------------Indian Welcoming Committee-----------

------------Indian Welcoming Committee-----------

Friday, October 26, 2007


I started a new blog yesterday. It has nothing to do with India or Paneerbelly in any way, but you can check it out if you want.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

No more Paneer

Well, if you hadn't figured it out already, which I'm sure most of you have, I've been back from India for some time now...and the Paneerbelly posts have come to a conclusion. In fact, Paneerbelly posts came to a conclusion A LONG time ago. I don't know why it's taken me so long to write a post about coming home...I guess it's just a changing of the day-to-day events and activities that comes with a life shift, and the blog posting just never got fit in there. While in India, the blog really became a part of my normal routine...I'd think about it quite a bit, update it semi-regularly, and of course I always had a lot to share as those were 6 action packed months. Now that I'm back home, my routine has changed, and blogging just didn't really get a spot in the lineup. I think I might start it up again, but, not on Paneerbelly...I think I'll keep this blog as a pure keepsake of my fantastic time spent in India.

Anyways, yeah, I've been back in the US for a good 4 months now. I spent 3 of those months on a sabattical leave from work, which was awesome, and for the last (almost) month I've been settling back in at the Mt. View el Goog.com headquarters. As stated above (but it merits rementioning), my leave was AWESOME...I got to travel a lot and spend time resting, relaxing, and enjoying myself. I spent 2 weeks in south Baja, exploring that desolate landscape (dust and cactuses) solo in my rental Hyndai, surfing as many surf spots as I could find (here's a short list: San Pedrito Beach and El Cerritos on the Pacific side, Old Mans and Zippers on the south point (in San Jose Del Cabo), and 9 Palms on the east cape, which I caught on a nice south swell. Great place). I followed that by some time at home, then hit the road again -- this time for mainland mexico, flying into Puerto Vallarta and going to Punta de Mita. I explored places around there, again in my rental Hyndai (short list: Punta de Mita: Burros, La Lancha, Stinky point -- named because it was pretty close to the sewage plant, hence stinky --, el faro, Sayulita, Santa Clara rivermouth, Stoners). Then I came home again, and a few weeks later was on my final southern pilgrimage...this time Costa Rica. Yep, another rental Hyndai -- SUV this time. (Short list: one week in Jaco with Zac Ripper Randles: Jaco beach, Hermosa beach, Boca Barranca, Esterillos. Then Zac left and I went further south: Dominical, Pavones. Pavones was awesome.) Yes, I spent a lot of my time off surfing. But I also got to go home to Oregon, see my little sis graduate and begin her final summer of being a regular person before she goes off to HARVARD, spent some time in North Carolina for a wedding, some time in Laguna Beach for a wedding, some time in Hollywood with Doc Hollywood himself Andy Chan, a quick Vegas trip, a not quick drive home to SF Bay from Vegas with the heater on in 115 degree heat, and other fun adventures and misadventures that occur when you aren't spending 40+ hours a week in an office. Good times.

However those times can't last forever, so I've been back in the office for just starting 4 weeks now, and I'm working with Offline ads, Audio specifically. I'm getting into the swing of things and getting used to the work-week schedule. There sure is lots of good food to eat at work. I start every morning with a bowl of cereal topped with a generous helping of fresh blueberries and raspberries. Seriously I love those berries and cereal, they are glorious and make my morning, every day.

As for India, I loved it there. As I've said before, it is a truly amazing experience and really has an impact on a person...eye opening. After 6 months though, I was starting to get ready to come home...plus gotta factor in that we were pushing it pretty hard for all of those 6 months -- extensive travelling, a lot of work, a lot of blogging...if I was to stay longer, which would have been OK, I'd definitely have cut back on all the travels and settled in more in Hyderabad. I was definitely glad to come home and visit family and friends, eat american food (and raspberries and blueberries...and a nice juicy hamburger), speaking of hamburgers, fire up the BBQ, surf more often, drive my own car, etc etc. I'll always look back fondly on my time in India though, and it was a growing experience for me in many ways.

So...thanks for reading Paneerbelly. It's been fun as my first (semi)serious foray into the world of blogging. Pretty cool stuff. And that's all, folks! Namaste!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Joel Update 2: As you all know, I myself am back in the good ol' US of A, back to California after spending one fantastic week home in Oregon with family. Joel however is still out in the great unknown, travelling the road less travelled, taking in the sights and the sounds and the adventure and trials and tribulations of a true road warrior. But like any good traveller he eventually has to come home -- which he is doing soon this week. I'm not completely sure but I think he'll be back in San Francisco within the next couple of days. We'll all be glad to have him back.

On his adventures, he actually did get pretty lucky and had a few pretty excellent looking days of surf in Kovalam and in Varkala (both in Kerala, on the southwest corner of India). When I was in those places I noticed and spoke with a few people about the potential they may have, but didn't have any real swell during my short visit. Joel on the other hand timed it perfectly. He'll have to tell you the stories and what it was really like, but in the meantime, here are some pictures he took. (He also had a waterproof camera, which worked for the first couple days, but then broke, right when the surf got the best. Dang it!)


The lighthouse is a pretty well known monument for this beach. Which is a pretty well known beach. And one of (if not the only) beach in India where you can rent a surfboard. The guy in the foreground of this picture is Kafu (edit: Joel says it's Mufu) or something like that, he is the only native Indian surfer I met in my time there. He hangs out on the beach with a ragtag collection of 5 of 6 boards that he has acquired throughout the years. He surfs pretty good too...especially skilled at pulling into the close out waves I think this spot often gets. (See below)

Wave selection 101. Sure you want that one?


Too late now: Committed

And...Pummeled. Good times!


Things got a lot better for Joel and co. in Varkala, a tourist beach spot about 4 hours or so north of Kovalam.

Wave selection 101: Lesson 2. Much better!


For more details, you'll have to talk to Joel. He had a good time, when he wasn't sick. Ask him about his surfboard rescue operation -- surfboard fins made out of cutting-board plastic are probably not the way of future. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Good try bruddah. Anyway looks fun, wish I was there! See ya back home soon!

Sunday, April 01, 2007


After 6 months of pretty intensive travel, one thing I've gotten good at is waiting in airports. That's what I'm doing now, at the Portland airport...my PDX to San Jose flight was delayed one hour. One big difference though from any India airport...Free Wireless Internet. Sweeeeeet!


Friday, March 23, 2007

Where in the World update

Short post -- I'm just letting you know that I'm currently writing from Athens, Greece. Cool place, have been here the last 2 days, after spending a few days in Berlin -- part of the around the world voyage en route back to the United States of America. I'll be glad to get home but enjoying this last week as well...flight leaves for Portland on Monday morning March 26.

I'll post a farewell-to-India post in the near future, probably once I get home. Leaving was sad...I didn't think I'd get quite as sad as I was leaving work, I've met a lot of great people there, but at the very same time I'm REALLY excited to be coming back. I'm not sure what my international destination maximum time period might be, but I think 6 months might be close. I don't know. I do know that if I was staying longer, I would certainly have started travelling a little less. We have been on a whirlwind work and travel tour for the last 6 months, which while amazing, is also pretty exhausting. But what an opportunity!

More to come later. See you all back home soon!

Monday, March 12, 2007

India Travel Map - Final edition

Loyal Paneerbelly readers will be familiar with my Microsoft Paint India Travel Map, which I've updated a few times thoughout my stay here (version 1, version 2)...I went and did one final update the other day, reflecting our many adventures thoughout the 5 1/2 months spent over in this part of the world. Here it is:

Now if that isn't covering India -- I don't know what is!!! Whew! I've easily doubled my lifetime flight number in this short stint...so many places to see, so many things to do. :) It's been a great time, and if anybody needs to know the India airport security drill -- I'm happy to help. Don't forget to tag your carry-ons.

On India travel map version 3.0 I took the liberty of adding my incoming flight (from Singapore) and my outgoing flight (to Frankfurt) as those flights are what will be completing my around the world journey. Also since the last update are our trip with Joel, Dad and Selin to Delhi, Nepal (Kathmandu), and Kolkatta, a weekend trip to Bangalore, 2 trips to Vizag (plane there, overnight bus back), and a trip to Varanasi...I think it's safe to say I might just stay at home and avoid any airports for maybe a week or two once I get back to the states. We'll see though -- once the travel bug bites it might be tough to shake. Weekend trips to San Diego and Portland and other locales may become more of a normal occurence once back home. Although I will have to start paying rent again -- which will eat into my travel funds -- bummer. And are there any 500 rupee (~$11) hotels in San Diego? Judging on what $100 gets you in San Diego, I don't think I'd even want to find out. (side note: is there anywhere in the US with more expensive hotel rates than SD? Based on my limited experience, I'm inclined to say no. Pretty awesome place though.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

the air up there

As promised (and only one day late) ... Nepal pictures! (lots of them.) Enjoy.

the Kathmandu Valley, aerial shot upon arrival. Looks good here -- the dirt and congestion and traffic and smog don't start for about another mile or so :)

Boudhanath Stupa, in Kathmandu. One of the largest stupas (Buddhist religious monument) in the world.

One of the highlights was our Everest flight, Buddha Air. 1 hour tourist flight from Kathmandu -- flew us out past Everest and back. Small little plane, every seat has a window...and a view.

our Buddha Air pilot was enjoying it...

and so was I

Old statue in Bhaktapur, a historical little town we stopped at on our way to Nagarkot. Bhaktapur has found a nice little revenue stream, charging tourists $10 to enter the city gates...worth it

traditional temple courtyard guardian...

And Joel, always the good samaritan, getting in on the act

Selin, me, and our Newari friend

Bennett men at the end of the universe

Nepal sunset from the hills of Nagarkot

Bennett men again, taken from the viewpoint at our hotel in Nagarkot. (Yep I have a Canada hat on. Everybody likes Canadians.)

Dad's new Myspace pic

Pretty good place to have breakfast -- outside our hotel room at the aptly named Hotel View Point, Nagarkot

Room with a view

And one final memory. Remember how I said everybody got sick in KTM? Well...this glorious picture was taken by Dad, about 1 second before he threw up all over the Swayambunath Stupa. Oh boy, what a moment that was. What a moment indeed. :)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Nepal: easier to type than Kyrgyzstan

One of the highlights of our recent trip north was seeing the Himalayas, up close and personal. Amazing sight! Most everyone knows that Mt. Everest is located in the Himalayas -- and is the world's tallest peak -- but what not everyone knows (well, me) is that not only is Everest right there, but so are... the 13 other highest peaks in the world! In fact as I research this more, why stop at 14...the 109 highest mountains are all in the Himalayas!!! Whoa. It's not really fair. What about the USA and the Rocky Mountain high in Colorado? The Rocky Mountains don't even register on any highest mountain list -- the highest mountain in the Rockies is Mt Elbert at 4401 meters. Everest is 8850 meters. For you non math majors, that's more than twice as high! (FYI the highest mt in the continental US is Mt Whitney in CA, at 4418 meters. Mt Hood is the highest in Oregon, at 3,429 meters. The highest in the entire USA is Mt. Mckinley, in Alaska, at 6,194 meters. BUT -- if you really want to get technical, the highest mountain ISLAND is Muana Kea in Hawaii, which rises up 10,203 meters from the bottom of the ocean. It gets short changed because the common accepted mountain measuring practice is to measure mountains from sea level...not the sea floor. Still, worth a shout out for any islanders out there).

All numbers aside, it was certainly pretty cool to be right there in Nepal, within sight of Everest (and also the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th highest mountains in the world, which are all in very close proximity to Everest...yes back to numbers, can't resist!). Kathmandu itself wasn't my favorite city in the world -- I could go on about how polluted, dirty, congested, and overall-not-that-enjoyable that the actual city itself was, but what an amazing place to be in. I don't think our health exactly aided in enjoying the city experience either -- all of us low elevation Bennetts got pretty painfully sick at one point or another during our time in Kathmandu. Silly us, we thought it would be a good idea to eat steak in Nepal...should probably have put down our forks when the waiter told us the steak actually came from Kolkatta, India...hardly the first choice of where you want your steak to be sent in from. But once we recovered (for the most part -- although my worst didn't hit me til getting back to India), and stepped a ways outside of the Kathmandu smog cloud, it was truly breathtaking. We stayed a night at a hotel in Nagarkot, a tiny little resort town about an hours drive away from Kathmandu, and atop a mountain ridge with clear views of the peaks beyond, and it was pretty amazing. Clear, crisp air, and whew it was COLD at night. COOOOOOOOOOOLD! Freezing cold. I could only imagine what it must be like in a tent somewhere on Everest -- hopefully those North Face knockoffs actually work as good as they look!

World's Highest Mountains. Right there by Nepal on the map, where the 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are is situated right by Kathmandu. And wow, there is Kyrgyzstan in the upper left! Now you know -- big mountains in Kyrgyzstan.

I'll post some of our actual pictures on here tomorrow -- for now, it's past bedtime!