Afghanistan, an accordion, ‘Elvis’ and Johnny Cash

Some people travel to shop in different stores, or to eat different food, or to drink different beers. Jeff White traveled to immerse himself in a different culture. He believed so strongly in immersion, in fact, that he moved to Germany to live and work. This post of Jeff’s, republished in his honor, demonstrates Jeff’s interest in immersion and passion for connecting with people while traveling. Thanks, Jeff, for reminding us of the most important reason for travel.

A friend of mine just sent me this video from the start-up Web site GlobalPost, and it’s fantastic.

Gregory Warner, a freelance foreign correspondent living in Afghanistan, is an avid accordion player, and he tries to use the instrument as a means to connect with the people he’s covering.

The way Afghans respond to his accordion music is somewhat unexpected and reveals some truths about the country’s development during the last quarter century.

What does Warner do when asked to perform at a concert and realizing he doesn’t know any tunes by Afghanistan’s own pop icon? Well, Johnny Cash to the rescue. Watch and see what I mean…

(Thanks, Ed)

Hitler: Scary wax dummy or radioactive monster?

While this isn’t one of Jeff’s features, only a news piece, it really stuck in my mind. Perhaps it was the surreal nature of the story, or the issues it brings up. How to make a museum about the Third Reich without it becoming a shrine to neo-Nazis? How far should protesters go to make their voices heard? Why didn’t someone rip off the real Hitler’s head?

The trippy photo is cool too, and fits perfectly with the odd subject matter of the story. If you scroll up so that only the top centimeter is showing, it looks like a nuclear explosion. If you scroll down so that only the bottom centimeter is showing, it looks like an infrared image of a naked woman lying on a bed. Or maybe that’s just in my mind. My wife’s out of town, you see, and I’m a bit lonely.

So long, Jeff. We’ll miss your sense of humor and eye for weird detail. You were one of the good ones.

Last year I wrote about the ill-fated Adolf Hitler exhibit at Berlin’s just-opened Madame Tussauds museum.

A man obviously unhappy with the museum’s decision to have a wax likeness of the 20th Century’s most evil leader waited patiently in line on opening day before rushing, tackling the wax Hitler and ripping off its head — all the time shouting, “Never again!” Several security guards were also injured in the fracas.

So, how much will Germany fine you if you decapitate Hitler?

The man known in the local media here only as “Frank L” was in court today, where he was given a suspended sentence and fined 900 euros, or roughly $1,200.

Was he sorry? No. He told the court that he’d do it again.

As for the Hitler statue, it is back at Madame Tussauds, in a more secure location.

Foods found when traveling that you have fallen in love with

Jeff White loved talking about food and travel. He’d try new foods, explore local customs and truly enjoyed sharing those stories with you. Enjoying food as much as I do, especially when traveling, I loved Jeff’s food posts. He loved discussing food and that’s what he did with all of you in this featured post. He compiled your responses to the question “What foods have you discovered while traveling that you now love?” and was so pleased with what you shared. Please honor Jeff’s memory by continuing this conversation. Post your favorite travel food memories in the comments or send us a tweet @Gadling.

A while ago, Gadling posted a question on our Twitter page asking people to name some foods that they discovered while traveling and now have a hard time living without.

Not surprisingly, the replies came in with votes for currywurst, Indian chai, exotic fruits and a variety of libations.

Here’s how some people answered our question. (Want to tell us a food you discovered while traveling and now can’t live without? Send you story here.)

Larry Bleiberg says, “Great question! Hard cider from UK. Taramasalata, Athens. Side note: Trader Joes started by selling stuff folks discovered traveling.”

Laura Byrne Paquet of Facing the Street says, “Believe it or not, I first got up the nerve to taste smoked salmon on trip to Scotland about a decade ago. Now I’m addicted.”
Nathan Midgley of Travel Weekly Blog says, “Currywurst. Classy, no? I also tried pure sulfer on White Island, NZ, but that wasn’t really a keeper.”

Alex H. of theycallmearex says, “In Taiwan it’s all about the fruits!–cherimoya, guava, ‘lien-au’, etc. Actually, I’ll try most any local foods in any country. Yum.”

Soultravelers3 says, ” We never had StickyToffeePudding, til we had it in our Spain village at 4 table restaurant by UK expats. Yum! We had it 1st nite back.”

NewWrldYankee says, “Beans on toast – sounds gross but can be perfect during exam time! And corn on pizza.”

Eva Holland says, “Fresh lime juice in KL. Real chai in India. Hand-pulled ales, ploughman’s lunches in UK. Of course, it’s never the same at home!”

Jessiev says, “NOT durian. Ha!”

Joodlenoodle says, “Tasted crystallized ginger candy at a temple outside Tokyo and now have to make my own because I can’t find the right kind anywhere!”

PAadventure says, “Most people have never heard of putting french fries on their sandwiches… until they go to Pittsburgh, PA and have a Primantis!”

TheWildPair says, “What foods have you learned about while traveling and can’t go without? Mangosteen! Fell in love with this fruit in Malaysia.

Jeff White: 1976-2009

Dear Gadling Readers,

We usually avoid getting overly serious here at Gadling, but something happened recently, and we thought we should share it with you.

Our friend and colleague Jeff White has died. Unbeknownst to most of us, Jeff had been battling cancer for some time. Though he’d been in remission, the cancer came back late last year and spread throughout his body. He died at his parents’ home in Connecticut on June 29, 2009. He is survived by his parents, James and Dolores; his brothers, Gregory, Paul, and Michael; five nieces and nephews; and his wife, Nicki, to whom he was married for only three weeks. (I wince every time I think about that.) Jeff was 32.

A career journalist, Jeff was living and working in Berlin when we contracted him to write for Gadling in February of 2008. While all the bloggers at Gadling travel, Jeff was a traveling expat, which, in my mind, made him uniquely qualified for this work. He did not disappoint. Though he lived far from the rest of the team, he kept in close contact, and I considered him a good friend and a dependable co-worker. He was a talented writer, armed with with a quick wit, a global perspective, and a passion for travel.

Today, we’re going to pay tribute to Jeff, republishing some of his old posts that really moved us. We hope you’ll indulge us — and maybe get to know Jeff all over again. A good place to start is his “About Jeff White” post.

We love you, Jeff. You’ll be missed.