Video: Ear Cleaning In India

I have a hideous confession to make. I’m absolutely fascinated by medical techniques and beauty rituals practiced in other countries. No matter how archaic, revolting (to our Western sensibilities), or dubious, I can’t get enough of reading about or watching this stuff. That said, there’s no way you’ll find me willingly engaging in these activities, so it’s a vicarious thrill.

Since it’s almost Halloween, I thought this YouTube clip of an American having his ear cleaned by a street vendor in Benares, India, would make for some pretty scary viewing. It’s not the practice I object to; it’s the concept of “no sterilization.” Just remember to pack the Q-tips on your next overseas trip.

An Inside Look At The Old TWA Terminal At JFK

In 2012, it’s hard to imagine catching a flight as anything but a routine, frequently dehumanizing process – waiting in long security lines, bad food and cramped terminals conspire to make our flying experience less than enjoyable. This wasn’t always the case – back in the 1960s, flying was considered a glamorous, cutting edge industry, and the design of the airports matched that perception.

A great example of this is long-ago closed TWA Terminal at New York’s JFK Airport. Opened in 1962 and designed by visionary architect Eero Saarinen, the building’s soaring departures lobby, sleek waiting lounges and polished interior beckon travelers towards an optimistic golden age of travel that was just getting started. Today, that terminal lies tantalizing out of reach, a designated National Historic Landmark that rests unused and waiting directly in front of JetBlue’s massive new Terminal 5.

Earlier this weekend, Gadling traveled out to JFK as part of Open House New York to take a sneak peek inside the now-shuttered terminal of TWA to get a taste of what air travel used to be like. Want to see what the glory days of air travel looked like for travelers? Take a peek inside the gallery below.


Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum Reopens, Adding To City’s Reputation As A Major Art Destination

Amsterdam is famous, and infamous, for its many attractions appealing to all types of traveler. One of the best reasons to visit is for the world-class art museums such as the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Hermitage.

Now another can be added to the list. The Stedelijk Museum reopens to the public this Sunday after a long remodel that has created more gallery space, allowing the first comprehensive display of the museum’s world-renowned collection of modern and contemporary art. Queen Beatrix presided over the opening ceremony on Saturday.

The museum is especially strong with works from the many art movements of the early 20th century like Expressionism, Bauhaus and Suprematism. One important work is “Woodcutter,” painted in 1912 or 1913 by Kazimir Malevich, shown here courtesy Wikimedia Commons. The museum also has a major collection dedicated to 20th century industrial and graphic design.

To mark the reopening, a temporary exhibition, “Beyond Imagination,” is on display until November 11. This exhibition brings together 20 international artists, active in the Netherlands, to give their views on the boundaries between reality and imagination.

The new design reorients the entire museum to face onto Amsterdam’s Museumplein (Museum Plaza), which it shares with the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Concertgebouw.

Kiwi Cool: Shopping For New Zealand-Made Souvenirs

When you go to the other side of the world, you want to bring back a few things to show for your trouble. Visiting New Zealand with my 1-year-old daughter, and with nephews at home in America, I became obsessed with finding them something actually made in the country. A stuffed kiwi bird or lamb toy, a merino wool baby blanket, or a fun T-shirt would do nicely, and I wouldn’t mind some jewelry or something small for our apartment either. In all of the cities I visited in New Zealand, I was impressed to find stylish, playful and innovative boutiques and vendors creating beautiful and unique home design, fashion and other Kiwiana. There’s enough Kiwi cool shopping that you might end up wishing you had a bigger suitcase.


Flotsam & Jetsam (Auckland) – A cross between an antique store and a hipster Restoration Hardware, this collection of colorful and covetable home items will make you contemplate a move to Auckland. Visitors from farther away might find interesting vintage, repurposed and retro home wares from New Zealand and all over the world. Check their Facebook page for details on the latest stock.Nelson Saturday market (Nelson, South Island) – New York City has street fairs and markets pretty much every day of the year if you look hard enough, but all too often, you find the same cheap tube socks, fried cheese and dough concoctions, and hodgepodge of junk. My expectations weren’t high for the weekly market in the arty town of Nelson on the top of the South Island, but after a quick walk through, I was glad I didn’t have too much cash to spend, as there was so much to buy. On a given weekend, you might find model airplanes crafted from soda cans, gourmet gluten-free tacos, and more knitwear than you can shake a sheep at. Local band performances, cooking demonstrations, or even a flash mob add to the festive atmosphere.

Pauanesia (Auckland) – This small shop is loaded to the gills with all things antipodean (a Brit term for a place on the other side of the world), with an emphasis on home textiles such as Polynesian-print tablecloths. If you have a little one to shop for (or just enjoy stuffed animals), consider one of the charming Kiwi “chaps” made from vintage and salvaged fabrics and send them a photo of your bird out in the world. You can also find a nice assortment of Paua shell jewelry, key chains, and other odds and ends much more thoughtfully and well-made than your average gift shop.

Iko Iko (Auckland and Wellington) – What drew me into the Wellington store was a window display of Dear Colleen‘s cheeky “Dishes I’d rather be doing” tea towels with “dishes” like Ryan Gosling and Mr. Darcy-era Colin Firth (get it?). I could have easily spent hours inside poring over the whimsical items, like a kiwi bird cookie cutter, Buzzy Bee cufflinks, or a CD from the Wellington Ukulele Orchestra. It’s full of things you don’t really need but really want, plus fun takes on everyday items.

Abstract Designs (Wellington) – You might call these artisanal cardboard cutouts. Abstract Designs makes creative sculptures and jewelry with a very local flavor. Perhaps you’ll pick up a 747 plane kit for the airplane nerd in your life, a pop-up building replica to remind you of your stay in Wellington, or a cruelty-free moose trophy head for your wall. Their designs are sold in many museum gift shops as well, but there’s a full selection at their Wellington studio and online.

Hapa (Christchurch) – Pop-up businesses have become the foundation for the new Christchurch after the 2011 earthquake. The Re:START mall is the best example, built out of shipping containers and housing a mix of “old” Christchurch shops in temporary digs and new shops. There are several stores in the mall selling New Zealand goods, but Hapa stands out for their many beautiful and clever items, like a bear bean bag chair or a knitted “fox stole” scarf. Best of all, many goods are made or designed in Christchurch, so you can feel good about supporting the local economy.

Texan Art Schools (multiple stores in Auckland) – Don’t be confused by the name, it’s a play on the fact that it carries work from graduates of “tech(nical)s” and art schools. Texan Art Schools acts as one-stop shopping for dozens of Kiwi artists and designers, with an eclectic mix of home items, fashion and jewelry. You’re sure to find something unusual and authentic here like a set of Maori nesting dolls or a retro camper wall clock.

Photo from Auckland’s Queen Street shopping arcade. More “Kiwi Cool: New Zealand for the Unadventurous” to come.

New Chinese Skyscraper Resembles A Pair Of Pants

China is well known for innovative architecture, like their rooftop bike club, The Piano House and the China Central Television Headquarters. Their newest endeavor, however, takes novelty to a new level, being touted as one of the world’s strangest skyscrapers. Costing $700 million, the Gate to the East skyscraper in Suzhou is being ridiculed for resembling an enormous pair of pants.

According to, the 74-story building was meant to look like an dramatic archway, with hopes of it becoming an “iconic gateway to the East.” In fact, the creators of the building, architectural firm RMJM, said the arch was designed to “represent the significance of China in the world today.”

Thus far, it seems as though most people are seeing the iconic masterpiece as a joke.

On China’s blogging website Weibo, one user commented, “This should be called the Pants of the East, not the Gate of the East.”

The Shanghai Daily also questioned the structure, asking, “Is it an arch or just plain pants?”

The skyscraper is set to be completed by the end of the year.

[Image via RMJM]