school would be far too jarring (and frightening) for him.  Nonetheless, since we thought this is how it had to happen we were trying to prepare him.  Luckily, when we arrived Thursday at 9:30 and met with his admissions officer, she informed us we would just have a look around, meet the teachers, and take care of some business.  This was good, because Che kept his head buried into me.  He spoke to no one and wouldn’t even look at his teachers.  He was terrified.  Everyone there (admissions officer, teachers, head of the PYP – Primary Years Program) said I could accompany him for a few days, even on the bus, when it was time for him to take the bus.  So the next day, we arrived at school just before 8:30 AM. 

Since we were still at the hotel, we had a driver bring us to the school – an hour plus drive.  When we first arrived, we were taken to the cafeteria where the kids have breakfast, but Che said it was too loud.  And anyone who knows Che well knows that is really saying something, as Che is no church mouse, himself.  There are just a lot more children at his current school than at his previous preschool.  He had been at a very small, close-knit school where he’d been since he was a baby.  He’s more or less been with the same group of kind since he started, and he has even had one particular teacher for three out of his four years there.  His new school is Pre-K-12, so it is much bigger.

Che wanted to go outside rather than be in the cafeteria.  Actually, he just wanted to go right back to the car.  Kids began coming up to him, asking if he wanted to play, asking his name, but Che was too reticent.

Once his class headed to the classroom, he and I followed behind.  Though he would not enter the classroom, we sat and watched from the door.  Slowly, I went into the classroom and sat down, encouraging him to come sit with me.  After about 2 hours, he was sitting in the classroom with me, watching.  As he began to warm up, he turned to me and said he was ready to run with the kids (they were shifting to “practice” for Indus Day – an event where all the kids perform – except Che bc he was so new).  Off he ran, and within 30 seconds, a boy came up behind him and pushed Che down.  Crying ensued and I was worried that this would be a setback, but after about 20 minutes, he was ready to interact again.  Right after the kid pushed Che, another boy went up to the pusher and upbraided him for doing so!

After Practice was lunch.  At this point, he had made a friends with a boy who took him to lunch.  They sat next to each other, and Che ate pizza.  After the kids ate, they went outside to play.  Che immediately began to command attention.  He told kids to run this way and they did.  He told kids to run that way and they did.  As I sat watching, a child ran out of the cafeteria, jumping down the steps, yelling, “Chetan!!” as he flew through the air, excited to play with the new kid.  And Che definitely had that new kid allure.

He stayed more involved when we got back to the classroom.  He still wanted to be near me, but he was more involved, and we ended the day a tad early to avoid the chaos of kids going to busses. 


It is now almost one month later.  Che did hang back for a few more days when we would drop him off at school.  Che and I would look for combinations of animals on the drive to school (4 cows, 10 dogs, 4 birds, and 3 signs, for example) or his favorite crane, the ZOOMLION (I imagine that is the name of the construction company, as that is what it said on the crane.  We loved the name for the obvious reasons).

Once we moved into our house, he took the bus there by himself, but very reticently.  For weeks, he did not want to go to school.  Still, each morning he says he does not want to go, but when we say it is a school day, he says something like, “Okay… Can we play after school?”  I don’t have a good sense of whether or not he’s enjoying school.  When we ask his friends’ names, he doesn’t know.  He doesn’t know what he ate for lunch, and he doesn’t know what they did in school that day.  Obviously, that makes it tough to gauge.  It a very different situation than he had at Knight Hall in West Hartford.  It’s a MUCH bigger class – 23 kids – and they have homework.  And he’s behind, according to his teachers.  Sigh.  I can’t say I’m worried, because they simply took a different approach at KHS (learning through playing), and I don’t love that he already has homework.  It’s all a work in progress.

Prestige Ozone

However, Che LOVES our community (I never know what to call it – community, complex, neighborhood, society).  It is a gated community with about 300 villas (stand alone houses or attached duplexes that are close together).  There are large open green spaces where kids play, and there is a club with a pool, gym, playground, restaurant, and spa.  But the main attraction for Che: all of the children!  I imagine there are very few villas that have no kids.  He has been so happy to play with kids big and small, and he loves our neighbors across the street.  Almost every day, two little girls come to our house to play with Che, and they are very comfy exploring our house. ;-)  There are fountains that sputter on some days, filled with silty water that the kids love to play in.  It really is kind of a heavenly place for all of us.

That is all for now.  Hopefully, I can fix my technical difficulties.